This being Halloween, it’s time to discuss the three scariest words in the English language: bus station restroom. I know. The image is probably too terrifying for the more squeamish among you, and is likely sending dozens of you reaching for the Purell.
But this is the week of the second annual Bathroom Blogfest , in which intrepid
bloggers write about the importance of bathrooms in the customer experience, and I vowed to do my part to expand on our knowledge of this important area, even if it meant facing down the grisliest experiences in our culture.
So, on your behalf, I braved perhaps the most fearsome destination in all of Bathroomdom: the ladies room at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. I tried to take a picture. My camera failed me. Who could really capture the inchoate horror of the moment? The only thing worse would be having to use the bathroom on the actual bus.
Actually, apart from looking like a prison restroom (not that I have a basis for that comparison, mind you), it wasn’t as foul as I expected. Tall, black-clad stalls with no toe-tapping potential,. Automatic faucets. Grim but not too grimey.
But with flu season nigh upon us, it made me start to think more about the evils that can lurk in even the snazziest restrooms. Things like streptococcus, E.coli, hepatitis A, and staphylococcus, as well as whatever is lurking in this year’s influenza cocktail. And those are just the bugs.
So I scoured the web for the latest advice on avoiding the seasonal hazards of your average restroom. Keep these in mind when you’re at work, as well as while traveling -- those airport restrooms can be as dangerous as any Greyhound loo.
Web MD  warns that the risk is not from sitting on the toilet, but touching surfaces. Things you don’t think about – the lock on the stall door, the handles on the faucet after washing your hands. I don't want to be Trump-like here, but how do you turn off the faucet if you're in a restroom with those annoying hot air dryers instead of paper towels?
Ehow  gives tips for guys using restrooms, including the alarming warning that when you flush, germs spew everywhere. Perhaps the diciest suggestion is this one: Follow someone in and out of the bathroom so you don't have to touch the doors. I’m sure that avoiding germs is what Senator Larry Craig had in mind when he entered that airport john in Minneapolis.
Advice from the University of Massachusetts includes a discussion of something I’ve long puzzled about – those giant, enclosed toilet paper dispensers. Who hasn’t struggled to start a particularly recalcitrant roll by reaching up inside those behemoths? OK, so given the terrifying warning by ehow about the germ-fest unleashed by flushing, I won’t complain anymore about armored dispensers. UMass says they’re the most germ-proof.
Finally, in what constitutes breaking news in this realm, Kimberly Clark has just announced a revolutionary new Electronic Bath Tissue System. It's the toilet tissue sibling of those paper towel dispensers, and lets you get a handful of the stuff without touching anything nasty. The company is launching its new product with what it hopes will be a viral campaign, unfortunately named "Alien Droppings ." Beware the glowing green slime! And Happy Halloween.
Check out other blogs on this topic:
- Kate Rutter—Adaptive Path 
- Laurence Helene Borel—Blog Till You Drop 
- Iris Shreve Garrott—checking out and checking in 
- Susan Abbott—Customer Experience Crossroads 
- Maria Palma—Customers Are Always 
- Becky Carroll—Customers Rock! 
- Toby Bloomberg—Diva Marketing 
- Stephanie Weaver—Experienceology 
- Linda Tischler—Fast Company Now 
- C.B. Whittemore—Flooring the Consumer 
- Ed Pell—K+B DeltaVee 
- Helene Blowers—Library Bytes 
- Claudia Schiepers—Life and its little pleasures 
- Katie Clark—Practical Katie 
- Sandra Renshaw—Purple Wren 
- Reshma Anand—Qualitative Research 
- Marianna Hayes—Results Revolution 
- Carolyn Townes—Spirit Women 
- Sara Cantor—The Curious Shopper 
- Anna Farmery—The Engaging Brand 
- Dee McCrorey—The Ultimate Corporate Entrepreneur 
- Katia S. Adams—Transcultural