…used a baby-changing room today (in a branch of a well known, tax-dodging coffee shop). And it was horrific.
Can anyone explain why they bother having these facilities, only to let the room become so filthy that a baddie from Scooby-Doo would think twice before having a shit in it?
It is amazing how much a baby-changing room sign can mean to a parent when their infant has just detonated a level-9 in a packed shopping centre. This symbol is a beacon, a light guiding us to a place of refuge. A panic room. Baby Changing Rooms can be more than a place to change a nappy, they can be a room to retreat to and regroup. That’s the good ones.
Unfortunately, the good ones are few and far between.. and the bad ones are a f*cking horror…
You can normally tell, before you even open the door, by its grim handle and by the crooked sign above the entrance: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here”. And, as you open the door, there is a rumble of thunder and a dog howls plaintively in the distance.. Welcome to a cubicle of doom:
A flickering strip-light overhead illuminates what appears to be a disused crack-house. If you are lucky there isn’t the chalk-line of a recent murder victim still visible on the stained floor. A floor that’s so sticky (with christ knows what) it sucks your shoe off as you walk in. You notice one of those “This facility was last checked by” sheets on the wall.. but its just a stone tablet hanging from an ancient cobweb. (“This facility was last checked by Pliny the Elder in 74AD”).
And, cold, shivering and wary.. you approach the fold-down shelf thing..
A shelf that appears to have been used by a tramp hosing off his balls. Its f*cking filthy. You wouldn’t euthanise a badger on this f*cking thing let alone change your baby. (Also, there always seems to be food crumbs in the hinges.. like you’d find in an oven door .. who the f*ck is feeding their baby on this??)
Who hasn’t taken one look into a place like this and opted to change their baby somewhere more appropriate like the car, or a bench, or a derelict pig-shed.
But sometimes you’re desperate. Sometimes there is no choice. And, so you place the most precious thing in your life onto a surface that has enough bacteria to wipe out France. And demand that your clueless infant not touch anything. As your baby, instead, decides that this is the appropriate time to start licking the walls and pawing everything in sight.
The worst thing about the bad baby change rooms isn’t even the hygiene levels, or the fact that they look like Jeffrey Dahmer’s abandoned cellar. It is the fact that nothing is ever replenished. Everything is empty. The box of changing mat covers is empty, the soap dispenser just spits out dust, you are lucky to find water that’s running let alone hot.
And, the design of these places is clearly the job of a f*cking idiot. Why is everything out of reach?? What is the point of having a big sign saying: “Don’t leave your baby on this surface unattended” if you are then going to place the soap, the bin, the sink and everything else precisely 12 inches out of arms length. The average arm span of a human is 5 feet 7 inches.. Just put everything within that f*cking range. Jesus.
…Even, If you and your baby survive the ordeal of changing.. Then there is the nappy bin.. the throbbing, glowing, radioactive container in the corner of the room.. slowly cultivating the virus that f*cked everyone over in the film ‘Outbreak’. Obviously, the foot pedal doesn’t work so you have to use your hands to prise open the lid and close it quickly.. before the gas that is released has the same face-melting effect as opening the Ark of The Covenant had on the gestapo bloke from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Baby Changing Rooms are supposed to make life easier for parents and on the whole they do. It reflects well on a society that it wants to soften a new parent’s day. There is no legal obligation to provide these rooms, so businesses obviously think that they are a good way of encouraging young families, with cash to spend, to come on in.
..So, why go to all the trouble of creating one and then make it as welcoming as Death’s arsehole?
Answers on a wipe-clean postcard to the Sheffield branch of a well known, tax-dodging coffee shop.