No Restroom For The Weary

I'll Take Door Number Three
I’ll Take Door Number Three

College Life offers you many chances to experience things that are either entirely new, entirely familiar, or entirely uncomfortable, often all during the same 60 minute interval.  Having spent many long hours on a College Campus – with the expressed purpose of pursuing an actual degree – I found myself in a number of situations where I needed to find a solution to a recurring problem.  It isn’t that being a student is particularly hard, and most certainly any advice that I could give isn’t isolated wisdom that can only be gained from a College Guru like myself.  Over time, just about anyone who pays attention to the world around them will be able to solve these particular conundrums on their own.  Still, this advice is meant mostly to capture my experience, some things that I learned that I did not expect, and how you can use these experiences to your benefit the next time you find yourself in College, pursuing your own degree.

Eventually, no matter how well you try to plan around it, you will need to use a public restroom on a college campus.  There is just no way around it; as a student, you will find yourself in the same collection of buildings for up to 16 hours a day, for years on end.  Unless you can afford it, chances are you don’t live nearby, either.  So, short of marking the fringes of the campus as part of your territory to ward off predators, you will need to drop your pants in a tiled room full of strangers and stranger smells.

As we all know, public restrooms are disgusting in ways that science is only just now starting to understand.  Entire college’s have been granted research money to look into the problem, and appropriately, since students follow research money, those schools tend to have VERY bad bathrooms.  But on any campus, you can count on some constants when it comes to commodes.  Any bathroom found on the ground floor of a building, particularly ones that are near entrances or exits, will absolutely be beyond use.  Conversely, a bathroom found on the top floor of any building, inaccessible by elevator, and requires the furthest amount of walking possible, will appear to be more or less unused by modern man.  Bathrooms that exist between these two points will be in varying degrees of disrepair, more or less on a spectrum that ranges from “unholy” to “unused.”

Given this relationship between “filth” and “distance you must travel within a building,” a certain amount of math is required to calculate how far will be “good enough” to handle your business.  Obviously, there are a lot of X Factors that can affect your decisions, not the least of which are limited to: “location of building,” “location of your next class,” “how bad do you have to go,” “how heavy is your bag,” “is this a pit stop or will you be spending a little time on the throne,” “how many floors can you walk in your current condition,” and “are you carrying a coffee beverage with you at the moment you need to go.”  All of these elements are at play in this math-room equation, and like any kind of fact-based science, you’ll either need to hire a fellow student to do it for you, or practice doing it quite a bit until you fine-tune the formula.

Modern campuses have a number of unisex bathrooms, and due to thousands of years of previously existing gender politics, we can reap the benefits in the form of locks that appear on the doors.  While unisex bathrooms are not common, even on big campuses, there are usually a handful of them scattered throughout.  Usually, these kinds of bathrooms exist because a student group has been campaigning for them for quite some time.  Because of that, administrators put these rooms in the most inconvenient locations imaginable.  These rooms, while not exactly cleaner, offer a little more privacy, and are worth seeking out, or at least being aware of in emergencies.

Any administrative building, human resources department, presidential office, and any place that students ignore or avoid because you can’t smoke pot or watch girls from there, have much cleaner bathrooms by default.  (These offices actually have things like “janitors.”)  Whenever possible, try to plan your bathroom trips around these buildings, even if you have to develop bullshit excuses for going to these out-of-the-way locales.  After a shitty class, it is often necessary to unload in a room with air-freshener, guaranteed TP, and the sounds of suits and ties discussing policies that act as the perfect bowel loosener.

As you will be spending a lot of time on campus, I recommend spending an afternoon locating bathrooms that are the right combination of clean, near where you need to be, regularly stocked but less used than others.  This is time consuming at first, but ultimately will save you a lot of time.  It is also good to have a reserve list of “Plan B” facilities for a number of reasons.  Most likely, because you are on a College Campus, at any given moment there are a number of students who all need to use the bathroom at the same time, and thus every stall and urinal are already being used.  Having a few back-up plans that are also nearby can become a necessity.  Any school staff who have been on campus for longer than a few months have often done all of this legwork for you.  I suggest watching administrators and professors, and follow them.  They have often located bathrooms that are isolated, clean, and relatively unused on a daily basis.  If it is good enough for a fussy and insane person with a PHD who can’t remember further back than 15 minutes, let alone to the days of when they themselves were first in College, then it should be perfect for someone who still has full control over their faculties.

While this may work at home, I do not recommend reading material while perching on porcelain at school.  Usually, these are hit and run missions anyway.  You have been spending most of your day studying, reading, digesting, and otherwise considering lots of information, anyway.  While reading on the throne might seem relaxing, what you really need to to clear your mind as well as your body before your next class.  If anything, I recommend the campus paper, as it not only makes an excellent laxative, but can come in handy if you happen to run out of toilet paper.

The law of averages and statistics dictate that it is unlikely that this term’s perfect bathroom will continue to be so the entire time you are a student.  Be willing to do some legwork every three or four months, to re-evaluate the relative pros and cons of different facilities, to see what has and hasn’t changed over time.  Some people may discover your secret, but that also means that other locations are being depended on less as this new one is being used.  Do not be afraid to adjust your plans as needed.  It will not take long before this process is fairly automatic.  By the end of your tenure as student, you’ll have become an expert bathroom locating, along with bar locating, drug locating, and hopefully, the focus of your Major.

As with many things, the modern world has offered people the opportunity to turn the most mundane and pointless daily human exercise into an exquisite art with nuances and complex theories that can only be mastered by the truly dedicated, and fortunately for us, taking a shit in public has risen to just such a level.  There are many skills that you can develop while in school, and many of them will pay off in the years to come.  Don’t let a lack of workplace-relevant skills get you in the end.

Doody now for the future!

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