(That’s Rest Rooms, America – though personally, I go elsewhere to rest.)
Oh for the old days of MEN/WOMEN or LADIES/GENTLEMEN, and locks displaying ENGAGED/VACANT.
That’s all much to easy and obvious for the modern world. The way to tell whether the toilet at my local Costa is occupied is by way of a hole the size of the Higgs-Boson particle, deeply set so that the colour is hard to see without a magnifying glass and high-intensity light. And the colour is either red or white – not green, mind but white. Quite what those not familiar with the system are supposed to make of a white sign when first coming across it, I’m not sure. Many a time I’ve seen people bending forward to try to ascertain whether the toilet is engaged or not, only for the door to open and for them to look like some sort of keyhole peeping tom.
But you’ve got to find the toilets first. Motorways service stations have taken to using abstract symbols that look like they were designed by Jackson Pollock, with a barely perceptible difference between the pictures for the two sexes. I believe the worst ones are Milton services on the A34 and Strensham on the M5. At the latter of which on one occasion, I was on my way in to the toilets (having studied the pictures for a few minutes to decide which one I dare enter) when I was passed by an elderly woman scurrying out rather rapidly. I’m not quite sure what she saw in there, but she looked dazed and shaken and was mumbling ‘Oh, dear…’