Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Once upon a time there was an average yet quirky Princess who reigned over a small kingdom in the province of Ranui. One fine day the Princess was on her way towards the grand royal motorway when all of a sudden she was hit by the insipid rumblings of a panic attack. She felt her tummy cramping and her brain get all tight. A ha! she thought. I shall pause my vehicle at this small line of merchants to perchance beg the use of the facilities to calm my fraying nerves (she also kind of need to go number 1’s so a bathroom was a good place to break briefly her journey)
She pulled her silvery-blue 1996 chariot into the chariot park and hastened to the open doors of a local cafe. But lo a sign on the door to the toilet room read “For customer use only”.
You would think that at this point in the story a kindly cafe godmother might take pity on our protagonist and allow her to use the bathroom as she has asked so politely. You would how ever be wrong. Because this is not a fairy tale and I was not dealing with a kindly yet wizened proprietor, I was dealing with a money hungry dickhead.
I realised after walking into the Columbus Cafe on the corner of Lincoln Road and Universal Drive that the bathroom was for customers only and because I have nice manners and don’t want to be an arsehole I held my panic in for a few seconds to ask a staff member if I could use their loo. In the past I have found that usually when you approach the staff and it’s pretty obvious that you have no intention of smoking crack in their loo (I guess you never can tell, it was however 9.30am so really rather unlikely) they will say something like ‘oh go on, just this once’ because out of the kindness in their hearts they can see that you are in a pickle and/or may start crying and make a scene.
This was however not the case. While I was heading in the direction of the counter to ask, the owner came rushing out to make sure I knew it was a customer only toilet. I said in reply ‘could you tell me where there IS a public bathroom?’. You would think that after being asked 100 times a day where there was a public bathroom because their’s was for paying customers only, that he would have suggested something but nope. He stared blankly at me, shrugged and said ‘I d’know.’
It may seem to you that I am making a mountain out of a mole hill and you may be right. Having worked in (and managed) a variety of customer service based businesses I understand that having people in and out of your bathroom can be a messy and gross drain on your work day and staff. The area surrounding the Columbus is not the nicest for foot traffic; there is a TAB next door and a couple weird Dollar style shops further down. I understand the need to put up a sign stating that the bathroom is for customers only but when someone comes up to you who is obviously not going to throw toilet paper all over the place or write in their own faeces across the walls and politely asks to use you bathroom, most people would take pity and make an exception. In my experience, people are generally kind and willing to help if you ask nicely. But this guy was obviously just out to make some money out of me. There was one other person in the whole place, sitting outside nursing a cup of coffee. I could see on his face that he just wanted me to say ‘Oh well if I buy something can I use it’ but unless I am going to shit my pants right there and ruin the lovely white dress I am wearing then I’m not willing to play that bullshit game.
You can’t bargain for a persons dignity and the right to use a bathroom is human dignity at it’s most basic. What if I had been a mother with a child, or a pregnant woman? Would he have still expected a purchase? I think he would. Other than just being a shitty thing for a human to do to another human, it was also a terrible strategy customer services wise. I can honestly say that I will never spend a cent of my money in that place and will advice anyone planning to against patronise their business.
In a separate but perfect support story, a week later my boyfriend attempted to buy a coffee from the same place. It was a Saturday morning, there were only three or four customers in the shop and yet the three staff behind the counter had managed to fuck up the orders so much that everything needed to be remade. No one even spoke to my boy while he stood there for 5 minutes, no one apologised for the wait or said they’d be with him in a minute. He came angrily back to the car saying the service was terrible and he refused to even wait to order let alone give them the opportunity to fuck up his order in accordance with their earlier behaviour.
After a wee search on the ol’ Google-box I discovered on a Zomato page that perhaps it was for the best that I didn’t get to use their bathroom, I doubt I would have liked it anyway….
Cleanliness : ?/10 Though I’ve heard bad things.
Interior : ?/10
Exterior : 0/10
Safety : 0/10 No emotional safety here, expect to be treated like the piece of shit they think you are rather than the human being you really are.
Snugglitude : -10/10
Total : -10/50 That’s pretty terrible Columbus. Shame.