Friday, August 17, 2007

Amanda's Toilet Rubric

There's nothing like traveling in a foreign land to make you appreciate the comforts of home. With that and my recent excursions in mind, I give you

Amanda's Toilet Rubric

The restroom facilities at any given establishment can be assessed using a standard grading scale (i.e. A, B, C, D, or F).

The grade depends on the following factors -

1. Structure. That is, does the facility include the basics of a room, including some separation from the others waiting in line for it (such as a locking door)?

2. Equipment. The basics demand a toilet and a sink in the vicinity. What, exactly, qualifies as a toilet and a sink is left to the evaluator's discretion, thus allowing room for the debate over whether a hole in the ground with a cinderblock on either side of it (for your feet) counts as a toilet.

3. Accessories. Toilet paper gets the utmost priority. Soap is secondary, paper towels or other hand dryers are negotiable.

4. Cleanliness. You know what I'm talking about here.

5. Smells. While this often is related to cleanliness, it's so vital to your overall bathroom experience, it merits a separate category.

6. Cost. Those of your unfamiliar with European toilets and/or the origins of the musical "Urinetown" may be baffled by this category. It matters, though. If entrance is free but tips are required, those restrooms also count in this category. and don't think about running out on the tips - just ask my friend Emily about the gypsy curse she received when she tried that.

Six categories, five possible grades. By sheer existence and availability, the bathroom you encounter begins with an "A". Should it be deemed deficient in any of the above categories, the grade drops by one letter for each lacking category.

For example, the restroom in the salt museum in N. A locking door, a toilet with a toilet seat, no lingering unpleasant odors - it did well, actually, but there was no sign of toilet paper. Thus this restroom received a "B".

Of course, one can use those grading negotiables, "+" and "-", to refine your assessement. Thus, if a lady at the door of a nice, clean bathroom insists on getting 15 rubles in exchange for a few squares of toilet paper (see categories "Cost" and "Accessories"), but it is the cheapest bathroom you've seen in town, feel free to give it a B+.

Likewise, if the restroom does, indeed, contain a toilet that you sit upon, but the toilet seat is made of wood and hangs on a nail next to the toilet, then it would earn an A-. (Actually, that particular example earned a D-, failing in the categories of accessories, sight, and smell. My favorite part of it was the flushing system - a tub of water with a pail in it that you used to pour water into the toilet bowl.)

So there it is. Now that you know the six categories (which you can remember with some rearrangement by the acronym "ACCESS"), enjoy them the next time you're traveling and wishing for not just home, but a particular room in your home.

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