The story begins
Yesterday, Thursday 25th October, I was faced with a great dilemma. One that I’m sure that thousands of mothers have faced this year alone, but one which I feel most South African fathers have not had to deal with. Finding a baby friendly toilet in a small shopping centre.
I visited a small coffee shop in the Fields Hill Shopping Centre in the morning with my wife to have a meeting about some work stuff. During the meeting my wife was doing most of the talking and low and behold the inevitable happened with our 6 month old boy. A HUGE poo.
Now, I’m a new age father and have no problems with changing poo nappies, getting vomited on and all the other good things that happen. So this wasn’t a big thing for me.
The Toilet hunt begins
The problem I had was finding a toilet in the centre that had a baby changing facility. The shopping centre toilets didn’t have; not
even for moms! How ’90s I told myself. No fear, next to the coffee shop, Sam Browns (which really is a great little coffee shop for anytime of the day coffee, good vibes and good music-see how nice the inside of their shop looks on the photo,) there was a lovely Virgin Active gym. This is a seriously busy gym in the kloof area. So I strolled into the reception area and made my polite request to the ladies behind the counter.
-Hmm, are you a member? Was the question I got.
-Well actually no, I’m sorry. All I need is to quickly use your facilities as a non member – which I’ll pay for, I hastened to add.
-No, sorry. It’s only for members. One of the ladies informed me.
At this point in time a lovely neighbourhood mommy was coming in and she advised me to use the nice clean couch in the reception area to change my baby. I probably have to apologize to this lady, as my response was not as sympathetic. I simply told her that I didn’t think that Virgin Active would appreciate poo on their couch. To which the lady behind the reception counter said I could use the shopping centre toilets. So let me paint you a quick picture.
Are your Local Shopping Centre Toilets up to scratch?
This is an old shopping centre in kloof, Durban. It’s recently had a facelift with some paint, some new plants and some other things that I couldn’t really see. The toilets however are quite old, especially the men’s. In fact I’ve got to be honest they’re dirty and pretty rank for the majority of the time. Any public member is allowed to use them, and they contain a single toilet with 2 urinals. It’s dark, smelly and reminds me of how I imagine Shrek’s toilet to be like. Enough visualisation?
So politely as I could, I replied to the Virgin Active employee by telling her that the toilets didn’t have any baby changing facilities in them, not the ladies, nor the men’s. “but you can still use them” I was told.
What, to put my baby on the floor? In the pee? And change him? You must be mad.
At this stage there were other people waiting to come into the gym and there was also an assistant manager and a floor manager of the Virgin Active gym. They must have all been members, as they seemed to get in with no problems. Or maybe it was because they didn’t have a baby in their arms. I wonder…
Anyway, the lady behind the desk said I could now fill in an indemnity form and I would be escorted to the toilets. Which I duly did, and we got sorted out – eventually.
I will say this though, the kids area, changing facility, child minder facility at this gym are excellent! Well done for this, Virgin Active Kloof.
Fields Hill Shopping Centre logo courtesy of Fields Shopping Centre
There we have it, all done and sorted. No, I won’t go into details of the number 2. Suffice to say it was prodigious! Well done my boy!
When we left I thought I needed to find the centre management though and find out their thoughts of this episode, and more importantly why the heck there were no baby changing facilities! I found them in the end, and the reply was that they were in the early phases of redoing the bathrooms and there would be facilities to change a baby in the them. But only in the ladies. Sorry guys, looks like we actually don’t count. Although after putting up some semi-heated arguments I think the centre manager of Fields Hill Shopping Centre in Kloof may consider spending some money on buying a wall mounted fold down table.
My conclusion; simple. If you need the facilities of Virgin Active in Kloof – better be a member, or else be prepared to put up with nonsense until you can shout loud enough for someone to actually care about any other member of the public. Virgin Active Kloof you need to train your staff better. You can’t profess to be a local gym supporting the community when you clearly don’t support the community unless it benefits you! I’d rather go to one of the many private gyms in the kloof area. Fields Hill Centre, you need to come into the 21st century and realize that dad’s do need facilities for their babies as well. Seriously guys, catch a wake up! Next time we’ll have our meetings in Hillcrest corner. There I know for a fact they have nice family bathrooms.
But what do you think? Have you had an experience similar to mine? Let me know your pain – oh, and if you agree with my rant don’t forget to share the love.