I come from the land of Buc-cee’s, that magical place of pristine, spacious bathrooms. So wonderful are the Buc-cee bathrooms that their virtues are touted on billboards, and travelers go miles out of their way just to pop in to pee. Unfortunately, I’m not currently living in that world. I actually think I may have been condemned to bathroom hell. And trust me, that is no place for a woman.
I’m in Saudi Arabia, where a lot of things are strange to me, bathrooms being pretty high on that list. I can’t speak for the men’s bathrooms, but in the ladies “hammam,” it’s odd.
First of all, stalls are very tiny. You almost have to climb on top of the toilet to get the door shut, which is a feat considering all the women wear long, black abaya dresses. Okay, so you get the door shut, and then you have to deal with that dress. I’m not sure if the protocol is to take it off and hang it on the door hook or flip it up over your head or just wad it up under your arms. So take note: dress up, pants down. Practice at home.
To complicate the juggling act, the floors are always really wet. Typically, stalls are equipped with this spray nozzle thing. Back home, I had one on the kitchen sink to spray dishes. We had one in the bathtub to wash the dog. I’m hesitant to wonder why it’s in the bathroom stall, but from the amount of water on the floor, it obviously gets used. I’ve tried to think through in my head how one would go about taking a tiny, area-specific mini-shower in this cramped space without drowning completely, all the while managing the dress up-pants down balancing thing. Some bathrooms are serious about it, too, because toilet paper is available only at the door when you walk in, so think ahead or be ready to spritz. Or maybe you could drip dry while you struggle over what to do.
Through all that, though, you have to be grateful if there’s actually a toilet in your stall. There are bathrooms where target shooting isn’t just for boys. In which case, maybe you flip your pants over your head with the dress and the sprayer is to wash off your shoes. Or maybe you just learn to hold it until you get home. To the States!