(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)
There I stood in front of the door, faced with one of the most important decisions of my life. I was dazed. I was confused.
I was downright scared.
It had all started innocently enough. I'd found a couple hours of unexpected free time, so I stopped to check out the fancy new grocery "marketplace" in town. I had heard the store contained a Starbuck's, a gourmet cheese counter, and -- joy of joys -- a wine bar. Since coffee, cheese and wine are my three main food groups, I was pretty stoked to see what else the place offered.
And it did not disappoint. My jaw dropped as I walked into a building big enough to require a dedicated zip code. At the front of the store, patients checked into a full-size health clinic, while in the cosmetics aisle, a makeup artist gave free makeovers. Add to that a clothing department, a shoe department, plus the aforementioned coffee, cheese and wine, and this place was a middle-aged woman's wildest dream.
But one thing the mega-mart didn't contain? Restrooms. At least, not in the traditional sense.
Now, as some of you who've been around here long enough may remember from years such as 2012, I am somewhat restroom-challenged, especially when it comes to stores. I've merrily and cluelessly walked into the men's room at Walmart not once but twice because every time management remodels the building, which is often, they flip-flop the restrooms, probably so they can stand in front of security cameras and laugh at dummies who don't pay attention. Such as me.
So I've become the type of person who takes extra care in considering my bathroom choices. And as I made my way to the wall marked "restrooms," well, that's when it happened.
I looked to my left.
I looked to my right.
There were two of them, one on each side, and no other options. No ladies' room, no men's room, no "Family" room. Just:
Now, it's not that I'd never encountered a unisex bathroom before. I've seen these single-pot affairs in tiny restaurants or the occasional gas station. However, in a retail store that size, one expects stalls. Lots and lots of stalls.
I turned my head side to side, from unisex bathroom to unisex bathroom. Like I said, I'd used them before. But surely a business this big contained many commodes -- in the unisex bathroom, I guess? What the hell was I getting myself into? A one-stall wonder? Or a friendly gathering? I didn't know what to do. I pictured myself entering a room full of men at urinals and women on toilets, all pausing from their task to lift a hand and wave "Hello!" as I walked in, a la Norm from Cheers. We'd then proceed to have jolly unisex conversations as we did our business.
But there was no getting around it. I had to pee. Of course I did. As I've said before, I'm a 47-year-old woman who possesses a bladder that's been cheerily pummeled by two fetuses. If I'm awake I have to pee. If I'm breathing I have to pee. Indeed, the situation had reached the point of no return, and I was one sneeze away from disaster there in aisle A-11. I had no idea what I'd find on the other side of either door. Women? Men? Jimmy Hoffa? Well, I thought, this is just the world we live in now. I mean, Donald Trump has been elected president. Clearly, reality is broken.
So I pushed through the unisex bathroom door to find . . .
One toilet. One sink. One lock. It was, thank God, just a standard unisex restroom -- not the big potty party I'd envisioned.
I did my thing, washed up, and went back out to find a large crowd of women and men milling around and looking as worried and confused as I did minutes before. I was going to tell them all that they'd be OK, but then decided, nah. Why ruin the fun?
Though I enjoyed watching them meander about in bewilderment, I didn't stay long. To tell you the truth, after my own alarming adventure I just wanted to sit down -- somewhere other than a toilet.
Yep, I thought, No wonder this place has a bar.
As I walked away, I still couldn't fathom why a superstore large enough to produce its own clouds contained only two tiny restrooms. I had no beef at all with the "unisex" part -- I've never cared who uses what with what apparatus. But I will admit it perplexed me when there were no other facilities, at least in the front of the building. This type of thing might happen in California, mister. But here in Ohio, in a store that size, we require a little more guidance, as well as stalls.
Lots and lots of stalls.