Editor’s Note: Casey Freeman’s Popular to Contrary Opinion column is moving from it’s traditional spot on Mondays to its new Wednesday edition. Keep an eye out for Popular to Contrary Opinion every Wednesday in the Colorado Daily.
Have you ever been a Greyhound Bus bathroom or an airplane bathroom and wondered, “How can they make this any worse? Maybe there’s somebody without shoulders, a few people that don’t have as sensitive sense of smell like you or a person that can just phase through solid things, doesn’t need light, won’t use toilet paper, needn’t wash or has no use for privacy.”
Well, unfortunately, that’s how Korean bathrooms are. Sometimes you wonder if a blind drunk hobbit engineered most of these loos just because he hates normal-sized people. The door may open inside so that it hits the toilet and in such an odd way you need to play Twister, stand on the toilet to balance and then leave.
Koreans rank as some of the biggest alcoholics in the world. I don’t know about the ladies’ rooms, but most men’s rooms smell like piss. Why? Because drunk Korean dudes piss all over it. And you’d almost swear they wash the old piss out with newer piss. But they don’t. Sometimes the cleaners just dump mothballs in random spots. So now it smells like mothballs AND piss. Nope, that’s not better at all.
Ladies, I’m sorry. The Korean patriarchy is pretty ugly but it doesn’t end with some rights. In bars and restaurants, you might need to ask or take toilet paper for the bathroom — owners fear somebody will steal it. Or, even weirder and grosser (but allegedly more sanitary) is the squatter. This is a toilet without, um, a toilet. There’s just a hole and a thing that flushes it.
Then there’s the stuff you flush. I think even somebody like me who’s never seen a sanitary napkin knows not to send it down the plumbing. But there are some other things we Westerners are used to flushing that Eastern plumbing just can’t handle — like toilet paper. There might be a garbage can next to the toilet. And it’s filled with yuck-stained paper.
Traditional places may make you take off your nice comfy shoes that have been housing your gross sweaty Western feet so you can eat at some sit-on-the-floor tables. When you need to go potty, you’ll need to put on some questionable shower sandals from the Reagan era. Do those things prevent anything? Doubtful.
Sometimes bathrooms don’t feature locks, so somebody will walk in on you. Or, if you’re a dude, you better get accustomed to old ladies working while you’re using the john, because cleaning ladies will just mop around you while your goods are out. It’s nothing they haven’t seen before. On top of that, sometimes the banos feature windows, which would be nice, except you can see right out them! And people can see right into them! Why? I don’t know.
Unfortunately, some bars have lightswitches on the outside, which means whenever some drunk leans against the wall while waiting that you’re peeing in the dark.
Usually boys and girls can enjoy their own bathroom, but sometimes there’s just a plywood wall separating them. Disgustingly, some men like to take photos of women peeing, so most phones make a click whenever they take photos. Again, I don’t know about the women’s, but in the boys’ room, sometimes the urinals and toilets have no walls! When somebody’s doing their big business (or you are) it’s kind of hard to pay attention to your own thing.
My advice to you: carry hand sanitizer. You never know if the public bathroom you’re going to use features soap, paper towels, a hand dryer or anything. Usually they have something like a bar of soap connected to a stick of metal. You kind of use that as well as you can, but wonder about how many people have touched it. Or, there might just be no soap or towels.
Any which way, read this column and re-read it, because not every country or continent will offer bathroom experiences like you’re used to in the United States.
Read more Freeman: coloradodaily.com/columns. Stalk him: comfyconfines.wordpress.com.