Have a seat. It’s time to talk a butt, err, a bit about Madison’s bathrooms, just in time for World Toilet Day.
One never knows when one might have to go. Maybe you’re attending Concerts at the Square when your bowels begin to swear. Maybe you’re ogling red pandas at the Henry Vilas Zoo when you’re sure you have to poo. Perhaps you’re cheering for the Badgers, shouting “Yippee,” when you suddenly have to pee.
Madisonian Matt Tebo wants to help those yelping for the nearest toilet. His Instagram page, Places I’d Poop Madison, rates Madison bathrooms on a variety of criteria (cleanliness, size, clean exit, convenience, amenities, and restroom-to-customer ratio) in an attempt to find the best toilet in the city.
We recently had a Poo-and-A with Tebo about his bathroom activities:
Q: What inspired you to start your Instagram page?
A: It’s been an idea I’ve had for a while. I love Madison and its amazing food scene. There are so many foodie and drink and destination accounts on Insta and other platforms, and I wanted to create something different.
The idea came from my struggles with IBS. When you have IBS, or Crohn’s, or other GI issues, sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to find a bathroom, and if you don’t know where to go it can be scary and anxiety inducing.
Q: Is your aim to be funny? To be helpful? Both?
A: My aim has always been to be helpful and to create a conversation about something that isn’t spoken about a lot but we all do. What I really want to do is give people an idea of clean and available spaces if they are looking for a gender-neutral space, and if they struggle with any GI issues, or even if they don’t. But, I also want to help local businesses. There are so many great places in Madison and I want people to go out and give them business.It just makes it more fun when they have a cool or unique bathroom. And it’s also cool if they don’t have a cool bathroom. As long as it’s clean and well maintained.
Q: What feedback have you received?
A: It’s all been positive. A lot of people reach out to thank me because they have IBS or Crohn’s and the ratings of places I’ve done have really helped them. Businesses often reach out directly to invite me in to rate their restrooms. I get recommendations from people all of the time telling me to go check out a place too. There’s been some great back and forth with people and I’ve made some new friends along the way.
Q: What inspires you to review a particular bathroom? I’m assuming you don’t think to review every bathroom in Madison you go into.
A: I actually do think about reviewing every bathroom in Madison. Right now, I’m really only focusing on restaurants, bars, and a few other small, local businesses. My real inspiration is just getting people to visit these places that I’ve enjoyed and try them out for themselves.
I want people to go out and dine and drink locally and support the Madison economy and all of the great businesses in town.
Q: What is your ideal bathroom? Your dream toilet experience? Conversely, what’s gross to you?
A: Great questions, just a clean, not claustrophobic space where I hopefully don’t have to wait a long time if I have to go to the bathroom. What I hate the most is when you wash your hands and then are forced to touch a handle that everyone uses. In my germophobic opinion, it should be illegal to have a sink and only an air dryer and then a handle to open the door. If the door pushes out, no problem. If there are paper towels I can use to open the door, no problem. If there is a foot pedal to open the door, no problem. But what is the point of washing your hands if you then have to touch the same handle as everyone else? So many people don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom! Rant over.
Q: What places in Madison do you hope to one day poop in? The Governor’s Executive Residence? A Frank Lloyd Wright home? Maple Bluff Country Club? What spot intrigues you and makes you ask, “I wonder what their bathroom looks like?”?
A: Ha. I haven’t thought that far out yet. I am still trying to get through the thousands of restaurants and bars. I like places that are unique. I like places that take time and put some thought into their restrooms.
Q: Top Madison toilets thus far?
A: So far, some of the top places are Tricky Foods, Lallande, and the Cardinal Bar. If you haven’t been to any of these spots yet, go check them out! Great places and lovely people who work and own them.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to businesses offering their bathroom, what would it be?
A: Put some thought into your bathrooms. Make it spacious, clean, and fun. Add cool paint styles, or art, or something with local flair. And don’t skimp on the number of urinals and stalls you have. And gender-neutral bathrooms are wonderful and easy for everyone.