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Out and About – Week of August 17th

Public restrooms are everywhere, except when you really need one. The best example that I can think of are those rest areas that appear on the major highways. The sign says, “Rest Area ahead one mile.” If you are traveling with your family, this is when you ask if there’s anyone who needs to use the bathroom. The answer, of course, is usually, “No, I’m fine for now.” Thirty seconds after you pass the rest area, someone in the car lets you know that s/he does need to use the restroom after all. It’s also at this time when you see the sign that reads, “Next Rest Area 26 Miles.” Hopefully, those in need can wait twenty or thirty minutes.

I’m a big fan of public restrooms. If a new restaurant opens, I don’t consider it open until I’ve used their facilities at least once. Sometimes I grade a restaurant, not by their food, but by the cleanliness of their men’s room.

A public restroom is exactly that: a restroom for the public. I refer now to those restrooms located at a rest area along the major highway or Interstate. Since it is a public facility, it should be everyone’s responsibility to try to keep it at least a little tidy. By tidy, I mean that, if the wastebasket is filled to the brim with paper towels, use your damp paper towel and push the rest of them down, which makes the container more compact. After you wash your hands and have used several paper towels, wipe the excess water around the sink before throwing your towels in the trash container. I’m not suggesting that we all do a thorough job of cleaning the restroom, but what could be wrong with cleaning up a mess that we have made? I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up waste paper that someone carelessly left on the floor. Bending over every so often is good exercise. I’ve suggested more than once that if you’re out for a walk and see trash that some slob left on the ground, pick it up and dispose of it properly.

There are people who have the task of cleaning public restrooms. They are paid for doing this, and if their jobs are made easier by everyone cleaning up after themselves, they might enjoy the job more and do it better. There might come a day when you will have to pay to use restrooms because of the abuse they receive. Don’t laugh. Remember the day of the “Pay Toilet”?

I recently received an anonymous letter from someone. It wasn’t actually a letter, but rather a copy of a newspaper column written by Dick Magee of the Sturgis Journal. In the column, Mr. Magee referred to those who run small businesses on Main Street as heroes. I couldn’t agree more, because it takes a lot to run a small business anywhere, when you have the “Big Box” stores only a mile or two away.

I wrote a column a month or so ago that I believe may have been misunderstood. After reading a letter on the opinion page, I was ready to apologize for expressing my opinion. Perhaps some people think that the State of Michigan will do everything it can to help those operating small businesses. The State of Michigan will help, but the privilege of hanging out that “shingle”will carry a hefty price.

All business owners must be prepared to take risks. They must also be prepared to greet every person who walks through that door with a smile and an attitude that they will do everything possible to satisfy that customer’s wants and needs. I spent over thirty years dealing with customers, and some can really be a pain in the neck when it comes to receiving the service they desire. I eventually had enough and returned to Three Rivers, my hometown.

I love my downtown. I wish there were a shoe store, a men’s clothing store, and a hardware store within walking distance. I’d rather spend my money here in Three Rivers than have it pay some CEO’s country club dues. Downtown Three Rivers has many empty storefronts waiting for heroes.

As far as being anonymous goes, I think we should save that for donating anonymously to a worthwhile charity. Return address labels come in very handy.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

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