The Horror of Public Restrooms

I have known many individuals who refuse to use public restrooms, mostly for sanitary reasons. I can understand that completely, however, I use the bathroom when I have to….until now.

Public restrooms attached to restaurants and bars in the Lucca area are not the best bathrooms. We have found a couple that are perfectly fine, but most have just toilet bowls without seats and if you are really lucky you will find yourself looking at a floor with a drain hole as a toilet. Most are dark, dirty, and very tiny. Those are reasons enough to stay away from public restrooms here, but a girlfriend and I just had to find one more reason.

We were enjoying a night of socializing at a few of the local establishments, when the night took a drastic turn for the worst. As I was waiting for my friend to return from the bathroom, I kept busy checking my email on my phone, and I am really glad that I did. Normally when I go out, I have my phone in my purse and basically forget about it. Since I had it out at that moment, I actually saw that I was getting a phone call. I was confused by this. My husband couldn’t be calling me and the only other person to call me would be the person I was hanging out with that night. I rightfully decided to answer it though and realized that it was in fact my friend calling from the bathroom. She was frantically alerting me to the fact that she was stuck in the bathroom. The door would just not open.

At first I thought this would be no big deal. I would help get the door open from the other side and all would be fine. That was not going to happen. After realizing that the door was unlocked, working the handle on my side, and throwing my body against the door wasn’t working, I knew I would have to get some help. In broken Italian, I did my best to explain to the two employees attending this bar that my friend was stuck in the bathroom. I must have done a terrible job because I still had to demonstrate the fact that the door wouldn’t open and my friend was on the other side of it. One of the employees explained to me (quite a few times before I understood what she was saying) that my friend she try turning her door handle (duh). That was when I said,  “This?” and handed her the door handle that I am assuming belonged on the other side of the door. I am so happy that my friend could not see the horrified looks on the employees faces at that time. We continued to push at the door with all our strength. I tried not to think what would happen if the door actually did open. The toilet room was very small, and I was a little afraid the door would swing open and violently his my friend on the other side. In the end, the main priority was to get the door open. We even tried unscrewing the lock all together. Still, nothing was working, and my friend was starting to panic. She had been trapped in that tiny space for fifteen minutes at this point and now the light above her had gone out. I continued to working on the door and simultaneously trying to keep my friend calm by talking to her. I don’t know that I was doing much to help the situation at all. One of the employees had called the manager who was calling the fire department. They insisted that I step out of the bathroom area to talk to the manager who did speak English. She wasn’t telling me anything that would be helpful, and I was anxious to get back to my friend when I heard loud exclamations and realized that they had finally managed to open the door.

I can’t imagine how awful that had to have been for my friend. It was awful enough being on the other side of that door. While walking passed that area the next day, my friend was greeted by the employees there and was told that someone else had the same problem again that morning (about twelve hours after our traumatic incident there). What does it take to post an “Out-of-order” sign or fix the freaking door??!!! I guess a lot. Needless to say, I have not used a public restroom in Lucca since and don’t intend to for a very long time.

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