Seasoned travellers know the importance of finding clean washrooms while driving from point A to point B, and how difficult that can sometimes be. Herb and Faye Pannekoek of Williams Lake know that better than most, as Faye’s health issues mean that the couple is constantly driving back and forth to Kamloops for medical reasons.
“It’s very difficult to find clean washrooms,” says Herb. “My wife has severe arthritis and can’t get around too well.” Several years ago they discovered the public washroom operated by the Village of Clinton, and were delighted.
“It’s so clean and warm, and we said how nice it is,” says Herb. The heat was an important factor, especially in winter, when so many roadside washrooms are closed, and most of the ones that are open are not heated. “Highway outhouses when it’s -25 C are quite different.”
This past summer, during a late-night stop in Clinton, the Pannekoeks saw that the light outside the Clinton public washroom was burnt out. In order for Faye to see the way clearly, Herb had to drive carefully up the path so that the headlights could light the way.
“The path isn’t designed for driving on,” says Herb; which is probably what attracted the attention of a passing police car. “I felt guilty for doing it, and then a police officer showed up. He asked what we were doing there, and when I explained he said ‘That’s understandable’ and helped my wife back to the car.”
Herb left a card with the policeman, to give to Clinton council, and soon received a letter apologizing for the burnt-out light. It prompted the couple to wonder what they could do to show appreciation.
“We try to support the community because of the washroom, by stopping in Clinton for a meal or for gas.” However, they decided they wanted to do more, and in early October wrote a letter to the Village of Clinton, expressing their gratitude for the washroom.
“We have stopped so often at the facilities there and have many times said to each other how much we appreciate them,” they wrote. After describing the late-night incident, and commending the policeman for his kindness—“I want you to be sure to know that we are not complaining”—the letter continued, “I know these facilities cost money to maintain, and we applaud your community for making them available.
“We would like to support the public washroom directly. Please accept our cheque for $150 toward maintenance of this facility. Thank you once again for going above and beyond. Often such things go unnoticed and are not recognized as special.”