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Relief on the Road — Two Options

Nov 9th, 2012 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

I have a long commute to my work office – approximately 45 miles. With that distance, and traffic, sometimes I run into a problem that requires finding a rest stop of some kind. I’ve written before about the challenges of eating on the road, but a related and equally vexing challenge is relieving oneself on the road. Not literally on the road — unless you’re in the remote backwoods.

I hear giggling in the back row. We’re all adults here, right? RIGHT? Okay, thank you.

One of the things I try to do with this forum is to pass on my learned wisdom, including trade secrets and my own intellectual property. I try to impart practical, useful advice. During the many years I was in the truck, motoring willy-nilly all over town, I often found myself looking for a temporary place of refuge. Of course, there is the obvious: gas stations and fast-food joints. Many of these locales have locked their restroom doors, however, to all but paying customers. And who can blame them? I’m not a big fan of these options. You’ve noticed the condition of these facilities, right? Every once in awhile you’ll enter a restroom in a fast-food establishment somewhere, and it will be clean and have an air freshener. This is certainly the exception, not the rule. Most of the time, it’s just not pretty.

I have two general solutions: one, a quick no-frills option; and two, the deluxe prima donna option.

Option one is the plastic port-a-potty known by many names: the Schulzie, the Honey Wagon, the Kool-Aid Box, etc. These facilities are literally all over town, notably at or near construction sites. If you just envision what one of these looks like, and open your eyes to your surroundings, you’ll find one. The neat thing about this option is you’ll find them in residential areas, as well as business areas. Yes, sometimes they are padlocked shut, but I bet I’ve run across that in maybe five percent of my efforts. You can find them at sports fields, outdoor events and on farms with agricultural workers.

It is option two that I really prefer: the non-public public restroom in an office building. Nowadays, most office buildings are home to multiple businesses that lease space. Many of them have vacant space right now. I’m not talking about a high-rise downtown full of legal offices – those are usually monitored by doormen and security personnel, and the restrooms are usually not accessible from the lobby. I’m talking about medium-sized buildings, maybe four stories, where you walk into the lobby and there are elevators and a few hallways, and you could pitch a tent in the lobby and roast a few hot dogs before you see another human being stroll by. If you find a building like this, especially if it’s new, you walk into the restroom and it’s like you’re the first one who’s ever used it. I presume that the people working in the building are using the restroom closest to their office, so the one closest to the lobby just doesn’t get much traffic. And the building owner probably has a cleaning service come through once a week to polish and shine, regardless of how much use the restrooms get.

Now there’s always the possibility you’ll be discovered and cornered by some patriot who thinks he’s protecting the building from undesirables. If anyone stops you and inquires about your quest, just tell them, “Job interview, third floor.” That explains why they’ve never seen you there. If you’re wearing an orange safety vest and work attire, they’ll probably just think you are very strange for dressing like that for a job interview, and they’ll separate and disperse.

Oh, there are other venues, such as public libraries, colleges, hospitals, police stations, city halls – but if you identify a network of pristine, new office buildings, you’ll occupy a whole different strata of society. You’ll get used to the odor of disinfectant, and you’ll never use a gas station restroom again.