Then I’ll dash off a frivolous column on some rather minor matter and the comments come pouring in. I recently mentioned the discomfort of finding a public toilet with a defective coin-operated lock and it appears my experience was by no means unique, or even unusual.
Almost everyone, it seems, has had bad experiences with public toilets. In fact, if the managers of shopping centres knew how angry their customers were about toilet troubles they’d do away with locked loo doors altogether. An unhappy pooper is an unhappy shopper. Fellow columnist Brian Joss told me how he had not had the required coin to operate the toilet door at a Flamingo Vlei shopping centre.
He asked the security guard to lend him two rand, but the guard claimed not to have any. He then pleaded with the car guard in the parking area, who sold him a two-rand coin for five rand.
When you are in that stressful situation there isn’t time for negotiation.
Two readers mentioned indignantly that the whole object of having a pay toilet was to pay for cleaning materials and janitor’s wages. In fact, it seems pay toilets are invariably disgustingly filthy.
Maybe the janitors have to use their own money to get to work. Some years ago an international petrol company advertised clean toilets and washrooms with the sign of the white rabbit.
Whenever I went on a journey I’d look for that big white bunny and make a point of buying my petrol there. On a long, hot journey through the Karoo it’s worth going out of your way for a decent “comfort stop”.
That white rabbit sign must have sold millions of litres of petrol. Oil companies like to impress their customers with technical waffle about clean engines and extra power, lead replacement technology and all the rest, which nobody understands anyway. They should have learned by now that a clean wash room is worth a million horsepower boosters when it comes to sales.
After I mentioned the other day that my local post office was unable to sell me a stamp I received an e-mail letter from a reader in the Karoo assuring me that the Middelburg Post Office still had a good supply of stamps for sale.
That’s about 800km from Fish Hoek, but I’ll make a point of popping in for a book of stamps next time I’m there.
Farmers it seems are never completely happy. After a long and devastating drought in the Karoo, two neighbours were in the local pub discussing their plight. One of them took a sip of his beer and said: “Oh well, this drought has saved me a lot of money in transport costs.”
“What do you mean?,” asked his friend. “My sheep are so thin now that I can fax them to market.”
* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.