The Wonder, the Inspiration: the Bathrooms at DFW

by | Apr 11, 2024

Yesterday, I headed to DFW. At JAX, before departing, I headed to the restroom. Crap–enter the moment of uncertainty when all the stall doors are closed, but are they all occupied?

Cue the contortion. When you turn upside down, 50/50 chance your bag slips off your shoulder and smacks you in the face, all in an effort to confirm there are feet on the ground and butts on seats in each of the stalls. 

I spied what appeared to be an all-clear. My hand was inches away from pushing the door open when I pulled back. There was a sneaker! Not on the floor, but rather at eye level, pushing against the door in an apparent effort to keep the door closed so people like me would not bum rush in. 

Let’s not even talk about the effort and mechanics of holding the door closed with your leg at a 90-degree angle while trying to relieve yourself. The need to block the door from an unsuspecting intruder is real.

I retreated and waited for an open stall. I then proceeded to over-hydrate myself on the plane, per usual. 

We landed at DFW. I have thoughts about Texas. By far, my most positive is the delightfully designed bathrooms at DFW. I remember my first sighting; it was this time last year. 

I like to hydrate as much as I loath airplane bathrooms so I’m known to get off the plane and b-line to the nearest bathroom, dreading the turn-upside-down-to-confirm-occupancy move, which is even more not sweet when you’re level 10 full of liquids. 

I headed in hot, then skid to a stop because…WAIT WHAT?!?!?

What do my eyes see? Are those red and green lights on the ceiling?! Is that a beautiful beacon of which stalls are actually unoccupied? 

The logic! The genius! The sheer beauty of a red light! A green light! The awe! The inspiration! 

I stood there in a dumbfounded stupor, staring it all at the scene with wonder. 

“Incredible…” I whispered. 

Remembering my exceedingly full bladder, I headed over to a green light with complete confidence that I would enter an unoccupied stall alone and TCOB. (My husband’s acronym for taking care of business–of all sorts, not just the bathroom kind.)

But wait. There’s more! When I headed out to wash my hands, I was greeted by another engineering marvel: the sinks! There were evenly spaced trios of a soap dispenser, a faucet, and a personal hand dryer! No more wash and wander! When you pump the soap in the middle then shuffle over with your suitcase between your legs to rinse and then shuffle back to the other side of the bathroom where the paper towels are, dripping over your clothes and your bags and the floor and the sinks. 

This whole bathroom experience…I gotta tell you, not only was I relieved physically, I was overjoyed mentally! 

What an moment! 

So smooth. So thoughtful. So intentional. So caring. So efficient. So calming. 

Is this the power of some well-placed colored lights and paper towel dispensers? 


It all was so seemingly simple and straightforward, yet not something you see at most bathrooms. 

It got me wondering. Did someone say something? Was there a letter campaign about how stupid it is not to have a way to know if someone is behind door number 2? Perhaps there was a woman on the design team who shared her experience as a woman who uses a bathroom. 

Was it the cleaning crews who were over having to wipe up after everyone’s spills? Did someone throw out their back while peering under the stalls? 

What finally led to someone saying and acting on the fact that there was a better way?

And the better way was so simplistic, yet so powerful and efficient and delightful.  

I was scrolling Insta the other night and a vision caught my eye…whoa…is that…are those…could that be the lights of the DFW bathrooms? YES! One of my favorite thought leaders, Liane Davey, had posted a picture of the bathroom lights, as if they were the tree at Rockefeller Center, as overjoyed and excited as I’d been my first time. 

I MESSAGED HER. Connecting with her has been on my lists of things to do, for I’m not even kidding, three years, to reach out and tell her how much I appreciate her work.

I finally did. About red and green lights. In the crapper. At an airport. 

Here’s the weird thing. I responded with straight sincerity I’d written a newsletter about said toilet experience. Send it on! She encouraged. 

I scoured through the past two years of blogs, convinced I’d written one about this situation. It’s those sorts of moments that give this newsletter life and meaning! There was no such blog. I hadn’t written about it after all. 

How could I have NOT written a blog about it and how was I so convinced that I had I told someone I did?!? I must have just talked about it incessantly. 

When you take a different look at things. When you ask your people, “Hey, what’s a pain in your neck? What’s not working around here?” you can make changes and remove the pain.

When you apply attention, plus logic, with an undercurrent of caring about the people you’re doing business with and for, seemingly simple solutions can come to life.

These solutions can bring surprise and delight. They can get people talking, posting taking pictures. (Of bathrooms!) People write blogs they thought they’d already written. 

I’ve got a hunch there are so many pains, small and large, that if you gave some attention to, you’d see the possibilities of doing things differently. 

With attention, logic, and care you can create those experiences that leave people surprised and delighted. 

1 Comment

  1. Liane Davey

    What a great story!!! I’m so glad you reached out and now extra glad that this post exists! I hope to meet in person someday… maybe in a DFW bathroom!!

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