The kind of mega-station where you stop for gas and end up buying a Philly cheesesteak, chips and a large Pepsi because a sign on the pump reminded you: It was almost three on a hot summer afternoon.
All sixteen pumps were being used, Baum had traffic, and we were understaffed.
Because that’s usually what accompanies the look, a cry of: Then people within earshot make the look, too. His blue, checkered dress shirt was tucked into khakis, and he sported a thin, whitish-blonde mustache that matched the ring of hair around his head. “You need to clean that bathroom.” He raised his eyebrows and his forehead wrinkled. “Go on, hurry up.” Cleaning the bathroom quickly was imperative, but it was more complicated than the importance of sanitation.
It’s a stereotype linked to a phobia about public toilets, but even if you encounter one with slick, urine-coated floors and poop-stained toilet seats, it is highly unlikely that it will get you sick.
Gas station companies used to take advantage of this fear by promoting clean bathrooms.
I got to know Chuck one afternoon a few weeks later. “The water pressure’s so strong it shoots onto the ground, then people come in here, see it’s all wet and think someone peed all over the place.
I entered the men’s room to check on its condition, and he was standing at the urinal. “You guys gotta do a better job in here.” Dirty shoes had created a trail that forked by the stall, but there was no preventing this; inner-city gas stations get heavy foot traffic. So they stand a few feet back because no one wants to stand in pee, and then they miss, and you got a messy bathroom.” I felt conflicted.
“That’s how I get a general sense of what a place is like,” he said. He was a father who had coached his daughter’s softball team, and whenever he stopped to get coffee, he’d point out something wrong with the gas station: litter in the lot, how the Redbox kiosk blocked the doors. His unwavering “this is how it should be done” view reminded me of my dad, and I eventually regretted cursing him earlier in the summer.
That afternoon, I pinned open the men’s room door with the garbage can and swept the trash toward the hallway.
Full-page ads showed smiling mothers and children heading into “Registered” rest rooms, with the tagline: Gas station bathrooms aided mobility.
Americans didn’t have to worry about where to relieve themselves while driving coast-to-coast for the first time.
I was one of two cashiers standing inside an octagon-shaped counter with four registers.
The assistant manager said he’d watch my line while I cleaned, but that was wishful thinking.
The gas station was too busy for managers to stand still. I know this because the gas station chain where I worked customers to speak up when the restrooms were disgusting.