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The Great Toilet Debate, Let’s all get in one line

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Quote of the Day: Always go to the bathroom when you have a chance. King George V, found on Brainy Quotes.

I wrote this post about a week ago, but didn’t publish it. Then, I saw the following Facebook post from my friend Sandy, which produced some funny reading about bathrooms, lines, and a lack of giving a shit where you go. (I don’t normally swear, but this one seemed well placed.)

From Sandy’s page: Okay…………..I have a confession to make and if any of you unfriend me, I will understand……..For decades now, when I am on a Band Trip and the line to the women’s bathroom is ridiculously long and there is no one in the men’s bathroom………..guess what I use (with a lookout, of course)?!?!? So really – I have been using the wrong bathroom, at times…and… I really want to have a post about bathrooms on my wall, too.

A toilet that survived a fire. Love how the tulips grew up around it and bloomed!

A toilet that survived a fire. Love how the tulips grew up around it and bloomed!

The Bathroom debate is terrible. I know where it comes from, a place of fear, a need to judge and put people in categories. It’s a power play. It happened in the good old USA for decades until Civil Rights took hold and we desegregated the bathrooms. 

I know some germaphobes who won’t use a public restroom, but this is different. It is a core belief that a private function is done in public and that it is contaminated by “other” people. It is also an unsubstantiated fear that people who are different from you will harm you. 

I say, make all public toilets unisex. Have one big room with a place to get in line, and we all use the same facilities. Yep. Make it more public. Have you ever used a bathroom with a sign on it for the opposite sex? I have. I’ve also used the porta potties at festivals. Now, that’s a treat. In fact, my most embarrassing moment story comes from the WE Fest near Detroit Lakes, MN. I was pregnant. We only went to the WE Fest a handful of times, and two of those summers I was pregnant. So, there I was with my pregnant belly and full bladder trying the doors to the Biffys. I pulled one. It opened, and there sat a cowboy doing his business. It was dark. All I really saw was his hat. I slammed the door shut, felt mortified, and waited for one of the Biffy doors to open. It was his. He came out, shook my hand, said his name, and we had a good laugh.

Another time, I wasn’t feeling well, and really needed to use the bathroom at a McDonald’s on our way home from visiting my parents. The women’s bathroom was closed! I panicked. I told one of my boys who was quite young at the time, to check the men’s room. It was empty. Then, I instructed him to stand by the door and tell any men who wanted to use the bathroom that his mom was in there. I took care of my emergency, washed my hands, and as I was heading out the door, a guy walked in, quite surprised to see me. When you gotta go, you gotta go!

If we had all toilets open to anyone, I would have had less trouble with my sons. When they were small, they’d go to the ladies’ room with me, no complaints. Once they got to school and learned there was a difference, it became a problem. I had bathroom anxiety for years! If they took too long, I’d inch closer to the door, ready to shout, “Everything okay in there?!”

Have you ever been to a concert, play, sports game, or any public event, and noticed that the line for the women’s restroom is out the door and down the hall, and the men are running in and out of theirs in minutes? Or, no one is in there at all (see Sandy’s post). At festivals like the WE Fest, when it’s the evening performance, dark outside, and people have had plenty of liquid refreshments, you will see women walking past the agonizingly long line for the women’s stalls, and head right into the men’s room. They use the stalls. They don’t give a rip about who’s using the urinals. They just gotta go. And, the men?! They don’t care where they go, a spot of grass will do. 

Speaking of men and toilets, the reason I’m posting this under the category “Ride off the Page” is because the only place I’ve ever seen a line longer for the men’s room vs. the ladies’ is at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. For once in my life, I walked right in while the Biker Chef stood in line. Not only that, he was still there when I came out. 

So, let’s show some equality and open up all stalls to the next customer. Who’s with me? I see a few hands. And, those of you who are cringing and can’t stand the thought of using the same toilet as strangers, be sure to go before you leave the house.

And, now, I gotta go!

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you were desperately trying to find a bathroom. Sandy received several comments from women who use the men’s, and one guy said he had co-ed bathrooms in college!

  1. A very cute and honest reply to the Bathroom Debate. I agree on all counts! Thanks for bringing this (t)issue to attention and working out the problem from the bottom up 😉 And now, it’s my turn to go!!

  2. That’s what they do in Holland (or, if you prefer, The Netherlands). They have a room with sealed-off cubicles, and you get in line (as I like to say, mind your P’s and Q’s and queue for your pees) and wait for the next open stall. The place is always clean and there’s always someone there to direct traffic if it gets busy (they appreciate a guilder or two as you’re leaving). Everyone’s happy and no one gets hurt. I foresee that happening here soon.

    Starbucks drives me nuts. They have two identical restrooms (a toilet, sink, hand dryer with a Pratt & Whitney jet engine, a trash can, and a Koala Care changing station), but one’s labeled “Men” and the other “Women.” Why? Only one person can (and should) use it at a time, anyway.

    • Love it, John. Thanks for sharing this. When I was in Germany for a study abroad program, we all changed in the same locker room for our after school fitness time.

  3. Julie Watson says:

    Lovely humorous read Mary. Loved it. I can’t recall any toilet stories although I have often used the gents and the disabled ones when the women’s is engaged ugh!! Actually I can remember a time when my sister used the long drop at our batch and as it was at night and outside the possums were around. As she came out one jumped on her. She came screaming inside .In time we did get an inside loo. 🙂 The smell of those loos were beyond belief as you can imagine but a bit like back to nature.

    • Thanks, Julie. Funny story about the possums. You never know what you’ll run into during a late night outhouse run! Sometimes, though, with four boys, I’m all for bringing back the outhouses!

  4. I used the men’s toilet a few times when I was in Italy recently. The line-ups for the women’s were ridiculous. Occasionally I did get a raised eyebrow, but there are also plenty of unisex toilets in Italy, so I don’t think anyone really cares that much.

    I am mystified by what women do in the bathroom that takes them so long, though. I’m in and out, especially if I know a bunch of people are waiting.

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