Monday, October 27, 2008

Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Potty Parity

Of all the topics we discuss here at The Carpetology Blog, I am perhaps most qualified to write about the one that brings us here this week. Bathrooms.

I'm a small person. My internal organs are, presumably, proportionate to the rest of me, leaving me with - you guessed it - the world's smallest bladder. Which means that I have spent about a tenth of my life (by my own estimation) going in and out of bathroom stalls. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly, from gas station restrooms to port-o-potties to upscale powder rooms.

I know bathrooms. And I have a lot to say on the subject.

To begin with, bathrooms are a necessary evil. Like Susan Abbott said during last year's blogfest, "every human being has to use the bathroom." I usually have to find one during the most inconvenient of times - long car rides through southern Missouri, on planes traveling from point A to point B, walking down busy city streets. I can't avoid going to the bathroom, so when I find one that was recently cleaned, smells good, has a fresh supply of toilet paper and offers a hook for my purse, I'm a happy girl. On the other hand, I've run into some truly obscene restrooms, and if these are located in retail establishments, I usually make a mental note not to go back.

And that is the whole point of the Bathroom Blogfest. The bathroom has a HUGE impact on how people - especially women - view the world. If their experience in a bathroom is lousy, it taints the rest of the retail establishment, regardless of whether it's a restaurant, a hotel, a retail store or a gas station, no matter how lovely it actually is.

In 2007, there was a major bathroom debacle here in St. Louis. As many sports fans know, the old Busch Stadium (may it rest in peace) was torn down, and a new Busch stadium was built, leaving the St. Louis Cardinals and all of their fans with shiny rows of new red seats, a more open layout, and varying nacho options.

Now, this was enough of a controversy in and of itself. St. Louis loved the Old Busch. It had stood unwaveringly since 1966 and was as much of an icon as Ozzy Smith or Stan Musial. Needless to say, fans didn't exactly think that it should be torn down. But it was, and we moped and complained and whined, but in the end, we still returned the next season for Cardinals baseball. [The new stadium is pictured in the image above. Photo compliments of]

The problem then became not so much the new stadium, but the women's bathrooms in the new stadium. According to a 1995 law, sports stadiums and other large public venues must have as many toilets for women as they have toilets and urinals for men. But the New Busch was built with 40 more options for men than for women. *GASP* There was an uproar, of course. Architects were consulted and plans were drawn up so that on opening day in 2007, both men and women had 334 toilets - a perfect potty parity.

My bathroom experience at the Old Busch was so-so, at best. Lines were generally long and the ladies rooms were tired and worn. But at New Busch, I can get in and get out - clean, warm restrooms, nice stalls and plenty of space in which to navigate the other leg-crossed women. A very positive bathroom experience.

What about you? What are your thoughts on New Busch's bathrooms? Or the restrooms in a stadium in your city? Let us know - you'll find us here all week during Bathroom Blogfest 2008!


SusanA said...

Well I can't comment on New Busch, but I was at the Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome) in the summer for a Blue Jays game and was really impressed at the size of the ladies rooms, and corresponding fast movement of the lineup.

One thing still bugs me, however. We all have to peek down to see if there are legs, because you can't tell from the doors whether there's an empty cubicle. What would be so bad about having those red and green symbols that appear when the lock is turned?

The worst, I find, are often the smaller live theatre venues, where there may be potty parity, but there just aren't enough to accommodate everyone during the short intermissions.

Great posts.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Susana,

I agree! The bending and foot watching is not only irritating, but rather archaic in this world of technology. You'd think that someone would have implemented the red and green symbols in more restrooms already.

Thanks so much for your comments... Bathroom Blogfest '08 was a good year.

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