True Stories: Loos of the World

If only I had a camera with me all those years I traipsed the planet carrying my computer bag, before I became a designer.  The time was long before digital cameras were cheap small. Oh, if I had had one in my purse. I would produce a coffee table book, full of gorgeous photos of artistic public private bathrooms from around the world. The little place with red felt hangings that played music near Mount Fuji, the stag hall in Germany, the open air bathrooms in the outback of Australia.

singaporeBut my favorite story to tell is of  Singapore. I was there working on two things, the first ‘Pan-Asian’ reseller certification class for Citrix, phase 3 of a world wide implementation of PeopleSoft for HP. We were going to give the HR folks in India access to the system in Singapore via Citrix, it was a very exciting project. The team involved HP techs from Germany Switzerl, a Peoplesoft consultant from HQ, the local IT HR team in Singapore, myself, from Citrix.

We got everything done on schedule, 4 days for the whole system, to every one’s delight (much rejoicing in India!!). The last evening, we went to a beautiful, traditional Singaporean Chinese food dinner in a restaurant that was beautifully appointed; had impeccable service,  delicious food. When I went to the loo, however, the only choice was to ‘squat’: hole in the ground with ceramic places to place your feet. Being a woman wearing dressy trousers made this whole procedure very difficult. Some places I expected this, at the reseller offices they had a choice of Western or Asian toilets, at HP they had all Western style restrooms.

MalyAsiaToiletAfter the meal, in a (finally) casual moment, I asked our hostess, VP of Operations for the entire region, “What’s with the holes in the floor?” She said something like – Oh, I can’t st it either. Although raised in Malaysia, I went to college in the US. After I returned, I got a job with HP back home, was living with my grparents. They only had the old traditional toilets I could NOT bring myself to use them. Then she went on to tell me an even funnier story.

When the ‘new’ HP offices were built there in Singapore, all the employees were moved in working in one building. After a few weeks, the cleaners asked to speak to management. It seemed they were having a hard time getting the toilet seats cleaned on the Wedsc_03181stern style toilets. Daily, they were found covered with tiny, dirty footprints!  The Asian employees were using the Western restrooms in the traditional way, stepping up onto the toilet seats squatting! Needless to say, a quick employee training program was set up to take care of that bit of education in “the HP Way!”

More on Loos Of the World another time…it was quite an education!