Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Privacy

I've used a few different athletic facilities in Belarus, and of course a wide diversity of restrooms. In the course of these activities, I've noticed that Belarusians are a lot less squeamish than North Americans about the possibility that the cleaning lady might intrude on some guy's privacy.

Yes, restrooms and locker rooms are always cleaned by women. I haven't seen a single exception. The public restrooms are generally quite clean because the women dart in to make commando cleanups frequently when they think the room is reasonably unoccupied. You pay them 500-600 rubles for the privilege of using their toilets (about 20 cents) and they make sure the room is in good shape.

In athletic facilities, I don't think I've ever seen a locker room that doesn't open directly onto a public area. There are no anterooms or zig-zag privacy entries. If you're changing your clothes when somebody walks into the locker room, well, somebody in the hall might just catch a glance. And then again, there's always the cleaning lady. If the cleaning ladies think it's time to clean the locker room, they just open the door and look to see if the room is empty. If so, they go in. If not, they close the door again. Generally. Yesterday the cleaning lady apparently did a double-take. I heard the door swing twice, but I was facing away so I don't know what she was looking at. I think she really wanted to replace the mat that was supposed to be under my feet but which she'd removed for cleaning.

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