A Few Thoughts on Public Restrooms

Why is the United States the only country where public restrooms are readily available? I mean, seriously.

Oh,  and let me rephrase that… the Continental United States.

I expect when I am wandering around the streets of Paris or driving along the Pan American Highway that public restrooms will be few and far between. And the few that you do come across are generally disgusting and, more likely than not, you have to pay for them. At a train station in India, I was greeted by an elderly gentleman requesting money for me to use the squatty potty by the train tacks. I declined and hopped back on our toy train. It did not have a bathroom on board.

In the US there are bathrooms everywhere that anyone can use. Gas stations, pharmacies and grocery stores are all places I have personally and on more than one occasion used. All it takes is a polite, “Where is your restroom?” and you will be happily (or grumpily) pointed in the right direction.  Most of the time they don’t even care if you’re actually a customer. There is a mutual understanding that if you need to go, you need to go. And they would rather you do so in a bathroom than in their parking lot.

A recent discovery is that this is not the case in Hawaii. Even some restaurants, which one would expect to have an accessible bathroom for its patrons, sent me along my way. In fact, one of our favorite restaurants while in Hawaii uses a public restroom up an alley behind their building. Unfortunately for me, both bathroom doors get locked at some point in the evening. Of course I discover this as rain pours down on me and about a litre of kombucha is trying to escape my bladder. I swear, if I ever get arrested for public urination, I will fight it to the end, using this post as a reference.

As someone that has a very small bladder and who takes her personal hydration very seriously, the lack of available toilets in the world is a serious problem. I guess I just have to plan accordingly.


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