Monday, March 11, 2013

Lavatory Conoisseur

I flew from Albuquerque to Madison last week, and of course I took pictures of the airport bathrooms on the way. I have long had an interest in airport lavatories, originating with the toilets at O'Hare, which have tiny digital displays telling you when the toilet is flushing. I find it fascinating that the airport could be so concerned with letting people know the status of the toilet, and yet apparently not give a shit (get it? we're talking about toilets?) about when the actual airplanes take off and land. I guess O'Hare officials think to themselves, "Yes, passengers are stranded in our airport for hours or possibly days given our blatant mismanagement of the facilities in our care, but at least the digital toilets will be a great comfort to them."

For better or worse, the toilets in the Albuquerque, Minneapolis, and Madison airports were not digitally equipped. Here's a run down of the pluses and minuses of each airports' bathrooms:

Look at this bathroom. Just look at it! It's HUGE. Enormous! This bathroom has a giant wide open space that evokes the wide open spaces of the American west. This is a frontier of a bathroom. I think you could ranch at least a couple hundred cattle in here, to stick with the western theme. The airport probably rents this bathroom out for family reunions and weddings. Both the bride and groom must wear cowboy boots.

Albuquerque ladies' room, almost as big as my entire house

Can you read the sticker on the soap dispenser in the Albuquerque bathroom, pictured below? I wanted to show it to you, because the sticker says "ABQ Sunport." In other words, in Albuquerque they don't actually have an airport, they have a sunport. Isn't that just precious? A SUNPORT. Is that where the sunplanes land? Do people in Albuquerque turn on the sun conditioning when it gets hot? It was raining the day I left; did they quick change all the stickers to read "ABQ Rainport"? If other cities start following this trend, do you think Madison should go with "Cowport" or "Cheeseport"? ("Hippieport" might also work.)

ABQ "Sunport"

In Minneapolis the bathroom was BEAUTIFUL. It was a work of art. I'm not even joking. First, check out this wonderful mural that was on the wall as you enter the bathroom:

Minneapolis airport bathroom mural
I love how the mural depicts the natural beauty of Minnesota from the air. You might not be able to tell his from the picture, but the round mural pieces in the clouds are dinner plates, which makes the whole thing even more adorable.

And the inside of the bathroom is just as great. It looks like this:

Minneapolis airport bathroom stall

My maryjanes on beautiful sparkly bathroom floor in Minneapolis
Remember Larry Craig? He was the virurently anti-gay Senator from Idaho who was arrested for lewd conduct back in 2007, in an airport bathroom in Minneapolis. He publicly declared his innocence (remember the phrase "wide stance?") but plead guilty anyway. I am thinking that there might be an alternate explanation for his behavior. Perhaps he was just so overcome with the beauty of the bathrooms in the Minneapolis airport that he felt the need to share that joy with the other inhabitants of the men's bathroom, in any way he could. Well, it's just a theory.

The rest of the Minneapolis airport, though, is complete crap. Here's a picture from my gate:

MSP airport, gate F 13
The rest of the airport was completely packed, with no place to sit, and people crammed into uncomfortable places. The bathroom was the nicest place in the whole airport. I thought about taking my book back to the lavatory to get some reading in, maybe swing by Starbucks and pick up a latte to sip while I was in there, but then it was time to board.

Goodbye, Minneapolis airport bathroom, my love!

Here is the bathroom in the Madison airport.

Madison airport bathroom

The lavatory in the Madison airport is nothing fancy. It's nice enough in a utilitarian way, but it's not gigantic like the Albuquerque airport (oh excuse me, "sunport") bathroom, and it's not splashy like the Minneapolis airport bathroom. But it works. It's functional. One might even say it's comfortable. In other words, it's home sweet home.


  1. This might be just a southern hospitality thing, but at the Charlotte airport they staff the bathrooms with very loud women who welcome you to the bathroom and call you Honey. They also keep a tray of tampons, mints, etc beside a tip jar. I guess the implication is that if not for them, the bathroom would be awash in toilet paper and excement. I always leave a tip so they can tell me "God bless you, sweetie."

  2. The thought of someone welcoming me to a bathroom makes me feel all wiggly inside. In the best way possible.

  3. MN + bathroom = fond memories of the Larry Craig Story. Great post!