“I could go right now.”
“Then go, just go”
“I can’t, oh I want to, long pause, but I can’t.”
We’ve all had these moments, either at a bar, at a friend’s place, or on vacation. When you’re out of your comfort zone, and, more importantly, out of your country, bathroom culture can be just as different as learning that country’s native language. I’m finding that each place in the world has their unique bathroom customs, and, having lived in both the developing world and the developed world, I can easily tell you, flushing toilets, ladies and gents, are a luxury, and sometimes, so is the toilet paper. No, this post will not be littered with fart jokes, I’m more mature than that.
Beware though, always bring TP with you because you never know when it’s there. Sometimes, guys forget we need them, and ladies, there’s no point in staying over.
1) NYC: Where am I and Where’s the Bathroom?
If you’re a tourist in NYC, you’re probably asking both of these questions. If you’re a resident in NYC, you know where your favorite Starbucks or McDonald’s is. For having so many people in Manhattan, it’s strange how finding a public restroom is almost as hard as finding a cheap apartment. Sure, you can go to the obvious touristy places to find a public restroom, but there’s usually a line. So what happens when you’ve filled up on yoo-hoo or are having a nasty reaction to that spicy thousand chili wok stir-fried chicken?
McDonald’s are open 24 hours! Starbucks are sometimes cleaner. If you’re one to feel guilty about using the bathroom of a fast food chain without buying something, well, tough luck. If you don’t care, any one of these places should have a fully functioning toilet to serve your needs, usually with toilet paper. If you want to get really fancy, hit up a Whole Foods!
Luckily for me, when I’m out and about, I’m usually already a paying customer, at a bar, at a restaurant, or in a movie theater. But, for anyone just walking around, good luck, not all of us can be like Big Daddy…
2) Europe: Pay to Play
They have public restrooms! And, they’re quite clean, how are they so clean? Hmm…ohhhhh. So while NYC doesn’t have public restrooms readily available, they’re quite abundant in Europe, at least in the larger cities that I’ve been to. There’s a “catch.” To maintain the public restrooms, you have to pay to enter. And, in Budapest, they were clever enough to not hand you toilet paper until you paid.
Now, you may think this is unfair, but, these folks are cleaning and maintaining a public restroom for you to use. So, imagine if you never paid your janitor at work or school, how fair is that? It’s also a small price (half a Euro) to pay compared to that tall mocha frappacino you would’ve bought to use the restroom in NYC, or if you’re drunk enough at McDonald’s: 6 ice cream cones, 50 mcnuggets, half gallon of sweet tea, and 2 of every dipping sauce.
3) China: Toilet Paper Not Included
Ah home. I’m pretty sure some people will not survive here. Yes, China is developing, and yes, Shanghai is very westernized, and some places do have fancy toilets that *gasp* flush. But, when I grew up, my grandparents didn’t have a flushing toilet until they moved to their new apartment in 2001. So where did you go?
I present to you, below, the range of public toilets available to you. Most of these are free.
The Barely There: Here you have your basics: a hole, some water, and a wall for privacy. Toilet paper not included, and I hope your squat game is on…this is free. These babies are a rarity in the major cities now. When I took a month of 3rd grade in Shanghai, that was our restroom set up, as was the public facilities in many parks. My how times have changed!
The Don’t Look Down: Aim very, very well here. You get a door, yay! And, an individual flusher per stall, also yay! Still working out those glutes in the squat though. Just, when you’re doing your bizness, especially ladies, aim well because physics says stuff will spray back up, and in your face if you look down. Many public restrooms in malls still have these. TP? Not in individual stalls, but usually in a communal dispenser before you head in. Be on the lookout because these don’t get refilled promptly.
The Modern Marvel: Full package where you can sit down and toilet paper in individual stalls. Newer restaurants and malls are equipped with these. No difference from those in the developed world. Just press the smaller flush button for #1 and the larger one for #2.
The Full Treatment: These guys wash your butt! Pick your rinse cycle, and, if it’s cold, heat that ass. The modern Asian toilets are very popular in new apartments and now, they’re in the fancy restaurants and hotels. Just don’t get too comfortable, you still have to explore the city.
4) Peru: Nature Calls
Total freedom. When you feel the crisp air blow by your (butt) cheeks, you are relaxed. There’s blue sky, white, puffy clouds, and if you’re lucky, some animals nearby. Just make sure when you’re reaching for something to wipe yourself off, you grab the packet of tissues and not poison ivy…that would make a hiking trip miserable.
Our trekking party had a mini port-a-potty but when we’re in the middle of a hike, you just find a large bush or rock and go about your business. Here’s a fun game to play, spot the perfect coverage!
What’s more poetic than doing nature’s business in nature? In my case, I had to fend off a cow for a spot behind a bush…
Bonus: When you gotta go, you gotta go
Situation: you’re at a bar and you drank too much. No, you’re not drunk, but your bladder is full. You head to the bathroom and there’s like 5-6 girls in front of you. There’s a single stall for both the men and women. What do you do?
I think it’s fair game, when it’s a single stall, for anyone to use either restroom. I’ve skipped ahead of the 5-6 women who didn’t want to use the men’s stall, did my thing and went back to drinking. What are they going to do to you? So guys, if for some bizarre reason, there’s a line to the men’s room and no one is using the ladies’ room, feel free to walk in. I don’t give a crap. If I had to give a crap, I’d be on the toilet, lol, get it?