Cleaning In Progress says the annoying yellow sign.
I’m not against cleaning, per se – I’m actually quite appreciative of the fact that staff are employed to clean public toilets, as I generally find them totally repulsive. The toilets, not the staff.
However, let me set the scene for you. Imagine, if you will, the cleaning staff of a large concert venue. They are planning their cleaning rota. “When,” they ponder, “would be a good time to clean the ladies’ toilets?” Some discussion takes place as all factors are taken into consideration. Like, for example, the fact that there’s a concert on at 8pm. That the doors open at 6.30pm. That the band in question is a very popular boy band from the nineties, and therefore almost the entire audience is female. That 6pm is probably going to be a peak time for last-minute toilet visitation, as girls leave their friends holding their place in the queue and “just nip to the Ladies’ before the doors open”.
Having taken all of these factors into account, they decide that the best thing to do would be to close the toilets for cleaning at 6pm. Oh, bravo.
A large queue of disgruntled and impatient concert-goers forms outside the one solitary available toilet. I dance around on the spot, hopping nimbly from foot to foot. Mop, mop, mop goes the little cleaning lady in the Ladies’.
We are still in the queue. A bolshy girl in front of us takes control of the situation. “Will the toilets be open soon?” she asks the cleaning lady. “When the floor dries,” says the cleaning lady, without looking up from her laborious mopping. Mop, mop, mop she goes. Bolshy Girl has had enough. “Right,” she says determinedly, “there are hardly any men in the building. We’re going into the Gents’.” Becs and I look nervously at each other. “There’s no one in there,” continues Bolshy Girl, our leader. “Let’s go, ladies. Go, go, go!” One by one she waves us in. It is like a military operation.
It is unsuccessful, as it turns out that the Gents’ only has one cubicle, and we are not equipped to use the urinals. The queue for the Ladies’ is now longer than the queue for the actual concert. The occasional male sauters casually past, glancing at the endless line of dancing, hopping, angry and impatient females as he walks smugly into the Gents’. Death stares are shooting like poisoned arrows into the cleaning lady’s back. Mop, mop, mop she goes, drearily, with all the get-up-and-go of a hungover hippopotamus.