Just off the hustle and bustle of cheap noodleville (Dominion Road) there is a public convenience which looks to be a comfort for a weary-nerved traveller. Alas, appearances can be deceptive as some pretty murals and nice tile work can hide the tummy ache inducing activities of the cities more deviant patrons.
I use this loo plenty as it is the one public bathroom in panicking distance from the supermarket I frequent. Before I had my car in the city and sometimes since I’d walk to the supermarket to pick up the noms and frequent a selection of vendors along the Dom Road strip (the hardware store, Geoff’s and Antiques Alley are on my list of good time hang outs). The supermarket in question, for those who are unaware is among an open arcade of shops with chemist, Subway and bakeries etc so one would think that a public toilet would have been added to the plans as a convenience for the customers of said shopping spots. You would be wrong. They have chosen instead to leave it up to the mother with a screaming wet baby, old lady with a weak bladder who just read a very funny, slightly rude card in the supermarket and laughed just that little bit too hard or the agoraphobic practically crying in the car park trying to figure out where there is a bathroom. Instead of the obvious it is across one of the busiest streets in the city, down a road, hidden behind some other shops.
The bathroom in question used to be worst but rather than really improve it they chosen the band aid approach; left it as is, repainted the concrete and stuck a mural and some bird pretty tiles inside to make up for the lack of atmosphere (yes I expect my public bathroom to have atmosphere. The atmosphere of not being in a scary bathroom in 1950’s rural New Zealand where married, in-the-closet gay men lurked hoping for a bit of action)
This one has the atmosphere of a jail cell.
One particular experience has retained in my mind and clouds the judgement of the snuglitude criteria of my toilet marking system. The exterior looks quite decent, the interior is ok other than the padlocked loo rolls and the broken door locks but the over all sense of comfort given off by the place is lacking. I was hiding in there one sunny afternoon when I lived more than a clenched walk away, my tummy hurt and I expected to be there for a while, it seemed someone else intended to stay there for a while as well. I sat in the open topped stall and listened as baggies rustled, metal clanged and a lighter flicked. I got the distinct impression that my co inhabitant was up to no good. I was uncomfortable but also knew that to leave was to walk straight back into a panic so I was forced to sit there and wait it out until I could calm down, take medication and (eventually) call my sister in law to pick me up.
The strange surprise at the end of this saga of discomfort was that on alighting from the darkened stall I saw the person waiting outside for their buddy was a middle aged, clean-cut traveller with sensible walking shoes and backpack.
I guess anyone can get addicted to the bad bad drugs if they are unlucky enough.
The lock on the door always reminds me of an SOS, a life saver buoy but really it is just a broken lock.