Fixing Foreign Plumbing Policy

Pay T“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…and the ability to use the bathroom for free.”

Thomas Jefferson did a great job writing the Declaration of Independence, I just think it would be good to include that last right in the official document just in case America decides to follow European suit and start collecting a toilet toll.

I’d been warned about the pay-per-pot European custom before I went on my trip, but didn’t realize just how inconvenient and sometimes stressful it would be to find a bathroom and/or have change on hand when nature decided to call.

I know, I know, I just wrote last week about what a drag whiners are, but I’m not whining. I would merely like to suggest to European governments to make relieving yourself more accessible and complimentary. That way we could avoid national crisis like the one I witnessed while visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

We had just finished our tour and were given ten minutes of free time before the bus arrived. Just enough time to take a cheesy “I’m holding up the leaning tower!” picture, or use the bathroom. I chose the latter since I’d been guzzling water like a camel that sweltering day and we had a three-hour bus ride ahead of us.

There were two options: Public bathrooms, but they required change I didn’t have and the line stretched clear to China (or seemed to because I think that country’s entire population was waiting). Or, I could patronize a nearby business and use their facilities. I chose this option, but wasn’t aware I was accepting a Mission Impossible assignment.

To use the shop’s bathroom you had to make a minimum purchase, then you were given a receipt with a bar code on it, which you held up to a scanner on the bathroom door to let you in. While this system ensures only legitimate patrons use the facilities, it isn’t foolproof.

For instance, a German mother came in with her young son who was doing “The Jig.” The mother was trying to quickly make a purchase to get the golden ticket into the toilet, but she and the Italian store clerk were struggling with a language barrier to finish the transaction. The poor kid’s eyes were turning yellow, the mom was getting frantic, and I was standing nearby helplessly watching and searching my purse for emergency Kleenex.

Both women were frustrated with each other, but I was staring down the Italian clerk trying to communicate telepathically, “Freaking use the override pass I know you have to let them in the bathroom!” Apparently my telepathy was rusty, but they finally completed the transaction and mother and son made it safely into the high-security il bagno.

I confess, I had some close calls myself when I couldn’t find an accessible facility, or sufficient change, or the endurance for a long line. I’m just saying, maybe this could be addressed at the next UN meeting. Or maybe I’ll donate to a certain foundation to get some face time with the Secretary of State to discuss it.

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