In reality, this report focuses on only a single urinal in the Puget Sound area, but I thought the above title had more, you should pardon the term, pizzazz. This may become its very own category, if I get together enough entries of this sort. Let’s all hope that never happens.
I was in my local CompUSA this morning, picking up a copy of Norton Ghost, when I felt the little twinge that lets you know that you are in need of a restroom—when Nature calls, you gotta accept the charges. I knew they kept their WCs in the back of the store near the Mac section, so I made my way back there.
The first indication that things would not go completely as planned came when I noticed that the restrooms were located in the “training” section, and that the only access to them was guarded by a young woman behind a desk, there to sign me up for lessons on how to master that wiliest of foes, the personal computer. She looked up expectantly as I neared her desk, and it was with only a slight sense of mortification that I pointed toward the john and said, “just here to use the restroom.” She gave me one of those “too much information” looks (look, Lady, I would have been perfectly happy to slink by without uttering a word or glancing in your direction, but that seemed rude to me; Lord knows, I had no urge to announce my eliminatory proceedings to some stranger behind a desk) and waved me through.
Once I got there, I found the men’s bathroom to be clean and well-maintained, which is about what you’d expect in a corporate powerhouse retail chain like this. Upon locating the urinal, however, I was frankly struck dumb. I wish I’d had a camera on me. The thing looked like a dollhouse appliance. It was perhaps half to two-thirds the height of a regulation urinal, and stood only about shin-high to me. I glanced about. thinking perhaps that I had stumbled across the children’s urinal by mistake; but no, this and a single toilet stall were the only facilities in the facility. I began to wonder if I were looking at the first wheelchair-accessible urinal I have ever encountered.
Once I had determined that this was indeed the only fixture of its type in the room, I shrugged and proceeded with my business. In addition to being pygmish in stature and placement, the thing turned out to be poorly engineered. A properly constructed urinal has two prominent design elements: a preponderance of gently sloping vertical surfaces that catch and guide the stream of ejecta to the target (the drain), and a lack of sharply-angled corners and crevices, to ease cleaning and prevent splashback. This particular pissoir was effectively the antithesis of these qualities: shallow, diagonal walls and acute angles. About the only thing that would have made it worse would be if the receptacle were actually convex.
To top it off, the acceleration from point of exit to the lower-than-ideal target zone was enough to result in a dangerous rate of speed at impact, wholly unsuitable for successful containment of a liquid projectile. I stood there, a victim of my biological needs, trying to ignore the micrscopic patter of millions of tiny aerosolized droplets striking my bare legs. I don’t think it’s too much to ask of a urinal that it not place you in a sort of Nietzchian vignette, where when you piss into the urinal, the urinal also pisses onto you.
In conclusion: CompUSA may be a great place to empty your wallet, but unless under duress, I would not recommend it as a place to empty your bladder.