PHILADELPHIA — After an overnight ride on Amtrak''s Crescent line from Atlanta into Philadelphia on Thursday, October 28, I immediately took the L to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the meeting of plumbing engineers looking at exhibits in a three-football-field sized exposition hall for the first ever meeting in the United States of the World Toilet Organization (WTO).
I am one of the toileteers and have worked for 17 years improving public school restrooms, including attending previous World Toilet Summit (WTS) gatherings in Belfast and New Delhi.
Amidst the registration badges, coded labels, description on prize drawings, continuing education units (CEU) and professional development hour (PDH) credits, delegate meetings, shuttles to the National Constitution Center, etc., one restroom fluke caught my attention.
On the second floor meeting area, a men''s restroom in the second commode area had a three-letter, two-symbol word of graffiti penned on the stall door. Graffiti and even "scratchiti" is part of what I deal with in schools and even in my hometown of Decatur, Georgia.
I photographed the item with my Blackberry 8330 and headed out to find an official of the Pennsylvania Convention Center; I found three.
The man took down the location, and the two ladies headed into the water closet, all three promising me "It will be taken care of." I also interviewed three student security guards who all told me about their nasty high school restrooms.
Back on Sunday to get my badge, meet people and check out the head, I took a picture of a clean stall door.
Do the schools where your kids attend, especially the middle and high schools, or the buildings where your products are used, have a policy backed up with a practice that "graffiti never sleeps here?"
Check in for more from the Convention tomorrow. The plumbers, code writers and toileteers have a clean convention center, and each participant might have an example of how citizenship starts in the restrooms.
Dr. Tom Keating, American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) correspondent and speaker