I was waiting for the shuttle bus when I decided I’d better use the bathroom before beginning the three hour hike to the foot of the Franz Josef glacier, so I stepped inside the shuttle booking office and asked to use their restroom. The clerk directed me to the public toilets across the street. They were pay toilets – 50 cents – but I didn’t mind. During my travels I’ve learned that pay toilets are always cleanest.
I chose a stall that showed an unoccupied green light and inserted my 50-cent piece. The green metal door slid open with a whisper to reveal an immaculate ceramic tiled room with stainless steel stool and hand-washing unit. I was impressed. I stepped inside. Immediately, a voice came over the speaker with instructions: “Welcome to EXCE-Loo.” (‘Loo’ being British slang for toilet, mind you). “Please press the button to close the door. Your maximum usage time will be ten minutes.”
I pressed the button and the door slid shut. The moment I was sealed inside, piped music began playing ‘What the World Needs Now, Is Love Sweet Love.’ I laughed so hard I had to pee twice. On my right-hand side an automatic toilet paper dispenser spit out a tidy four squares every time I pressed its button. Having completed the business at hand I looked around for a way to flush the toilet but there was no handle. Instead, a sign instructed that the toilet would flush automatically when I either washed my hands or opened the door. I stuck my hands into the stainless steel box that was recessed into the wall – the far left squirted soap into my upturned palms, the middle ran water over my hands and the far right blew my hands dry. Now done, I pushed yet another button to open the door and exited as the unseen bathroom God exclaimed, “Thank you for using EXCE-Loo.”
I laughed hysterically for a good 20 minutes after leaving the toilet. I wondered what would have happened if I’d taken more than my allotted ten minutes. Would the door have slid open, exposing my bare butt for all the world to see? I wondered if the local teenagers have figured out that they can insert $1.50 and have 30 minutes to ‘get it on.’ Honestly, what will they think of next? EXCE-Loo, for heaven sake?