Public Restrooms – A Rant

toilet

After enjoying a blogger’s tale of woe about someone’s inability to place clothes in a hamper, and the lengths she has gone to correct this character flaw, I began thinking about one of my pet peeves. Why are public restrooms are so disgusting?

Most of the men’s rooms of the employers I have worked for aren’t hideous, but as the day progresses, a parabola of pee appears on the floor in front the urinals. They start out as random drips and evolve into mini-puddles. It isn’t big deal for most people to avoid these, assuming they notice them, but for someone who has walking and balance issues, they can pose a challenge. I don’t want to step in the stuff, but sometimes the liquid is positioned in such a way that I have to almost straddle the urinal or contort my body in some fashion to keep my feet on dry ground. Therefore, I need to select the urinal that will allow me to keep my feet fairly close together, which is typically the one that is farthest from the entrance because it is used the least. Finding pristine floor space can be more of a challenge if there aren’t a lot of urinals in the room.

I try to be coy about it, because I would be embarrassed if someone saw me examining the floors before deciding where to go. But since my balance is so bad, I need to keep my feet fairly close together to stay upright without the aide of a cane, and, you know, my hands are otherwise occupied. So unless someone can tell me how to grow a third arm, I use as much stealth as possible when making my selection if others are in the room.

Be that as it my, why are the drips/puddles there to begin with? I mean, this is not a complicated process.

Why don’t you just go into one of the stalls, you might suggest. There are two reasons. The first is I need more space than the average bear. The handicapped stalls are limited, and you’d be surprised how many non-disabled people use them. I don’t know if it’s because they are claustrophobic or like to spread out, but the reason is irrelevant. The main reason why I avoid the stalls, especially later in the day, is because they can be disgusting.

I’m not going to get into the details of some of the stuff I have seen, but let’s just say that there can be all sorts of shit, figuratively and literally, laying about. It’s almost getting to the point where disposable hazmat suits should be available for all who enter. Oxygen masks would help too.

And if you are at a large venue, like a sports arena or stadium, forget it. Those are the epitome of filth. Bars too!  Maybe that’s because  people can’t see or stand up straight from the alcohol they’ve consumed, but that’s being generous. I don’t care how polluted you are. How hard is it to aim, fire, and hit the target at center mass? Or sit where you’re supposed to? And if you aren’t hammered, shame on you! These venues also include stomach contents to the smorgasbord of stuff you can find in a different areas of their  restrooms.

And ladies, don’t think for a minute that men have cornered the market on being slobs. From the stories I’ve heard from other women, you are as bad if not worse than men at every level. Women’s restrooms also include a unique level of grossness that men can’t match. On two separate occasions at various places I have worked, women have bitterly complained about someone leaving a used tampon somewhere on the bathroom floor.

I know women who simply refuse to use a public restroom, but haven’t heard the same from men,  Maybe that’s because we have a higher ick tolerance. Either that or we’re too macho to admit it.

It this the result of laziness, nonchalance, or do people just not care?  Can it be bad parenting, brain damage, or are people too busy looking at their phones instead of  paying attention to what they are supposed to be doing? Are the perpetrators angry the world or their situation in life, and this a form of anonymous protest?

Whatever the reason, I pity the people who have the job of cleaning these cesspools every day.

Blizzard Brody Visits Connecticut

snow flakes

We had our second winter storm of the year yesterday. The talking weather heads wavered on their snowfall forecasts in the days preceding the event, but nobody expected Winter Storm Brody to morph into Blizzard Brody.

The flakes started flying in the pre-dawn hours and didn’t finish falling until late afternoon/early evening. Somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen inches of snow fell. It was hard to determine how much we actually got because some areas had very little snow while others had drifts that were several feet high, compliments of strong, gusty winds, which whipped the snow around and created white-out conditions during the day. Needless to say, the wind chill was arctic. Fortunately, we did not lose power, which was my biggest concern because of the potential for freezing pipes.

As you know, I use these kinds of events as a measuring stick concerning my symptoms and progression. Snow removal of this magnitude had not been on the agenda for almost a year, so this experience would be a good way to gauge how I’m doing in terms of strength, balance, and general progression.  The verdict wasn’t good.

But it started out well. When I heard what was coming during the morning broadcasts, I heeded my wife’s advice to stay ahead of the storm, and cleared the sidewalks and the portion of the driveway our plow guy doesn’t touch before lunch. Our snowblower can handle a foot of snow or less, so if I waited until the storm was over before removing the snow, the blower might not have been much of a help. Getting rid of it in stages would make the evening removal a lot easier and less strenuous, or so I thought. Besides, I needed to remove the snow that had accumulated around the foundation and was threatening to cover the furnace vents, so if I had to bundle up to do that, why not stay outside and remove everything.

The task took a while to complete, but I came away from it in fine shape. Other than trying to open one of the doors that had been smothered in a snow drift, the task wasn’t physically demanding, and when I returned inside, I didn’t feel any different. Everything was working the same as it was before I ventured outside. So, when the snow finally stopped and it was time for round two, I expected nothing different. I knew there was a little more snow on the ground compared to the morning, but my son was going to do all the heavy work in the form of shoveling and getting rid of the stuff the town’s snow plows had dumped onto the sidewalk. All I needed to do was navigate the snowblower and clear the rest.

I was also better prepared, as I once again listened to the wife and wore both the AFO brace and the knee brace, which I didn’t bother with earlier. Everything was strapped on good and tight, so I felt confident that I wouldn’t have to worry about slipping or hurting myself.

It didn’t take very long to realize round two was going to be a struggle. Right from the start, the ankle kept turning to the right, and the knee followed. Planting the foot to get any push off of it became extremely difficult. The leg weakened quickly, and the balance followed. Like an inchworm, I was literally stepping forward with the good leg, and dragged the bad one behind it. With a little practice, moving straight ahead became easier, but turning and backing up was dicey. When the task was finally done about an hour and a half later, I couldn’t bend the leg at all. The weirdest thing was my bad leg actually felt shorter than the good one, perhaps because I couldn’t keep the ankle or knee straight. It was a good thing my son was there to do the shoveling, because I don’t think I would have been able to do it and remain upright. My balance was that bad.

When I finally made it inside, I had to sit on a chair to shed my winter garb, which was a first, and my wife had to remove my boots, also a first, because I could I couldn’t lift the leg, which was completely limp.

Fortunately, the snow was of the fluffy and dry variety, which made the job easier.  Having said that, my lower back currently feels like an alligator is chomping in on it, and my hip is barking. Both will feel worse tomorrow because the discomfort is always worse on the second day. Plus I had to do a little shoveling when I arrived home from work today, because tomorrow is garbage day, both of the containers were buried, and my son is not home.

Was last night’s experience the result of fatigue at the end of a long, busy day? Perhaps, but as I sit here twenty four hours later, the leg is still pretty weak, the ankle remains shot, and my foot is constantly drooping. I realize this sounds ludicrous, but I sometimes wonder if I’d be better off with a prothesis instead of a limb that feels like a lifeless piece of meat. At least I’d have more strength and better balance, or at least I think I would.

Is this a progression or simple weakness from a limb that isn’t used to working that hard? I have no idea, but suspect it’s more of a weakness issue because I have a similar experience when I get off the exercise bike after thirty minutes. At least I hope it is, because if this is my new normal, it is going to be a very long winter.

Temps are currently in the single digits and the wind, while not as brisk as yesterday, is enough to make the wind chill dangerous. It is bitterly cold out, so the snow will not be melting any time soon. I’ll need a week to recover from this episode and hope we don’t have another storm before then. And the next time it does snow, I hope we get less than a foot so it can be removed all at once instead of in multiple stages.

I know there will another big storm this winter, but pray we won’t have a repeat of four winters past, when it snowed every week for a couple of months, including one whopper of a storm that buried us with almost three feet of the white stuff. The piles of snow from the plow and snow blower became so high and wide that it got to the point where if it kept snowing, it would have been impossible to put it anywhere. Of course, that was four years ago, and my leg was a lot stronger than it is now, and my balance was infinitely better. If we were to ever have a winter like that again, I have no idea what we’d do.

Pray for hot rain, I guess.