Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Georgia's "unwelcome" center

The Grinch was alive and well in Georgia on the day after Christmas.

We stopped at Georgia's welcome center on I-20 east at the Alabama line about 6 p.m. Sunday.

As we left, a guy put up a closed sign and locked it, supposedly for cleaning.

It's snowing. It's a day when, obviously, a lot of families with children are traveling. Several walked up to the door with children clearly in distress, only to be turned away.

The bathrooms have sections; one can be opened when the other is being cleaned. (At least the men's did, because there was this big roll-down steel door with a sign on it that said "this section closed for cleaning. I assume the women's was similar.)

Other states keep the bathrooms open. Heck, I've gone to bathrooms at S.C., Kentucky and Mississippi welcome centers, for instance,  in the wee (yeah, yeah) hours of the morning. Even the Georgia DOT website says the bathrooms are supposed to be open until 11 p.m. (see link above), though one has to wonder why they can't be kept open all night since the lobby area is locked off from the welcome center itself.

(Yes, there are gas stations and fast-food restaurants down the road about four miles. Tell that to a family with a screaming kid about to pee in his or her pants. And I'm sure those restaurants, for instance, appreciate the nonpaying business.)

I don't know whether the bathrooms eventually reopened. My wife and I watched for a few minutes - even drove around the building just to see if there was an alternate "night" entrance as some visitor centers have. But to close them for even a short time at the peak of the traveling hours would be a major fail in common sense.

Great impression about Georgia for those travelers. I think the state owes them an explanation and apology.

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