… Broken Locks
About a month ago, a lock on a cubicle door in the Ladies’ at the Royal College of Art (where I work) broke.
The lock didn’t look broken, but when you turned the lever it wasn’t attached to anything. So you either used another cubicle or took your chances, depending on urgency/busyness/whim.
I briefly thought about reporting it.
Or rather, I thought “I expect they know, so I won’t report it…”
A week later it was still broken.
“But the cleaners will have noticed…” I reasoned, “and reported it…”
Then the light went out in the next toilet along, making that unusable (unless you’re even more of a daredevil). Out of 4 cubicles we were now down to 2.
“They’ll have to do something now!” I thought, without reporting either…
A couple of days later the light was fixed. The lock was not.
“Hmm… actually why would the cleaners know that the lock was broken? They don’t lock themselves in…
Still, every woman in college knows by now that the lock doesn’t work. Someone must have reported it…”
Then I had my worst thought…
“I’m sure Building Services have an administrator? She’ll have told them…”
Well the lock still wasn’t fixed, so perhaps the administrator’s a man too.
One day when the loo roll had run out in Cubicle 1 I wondered about the effects of post-its. The loo-roll holders are really starting to annoy me because they’re big cream plastic things so you don’t know that there isn’t any, until you reach for it.
So, wouldn’t it be helpful if I stuck a post-it on the toilet roll holder to say there wasn’t any? Or on the door with the broken lock? It could benefit both those using the toilets and those responsible for maintaining them.
(For the users it could almost be a bad thing. At least in ignorance you can choose the slovenly option and use it anyway..)
Sadly I never got to try my psychological experiment (or figure out a way to measure it). My more proactive Supervisor had stepped up to the plate.
“I reported that Lock!” she announced. “(and got laughed at…)”
“Why didn’t they do it sooner? It’s been a Month!”
“They didn’t know. No one had told them…“
So what’s the moral of my absurd / dull story?
Putting in ways to allow the public to communicate with providers would really help with both the cleaning and maintenance of public toilet facilities. (I don’t actually know who I should have reported it to…)
…something more immediate than Fix-My-Street… but that allows more flexibility (and is less expensive) than a full-time attendant…
I’ll have to do a follow-on post, working title: Idea #9: A piece of paper on the wall (and a pen) though I think I can come up with a range of low-tech to hi-tech solutions that are a little more imaginative (if not much..)
In the meantime I’ll end on another story which comes via a Toilet Expert (and blog subscriber, so I hope she doesn’t mind).
If you liked that last one you’ll Love this :)
The lady in question was temp-ing at a company.
The Ladies toilet at the company was undergoing maintenance – there was a sign on the door instructing women to use alternative facilities until the toilets were fixed.
However the alternative facilities were in an ancient portacabin and quite a walk. This was bearable in the short-term, but it had been several months! Winter had hit and the portacabin was freeeezing.
The whole thing was ridiculous. It was a waste of company time to be trekking several times a day to the portacabin, yet still no news came through about the toilets. It was a male-dominated environment and the few women that worked there didn’t want to cause a fuss.
So on her last day our plucky temp offered to complain on their behalf.
“I’m leaving anyway, so what can they do?”
She went to speak to the boss and told him how important it was to get the Ladies toilets fixed.
“What are you talking about?” he said.
“They were only out-of-action for a day.. ..it’s just that no one’s taken down the sign.”