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English: A sign showing the location of the re...

English: A sign showing the location of the restrooms. Taken at 1:32 PM on July 08, 2006; cameraphone upload by ShoZu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I had it my way, every single restaurant in this country would be required to let customers use their restroom. It only makes sense. If you’re providing people with food and/or drink, well, they’re going to have to digest that stuff. You can’t ignore that significant aspect of consumption.

Yesterday, I arrived in downtown LA at 6:30, a solid half hour before I was supposed to meet up with a friend in the area. There are a couple public restrooms scattered across the city, but my friend warned me they’re unsanitary and dangerous to use, as the neighborhood can be seedy. Rather than hop into one of the stalls, all of which were surrounded by homeless and publicly intoxicated people, I headed to Subway and McDonald’s, hoping one of those places would have an open restroom for customers. Subway, of course, only had a bathroom for employees. The same went for McDonald’s, and by the time I reached the register, I was ready to burst and not in the mood to be refused restroom privileges.

“Is there a bathroom for customers?” I asked.

“No.”

“Well then do you have a cup? Because I really, really have to pee.”

“A cup?”

“Yeah. If I can’t use the bathroom, I need to find an alternative.”

The guy laughed and handed me a paper cup before reiterating that customers aren’t allowed in the restroom. I didn’t want to berate him, as it of course wasn’t his fault and I’d already made the situation insanely awkward, but desperate times really do call for desperate, bizarre measures. He begged his manager to let me use the restroom only to be met with a public scolding and shaming. I hadn’t intended for that to happen and felt guilty, so I went on my way into the streets, my cup and bottled water in hand. I retreated over to the public restroom stall by Fourth Street, but the door was broken and the technician straight up told me the inside wasn’t a pretty sight. It wasn’t until my friend and I got together a half hour later that the issue was resolved.

Once again, I know all of this is done for the safety of LA residents, but there’s no reason why paying customers at restaurants of any kind (yes, McDonald’s is a restaurant — look at its global influence if you don’t believe me) shouldn’t be allowed to use the restroom. This will never happen, but it should become illegal for venues to refuse bathroom rights to those supporting their business. Would you rather have someone urinate all over the streets instead? Don’t worry, I haven’t done that — yet.

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