We had to stop at the Winn Dixie for a poo-mergency the other night. A a poop emergency. A moaning-kid-in-the-backseat-not-sure-they-can-hold-it-in-at-least-we-own-an-upholstery-cleaner-type situation.
That got me thinking. 1.) Thank the lord for public bathrooms! 2.) The list of things I don’t miss about Europe is short. Really, it’s this. The lack of public toilets.
Imagine getting stuck in an unfamiliar European city in a tree-less urban area in a gotta-go-now situation. A pee or poo-mergency situation if you will.
Logic would tell you to head for the nearest grocery store or shopping center and use the customer toilet. Ha ha. Good luck with that. In Europe, public toilets are few and far between. Odds are there isn’t one. Or it’s down a long dark hallway, in the back, for employees only. Or you have to ask for the key. Or you have to pay to use it. Or some combination of hidden, locked and fee for pee.
Your odds are better a fast-food place, but you’re still likely going to pay for the privilege. You’d think that if you just spent 15€ on a meal at KFC in Amsterdam, you’d at least be able to wash the grease off your hands. Nope. 50 cents, please.
While the normal charge is 20-50 euro cents a pop (or squat?), I’ve seen the 1.50€ toilet and even charges at sit-down restaurants. Crazy, right? That 1.50€ toilet was at the “TI” Tourist Information in Italy, btw.
Side note: There is a trick to finding and/or getting out of paying to use the restroom. If you grab a kid and ask for a “kinder toilet,” their tiny bladders will get you thru locked doors and down dark hallways. Threat of a puddle is the key to a whole world of otherwise inaccessible bathrooms.
So what is one to do in a poo-mergency?
I heard about this on NPR a while back. (And actually thought about how awesome something like this would be even further back.) Airpnp is this brilliant site and mobile web app that will connect you with the nearest available toilet. You can locate facilities, check availability, even rate your potty experience. In a world of 64-oz super Big Gulps, how did this not exist before?
On the supply side, home- and business-owners can use the service to list their toilet, upload pictures and set a usage rate (price) if they so desire. Hello, marketing people: great, free way to increase store traffic.
According to Airpnp, it can cost a gauging $15 to drop a deuce in New Orleans. But in Europe, where the service is most needed, the trend is toward FREE. Love, love love that. You can even pee for free in Airbnb’s Paris office. Airbnb, not to be confused with Airpnp. No relation.
Check out all Airpnp’s toilets in Europe. Most are free of charge!
How can you resist this one?
All this has me thinking.
What’s the cost of poo?
Do places make money by charging people to use the bathroom?
That 20 and 50 euro cents has to add up quick.
Sure, some European bathrooms have attendants who fastidiously clean, but what about places like Amsterdam’s KFC where there’s no attendant? And isn’t it already someone’s job to check the toilet paper every couple hours? They have to be making money off their toilets.
Now that we have a house and pay for water (we didn’t in Germany), I think more about ways we can conserve it. (Just got rain barrels!) We seem to inadvertently follow the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule. Not because we’re intentionally trying to cut the water bill by flushing less. More because boys do not know how to flush. If it’s brown, it’s probably going down. Probably. 80% of the time.
If a KFC in Europe can make money by charging me to use their toilet, can I save money by not flushing mine? The answer, like the boys’ toilet water, is murky. You can read all about it over on The Simple Dollar.
I’d say: maybe. But why would you? Why use your own toilet, when you can click over to Airpnp and go use someone else’s? Flush it two or three times if you like.