I had diarrhea in Hamburg, Germany, and I couldn’t find a bathroom. It was 1983. I was 16, touring the city with a friend, and the undercooked eggs and Weisswurst I’d had for breakfast weren’t sitting well. The steins of Krombacher and shots of Korn Schnapps from the night before didn’t help.
I could feel the juices percolating through my abdomen as I walked down the busy street to St. Michael’s, and I knew I was in trouble.
“I need to find a restroom,” I told my German friend, Nicola.
She looked at me with all the compassion of a typical German and told me to hold it.
“But I can’t,” I said. It was the truth. I couldn’t hold it. I had to go. There are just some things in life you can’t control. Beer and egg diarrhea is one of them.
She rolled her eyes and pulled me into a nearby shop. She asked the storekeeper if we could use her restroom. The woman glanced at me, looked me up and down, and shook her head.
“Please … Bitte,” I whined, my eyes watering. Without a hint of mercy, the woman said, “Nein.”
I couldn’t believe it. “No? What do you mean, no? Don’t you see I’m in pain here?”
Nicola grabbed me by the arm and pulled me out the door. I followed, barely able to walk as I squeezed my legs together.
“Don’t shops have public bathrooms in this city?” I asked. Nicola shook her head. “Not many.”
That began one of the longest, most painful days of my life. We went from shop to shop looking for a bathroom, only to be turned away. I felt like a poor version of Mary searching for an inn. Okay, irreverent analogy, but you get the picture.
“Don’t you people have public restrooms?” I asked as I tried to keep up with Nicola marching up the street.
“I don’t know,” Nicola said. “There’s a McDonald’s not far. We’ll go there.”
Thank God for the U.S. of A., I thought to myself. When I saw the golden arches on the horizon, it was like seeing the pearly gates of heaven. I ran toward them, pushing through the crowd. Finally, I made it to the bathroom. Angels sang.
No Bathrooms For You
The rest of the day didn’t get much better, though. We had to keep our tour within running distance of the McDonald’s. It wasn’t until well into the afternoon that I felt better and could venture into other parts of the city.
It was a day I’d never forget. I was reminded of it recently when I visited Chinatown with my husband. We got off the subway on Canal Street and began walking through the crowd of street vendors.
“Want a Rolex?” a man asked, pushing a cheap imitation in my face. “Want a purse?” said a woman with a heavy accent and a Louis Vuitton bag. We just kept walking, enjoying the cool, sunny day along with the hustle and bustle of the city, laughing, holding hands. Then, it happened. I had to use the bathroom.
Here’s a tip. If you ever go to Chinatown, use the bathroom before you get on the subway. Just like in Germany, I went from shop to shop to find a bathroom with no success. At one store, I even offered to buy a bag of creepy-looking fungi just to use the employees’ toilet in the back. Nope. They didn’t go for it.
Desperate and needing to pee (at least it wasn’t diarrhea this time), I looked for the golden arches. They had saved me once before. We soon found the McDonald’s and pressed our way into the crowded restaurant (they sure love McDonald’s in Chinatown). I searched desperately for restroom signs and found them pointing upstairs. I moved to go up and was immediately blocked by a huge African-American man.
“You have to purchase something before you can go upstairs,” he said, looking like bouncer at a night club.
“Are you serious?” I asked. He just stared at me and moved to block my way.
“Please, I really have to go.”
“Not without a purchase,” he said, crossing his arms. Access to a bathroom in Chinatown is serious business. I looked at the long line out the door, and then at my husband. There was no way I could hold it that long. My eyes were turning yellow.
Full of compassion even though I had ruined our pleasant stroll down Canal Street, he took me by the hand and steered me out of the restaurant.
“Come on,” he said. “I’ll take care of you.”
As I concentrated on not wetting myself, he led me through the packed streets, determined to find something. He finally did—an Italian pizza shop on the edge of Chinatown. We went in and saw a bathroom sign behind the cashier.
“Just keep walking, and I’ll order something,” he said. I did just that. No one stopped me. I made it to the restroom and found blessed relief. I’ll be forever grateful for that little Italian restaurant in Chinatown.
Now to the Point
So, why am I telling you this? Because we’ve heard more about bathroom use than we’ve ever wanted to know recently, all because people who are confused about their gender (a.k.a. those who have a mental illness) want to use the public restroom that doesn’t match their actual sex. So, suddenly, “equal” toilet use has become a huge right.
Just this week, Obama’s Department of Justice told the state of North Carolina that its law requiring people to use public (not private) bathrooms that match their biological sex violates the civil rights of state employees who are transgendered, claiming sex discrimination, even though the person’s sex is not being discriminated against at all. (For those who might not understand this point, here it is put bluntly: penises go into the men’s room and vaginas go into the women’s room.)
According to the DOJ, if North Carolina persists in carrying out the law, its public schools will lose millions in federal funds. The federal government has also threatened to file a lawsuit to block the law.
All of this simply because North Carolina wants to keep women and girls safe by telling men—even those who think they’re a woman—to use the guy’s public toilet. For private businesses, North Carolina has chosen to let freedom reign and is refusing to tell businesses what they can or can’t do with their own toilets. For some reason, that makes us downright eeevil.
You Have Equal Access to a Toilet that Matches Your Sex
The idea that this violates someone’s civil rights—when they already have access to a toilet—is ludicrous. If you’re going to argue from the point of “sex discrimination,” biology is fixed. You’re either a man or female, and in North Carolina, everyone has equal access to the john. Using the bathroom of your choice isn’t a right either as long as you can get to the toilet like everyone else—or not.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory responded to the DOJ’s threat, calling it the most extreme “Washington overreach in my lifetime.”
“This has never just been a North Carolina issue,” McCrory said. “It’s just the targeted public relations — and political campaign — has been directed toward North Carolina.”
Here’s a question: When did having access to a public (or private) restroom ever become a right? If we’re going to demand toilet use, the McDonald’s in Chinatown has some ‘splaining to do, not to mention all those cruel store owners who turned a deaf ear to my desperate pleas for mercy.
As for a state-sponsored public toilet, there wasn’t one in sight. Who’s in greater need here? A woman on the verge of wetting herself or some dude who just wants to use the ladies’ room to make sure his foundation covers his stubble?
The point is businesses can deny you the right to use the toilet. Ask anyone who’s been driven to take a leak behind a dumpster or in the bushes because a store owner wouldn’t let him use their precious commode.
We should all take a step back, take a deep breath, and just be grateful we have public toilets and that there are private businesses willing to open their doors to those in search of relief.
A toilet is not a right. As for equal protections, that doesn’t even apply. Everyone has equal access to a toilet in this country—and that’s a matter of kindness, not a civil right.
So, whether you’re a man or woman, boy or girl (and those are your only two choices regardless of the mentally ill ravings of a minority group), the next time you’re in dire need of a toilet, instead of worrying about which one you can use, just be thankful there is one. If people continue to complain about it, maybe we should just shut them all down. No access. We don’t have the right to a bathroom anyway. Let’s see how that works out.