What’s a nice Scenic Public Toilet doing in a street like this?
Who knew that exploring Adelaide beachside suburb Semaphore would reveal such an intriguing blend of almost tasteful camouflage and cutting edge convenience technology?
Actually, who knew there WAS such cutting edge convenience technology??
Accidentally wandering into the main street’s residential zone after trawling the Semaphore shops for loot, as one does, I’d already turned to go back when Pilchard nudged me.
‘Look over there,’ he murmured with a coded jerk of the head that the unaware and/or unkind would immediately dismiss as a muscle spasm.
I saw nothing. Pilchard smiled evilly.
‘What?’ I demanded, exasperated. This wasn’t the first time he’d pointed out something I would find ‘exciting’, like a bird on the fence or an unusual plant. But this time, apart from an undeniably attractive streetscape offset against the blue South Australian summer sky, I could see nothing.
‘Can’t you see the toilet?’ Pilchard asked, with more than a touch of smugness.
This time I looked more carefully. The antique lamp posts, some stone fronted cottages, a bus stop. And – another bus stop?
The tiny structure’s muted tones, a carefully executed mural showing bare-branched autumn trees behind a wrought iron fence against a sepia sky, blended in nicely with the stonework behind.
It was almost a shame to desecrate such a brilliantly cunning disguise with a blatant sign that was a dead giveaway. If approaching the building from the street, that is. As the average user probably wouldn’t, given that this loo was no drive-in!
And the appropriately yellow pedestrian signs on the footpath warned that this was a potential crossing point for approaching users. I could only imagine how much more effective such a disguise would be in autumn, when apart from the sepia, the actual trees would match their mural counterparts.
I wondered how many people mistook it for the bus stop.
I grabbed my camera and took off.
‘Do you actually need to use the loo?’ Pilchard called out behind me.
‘That’s sick,’ he murmured and headed for the bus stop. Quite rightly too.
Not everyone would accept that a lone man hanging around a public facility with binoculars in hand was actually birdwatching …
While his partner was inside taking photos …
A symphony of sterile stainless steel, automated accessories and instructive communications, enhanced by the piped music softly playing to – I guess – assist one’s ‘performance’, the glare of the interior made it difficult to effectively capture the ambience in the 10 minutes I had before the door would automatically open.
I couldn’t help but wonder how the visually impaired users for whom the braille translations must be intended would actually find all the signs given their random scattering around the inordinately large interior.
How would one know, for example, that the soap/water/dryer basin inset wasn’t a urinal? And whatever one thought it was, why would one then think to test for braille instructions along it’s top??
And who could guess without looking how far below the toilet tissue touch button the tissue actually emerged???
That’s if it DID emerge – I would have had more luck if I’d hit the button with a hammer, or a well-executed karate kick. Neither of which would have been remotely possible if I’d actually been seated on the loo.
I hoped the next user appreciated the toilet tissue I left behind.
Other than graffiti left by the imaginatively spelt ‘Ebanie’ (now preserved forever right here!), the only sign with NO braille accompaniment was the instruction for exiting the amenities in the case of power failure.
Of course while the power was ON, everyone would know exactly where to find the large exit button at the LEFT of the right-opening door, wouldn’t they?
But of course I could see whether or not the door was locked by the lights next to what surely must be (or why use it) the international ‘lock’ symbol – an open or closed padlock, although visually impaired users might have some difficulty given the absence of a) braille or b) raised surfaces.
And while I was unperturbed by the absence of a flush-button – these clever conveniences flush themselves, an action triggered by a) using the handbasin/ urinal; or b) exiting the amenities – I wondered what an illiterate person or a child would make of it.
The visually impaired person would, of course, find the braille instruction to this effect while feeling around for the flush-button, right??
While tempted to see what happened when the door opened of its own accord in 10 minutes, I returned to the street. After all, in a country with few public amenities outside parks, gardens, shopping centres, service stations and rest stops, this rare example of suburban street amenities next to a bus stop MUST be in demand! Or why build it there in the first place?
Surely by now there’d be a queue??
But the street was inexplicably empty.
After a few steps, however, the solution was clear.