The Police Station Toilet

I had some official forms to fill in, so I popped in to the central police station. From the outside, the large purpose-built edifice in the centre of Utrecht is certainly impressive in a public building sort of way, but inside it is quite a surprise. Once through the huge automated revolving door – complete with encased items of clothing advertising local shops – I found myself in a large airy glass atrium with scattered wooden benches and display stands, a bit like the entrance to a modern museum, an impression heightened by the exhibition of photographs on a police theme by a local photographer. The police themselves moved through this space in pairs, courteous and jovial, looking relaxed and content. The tiny policewoman behind the desk, dwarfed by a belt full of regulation handcuffs, folding knife, gun and other accoutrements, is pleasant and helpful. There is even a visitors toilet, which after a while I decided to visit.

As I entered the large unisex cubicle, the door swung shut behind me and I automatically reached for the light pull, hanging dimly-seen by my side. As I pull it, everything goes pitch black, and I realise that the lights had actually already been on. Another tug reveals a room in almost complete darkness, with a select few objects glowing a fluorescent yellowish non-colour. I’ve seen UV in public toilets before, fitted because heroin addicts can’t find their veins under it, but who the heck shoots up in a police station? This was also the dimmest light that I have ever encountered. Hanging close to my hand is the mildly glowing plastic knob of the light cord. Over to one side, the end of a tissue projects brightly from its otherwise invisible hand-towel dispenser. In front of me, two ghostly toilet rolls hang unsupported in space, and there to the side of them, glowing very faintly and identified only by a fluorescent sticker on the flush handle, is the incorporeal image of a lavatory bowl.

Strangely, my urine turns out to be fluorescent.

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