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When you have to go on the go, where do you go? Yes, even the
vertical of toilet search engines is rife with competition.
There may be some kinds of searches that are more critical, like
when you have an emergency need for a plumber or a proctologist. But on that
curve of searches that are both critical to your well-being and likely to arise
in an average month, the need for a good bathroom search engine hits that sweet
spot; parents with young children will find such engines especially useful.
It's time to seek out the No. 1 bathroom search engine, even when you
really need number two.
Divorcing Ms. P
the first such engine I heard of, works for San Francisco, Los Angeles, or
Manhattan. I had used it once before successfully, but when I tried my home
intersection (28th St and 3rd Ave) or ZIP code from my
Samsung Omnia, it couldn't locate me. It worked better when I entered my
building number, though the first location that came up was a children's
barbershop, which I'd probably avoid, especially since I don't have kids. The
barber's bathroom was rated five rolls of toilet paper, but it was from a
single anonymous rating, and I wasn't sure how many rolls could be awarded.
Could the owner have tried to game the system? To make matters worse, the first
Starbucks it listed didn't exist, the map didn't work even for the wrong
address, and there is one closer than it indicated (I should know; I live above
one). Rating: 2 squares out of 5.
When entering my ZIP code on "premier toilet search
the results were generally five blocks from me, which won't help in case of an
emergency. But if you know your ZIP code, you're probably near home or work and
have easy access to facilities. Diaroogle fared much better when searching by
address, bringing up the first listing for a bar across the street, with a
description that included so much detail it noted high quality toilets are
downstairs, as opposed to the more pedestrian ground-level stalls. Another
plus: very clear Google maps. The site did miss quite a few other restrooms
nearby. Then again, the descriptions for some locations are so good, they
make great bathroom reading material. Consider another bar described as
"about as charming as TGI Fridays… in West Virginia." An iPhone app
is also available. Rating: 3.5 squares.
says it's in beta and means it. This site isn't yet ready for mobile, or for
mass usage. In all of New York, it has 35 listings, disproportionately in the
West Village. Rating: Half a square. I considered another half but it stuck to
What about word of mouth? I downloaded the Where's the Bathroom
iPhone app that will play a recording of the phrase "Where's the
bathroom?" in sixteen languages. Some of the world's most spoken languages
are missing, so you won't have any luck learning the question in Hindi,
Bengali, or Japanese. But if you happen to run into some Armenians or
Mongolians and want a polite way to excuse yourself, this app will serve you
well for a mere 99 cents. Rating: 1.5 squares.
Don't Squeeze the App
Where's the Bathroom was one of the four apps that came up in a
search for "bathroom" in the iPhone store; the other three were for
bathroom diversions so you could have something to do when you got there. I had
read about another app sponsored by Charmin, but it wasn't coming up under the
brand name or "bathroom." I did find it by searching for
"sit," which led me to SitOrSquat.
The Charmin app asked me to register, but I'd imagine that
wouldn't be my first priority if I was accessing such an app in a time of need.
I skipped that and it brought up a number of bathrooms within a block or two,
noting for quite a number of them which ones were open, with pictures for the
vast majority. A separate option listed bathrooms with changing tables (the
nearest one was a bookstore a few blocks away whose bathroom was rated two
stars for being "surprisingly unclean"). There weren't many ratings
ye, but I'd easily go with this. You can also find it at SitorSquat.com.
Rating: 4.5 squares.
So what about the major search engines? Trying the mobile versions
of Google and Yahoo, all I get are home renovation and real estate sites.
Rating: 0 squares. When you've got to go, go to a specialist.