Friday, February 13, 2015

19. Never Having to Hold It

There is one trick to surviving New York City, which I learned during my 5 years there:

You have to know where the free bathrooms are.

There are very few, and they are incredibly distant from one another. For the most part, every single establishment has a key and a lock for the bathrooms (including McDonalds!) and you have to buy something before you can use the restroom. The only establishment that has reliably free bathrooms is Starbucks, but unfortunately everyone in the entire city knows that. Therefore, the line for the Starbucks bathroom is usually at least 10 people long. When you get to about 7 people back, you pass the event horizon of "the stench cloud", a circumference of horror from which you cannot escape because by now 15 minutes have already gone by and your bladder is scuh-reaming. By the time you finally get in there, there will be absolutely no toilet paper, and every single flat surface is impossibly, totally wet. I don't mean like little splashes of water. No, it's like someone put a kink in a firehose, dragged it into the bathroom, closed the door, and then let the kink loose. But you don't care, because there's nowhere else to go.

Why not just go to a nicer place with a keyed bathroom, order something for $3, and then pee in peace? That's a very good question that I have no reasonable answer to, soooo.... New Yorkers are cheap, what can I say?

Pro tip: The best (only) place for a clean, free bathroom is on the 2nd floor of the Columbus Circle shopping mall. There are even Dyson Air Dryers in there! And TVs in the mirrors above the sink!

If you don't live in a city, you might not understand how powerfully important it is to know where the nearest bathroom is. I live in a little town now, and if I'm in need, I can walk into practically any shop, ask nicely, and they will direct me back to the employees only bathroom. This is because when you live in a small town, there's no anonymity and everyone knows where you live. So if you mess up the bathroom, they won't need Hercule Poirot to solve the crime because everyone already knows it was you. Therefore, you can be trusted not to drag a kinked firehose into the bathroom and set it loose, like those crazy New Yorkers do.

But even in a small town, there's still instances of having to hold it. My commute to work is 45 minutes long, and sometimes 20 minutes into it I am made suddenly aware that the remaining 25 minutes are going to be a lot more painful than usual. 7am on a back country road is definitely a weird time and place to see a woman in professional clothing sprinting away into the woods from her haphazardly shoulder parked car.

If you've ever gone camping or hiking for any period of time, it may have been a bit of an adjustment to using your environment as your bathroom. It's weird, you have to off-road into the woods off the trail to be decent and not leave stinkiness near the trail, there's a 50% chance that a stranger will see your butt, and it's hard to get good at the balancing act. However, once you're used to it, it is one of the most freeing things in the world.

As Dumptruck would say:

"Being a hiker is great, because the amount of time between realizing I have to pee and actually peeing is less than a minute, no matter what."

Clever Girl

1 comment:

  1. Hey you hosette and hoser!
    Great post - hooray for the ability to pee anywhere you need to on the face of the earth. If I may, I'd like to add a corollary to your observation that I've learned in 20 years of field work in NOAA - that of the gratifying benefit of being able to pee off HIGH PLACES. Whether it's a high outcrop on the shore of Hinchinbrook Island, Prince William Sound, AK or atop a 60-ft high lighthouse in the middle of Delaware Bay, there's nothing quite like that satisfying feeling. Oh oh, that satisfie-ying fee-uh-ling (sorry Righteous Bros). However, due to unanticipated wind vortices around the tower, be sure you let your shipmate in the launch below know you will be taking your benefit now. Admittedly easier for males, but maybe that's why they make those go-girl devices (don't really have another apparent reason).
    Love always,
    Uncle John