In my recent travels throughout the great state of Texas, I have found a vast difference between the cleanliness, approachability, and function of many restrooms. In recognition of the time, effort, and dare I say, “strain” that has resulted in some of the very vilest lavatories I have encountered, here are the best of the worst: The winners of the 2012 Terrible Texas Toilets Awards.
Honorable Mention: Trade-In Mobile Home
This restroom was apparently used long after the water had been disconnected from the home. The scum on the tub is so thick that you could write your name in it with the handle of a plunger or other pointy implement. The overwhelming odor of mold, urine, and disappointment was the thing that earned this bathroom an Honorable Mention.
Honorable Mention: Truck Stop
Though the overall cleanliness and accessibility of this restroom was adequate, the ceiling betrayed the effect of years of trucker flatulence on its surfaces. Decades of chili dog and Dr. Pepper infused gas have taken their toll on the very structure of the ceiling itself, resulting in paint and wall paper peeling so badly that in some cases one has to duck to avoid walking into them. Needless to say, the aura of trucker ass has permeated every surface. The only thing that might rid this potty of this pervasive stench would be a roaring fire.
Bronze Medal: Porta-Potty
At what was recently just an open field in South Texas, and is now an oil field construction site, we encountered an innocent looking Porta-Potty. It is certainly not the dirtiest of these you might see, but one whiff when opening the door will assault the olfactory senses to the point of coughing and retching. An examination of the log on the door, detailing the scheduled dumping of the tank’s contents, revealed the cause. Though for several weeks it had been dumped weekly, for the last five weeks it had not received any maintenance. The resulting stench was overwhelming. No doubt, the need to avoid vomiting while using this outhouse had been the cause of the soaking of urine that every surface had received. (It must be hard to aim when you’re gagging and holding your nose.)
Silver Medal: Gas Station
In a tribute to the redneck way of making the best out of whatever one has at hand, this gas station purveyor had cleverly installed a second commode next to the first when it stopped working. The real treat at this facility though is what happens when you flush. When the “working” toilet is flushed, water backs up to the rim of the “out of order” toilet and begins leaking down the sides in a steady drizzle, despite the layers of duct tape. For some added excitement, a large and energetic colony of roaches making its home in the bowl of the decommissioned toilet abandon it temporarily while the water rises, returning after several minutes when the flood subsides.
Gold Medal: Auto Parts Store
This restroom is truly an assault on the senses. Not only have most of the plumbing fixtures been jerry-rigged with startling ingenuity and a lack in general engineering practices, but the uncompromising filth covering every surface is tragically epic. A sign above the toilet reads, “JIGGLE THE HANDLE AND MAKE SURE IT DROPS.” This is sound advice and anyone using this toilet would do well to heed it lest they start a flood that would cover the rough, concrete floor, strewn with a collection of dead roaches, moths, and various other detritus. A mélange of various excrement adorns the floors, walls, and even the ceiling in a Jackson Pollock-esque fashion. The door doesn’t quite close the entire way, but a crusty mop propped against one wall provides an adequate brace to protect one’s privacy. There is a testament to someone’s long-term success in nose-picking under a small shelf that carries a candle coated in dust, some toilet bowl cleaner that is doubtful ever used, and (oddly) a bottle of mouthwash. Reading material has been provided here as well, in the form of catalogs for various car parts. The aroma here is a heady blend of dust, mildew, mold, feces, urine, and grease. The fact that there is a mirror over the sink (a sink which is propped up by a scrap of wood and has a plastic basin beneath it as a backup to the sub-standard plumbing) is disturbing, as seeing your reflection in this environment is quite jarring. It is an experience you will never forget, no matter how much you would like to. Congratulations on your Gold Medal, auto parts store restroom.