Several years ago I was sitting next to a Canadian friend in an airport in southern Turkey. We’d been people watching for about twenty minutes, enjoying each other’s company in silence, as good friends can, when he broke the idyll with the observation, “the world needs more toilet architects! …. SOME toilet architects.”
I followed his gaze, which had latched onto the entrance of the only men’s loo in our terminal. I turned to him in puzzlement. “Wait for it. Keep watching”, he encouraged. I turned back, and strained to see what he had noticed. It took a while but then I twigged. The designer had placed the urinals behind the entrance wall. We could see this because the designer (or maybe a different designer) had placed a full length mirror on the wall behind the urinals, allowing us to see everything that was going on from where we were sitting.
That moment became a catalyst for a lively discussionas we waited to board our fight. We reeled off toilet failing after toilet failing: having to stand on the toilet to be able to close the door, needing to dislocate your spine to retrieve the loo roll, driers so close to the sink that you can’t use either independently, etc.
I was reminded of this discussion a moment ago as I was retrieving some loo roll in Chicago’s O’Hare International airport from a dispenser I had to reach for. As I leant forward, my mind was steeling itself for the regular game of toilet paper origami, which would allow the alchemist in me to turn the transparent, single-ply product on offer into something worthy of my majestic nethers. These attempts often end in failure and I am compelled to resort to what can best be described as “wadding”. However, the placement of this dispenser, and my forced lean triggered the auto flush mechanism which, I regret to confess, I found disturbingly refreshing. I got to enjoy this refreshment three times in quick succession. I was about go for a fourth but I thought that many might constitute an offence so I completed my manoeuvres, smiled as I realised that I didn’t need to step backwards up onto the toilet to open the door, abluted and left.