Thursday 14 May 2009

Creepy Bathroom at D-Lites Located At End of Very Long, Long Hallway

D'Lites Emporium
1906 S. Dale Mabry Hwy
Tampa, FL USA

Where is it?

Prepare for a trek.

From the front entrance, head to the back of the store, past the scant number of shelves housing various health foods and, further back, the order counter, where you can get your diet-friendly desserts dished up. Veer to the left of the order counter and head down the long hallway there.

That hallway will literally snake to the very back of the business -- it's a hallway that seems about three times as long as the main store's length. Along the way, you'll pass various supply closets, piles of supplies (both cleaning and food-related), and a number of doors leading to (no doubt) mysterious places.

When you've reach the place's back exit, know that this is the actual end of the hallway. You cannot go on any further down that hallway without going outside the building and ending up in the back parking lot. To the immediate right of the exit door is a white door. In there is the bathroom.

What's it like?

This humble store front, lodged into a slightly run-down strip mall in south Tampa, offers decent tasting frozen desserts (like frozen yogurt, but not) for the calorie conscious. A small, one-scoop serving of its resident dessert concoction has, supposedly, only 50 calories to it. To keep things friendly on the belly, toppings include items like carob chips (instead of chocolate chips) .

In addition, visitors can get iced drinks and shakes, cakes, bulk containers of the frozen treat, as well as items like high-fiber pasta and sugar-free dessert toppings, found on the handful of shelves in the front of the store.

I can't say it's the best frozen dessert I've ever had, but considering that it's not as bad for you as those items it's not too bad either. Worth a visit if you're in the area.

The bathroom here is not worth a visit, though.

As mentioned before, it's at the end of a very long hallway - it's very, very long, abnormally so. You don't really figure it will be that long of a hallway because the store itself is pretty small. But this thing just keeps going on and on, twisting around corners, taking you by all sorts of industrial-looking items like ladders and milk crates. By the time you reach the back, you feel like you're in another world.

At first, I thought this was due to the fitness/diet motif of the place. People are coming here for diet-friendly desserts, so why not make them walk one or two miles to use the restroom.

But then the hallway itself, and the bathroom at the end of it, aren't exactly pleasant places to be. They feel isolated and makeshift, almost ruse-like, as if they were constructed not for a purpose but as a place where lesser elements might take victims. I am exaggerating to an extent on the purpose here, but YES, IT'S THAT SCARY.

After a long journey, you expect to find a place that's at least a little bit welcoming. But instead, you find a place better suited to John Wayne Gacy. I mean no disrespect to the owners here, but it's damn creepy down that hallway and in that bathroom!

I mean, there are bars on the window in the bathroom! WHY?!?!?

The room itself is a small one-bagger chamber containing a number of pieced together parts, like a toilet that looks like it was picked up in a yard sale, a white, wood-framed mirror that looks like its frame was once another color, and a standard white porcelain sink with ugly chrome faucets.

The walls here are basic white drywall, the floors covered in basic rectangular tile, slightly off-white in color. The walls are pretty bare, save for a lone poster advertising the place's diet-friendly frozen treat. The poster reads: "Add a new twist to your lifestyle." Given the creepy setting around me, I must admit I felt pretty uneasy about the implications of that statement.

The toilet itself has some pretty sharp water stains in the basin. The unit itself sits flat on the ground but right behind it is a little lip in the floor, about two inches up, that offers a solitary home to the plunger. It's a similar concept to what I saw at Westminster Abbey, only that (and its FEMBIN can) the lip there was much larger and less purposeful.

A little strange to offer a shelf entirely to a plunger, I think, but then again I've seen stranger in a toilet, like Fixodent, hydrogen peroxide, and foot cream. And even with the oddly placed shelf/lip, it's still a more user-friendly setup than what I found at Bloomingdale's Orlando.

Also strange is the proximity in which the toilet paper holder is placed to the toilet. It's practically jammed next to it, making it all but impossible for anyone sitting down on the toilet to not slam into the thing while trying to get up. To not do so, you literally have to slide into position from the side, which is not as easy as it sounds, believe me.

The sink itself also has its share of hard water stains, and its faucets don't work correctly. The left faucet produces a spraying stream of water from the spigot (as opposed to a clean stream -- you kind of get it all over you here). The right faucet produces only a tiny trickle of water, not even enough to get soap off your hands easily.

Another oddity is the paper towel dispenser: It hands on the wall in the back left corner, beside the creepy poster for the business and above a lonely looking stainless steel trashcan that's maybe about a foot high. The dispenser itself is a large, translucent plastic cylinder in which you tear off bits of paper from the bottom. On it, you'll find a homemade sign reading: "Please help save the trees."

Now, I'm not sure why it says that. Is it implying that I should not dry my hands? If so, then what other alternative to I have? There is no air dryer here, only toilet paper, which, if I use, is the same as killing another tree, isn't it?

And then I thought: Perhaps the sign was a bit of advice, implying that if I left the bathroom with wet hands, I could use that water for sustenance on the long trip back to the front of the store. I wasn't sure. I used a towel regardless and then hurried back, for fear that someone might burst through the bar-covered window if I lingered too long.

Easily the creepiest toilet -- much more so than others I've been in, like Teramok in St. Petersburg, Russia, Holopaw Restaurant and Kappy's.

Marks out of 10:

3. Very, very creepy.

Comments to the Management:

My first priority here would be to make the bathroom a place that welcomes visitors more. Put some fun decor on the walls, paint the walls friendly colors (like the same colors as some of your friendly looking diet-friendly treats?). If you can't remove the bars from the window, then cover the window up -- we don't need to see that.

Then start working on making the passageway more friendly to wall through and not such a wasteland of cleaning supplies and other forgotten trinkets. If you can, bring the bathroom closer to the main store so as not to make it feel so detached from the rest of the place. And clean the place up some -- lose the water stains, get the sink working properly.

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