I just did something I almost never do and made a fuss in the middle of someone elses argument. Public access to private toilets has been on my mind lately, and I can't keep it in.
I was ordering at Cafe Nero on Lancaster Place by Waterloo Bridge and a couple guys walked past me in the area between the counter and the steps down to the loo.
"Just going to use the toilet?" the manager asked.
"Toilets for customers only."
At which point I chimed in "oh come on! Let them go!"
One of the guys produced his cafe Nero loyalty card complete with 9 stamps.
I asked if one of them could have my go if I promised not to.
All to no effect.
I gave them a Loo Tours leaflet and pointed out that there are free toilets in Somerset House next door. I think the two men were far more embarrassed than they would have been if I said nothing. The manager gave me a lecture about how he has to keep toilets clean for his customers and maybe Somerset House has full time cleaners but they don't.
I completely understand that it's not their job to provide toilets. They serve food. The manager is probably the one with the most justifiable case in this argument. But the idealist in me still thinks there ought to be a human element to it.
Should the customer/provider relationship be considered a long term one or is it relevant only at the time of transaction? Do I reset to non-customer each time I set foot out the door and therefore must enter as a blank slate and an unknown quantity each time? Or does it end when they take my plate away (just in case I am carefully nursing the remaining crumbs of red velvet cake. I'm not done and don't intend to be for the next hour at least!)
What if I buy a coffee at Cafe Nero today and don't need to use the toilet and will likely buy one in the future without going but need to use the toilet tomorrow?
These men were obviously not strangers to the place (or at least to the chain)... 9 stamps on a relatively new looking loyalty card. But he was still a "non-customer" which suggests that higher value is placed on the individual monetary transactions than on long-term customer loyalty.
Could you have a stamp card that indicates on which visit the toilet was used, and save up toilet points for future use?
Should what you are allowed to do in the toilet be dependent upon the amount you spend? If you just get a coffee you can only have a wee, but coffee and a cake is worth a number one and number two?
I am definitely over thinking this.