I was at a Starbucks in Dupont Circle yesterday that requires a key to the bathroom. I don’t think I truly realized until yesterday just how much I hate that whole practice. I get the reasoning. It’s a busy area and you don’t want people just wandering in from the street and using the bathroom without paying for something, so you have more control over it when they have to come get the key. Even so, I want it to be known that it is the official policy of Magic Pork to unconditionally oppose the use of bathroom keys.
First off, whenever it’s busy, there’s a line of people in front of the bathroom and the key just gets passed to the next person in line, thus circumventing the very reason for the key.
The key is attached to a big piece of plastic saying “Men” or “Women”, so that you can’t just walk away with it I suppose - and also to make it easy to establish which door it goes to. But that big piece of plastic just serves to collect germs and viruses. I’m not a germaphobe by any means. I don’t get freaked out about touching doorknobs and stuff, but during flu season I get a little more paranoid about that stuff. And well, it’s just a little gross, okay? This Starbucks didn’t have anywhere that I could see to hang the key inside the bathroom. I tried balancing it on top of the hand drier but it started to fall off, so I tried balancing it on the edge of the sink and then it just got all wet. All the while, I’m trying to handle as little of the surface area as possible. How many guys are just throwing it on the floor, or shoving it into their pants pocket, or holding onto it while they whiz?
Do they ever disinfect this thing? I’m willing to bet the answer is no. Just like no one ever disinfects the remote controls in hotels and who knows what people were doing before or while handling that remote control. The Starbucks employees themselves have to use the key so it’s being handled by the people making your fancy drinks.
This Starbucks didn’t have any paper towels so I had to use the hand drier which sucked at drying hands. Plus I feel bad spending forever drying my hands when I know there’s guys waiting outside the door for me to finish. So I just wiped my hands on my jeans and exited and handed the key off to the next guy, but I’m sure the key was a little wet from my hands and from the sink. Are you getting the point yet? It’s just gross.
OK I’m not done with the grossness quite yet. I have to complain about the bathroom itself. If you’re going to enforce the use of a bathroom key, you should have a clean bathroom. This bathroom was disgusting. First, it was inadequately lit so it gave it a dark, creepy feel. There was piss on the toilet seat and the sink and floor looked like it hadn’t been cleaned all day. This wasn’t a bar on a Friday night, it was a coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon. Clean the frickin’ bathroom. Tangent: I hate when clubs have a bathroom attendant because you’re expected to tip them, but at least if it’s a clean bathroom, I don’t mind too much. But I hate when the bathroom is dirty and the attendant still expects a tip for squirting some soap into your hand and handing you a paper towel. And they never give you enough paper towels to effectively dry your hands. Sometimes they don’t even turn the faucet on for you. Every bathroom attendant should be putting on some rubber gloves and scrubbing toilets and urinals periodically throughout the night. End of tangent.
The bathroom key makes you feel like a child having to ask the teacher for permission to use the bathroom. I’m a grown man, I shouldn’t have to check with a barista if it’s okay for me to go pee-pee. You don’t think it’s not a total power trip for them? It is.
If they’re going to be in charge of handing out a key to the bathroom, they should at least know where it’s located. Once at that Starbucks, I saw the women’s key sitting on the counter (again, gross) but didn’t see the men’s key so I assumed someone was in the bathroom. After waiting 5 minutes and watching some other guy just grab the women’s key and use the women’s bathroom, I meekly asked the barista if they had the men’s key. She replied that if it wasn’t on the counter it must mean someone was in the bathroom. I said okay and waited probably another 5 minutes wondering what the hell that guy was doing in there. Then some other barista shouted out to me and handed me the key that he got from behind the counter somewhere. And do you think he washed his hands after - oh never mind you got the idea.