How to Find a Bathroom When There Are No Public Bathrooms

1. Breeze into a restaurant and act very cool, very calm. Look around the restaurant as if you’re trying to find your friends. Where are your friends? Oh, maybe they’re a little farther back? Hmm, they’re not there, and they’re not over there, either — maybe they’re closer to the bathroom? Oh, are they inside the bathroom? And there you go. Just breeze right out afterward, and if anyone gives you grief, just literally don’t pay attention and keep walking out.

2. If you’re on the road and find yourself having an emergency, but the place you pull over to doesn’t have a public restroom, tell them you’re pregnant.

That should probably be enough on its own, but if they still refuse to let you use the bathroom, say, “You’re legally required to let pregnant women use the restroom.” I don’t know if that’s actually the case, but one time a friend of mine pulled over at a gas station in the middle of nowhere that didn’t have a public restroom, and the attendant said in a sort of winky voice, “Are you pregnant? Because if you’re pregnant I have to let you use it, it’s the law.” And my friend was like, “Yeeeah, I’m … pregnant. I’m pregnant, for sure.” And they let her use the bathroom.

3. The easiest way to get someone to bend the rules is by approaching them one-on-one. For instance, instead of going into a place and being like, “Where are the bathrooooms!” (haha, but also definitely do that), go up to someone who looks like they might be sympathetic to you and, very calmly — the key is always to be calm, and not to make anyone think you’re weird or panicked in any way, even though you likely ARE panicked a little bit, or are, in fact, EXTREMELY panicked — ask, “Do you by any chance have a public restroom?” (I like to believe the dignity of “by any chance” and “restroom” help offset the inner scream of “OMG I’m literally going to ____ my pants!”) This turns the issue into a more human, person-to-person situation, rather than just a “these-are-the-rules, tough-luck” situation. This method worked at an upscale grocery store once, when the guy brought me so far back into the secret labyrinth backstage (“backstage”), and then waited for me while I used the bathroom (there was an elaborate system of locking, and also I would have gotten lost coming back), that for a while I thought he was going to kill me! So that’s another thing to think about, I guess.

4. If you find a usable bathroom but there’s a line, and you really need there to not be a line, just go to the person at the front of the line and say quietly, apologetically, “I’m so sorry, and this is incredibly embarrassing, but I’m having an emergency — if you let me go ahead of you I would be incredibly grateful.” If you look genuinely distraught, most decent human beings will let you cut because 1) most people are nice, and 2) it makes them feel proud of themselves for being good. And if there’s a longer line of women behind her who might get bent out of shape that she let you cut them all, just sort of hold up a hand mea-culpa-style, give them a look of shame, and say, “Thank you, I’m so sorry, I’m having an emergency.”

5. But if there’s a line and you’re having an EXTREME emergency, and you just can’t even handle the talking or the politeness part, just literally shoulder your way to the front and cut everyone without saying anything. The worst that can happen isn’t really that bad.