Itty Bitty Ladies Room

This is not my usual foray into fascinating history blog. This is a pet peeve.

One thing is for sure: Women’s restrooms were designed by men.

And probably not by normal-sized adult men, for that matter. I’m certain that there are engineering planning committees made up of little people. If public restrooms are designed by full-sized adults, then they are warped individuals who take glee in maniacally placing stools and doors and tissue dispensers so that women who are neither exceptionally flexible or three feet tall cannot possibly use the facility without being contortionists.

Recently I attended a planning meeting at a nearby restaurant. My friend, Chris and I used the restroom after lunch, commenting as soon as we opened the stall doors that this was going to be interesting. I’m not a tiny person, but I’m not that big either. I can’t help but wonder how on earth a plus size person maneuvers one of those stalls without wetting her pants. Seriously.

I managed to hang my purse on the back of the door by standing beside the stool, and then in a movement not unlike something you might see Jim Carey perform, I somehow managed to lower, lean and sidle to get the task done.

Meanwhile, Chris, who IS a small-ish person, is lamenting from the stall beside me that she has her head cocked sideways so she can sit down without knocking herself out on the door.

By this time I’m looking for one of those alarm buttons like you see in hospital bathrooms. Push it and someone comes in with a jar of petroleum jelly to get you back out of the stall. Or should I be checking for–at the least–a hidden camera, because surely this is Candid Camera? I quickly check to make sure I have on a good pair of underwear.

At least this particular restroom wasn’t one of those where the toilet tissue holders were installed on the wall just a little behind you and at about mid-calf, so that when you need to roll off some tissue, you have to stand on your head. And then after that workout, you only get two one-ply squares because the paper-miser feature prevents the roll from actually rolling. Back to the head-stand.

I mean seriously, people, could the architects please figure in a few more feet in their designs? Realistically, Americans are getting larger every year.

And bathrooms ain’t.

What’s your pet peeve?

+ posts

40 thoughts on “Itty Bitty Ladies Room”

  1. Since the blog started with restrooms, I’ll continue by saying that it is annoying when you have cleaned and dried your hands, and then try to exit and notice that the door has a handle you must use to open it! Sorry, but I know the reality is that some people do not wash their hands and I am NOT touching handles that these people also touched! Yet another bathroom flaw designed by men!

  2. Oh, Kathleen, I hear you! Gross. Who knows where all those hands have been, eh?

    I have to take a paper towel and cover the handle with it when I leave.

    My pet peeve? When people at a restaurant or in the work place make a mess with food. They just walk away from ketchup they spilled, or coffee grounds scattered on the counter when they make a fresh pot, or veggie dip dropped in globs over the carrots.

  3. Laughing, remembering being 9 months pregnant. You have to just go for the nearest public restroom there is. Yup. They are all tiny. And the door opens in. What’s up with that? I thought I’d have to give birth in there in order to get out.

  4. Oh, and I forgot to mention my other really big pet peeve. Waiters and waitresses who wear their pants too low. What is up with that style? It should have gone the way of the beehive 10 years ago. Wear what you like, but after you’ve delivered my meal, I so do NOT need to see your plumbers behind, if you get my drift (no offense to any plumbers out there). Hello? You’re MOONING me!!!

  5. There’s one in a local store that, well, the contortions required to be seated somehow twist your innards into a formation that prevents the function for which the stall was created.

    What were they THINKING????!!!!!!!!

    What I want is a bathroom big enough for not only me, but I remember the day I had to try and get a baby stroller in there with me.

  6. I chuckled while reading this, Cheryl, because it is so true! I don’t know why the doors open into the stall, to me that is one of the stupidest design flaws. The size of stalls is one of the reasons why I never use a public restroom while working unless it’s one where I’m the only person in there and can lock the door. Unlike the guys, I have to take off my gunbelt to go to the bathroom all the time and I don’t want to risk someone grabbing it. Try manuevering through one of those small stalls when you have an extra 2-3 inches around your hips!

  7. Speaking of wearing pants to low, Lori, I drove by a house yesterday with a man squatted down with his back to me in the yard working on some weedbed or something (TRUST ME, MY EYES WERE UNABLE TO LOOK AT THIS GUY’S HANDS!!!!!) his pants were so low that all I could think of was–with the amount of his backside he was showing, a bra would have been more appropriate for the cleaveage displayed than a pair of jeans.

  8. I was finally in a bathroom the other day that had it all in the sense of automatic equipment. The toilet flushed itself, the water ran by itself, the soap dispensed itself and the towels fed themselves out.

    Are we spoiled or what?

  9. AND ONE MORE THING 😀 I have way too much to say on this don’t I?

    You know those touchless water dispensers and touchless towel dispensers? Sometimes they won’t dispense????

    Touch them.

    Seriously the no fail way to make a touchless towel dispenser dispense towels is just to press on that reddish electric eye. the towels come right out. I know it defeats the ‘ick, I don’t want to touch anything in here’ impulse, but seriously, touch them…works like a charm.

  10. Cheryl, you’re absolutely right! Women’s bathrooms are a horrible mess. I’ve banged my elbows on the sides of the stalls and gotten bruises. And a lot of the time there’s NO toilet tissue in the dispensers. I hate that. Yeah, I wonder if men designed them to get even with us?

    My pet peeve is the people who get around the “no call” policy. I took out some insurance a while back and now they call me at least once a week trying to get me to take out more. And they won’t take no for an answer. They just keep talking away until I finally just hang up on ’em. And I guess law enforcement agencies are exempt from that rule too because I’m being bombarded by those people. I hate being harassed. If I wanted to donate money I would. I don’t need to be pressured. That really turns me off.

    Excellent post today!

  11. As a definite plus woman–there are certainly times of challenge in a bathroom stall. I just so ‘love’ straddling the seat just to get the door closed.

    Kathleen, you’ve got that right on the handwashing issue. Having worked in both health care and food service… I’ve actually complimented moms in a restroom when they have their kids wash their hands correctly!

    Mary–you ‘crack’ me up. A butt-bra. You need to get a patent on that before they show up on the Milan runways. 🙂

  12. Hi Cher – This is a good topic. When I go to restaurants, it’s because I know they have great bread, when I go anywhere else, I KNOW where the good bathrooms are. There’s a few places that have roomy, roomy stalls, granite walls and plenty of toilet paper. Even a place to hang your purse. I HATE putting my nice purses on the bathroom floor.

    But more than that, I hate the automatic toilets that flush, only they don’t. You get up, move around, wave your hand and nothing. Then you have to look for the button, wave your hand even more. After that you HOPE the automatic water will release when you try to wash your hands.
    If it does, you get all of 3 seconds of water before waving your hand again and again.

    Mary – a good suggestion to push the red button. Sometimes, I smack the darn thing!

  13. Any of you from in and around Omaha, Von Maur’s women’s restroom. So amazingly beautiful and I’m pretty sure it’s got more square feet than my house…much prettier, too.

    I am planning to take my next vacation to that restroom. AAA has it listed as one of the 1000 things to see before you die, seriously. 😀 (or not)

    I could hang around in there like it was the view to the Grand Canyon, just look and ooh and ahh.

    I don’t know if Von Maur is national but if it is, ladies, check out the restroom.

    I wonder what the men’s restroom looks like? Cheryl? Next time I’m in town, you be the look out and I’ll sneak and and look in the men’s then report back.
    Bring a camera.

  14. And here’s a pet peeve about bathrooms.

    (okay, I have GOT to stop commenting)

    You know how it’s a trend now to unroll the hand towel paper, crank it or whatever BEFORE you wash your hands, so theoretically, that crank is filthy so now, you do the cranking FIRST then just tear off the paper and don’t have to touch anything….WELL EXCUSE ME…now people touch the crank with their UNWASHED hands, guaranteeing it’s icky. Before they were always touching it with their freshly washed hands.
    I say the old way was better and, because I am firmly settled into the ‘old dog new tricks’ phase of life, I can NEVER remember to crank first then wash, so I wash then BING my head begins functioning and I remember everyone’s touching that crank with unwashed hands.


  15. Oh, you guys make me laugh! I walk out of restrooms with my hands up as though I’ve sterilized for surgery. I refused to touch a door. Mary, I’m one of those people who gets the paper towels first – in fact I get them before I will touch the faucet. I must have the ick phobia way worse than any of you.

    Charlene, don’t get me started on automatic flushers! More often than not they don’t flush – how disgusting is that?

    However – a few years back when auto flushers were not the norm in reststop bathrooms, we were on our way to a funeral out of town and I used the restroom. My heirloom watch somehow unclasped and fell right into the toilet. I didn’t hear the plunk, and I looked around, praying it was on the floor — bad enough — but, no, there it was at the bottom of the potty water.

    Okay, I can do this, I think. I just grab it and wash afterward anyway, right? The minute I leaned toward the stool, the toilet flushed – and away went Grandma’s watch. I must have had a look of shock on my face, because when I walked out into the lobby, my husband and brother took one look at me and asked, “What’s wrong?”

    That year my brother gave me a watch for my birthday, with the comment: “It was cheap. You can flush it if you want to.”

  16. Cheryl, this is too funny! My pet peeve is no towels. Just that darn blow dryer! Then you have to touch the button to make it work, so to avoid touching the button filled with germs, I use my elbow or knee or something.

    Another weird thing? Change rooms in shopping malls seem to be going unisex. How weird is that? American Eagle…my teenage daughter was in there trying on bikinis, and next stall over was a teenage boy trying on jeans. This mom did not like it.

    And then I was in Sears in the lingerie dept, trying on undergarments, and the woman next door had brought her husband in to her stall, to see how everything fit. Geez!

    Am I old fashioned or what?

  17. Too bad the doors don’t open up automatically too. And I hate when there isn’t a hook for your purse. I do not want it on the floor and holding it makes for a few fancy maneuvers.

  18. I’ve used quite a lot of away-from-home restrooms recently and all of the above pet peeves are mine as well. Yesterday we were gone all day to the Angel game and my newest peeve: young guys who think it’s cool to have their underpants show above their already stupidly-low belts.

    Another one: waitresses/waiters (excuse me: servers) who say “No problem” when I order something. It’s happening more and more.

    Of course it’s not a problem, lame-o. You’ve got it on your menu!!!!

  19. I see these insanely low pants all the time and I always wonder how they stay up.


    ……….sometimes they don’t.

    One time a person who shall not be identifed here, let’s call him Lo-Boy….was walking out of my room (at work) and his pants fell off…just dropped down to his knees.

    Thank heavens he had on underwear.

    It’s a busy world, people, do we not have ENOUGH to do without fighting to keep our pants up???

    Also, how do you try them on? How do you decide if they fit???

  20. I love this post because I so wished I could put all into words too about this pain! I too hate that there’s not much room to move in there to even reach and pull that toilet paper. I feel like I have to step around the toilet just to get the door open. Too I hate the air dryers for hands that is so harsh that it actually hurts my hand. I’d like the option for paper then. I do try to carry some with me when I go out!

  21. These posts are seriously funny! I’m chuckling reading them.

    Oh, I could just imagine your shock, Cheryl, when grandma’s watch flushed away … automatically.

  22. I think we are all in total agreement about the crap design of the majority of women’s restrooms and with the exception of a few high end establishments I don’t think it will change…the bottom line is non-revenue producing space:( Even if all the designers were women, the square footage allotted for restrooms will always be absolute minimal (with the exception of the high end places). Sigh.

    Here’s a pet peeve of mine in a particular Borders Express store in a very large mall…to start with there are no baskets – do you hear me – no baskets! How does a book addict shop without a basket to fill?! Trust me, I only go to this store if I’ve received a gift card and/or earn a reward of some kind. On more than one occasion I’ve made a huge issue about this with the store manager. And, what happens is that he sends someone to the stockroom in the back of the store to retrieve the ONE basket used for restocking so that I can use it. It’s all I can do not to go off on this idiot. I do not want to choose my books one at a time and bring them to the counter. I have a 23 page shopping list in my hand and I want to make initial selections and exchange according to what’s available or what has priority at that moment. Hel-lo…book addicts are not a one or two book at a time shopper…book addicts buy 10 to 15+ at a time. This jerk brain manager actually whined to me about the cost of providing baskets in the store…Sweet Mother…how short sighted is this nimrod? AGGgggghhhh…I almost let my temper get the best of me but I was there, I had the gift card, I wanted my books and I wanted to get the hell out of there.

    Act II…second issue in this same store…I’m 5’3″. This same jerk brain manager had rearranged the romance section…tons of stock and choices…if you happen to be 6′ tall. The stock now took up most of one whole wall…lovely…if you like dragging a step stool around with you and hopping up and down for an hour and a half or so.I couldn’t get out of this store fast enough.

    Act III…the store has an antiquated computer/ cash register that deals with ISBN numbers versus and/or titles of the books. This is significant because my order had to be recalculated THREE times before it was done correctly. Idiot brain checked each and every ISBN number on the receipt against each and every book (we’re talking over 20 books here). You heard right…three separate times. If I had not had the presence of mind to physically check the number of books versus what was on the receipt BEFORE leaving the store (all three times), I would have cut body parts off this man, stuffed him into the ONE store basket and had the sales clerk take him back to the stockroom.

    I don’t have to be a marketing genius to know what is what in a bookstore. We’re surrounded by idiots I tell you.

  23. These posts are really funny.
    My pet peeve has nothing to do with restrooms.
    I hate people who talk on cell phones while they are driving. I have seen so many potential accidents , because the driver was talking on a cell phone instead paying attention to the road.

  24. Speaking of undersized facilities…I avoid them like the plague but occasionally have No Choice but to use a porta-potty and what’s there sticking in my face but a URINAL. Eeeeew. What’s that about? Can’t they just aim down? Arrrrrgh.

    (I’m supposed to be calling the cable vision people right now –talk about idiots– so decided to treat myself to another jaunt to the Junction before I do it and go stark raving bonkers.)

  25. Mary–about low riding pants and the showing of underwear–my housemate’s youngest son lived with us for awhile, and he wears said jeans. And two pairs of underwear! One pair of whities and a pair of boxers ‘for showing’. and usually at least three shirts–a wife beater, a regular tee and a shirt. Glad he did his own wash!

    The restrooms where I used to work had the ‘handiest’ gadget–a hook like thingie on the door at floor level so you can use your foot to open it. No handle touching!

  26. Love these, Cheryl! The restrooms in airports where you have to share a tiny stall with your luggage come to mind. And I’ve heard that the dirtiest place in a public restroom is the floor, and you should never put your purse or anything there.

    As one who’s traveled enough to get used to them, I actually don’t mind the squat toilets in some countries. The beauty of them is, no part of your body has to touch anything!

  27. Let me add that I think we should maybe make Nancy an honorary Filly. Any woman who’s buying books twenty at a time is someone we want hanging around. 😀

  28. I have been laughing hysterically at all of these posts and agree with most of them too! My solution to the small stalls is to look furtively around to see if anyone who is handicapped/with a baby stroller etc. is around. If not, I dash into the “big” stall and hurry my business. I also have this neat purse hook my friend gave me for Christmas last year that hooks over tables in restaurants, doors in bathrooms and lots of other places you don’t want to put your purse on the floor at. It’s every pretty with a gemstone on it so it looks nice on the table.

    My favorite womens room is at Harrods in London. It’s seriouly hug! I swear it’s as big as my entire house. There is a lady there who hands you a towel-after she turns the water on and off for you. Then she offers you a comb, lotion or perfume to “freshen up if you would like.” I thought she was going to follow me into the stall, (which was also huge.)

    Great post Cheryl! Love your sense of humor.

  29. Mary… you’re right about the “bottom line” and public toilets. What was I thinking?!

    You are a smart woman. I would make an excellent honorary Filly;) [gotta love Rainman for the humor here] but I have to tell you, as yet I haven’t been able to figure out how to get a direct feed from petticoatsandpistols. Is this an option?

    My book addiction is not exaggeration as I generally read a book a day. I’m at a stage in life that I can indulge my obsession and I do. My taste includes almost all the romance fiction genre(on the hot side)but I also ‘love me’ some sappy stories as well (as long as there are no TSTL heroines in them). Cowboys and westerns are among some of my favorites and is how I stumbled across this web site some months back.

    I enter mega contest to supplement my addiction and have had some luck. This may be a good thing or a bad thing…the bad being that a lot times I end up adding another favorite or auto buy author to my unbelievable long list.

    It blows me away that as many authors as I know and love there’s probably ten times more that I haven’t read yet. I most often go to the B&N that’s three minutes away when a group of my auto buys publish at the same time. When I make these trips I get in the zone…never mind the list in my hand…I still want to look, touch and feel from A to Z (B&N has baskets!). Invariably I also pick up at least one or two new-to-me authors (which are normally noted on my TBB). I can’t think of anything that’s more fun (well…okay…maybe one or two;).

    The economy at the moment is playing some havoc with my addiction so while I still buy a lot of books I’ve had to cut back to some extent and become a bit more ruthless in my selections.

    Obviously I love living in a fantasy world and really am grateful that there are so many terrific authors to supply that world.

  30. Nancy is no doubt spot on regarding the non-revenue producing space of restrooms being the reason they’re relegated to torture chambers. I was blown away by your book buying habits, girlfriend! You get my vote as an honorary Filly!

    Definitely, a Filly. Definitely.

    Mary, I’ll be the lookout for the men’s bathroom at Von Mauer!

  31. Betsy, I WAAAAAAAAAAANT one of those gizmos for hanging my purse! Why, I could just stick one of my huge paper clips in my purse – why didn’t I ever think of that?

    My friend Debra gave me a keychain for my birthday, and it has a heart-shape on a little hook, so I hang it in my purse and NEVER have to fish for my keys! It is one of the most useful gifts I have ever rec’d. It’s from a Hallmark store.

  32. I think our bathrooms are a little better except the door handles and whats it with mints by the door as you go out!
    we have some you may have trouble with but on a whole they are not as bad as i have just read.
    Oh in Hawaii i was at a place with autoflush toilets (let me say it gave me the shock of my life when it went off!)
    In the train station in Adelaide they have auto taps also and the door push open.
    (side note did you know aussie toilets have way less water in them.)

  33. Cheryl…you’ll be happy to know sweet Filly, that I’m not alone in my book buying habits. Now if I can just convince more authors out there that women readers really do want to read older heroines (and I ain’t just talking 30 to 35 sweet cheeks;) Is there a Filly on the board that’s anywhere near her “golden” years?

    I’ll bet your vote as an honorary Filly only cost about a hundred dollars:)

  34. Nancy your post on bookstores was interesting.
    i agree with the height we have that in supermarkets i have to at times go and get someone to get something of the top shelf for me im 5’2 and a half. the books stores i go to in the city are more friendly and both have baskets.
    When I buy books in the city i tend to buy similar numbers and have to actually stop myself buying more.
    same when they have a online 20% off and if you buy over $200 25% off.
    Do you have regulations for buildings and rest rooms in America. Here there are regulations. alot are small but not as bad as discribed here.

  35. My daughter just reminded me of why some places
    do not have hangers on the inside of stall doors.
    Most of them are situated pretty high on the door
    and that is the danger. There have been thefts
    where the thief reaches over the door, grabs the
    handbag, and disappears from the restroom.

    Pat Cochran

  36. Nancy, to answer your question: we don’t have a feed set up for subscriptions. If we hear from several of you that this is something you’d like, we will sure consider it.

  37. I swear I have a kitchen that was designed by a man of course, who never cooked. I can’t roll out a pie crust without taking the pastry board all the way out of the cabinet. And I have to walk very far to the refrigerator. But it has a wine rack(useless) in it!
    As far as bathrooms go, men should never go in them. Especially after I have cleaned it. And why can’t they put a roll of toilet paper on the holder?

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