Wednesday, March 01, 2006


So how's the bathroom these days? Is it sweet smelling? Sparkling clean? Soap bar perhaps a bit grimey? Dust bunnies in the corner or under the tank?

For most people keeping their bathroom clean while important for hygienic purposes, isn’t something that keeps them awake at night with worry. However for businesses attempting to take home the first (and only) prize plus entry in “America's Best Restroom Hall of Fame,” there’s no compromising when it comes to keeping their toilet a flush above the rest. Some would even go as far to say the challenge bowls them over.

A bathroom supply company is sponsoring an on-line poll to seek out the cleanest bathroom in the U.S. They’ve narrowed it down to five bathrooms located in a Rhode Island seafood house, a Michigan bistro, a New Jersey casino, an Illinois airport and an Ohio restaurant.

Sponsored by a company who just happens to be a manufacturer of restroom supplies, the contest was initiated to spotlight businesses that kept “exceptional hygiene with style” in their toilet bowls.

Seems that the organizers do research but don’t actually try out, presumably as in sit on the nominated seats or perform a finger test, before narrowing it down to the five for the on-line poll. It would be too difficult since nominations can and are made by anyone.

It could be a big job if you'll excuse the pun.

The nominees, probably flushing with pride, submit photos and information about their business, after which the photos are posted on the sponsoring company’s web site. Presumably, there will be no photographic images of soiled toilet paper on the floor or close ups of stall doors containing messages like “For a good time, call …”

Perhaps the organizers might consider expanding this challenge to Europe where some "facilities" are relegated to a small drain in a cement floor, period. Another addition worth considering for organizers is the addition of a golden plunger, as an added incentive.

If I sound a little anal regarding bathroom facilities, blame France for traumatizing me possibly for life. A recent visit to that beautiful country with its delicious baguette and scrumptious food caused some over-eating at a small and quaint bistro and a trip to la toilette. It was the type of bistro advertised in those colorful travel folders with a serving bar and small tables with white tablecloths. Strolling through the bathroom door it was obvious immediately that something was amiss: there were no toilets! Assuming perhaps that I had entered the wrong door, I exited and verified that there was indeed a drawing of a lady. Once that was established I re-entered and made a complete circle of the room. A few times. Many, many times but no toilette. Instead the room was wall-to-wall tiles with a slight slope in the middle and a small drain. Once again exiting the door and cornering the waitress , I enquired as to "ou est la toilette?", she pointed to the door I had exited. Using the Stanislavsky method to communicate, I shrugged my shoulders a few times and pointed to the door.

"No bathroom-o" I told her. "You know...'le pee-pee' room?'

Finally, upon realizing my desperate situation since I was twisting my legs and hopping up and down while talking, she motioned me to follow her and together took a promenade down the street about a half a block to yet another restaurant operated by the same owner of the bistro that had a "real" bathroom with real toilet.

By the way the winner, which will be chosen in April, gets a plaque with the title of “"America's Best Restroom Hall of Fame."

Have they heard about this in France, yet?

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