The Short End of the Public Bathroom Stick

September 1, 2008 in Czech Republic, Europe, Travelogue

After four plus months on the road we thought we’d seen it all when it comes to public bathrooms.

Evidently not.

Yesterday was a particularly rough day.  There is nothing like pounding out a full day’s ride only to find the campground at the end of the line full.  It is demoralizing to climb back on the bike, with the freshly purchased meat and butter melting in the blue mesh bag, and ride another 20 km along not so paved bike paths in the hope of availability at the next site.  Needless to say, we made it.  We always make it.  Making it is not the question, level of cheerfulness is the question.  Let’s just say, it was running rather low.

By the time we got the tents up and the dinner cooked it was getting late.  We were all grateful to head to the shower and wash half an inch of road dust off of our bodies and head to bed clean, and fresh.

Campground bath houses have been a source of continual adventure and amusement. (Read that exasperation.) Especially for the boys.

Tony’s first words after Ezra was born and we were nicely settled were, “I got the short end of the public bathroom stick.”  He sure did!

This particular campground’s (Autokemp Merkur Pasohlavky) facilities rate very high on the “adventure and amusement” (read that exasperation) scale.  Our first clue should have come when Hannah returned from the initial scouting trip:  “Mom, they have community toilet paper!”  “What?  How is that possible?  What do you mean?”  “I mean, they have COMMUNITY TOILET PAPER!  There is one roll for all of the stalls and you have to get it before you go in!”  Surely this could not be true.  It was true.  Naturally, it was the newsprint/crepe paper style toilet paper that is so bad that my friend’s mom actually collected samples of it for her scrapbook when she toured Eastern Europe.  It is truly worth collecting; otherwise, no one would believe you when told how bad it really is.  I digress.

We headed to the showers hot and tired with two 10 Kc pieces for the girls and two for the boys.  One coin purchased two minutes of hot water.  We showered together for economy.

Hannah and I fared rather well, compared to the boys.  There are only two of us, so per person we had a whole two minutes.  Even with long hair and leg shaving this is totally doable.  We’re considering trying out for the speed showering team when it becomes an Olympic sport.

The boys, well, they didn’t fare as well.  The challenge:  the coin system for the shower.  You did not get to choose which shower the coin would access.

For example, Hannah and I postulated that since the #1 shower was first on the board it was likely that when we put our coin in it would turn on that first shower.  No.  We got completely naked (no curtains, once again) set everything up for speed in shower #1, dropped our coin in and found that the #6 shower came on… we raced to the other end and quickly used our two minutes.  Time for the second coin.  We dropped it in… #6 again?  Nope, #1 this time.  We ran the length of the bath house dripping with soap to finish our shower… towels were left in #6.  You get the idea.  Four minutes later, we were clean and drying off as the boys saddled up for a game of musical showers on the other side of the wall.  We could hear the whole thing:

“Okay boys, strip down!”

“Daddy, I’m cccc-cold!”

“Too bad, get your clothes in the pile.  Who’s got the soap?  Puffy?  Okay, I’m dropping the coin…. #6!  Go! go! go!”

We hear the sounds of little feet, boys pushing for water, Gabe roughly scrubbing Ezra’s head, Ezra protesting.  “Ahhh!!  No water!!  Daddy, put in the next coin!  Where’s the water?!”

“Number five boys, go!!”  We hear the feet again and we’re laughing because we know EXACTLY what is going on!  Then we hear Daddy, “MOVE!  I haven’t washed yet!”  Boys squeak, Daddy is quiet so he must be scrubbing.  Then:  “ARGHHH!!!  Dang it!  I’m still soapy, I haven’t rinsed.”

Daddy has run out of water.

Hannah and I giggle.  The cold water is for free.

“Boys!  Try the 5 Kc coins!”

“Okay Dad….”  Plink. “Ugh, Dad, it spit the coin out….”

“Look for another 10!  I’m dripping here!”

“I got it Dad!”  Plink.  “#5 Dad!!  Go!  Go!!”  The boys cheer and Daddy finishes his shower.

Moral of the story:  The short end of the bathroom stick is soapy and cold.