Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Yes, There's Even An App For That

In the middle 2005, a few friends and I embarked on the Barbecrusade, a weekly summer-long tour of North Carolina's barbeque establishments.  One made one particularly memorable stop on this tour at a place called Davis Family BBQ.  Nearly seven years later, two things stand out in my mind about the night we ate there. First, the food was downright frightening and left us secretly wondering if we'd eaten squirrel.  Second, the bathrooms were worse than the food.

From what I could see in the dingy light radiating from that single, dull, 40-watt bulb, it looked like the toilets hadn't been flushed or otherwise maintained in any way since Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office.  The sink wasn't much better, and when I tried to wash my hands, the faucet spewed nothing but boiling-hot water.  How the health inspector let the Davis family continue operating that indoor outhouse, the world will never know.

If only I'd had some advanced warning about the dismal state of the bathroom going into that night, I would have worn a diaper or done anything to avoid walking into that minefield of human waste.  How could I warn the world and save the next unsuspecting patron from learning a tough lesson in the importance of bathroom maintenance in that very restroom where I'd suffered so dearly?

For all these years, I've felt helpless and hopeless, but this month I finally found a solution to my problem, thanks to Charmin.  And, believe it or not, even this problem isn't too big or messy for the almighty smartphone.  The solution comes in the form of SitOrSquat, an app that lets users rate and search for nearby restrooms. 

The minute I read about this, I knew that I had to have the app on my phone.  This brilliant new piece of technology would place in my hands the power of George Costanza's encyclopedic knowledge of public restrooms.  But unlike his mental Rolodex of New York City bathrooms, this app provides worldwide wisdom--and it's available in Spanish! Fantástico!

I rushed to the App Store and read the description, and I was flush with excitement.  The app lets people view pictures and ratings for the public restrooms nearest their current location.  Users rate a restroom as "Sit" or "Squat" depending on the quality of the accommodations, and they are encouraged to provide "relevant experience and honest opinions."  (How users have only rated this only two out of five stars in utterly unexplainable.)

When I read that users are encouraged to upload photos, I couldn't download the app fast enough.  With SitOrSquat, not only can I save the world from the restrooms at Davis Family BBQ, but now I'll be encouraged and praised for snapping and sharing bathroom photos!  SitOrSquat is my one stone that will kill two birds.  Take that, everyone who's ever told me that my bathroom hijinks are childish!

SitOrSquat and the infamous pooping Charmin bear now sit comfortably alongside my other apps.  I will be fast on my way to becoming the most prominent restroom rater in this history of the world, as soon as the Charmin team answers one simple question: do I submit my "Sit" or "Squat" rating before or after I use the facilities?

Believe me, that slight difference in timing often make all the difference in the world when it comes to the cleanliness of a restroom.  This critical observation comes from a man whose bathroom handiwork has literally required a shovel-bearing cleanup crew at a state park facility.  And this skill runs of the family--my brother once clogged a toilet in a women's bathroom at a Chicago Chinese restaurant.  But those are stories for another day...right now, I have some very important photos I need to go capture...

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