The lack of public restrooms during pandemics

There was an article in the newspaper my mom gets delivered that she cut out for me to read. Its title is: The dilemma of full bladders, closed restrooms. ๐Ÿ˜ถ

Well then. ๐Ÿ™ƒ

This is a very preoccupying topic for me and has provided endless fodder for my blog. Like when I wrote Monitoring beverages and Pee and pay culture, for example. Or, when I inserted a small rant into this blog post about the lack of bathrooms at outdoor sports facilities such as baseball diamonds in Toronto.

Now before you share all your woes about your bladder, I get it. Women everywhere get it. Women like me with bladders the size of a pea (get it?) who are also middle aged AND cursed to experience Monthly Peri-menopausal Murder Scenes in any and all bathrooms, toilets, washrooms, loos and outhouses GET IT.

Our needs are (not) simple:

We need access to restrooms that are clean, have proper flushing mechanisms, ample toilet paper and running water from a tap with a full soap dispenser, as well as a garbage disposal unit somewhere inside the room.

Is that too much to ask? It shouldn’t be. Women shop and spend money in your store; we deserve access to properly stocked restroom facilities.

Except…COVID happened.

This pandemic has managed to royally screw things up for us pee-challenged females.

Everything is closed for safety reasons. And even if they’re open, they’re closed to the public in the name of safety for the staff that is working in that store or shop.

So, say your teen/tween/preschooler/husband/other annoying family member is bugging you to get a burger at some fast food joint, right? (Let’s say for argument’s sake we already agreed that we’ll get food.)

So you go do your thing with the outdoor line-up and the complicated ordering system and then the contact-less payment option and yada yada and after a while you think, hm, you’ve been in the car for 40 minutes it would be nice to void the bladder and you go back to the store to access the restrooms only to be told they’re closed to the public because COVID.

Which is fine and dandy, except for the small matter of having to PEE.

So now what?

A few weeks ago we were out driving around for several hours scoping out some country towns. Inevitably they all had to pee. We went to get food and they refused us entry – same with the coffee shop. (That was back in phase 1 still.)

I had a very upset tween girl who refused to hide in a bush at a local park for all the usual and expected reasons. I even offered to shield her, or use the car with a container I brought along while I protected her privacy but she was so upset, it was futile. (I think her dad ended up taking her to the same spot at the back of the park where her brother went which was somewhat shielded and since there were few people around it ended up manageable but geeezes, it was really stressful. Considering we purchased food at an outlet that has restroom facilities but which were locked even to children, I have to admit I felt more than a little annoyed.)

Which is why this article above seemed so apt, and timely.

It wasn’t that long ago when the Super Tall Caramel Infused Starbucks Latte habit many people developed wasn’t some huge, complicated issue in terms of using the facilities right at the store. Or at the next store.

But now?

Not so much.

Even local libraries were closed until recently here in Toronto. (That was my go-to if I was out and about and had sudden urges. That or community centers with rinks.)

Perhaps all this has, or will, change in the hopefully not too distant future, but in the meantime, one of the dreaded new normals we have to deal with now is the lining up outside of stores and shops.


You can’t just pop into x store to pee anymore; chances are there’s a line-up.


Another reason to stay home forever. Ugh.

Anyway I struggled with this before the shutdowns, and would struggle even more now if I were one of those people who had to go out and do stuff around people. Like shopping.

It has become pertinent that shopping happens in a place that has adequate restrooms to take away some of the anxiety, you know, just in case Aunt Flo is in the mood for some murder. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ


The article mentioned some solutions which of course sent me down the internet rabbit hole.

Tip to snowflake readers: don’t blame me if you google ‘Where do truck drivers pee’ and don’t like what you see. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, some smart people developed all sorts of nifty solutions for us women folk. There’s one called Tinkle Belle (hahaha!) and there are other, similar, pee funnels, plus there are male versions called pee bottles…

So I guess I need to go do some online shopping. How about you?

You’re welcome.




46 thoughts on “The lack of public restrooms during pandemics

  1. Living in a tourist area itโ€™s been horrible to find human excrement in local beauty spots because visitors flocked here as soon as restrictions eased and before many underfunded public facilities had been able to put safety measures in place and swamping the ones that did open.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Infrastructure does not spring up overnight but the influx of visitors has. A lot of the problem is about visitors not educating themselves about the countryside. Litter can be taken home. Biodegradable waste can be buried if absolutely necessary. Gates should not be left open for livestock to escape, crops should not be trampled. Fires should not be lit endangering dry moorland and forest. But itโ€™s happening ( costing the farmers that keep us fed millions). Mountain rescue volunteers are being called out more than ever before to retrieve ill-equipped walkers relying on mobile phones to navigate when there is no signal and no charge on devices. Beach litter is washed out on the tide to join the ocean plastic pollution crisis that seems to have been forgotten. We love having responsible visitors to our beautiful area but sadly many do not realise the damage they cause.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. While in lockdown here in Toronto along the shires of Lake Ontario we have seen a huge increase in litter left everywhere. It’s a problem partly because some people just don’t care and partly because gov’ts didn’t plan properly. Of course if you demand people stay home and close all recreation, especially for children, people are going to flock to parks and beaches…most people take their trash out of the park, but some don’t, and now we have more people…it’s maddening.


  2. I bought a delightful contraption called a P-Style last summer in anticipation of camping trips and road trips stuck in the middle of nowhere. I even bought a velcro bag with a carabiner (?) in which to store it. I carry it in my purse but the carabiner is meant to attach to backpacks on backpacking or hiking trips. (And I do take it with me hiking just in case!)

    Let me tell you I was very happy to have it when I had to resort to using a public park bathroom on Mother’s Day. Highly recommended in a pinch!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We’ve had this issue where I work. We never had public toilets, but under ‘special circumstances’ (young children, people sitting for a two-hour design appointment) we could allow them to use the downstairs staff toilet. Other people we would direct to the store next door that has a cafe and public toilets.

    But now – our downstairs loo is the designated sanitizing station, it’s where we keep our PPE and our supplies of sanitizer and hand gel, it’s our first stop when we arrive at work to wash our hands and pick up the gloves and masks we need.

    And the store next door was closed for a while and when it re-opened the public toilets were closed.

    It’s been a serious issue for some customers, and we feel awful because there’s nothing we can do to help. We’re not allowed to let customers use the staff toilets, which would entail going the other side of the PIN code. But I think people realise now that public loos aren’t available at the moment and are planning their trips accordingly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For many people they will choose not to shop at those establishments…I get it about the rules and safety but there has to be a better option. Because the alternative, less business for the shop owners, is not going to end well either…


  4. You need a Freshette or a p-style or a go-girl. All 3 are basically funnels so you can pee standing up. Female hikers swear by them and recommend you practice in the shower. I had a go-girl but after one middle of the night accident, I switched to the Freshette which works better for me. Now you know ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜ƒ

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How about we just say it’s another in the long line of “conspiracy theories” associated with Covid: keeping all the women home… which in some ways might not be bad. The men can take the brunt of the virus, we will be rid of many of those who are idiots and incompetent and women will finally rule the world!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I guess I don’t understand why restrooms are still closed. You’d think, with hot water and soap and hand dryers, they’d be one of the safer places to frequent. I guess not.

    (Our restrooms are open, of course.)

    This also reminds me of a rather humorous incident when Tara and I first started dating (long-distance, at the time). I was visiting her in Nevada and she was showing me around the deserted hills and ghost towns of the high desert. At one point she pulled over and announced, “Be right back…I need to go water the sagebrush.”

    Wow, I thought. How cool. She comes out here, in the middle of nowhere, to water the sagebrush?! How thoughtful! But I couldn’t understand why she would bother watering just one when there were literally thousands of sagebrush plants all over the place.

    A minute later I learned “water the sagebrush” was slang for taking a pee outside. Nevada-speak, if you will.


  7. When I was on a safari, one of the girls in the group was tenting on her own, and she didn’t want to risk being eaten by something if she got up during the night. So she had a pee bottle. She didn’t care that people made fun of her; she preferred peeing in a bottle to being eaten.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I feel your pain. The husband and I drove an hour and a half last weekend to leave a case of beer on a friendโ€™s doorstep after he did us a favor. In the way back, I had to pee… which as you said, is a whole different ball of wax these days. We stopped 4 places and they all told me no. Good thing I have strong bladder muscles!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Any male that needs a pee bottle does not understand the concept of “nature’s bathroom”. In order to clear that little bit of confusion, he go to a pet park and watch a few male dogs. They will show you what I mean. Yes, I feel for the ladies, but since we can no longer subdivide our species into “he” and “she”, do not look for a ton of empathy. God game me a stick, and failed to provide a sense of humility in desperate (liquid) times, and any available bathroom is just a trunk away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you. And we ladies are a resilient bunch – I’ve managed even under very tricky times.

      Also not all bathrooms are created equal. When I was a flight attendant…ugh. Doesn’t matter what business you gotta do in there in those Boeing 727s, might as well have been the great outdoors (minus the smell). ๐Ÿ˜›

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Exactly the same in London last week, I had to plan my whole day trying to make sure I’d be able to locate a toilet that was open………… railway stations and restaurants otherwise I was f*****!!!

    (I have to admit lol your…………. does feature a lot on this blog ๐Ÿ˜€ )

    Liked by 1 person

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