I adore living overseas – so please take everything I say with that in mind. Our home away from America-home is breathtakingly beautiful, the people are fantastic, and I’m not lying when I say that the food is the best food I’ve eaten anywhere in the world. EVER. FULL STOP.
But I also love going home to visit America. It’s awesome – have you ever toured a Target after 18 months of shopping in various African markets? I mean, Woolworths is fantastic – my favorite store overseas (and also Marks and Spencer, whose chicken and stuffing sandwiches make my year, no lie), but there is something about having seventy-six types of salsa to choose from, as well as fourteen aisles of sugary delight cereal and milk available by the gallon that just makes it easy to relax with fast internet and the largest Netflix offering in the world. SO MUCH NETFLIX, OMG. How does anyone in America get anything done with so much Netflix available?
But there is one thing I dread about visiting America. One thing that I can say, without a doubt, is a level of horrid that I encounter in no other developed countries.
The public toilets.
Even before we moved overseas, public bathrooms were a phobia of mine, and not just because of hygiene issues (I have four children. I’ve had vomit, poop, and urine projectiles aimed at nearly every part of my body. My hygiene standards are quite low, I assure you). There’s nothing like dashing into a toilet, finding a open stall, sitting down to relieve yourself in the nick of time, and having someone’s wayward toddler stick their eye into the enormous crack in the door of the stall while yelling, “THIS LADY IS POOPING! ARE YOU POOPING, LADY? IT SMELLS! MAMA! IT SMELLS!”
I’m humiliated, the woman whose wayward child is just out of reach while she also poops in public is humiliated, the people waiting in the toilet line start to experience psychological trauma, and everyone is trying to look away but can’t because every single stall has a gap larger than the width of the Marianas Trench.
I have to much performance anxiety in public restrooms that I have to stand outside and take deep, cleansing breaths before heading in. If I could medicate to calm myself pre-public toilet I would.
Your chances of making eye-contact with a random stranger while engaging in bodily elimination while in a public toilet are 100%. This is why our mothers told us to wear clean underwear – to impress other public toilet attendees. Because they will most certainly see those granny-Wal-Mart-bargain-bin undies you thought no one would notice.
This is not an issue no one discusses – in fact, it’s one of the first things non-Americans who have visited America bring up to us when we talk about the US. Buzzfeed has covered this issue as well. Literally everyone who is not weird wants to eliminate without an audience. AS THEY SHOULD.
I would love to redesign the public toilet situation for you, America. I have ideas – good ideas that allow people privacy, freedom from someone else’s stench, keep kids corralled while parents take care of business without fear, safety, and might even give us all a bit of self-respect back. I would like to offer them free of charge to anyone interested – especially you, Orlando International Airport. I think you could especially benefit from some toilet help.
Call me anytime.