Sunday, September 11, 2011

Germany 3: The rights of woman


Peeing is a human right.

No, it's not the same kind of right as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because the right to pee does not come without some cost. True rights are the things that don't cost anyone money and don't make demands on another's toil.

The Right To Pee does require that someone spend the money to build a sewer infrastructure (or dig a hole in the ground for an outhouse), mold a toilet from ceramic and I have seen this done on my Kohler plant tour, manufacture toilet paper (GOOD toilet paper Lord have mercy this rough stuff here is not fun and that's all I'll say about that but let your imagination run wild), build a space in which the toilet can be installed and then clean and maintain said operation.

There is someone else's money involved here, which is why I can understand why some places want to charge people to use the toilet.

That is not necessarily unreasonable. If I am walking the streets of Paris and need to use the WC and the public WCs require a small payment, well, why should the French taxpayer pay higher taxes just so I can drink coffee without worry before leaving the hotel?

But.

If I am paying for a meal or a snack somewhere, then I expect free access to the facilities.

As in, at the Augustiner beer hall where SH and I had roast suckling pig, cabbage salad with bacon grease, vinegar and caraway seed dressing (this was delicious and I will try it at home - even SH, who does not usually like cabbage, liked it*) and those little noodles with a ton of cheese and bread crumbs toasted in butter plus a beer, which SH had to share with mebecause the waiter WOULD NOT GIVE ME TAP WATER,** so it wasn't even like we weren't spending any money.***

Oh madam, he said regretfully. We are out. (Of tap water? I wanted to yell. How can you be out of tap water?) But there is still water and sparkling water on the menu.

Translation: They want me to pay for it on the way in and on the way out.

Forget it. I'll hold it until I get back to the hotel, just out of spite.

Except I didn't have to: I saw a woman sitting next to the ladies' room when I walked in. I had not brought my purse - not that that would have made any difference in my decision, but it was easier to be insouciant without money on me. The two Spanish women who walked out ahead of me didn't even break stride when they saw the bathroom lady, so I thought, As go the Spaniards, so go I.

When SH went to the men's room, I instructed him to look for the bathroom lady and figure out the scoop, but he did not. He said he did not even see her, which is probably true because he tends to get very focused (Sheldon) and ignore anything besides his objective. When we were walking through the Amsterdam airport a few years ago (listen to me name drop - I don't have a fancy car or a nice career or a designer wardrobe to go on my killer body, but I can play Geography Snob with the best of them), he did not notice the woman in the desert robes with blue tattoos all over her face.

People are just shapes to be avoided, he explained. I have a mission.

So that restaurant didn't get my money.

I tried to use the bathroom at McDonald's the other day, which everyone knows is the place that every American pees, but there was a tip lady sitting in front of the bathroom there.

I tried to go to the Burger King in Regensburg yesterday. The tip lady, who was not visible when I walked in, chased me down, asking for money. Forget it! I told her. I thought I could wait until I returned to Munich or at least got on the train.

In McDonald's and BK's defense, it's not like I ever spend any money with them. Ever. Taco Bell is my poison of choice.

Then I thought about it. I have peed in train bathrooms before and it has never been a pleasant experience. Even though this is Germany and seems quite clean, did I want to risk it?

I paid.

I found the station bathroom and paid 50 euro cents, which is about 70 US cents, which might be the most I have ever paid to pee, including the time in Turkey where I had to buy a piece of toilet paper from the bathroom attendant. The TP was about as big as the lira note I gave to her, which made me think that given the price and Turkish inflation, perhaps we just should have eliminated the middleman and used money for those purposes. Plus the money was a nicer quality of paper than the toilet paper.

But then today, after I had stayed in the hotel room an extra half hour just to make sure my two cups of coffee were taken care of, ten minutes after I left and was making my way to the Deutsches Museum, I needed to go again.

No way was I paying twice in 24 hours.

I remembered the Starbucks by the Viktuelenmarkt from when SH and I were here in 2009. (Catch that? I'm good at this game.) A free bathroom. And unlike with McDonald's and BK, I have actually been a Starbucks customer many, many times. And I did not pee every time I bought coffee there, so I am definitely owed.

I found it. Did the deed. Marked the spot on my map. I'll be back to the one place that honors my rights.



* Because bacon works miracles.

** The same thing happened at the Spanish restaurant where we ate last night. They wanted money for water. I am morally opposed to paying for water at a restaurant, I told the waitress. I'll just have some beer. As I do not like beer, that means I drink very little, which is helpful because this is in the evening before bedtime and I do not need to be up at all hours peeing, but it would be nice to have a little bit of water.

*** Note to self: start taking water bottle to German restaurants.

6 comments:

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

Now I'm trying to remember if we used any public bathrooms while we were in Paris, because I don't remember paying to pee, but I also am damn certain that none of us could have held it all day while we were out and about.

It's free to pee in London and other parts of England, that much I know for sure.

Class factotum said...

Free peeing at McDonald's in Paris. Pay public toilets.

A Library Girl said...

Considering some of the experiences I've had with tap water in Germany, I doubt I'd think twice about paying for a glass of water at a restaurant. I remember the first time I found out about having to pay just to go to the bathroom, though, and I horrified some of my American friends with an explanation of why it was often a good idea to keep little packages of tissues in your purse, and why the German tissues I carried weren't the weak, thin things you see in many American tissue boxes. Tissues aren't just good for blowing your nose.

Dorrie said...

normally you do NOT have to pay at McD or other such places in Germany. You do have to pay at some tourist traps and rest area and the lady you pay keeps the place clean (well, that's what the tip is for and often that's her ONLY pay!).

Class factotum said...

Dorrie, I don't mind tipping the lady if I am not otherwise spending money at a place. The woman at the Andechs Abbey was rocking keeping that place sparkling.

But at the Augustiner biergarten earlier in the week? We bought a big supper plus beer. They can provide a restroom for their customers.

Rubi said...

Another reason Spain is superior.

There is a law on the books that if you have a restaurant license, you must provide toilet facilities. Which are generally very clean, albeit sometimes a bit bleachy. And NO tip ladies.

As a person who is possessed of a bladder like that of Miss Trixie Delight (she of "this little ol' baby has to go winkie-tink"), I highly recommend this enlightened stance. If you'll pardon the pun.