Tuesday, October 29, 2013

** Commodo-Phobia

I am afraid of toilets.  I have commodo-phobia.  I’m not afraid of healthy, clean and perfectly working models with no weird additions; these I regard with only a little suspicion.  I’m talking about public toilets, porta-potties, airline toilets, airport toilets, train toilets, depot toilets, dirty toilets, broken toilets, toilets missing the tank cover and toilets that make gurgling sounds before and/or after they are flushed.  Oh, and toilets that won’t flush after you’ve used them.  (Stop judging me.)

RIP, 6th Square, RIP.
I actually have toilet nightmares, no kidding, where I have to go really, really bad in my dream and there are NO suitable toilets in the whole multi-stalled bathrooms from hell.  There are dirty toilets, full toilets, broken toilets that won’t flush, holes in the floor, leaning toilets but not a single dang one that is usable!!  Invariably, I wake up needing to head to the head.  As I’ve grown, these dreams become less scary and more baffling.  WTH??  (I really mean it about the not judging thing.)

When faced with no other choice than to use one of the above toilet scenarios, I have to say that I do so with the utmost trepidation.  The ladies out there know what I’m talking about:  We ALL do the classic “Ralph Macchio/Karate Kid Pose,” the pose from the final fight scene with the mean kid, when faced with an unclean toilet.  We even LOOK like him, with that “Oh, crap!” expression, shaking a little, bug eyed and balancing “just so” in horror that our delicate nether regions might actually make contact with the seat, which is most likely lined with TP, just in case.  If you’re like me, ladies, you don’t even want to touch the walls of the stall by accident and you NEVER put your purse on the floor.  Men have no idea what we ladies must bravely face when in public domains.  And, our thighs are frickin’ STRONG from all the hovering and balancing, guys.

Translation: "No men, women or
sink pedestals are allowed to
move around the cabin
at this time."

     I recently got back from a vacation with my hubby to Zurich,             Switzerland.  Jeff and I travel a lot and I will NEVER get used to using airline restrooms.  It’s bad enough trying to do the Ralph Macchio pose in that tiny space, staring down at the floor in horror at what had BETTER be only water from the tiny little sink, but to do so at high altitudes while a giant child shakes the plane around like a rattle is almost enough to make me want to swim to Europe, thank you very much.  

We got in to Switzerland and made our way to our hotel, the Swisshotel by Oerlikon Station.  The toilet in our hotel room was a weird shape but otherwise looked harmless, thank goodness.  As we traveled about this beautiful country, going to Lucerne, Mt. Pilatus and Schaffhausen am
Rhinefall, I was delighted to find that the Swiss are very fond of clean toilets.  Viva las Switzerland!!!

I have to say that Swiss train toilets are a bit baffling, though.  I went to find a “WC” on the train to Lucerne
(fancy/schmancy Swiss for “Water Closet”) and another girl got there just after I did.  I smiled at the German speaking lass and indicated via charades (pointed to her, pointed to the WC, did the Ralph Macchio pose) that she go first but then she insisted, with a shake of the head and a finger point, that I go first.  I looked at the outside door of the WC, trying to figure out how to get inside.  How hard could it be, right?  The handle wouldn’t work.  The only other thing I saw was a green button on the side of the space, so I pushed it….and then jumped when a loud and long buzzer went off, causing the entire train car full of German speaking Swiss people to look up at the stupid American who couldn’t figure out how to get into the WC.  Once it stopped, the kindly girl from Switzerland gave me a kindly condescending smile, pushed the same button and turned the handle, causing the door to open with only a tiny buzz.  Same small compartment as the airline, but cleaner and with instructions for use in German.  How helpful.

Zurich has some very clean bathrooms but their porta-potties are just plain creepy.  Jeff and I were taking a tourista bus tour of the city and we all took a 10 minute break to “have a look around the park” near Lake Zurich. (That’s bus driver code for “potty-break.”)  You open the stainless steel door to a HUGE funnel-shaped stainless steel bowl, like a yard across and a yard deep.  On the wall you see a soap dispenser and faucet that stick out from the left side wall, toilet paper and paper towels on the right wall and a stainless steel potty seat that can be lifted wayyy up (looking like a giant “U” on a stick, up against the back wall) or can be pushed down where it hovers juuust above the great big funnel.  (It. Is. Hovering. In. Space.)  When you’re done, you wash your hands and the water and soap goes into the same big funnel, making it nearly self cleaning!  I left with a new admiration for the Swiss and then told Jeff that he just HAD to go check it out.  (He was excited by it, but in a healthy way, I think.)  Though the seat hovering above space was a bit creepy, (what if the toilet seat BROKE and you had to hover just above only the huge funnel?  What if it tried to go back into the “up” position while in use?) it seemed to suit its purpose well.

Freakin' Amazing Cite!
Call me a Pretty, Pretty
Princess & let's go!
Gotta tell you what happened while Jeff and I were visiting France, though.  See, Jeff gets to travel a lot to cool destinations to do business conferences.  When he does this, we tack a few more days onto his biz trip to have ourselves a little mini-vacation.  It works really, really well; I get to tour, explore and weed out the bad stuff on my own and then hit the high points again later on with Jeff.  On this trip, however, we started the vacay in Narbonne (Near the South of France) and drove to Toulouse via Carcassonne, a medieval town, complete with a real castle, moat, cobblestone streets, walls and towers!!!  Freakin’ looks like a movie set and is a fantasy novel reader’s dream.  Of course we’re going!

We get there with another couple from the conference and, upon parking, I immediately need to find a restroom.  First impression of this historically noble place:  It needs more restrooms.  (How did these people function??)  I’m trying to be cool about my need to go but finally break down and say that I’m going to run through the town screaming in search of relief if we don’t find one soon.  Our friend, Kes, has been here before and knows where there are some super cool new-fangled stainless steel Japanese restrooms but they are “pay to pee” toilets.  I’m fine with that, show me the way! 

We turn a corner and the 2 new stainless bathroom doors are pretty obvious in this space.  They resemble bank vaults.  (I mean, couldn’t they have made them a bit more ren-fair-esque?)  I don’t care, I need to go.  I wait for the lady in front of me to leave the room, I put in the money in the outdoor slot and then try the door.  Nothing happens but I can hear the blow dryer in the room going and I yank on the handle again.  Jeff says, “Hurry up!” and I yell back, “I’m trying!”  After what seems like an eternity, the blow dryer stops and I am able to open the door to a good sized one stall room.  Yay, it even looks clean!

The bright lights turn on when you open the door and the whole room is done in stainless steel, all of it: the floors, walls, ceiling, toilet chamber, sink, fan and a large toilet paper holder (huge!). How space-age it this?  It looks pretty clean but weird and other-worldly.  There is no actual toilet seat, just the bowl, yuck, but I gotta go, gotta go.  I’m baffled by a nice, clean, random stainless steel rod with holes in it that runs parallel to the toilet.  I find a convenient hook on the wall for my purse and do what needs to be done.  Afterward, I can’t find out how to flush the commode and I spend a couple of minutes pushing various items on the wall with a wad of clean toilet paper.  (WTF?)  After a quick and confused washing of the hands, I turn to leave, opening the door just a bit before remembering that my purse is still on the hook.  I turn back to grab my purse as the door automatically snicks shut.

The lights go out.  The door locks.  And, the. Whole. Freaking. ROOM. Flushes.  There is no light switch.  I’m tugging on the door frantically while hearing the sound of water squirting and repetitively flushing somewhere, feeling water going around my boots on the floor as a sanitizer scented mist swirls around me.  A really loud blow dryer starts up and now I’m wailing, “Jefffffffff!!!!  Aahhhhh, Jeffffffff, heeeeelllllpppp meeeeeeee!!”  The flushing noise finally stops but the dryer is still going and I’m kicking the door in panic and trying to rip the knob off.  All this time, Jeff and pals are outside, enjoying a lovely day in medieval freakin’ Europe, while I’m in a flushing bathroom hell, just 15 feet away.  They couldn’t hear a sound. 

The lights come on and the door unlocks.  Water is still running into a drain that is set into the middle of the floor and I see the weird bar with holes, really a blow dryer for the toilet seat, slip back into place on the wall next to the toidy.  Still shaking, I rush out and join up with the group and Jeff asks me what took me so long.  I told him I was being eaten by a freakin’ Japanese bathroom in another freakin’ dimension while he was enjoying himself, thank you for asking, you butthead.   They all thought it was funny.  Ha, freakin’ ha.

I could wax on indefinitely about toilet and self-cleaning bath rooms but I think I’ve said enough on the subject.  (You're welcome.)  Know that, if you have toilet nightmares, you are not alone.  And, as always, be suspicious of Japanese stainless steel pay bathrooms.  They want to eat you.

PS:  Never go online to Google search "Japanese pay toilets in Europe."  Just don't.


  1. April, not ALL women hover over toilets - I certainly don't. I like to sit right down and have a good rest. Ahhhh. Plenty of research shows that your cell phone probably has more disgusting germs on it than your average toilet seat does. Even if the seat does have nasty germs on it, those germs would have to infect you through an open wound in the skin on the backs of your thighs and/or butt cheeks. My thighs and butt cheeks don't have any open wounds on them, so I don't worry about catching anything from toilet seats.

    Even if someone has previously peed on the seat (perhaps someone who had been HOVERING?) it's not the end of the world. Pee is actually sterile due to its ammonia content. I think if everyone just sat down and took a little break, then there would not be any pee on the seat. Ever. And the world would be a better place. Don't Hover! Just my $.02.

    1. Ah, but Stephanie, I hover in dirty places only when the place is already dirty...because I know that the space has been pre-hovered upon by others. It's a Catch-22, isn't it?
      As to plopping down on an obviously dirty seat? Ain't gonna happen with my buns, open wounds or not. Not to worry, I don't mind lining. And, I'm getting my exercise in at the same time.

  2. Men don't like nasty toilets either!!! Obviously neither do the people who supposed to clean them!! LOL

    1. Worldmusicsugarland, I hear you loud and clear about the men's room. I've heard stories about them that just plain curl my nose hairs....

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