I always find it hard to believe when places say they have no restrooms. Downtown Chicago is literally littered with signs saying “No Public Restrooms” or “Restrooms for Customers Only”, as if no one understands that most businesses will require you to patronize their facility in order to fulfill a basic human need as fundamentally important as going to the bathroom. Of course, I understand that these businesses do not want people to just walk in off the street and use their bathroom, but the feeling of seeing all those signs is mighty depressing.
However, not all businesses operate this way. During a conversation with a coworker the other day, the topic of fast food restaurants came up in an unlikely positive light. It goes like this: most fast food joints have front doors and side doors, with the side doors located close to the restrooms. This placement seems to encourage people to just pop in and use the restroom, then continue on their way without becoming an actual customer. I don’t know if this is the real reason for the side door, or if it serves as an easy exit option, but it sure is handy.
One solution would be to adopt restroom policies as seem on the West Coast and in Europe, where there are 24-hour, free-standing restrooms open to the public. Some of these are pay-to-play, but having the ability to just go to the restroom instead of becoming a “customer” and buying something just to, again, fulfill a basic human need, seems much nicer.
I welcome your comments or thoughts on the matter, and would love to hear if you have a great restroom story, or an opinion on the best places to go when you gotta go.