Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) has done well for itself in managing OR Tambo International but i have a small tiny weeny issue to raise here. OR Tambo toilets and being hassled for money. One of the greatest Indians, the Buddha wrote a detailed toilet etiquette in the Vinaya Pitaka, a rulebook for Buddhist monks, describing proper toilet use in detail.The Buddha understood the importance of hygiene and insisted that the toilets in monasteries be regularly washed and swept.
In the Vinaya he also spoke of what might be called ‘toilet etiquette’. On nearing the toilet one should make a coughing noise to let whoever might be inside know that someone is coming. If someone is inside they should likewise make a coughing noise to indicate that the toilet is already occupied. Disposing of human waste suddenly got very elaborate.
OR Tambo has plenty of toilets owing to the fact that 21 Million passengers passed through the airport in 2017. Thats plenty of human traffic and toilet action too. OR Tambo has very clean toilet facilities i must say. They have janitors resident inside the toilets “taking care of business”. They are very welcoming when you enter the toilets and have declared all the toilets at OR Tambo International “offices’. Add a few rands on the janitors hands on your way out, you will leave behind a happy janitor full of praise for your nationality.
The janitors praise nationalities and not the individual giving out the CASH. Something to do with the belief in collective responsibility. Having been at OR Tambo so many times, I have concluded that CASH is KING when you thank the janitors for their great service to the Republic of South Africa in a toilet. Think of the cash you hand out as a gift to the front line soldiers protecting the image of South Africa in airport toilets and terminals. Maybe in other countries, the gifts may take a different form like in Saudi Arabia, i can imagine a barrel of oil being an appropriate gift for someone.
First world citizens passing through OR Tambo have found the whole arrangement (janitors resident in toilets) bothering on spying, stalking and or invasion of ones privacy. I have been in blogs where toxic comments are shared on black people in generally and how we as blacks can sit in a toilet for hours on end hassling people for money.
I note that janitors are mostly from informal settlements near towns and such locations are guilty of collapsing structures we like to call toilets. Informal town toilets have no space for the word privacy. I grew up in Mangwaneni, an informal settlement in the outskirts of Mbabane, capital city of Eswatini and the toilets always look like they survived a Nuclear apocalypse. To the janitor, lack of privacy is but a common daily occurrence as you attempt to dispose of your human waste. Janitors being resident in toilets at an airport terminal is just but normal, one presumes.
Janitors asking for a few loose coins here and there could also mean a country with no minimum wage to protect its citizens. It could mean poor labor practices and a carefree management structure that could not be bothered for the welfare of its employees. According to indeed.co.za, the average monthly salary of a janitor is 4679 rands per month. You need to squeeze rent, electricity, daily transport, food, take care of your family, pay insurance in that 4679 rands. That would be a tight squeeze even from the most disciplined frugal South African. Janitors seeking coins here and there from unassuming tourists maybe helps them cover their daily transport costs to and from work. Lets get back to toilets, shall we.
Do i feel comfortable having a man cleaning or standing there whistling while im pissing and farting at the same time? Definitely No. Toilets are designed to get rid of “toxins” and for that to happen , you need to be in a comfortable space. At ease as they say in the military. When i piss and fart at the same time, i want to be staring at those white tiles usually placed in front of the urinals with a huge grin spread across my face letting out a fart loud enough to measure on the Richter scale.
Can you honestly do that with a man staring behind you? Before you finish saying “GROSS”, i say in a perfect world toilets should have been designed to accommodate one person at a time. However civilization came with population growth, population growth came up with the image below. This image summarizes everything you need to understand about public toilets.
So in the current obtaining civilization, we not only have to contend with man standing behind us as we pee, but with also humiliating toilet designs that destroy every ounce of your dignity. Its now common to see a man on the next urinal or toilet extending his hand towards your feet requesting extra toilet paper. Sadly all airport terminals toilet are like that. The premier lounges in airport terminals have a different option. Lounges have private toilets sealed off and offer a very private “tranquil” atmosphere for one to rid of “excess baggage”. I am a member of Hotel Express which qualifies me to access Bid-vest premier lounges with their first world toilets.
Am i picking on the janitors and toilets at OR Tambo?
The answer is that its the only airport i have been to where i get hassled for money inside a toilet. That makes it a unique case i n my world and i sign off with no conclusion. Just a picture of a perfect world where we all are equal and one does not have to resort to begging in a toilet or restroom…