This is an open letter to those designing public restrooms. Hello there, I’m Sarah, and I’m very experienced in using public restrooms. After all, I’m a woman, which means I have a teeny, tiny bladder because other stuff (uterus, tubes, etc) are taking up the real estate in my lower abdomen. This means I’ve used almost every public restroom there is in San Diego, where I live. Yep, I’m an expert.
Which leads me to this point: why are public restrooms designed with one very annoying feature? Sometimes (not always, but often enough) there is a sizeable gap between the wall of the restroom and the edge of the stall. Sometimes it’s an entire inch wide.
Most women aren’t peering into the gap to gape at whoever is peeing, but my point is, can’t we design these things so there isn’t a huge gap? We’ve sent people to the moon. Doctors can perform surgery on babies in utero. And we can’t figure out how to minimize the gap? Really?
As a side note: the title of today’s post has a back story, and like me, I know you always want to know the back story. When Hubby and I visited England in 2002, within minutes of landing we were at the subway station. Wait—there must be a fancier, more highbrow name for subway there—after all, it is England! Let me go research this. Okay, I’m back. It is called the Underground. And it should be pronounced with excellent enunciation. Zero mumbling. “Unduh. Ground.” Jolly good. Anyway, while waiting for the underground—despite my jet-lagged stupor--I noticed that every few seconds a fancy English voice announced the following: Mind. The. Gap. Remember that we are enunciating. Even their electronic messages In England have impeccable delivery and poise. English stuff is always quite formal. In New York, the subway—if it provides such a warning—probably has a crackly recording blast out this message (in a strong NY accent), “Yo, idiot. Don’t be a lose-uh (loser) and fawwwl (fall) in the pit. But if ya do, don’t come a’cryin’ to me. Suckah!” Not so in England. They politely caution you to Mind. The. Gap.
Anyway, back to bathroom gaps. I took this photo in a public restroom yesterday. Before busting out my camera in a restroom (which is odd behavior—and not the charming variety of weirdness I embrace) I made sure that there was no one else around. People probably don’t want photos taken of the in restrooms. As a general rule.
Check out this gap! It’s BIG! If someone wanted to, they could see a lot through that crack. Even if you aren’t trying to spy on someone in the stall, if your eye roams around as you wait in line (remember, this is a public restroom we’re talking about, and we women always have to pee so there will be a line), you might accidentally glimpse something.
So please, manufacturers and installers of stalls in public restrooms, can we close the gap? Please? Can we make it slightly less of a gaping gap? Why even bother with doors in the stalls if the side gaps are substantial enough to require an NC-17 rating?
I know gaps happen. I get it. I get gaps. But I do mind this gap.