The importance of public rest rooms

by Robin LeBlanc | Aug 08th, 2016 | Leave a comment

A recent article in the Conway Daily Sun reported on a discussion about a lack of rest rooms in Jackson, NH.  Where to offer public ones?, the town is pondering.

This is one more of a growing list of stories about the lack of public rest rooms across the country (and indeed, the world).  The reasons are myriad, but the result is the same.

This is not just a matter of “convenience.”  Earlier this  month, the Daily Mail.com had a great article pointing out that for many people, not having a rest room is a health matter.  Different conditions can mean needing to go more often, or more urgently – and not being able to do so can have consequences from embarrassing to even fatal.
We travelled a couple of years ago with someone with prostrate issues.  We went from airport to airport train (no bathrooms while waiting for it) to subway into downtown – another 45 minutes with no bathroom.  Came  out into station and no bathrooms at all.  Up the stairs onto the street – we had to ask and were pointed to a coffee shop down the street, where we had to wait in line to get a key.  It was excruciating for him, and very stressful.  And could have been worse.  It really opened our eyes to this part of life we had never thought of before.

Here in New Hampshire, with a rapidly-aging population, the issue will become more critical in the coming years. Whether visitors to our state are looking, or we ourselves are out and about and find ourselves in need, right now it is often difficult to find a public rest room – including one that is safe and clean.  Yes, there are often restaurants and gas stations that have rest rooms for patrons, but that does not really help a lot of people – especially in small towns that have neither.

Not really hospitable.

There is no easy solution, but let’s think about this:  What can we be doing in our own communities to support those (anyone) who need a rest room right now?   Just one more way to be welcoming.