Yesterday my mom told me an interesting and helpful little tidbit about peeing. 🙂
I am of course referring to the facilities, rather than the act itself.
In different countries, the facilities themselves are often called different names, such as:
- public washrooms/bathrooms (North America)
- toilets (UK) (does anyone still call it the loo?)
- WC (German speaking nations which incidentally is ironic because WC stands for Water Closet)
So this prompted me to blog about having to pee when one is not home, especially while traveling in a country that is not your own.
Note, me being me, I consider myself beyond fortunate to be living in Canada where for the most part access to facilities is free or, at worst, requires a key or a purchase (if in a store, which rarely gets enforced).
Occasionally there are no washrooms at certain outdoor sports venues, or they are locked until summer months. In those cases, there are usually enough coffee, fast food shops or big box stores around to address that problem. And although sometimes, in smaller shops, they won’t give out a key unless you purchase something, for the most part, the staff don’t care. Just the other night my daughter stepped into a Tim Horton’s (coffee shop) without purchasing anything, and no one batted an eye.
But the thing my mom mentioned: I do remember while growing up in Switzerland as a child, that you had to pay to use the public facilities, in train stations for example.
She said: “don’t forget to keep enough coins on you so you can access the facilities.”
She also said in recent years, if you are in a store or restaurant and you purchase something, they will allow you the use of the facilities for free with proof of purchase. There’s some code on the item that gets scanned, apparently. This is news to me, as it’s been at least 15 years since I’ve been back to my childhood stomping grounds.
She then proceeded to tell a few stories that happened to my siblings when they took their toddlers over to Europe for a visit in recent years. (Good to know that a parent must also pay to accompany a toddler even if only the toddler has to pee. Each person entering the facilities must pay. Huh.)
In Switzerland, the washrooms are supervised (for lack of a better word) by little old ladies (if memory serves) who keep things clean. As a 20-something I went back to Switzerland a few times, and remember always getting a scornful look by these people for daring to enter and use the toilet, and then proceed to turn on the water and wash my hands and… GASP!… dribble all over the counter.
Most of those ladies were miserable, rude, and obnoxious. They were probably not thrilled with the job itself, locked away in a washroom, and likely the pay was low as well. So I get it. Partly.
You’re going to punish your tourists for using the facilities while in your country buying things? Paying for services? Boosting your economy?
I foresee a blog post on this topic post-vacation. 🙂
Now it’s your turn, fellow bloggers all over the world. I know there are many British followers here on my blog, as well as from Belgium, central Europe, India, Panama, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand. (Did I forget a country? Tell me in the comments, I’m interested!)
What about all my American friends? Tell me, are things the same in the northern States as they are in the Deep South? What about the West Coasters? Or in Small-Town USA in the middle of the prairies?
I have been to America many times, but usually to larger cities, not smaller towns – perhaps you small-towners have some stories that are unique?
Then there’s the business travelers. Do you, when you cross borders, have to remember that the customs/habits change when you’re out and about in a foreign country?
Tell us your experiences in the comments. Maybe we can all learn something.