The picture above was taken at an outdoor concert and it got me thinking about bathrooms so much I had to write about it. It got me thinking about issues people go through - just to use a bathroom. It could be because of body shaming, bullying, social norms or just having to wait to use the bathroom. Recently there was a man on an airplane who allegedly tried to storm the cockpit because of the lines for the coach bathroom and the crew would not let him use the first class bathroom!
You may have also noticed that you’re seeing more universal or gender-neutral bathrooms. I personally think it’s because the LGBTQIA* community has brought the issue to the forefront. I am personally grateful for it, but I want to expand this even further. For instance, when did lines for the women’s restroom begin? When did it become the social norm to just wait? Some of these lines can be around the corner. And then you look one over at the men’s bathroom and there is barely a line. Some of us will rebel and barge into the men’s room, while the rest of us patiently wait our turn.
As an event planner, this will be an issue that will need to be addressed for events. Part of your job is to reduce lines. You want your guests to move freely around the place. We reduce:
- Registration lines with:
- scanning barcode
- fast wireless printing
- Food lines by:
- having multiple stations in different areas of the room
- creating lines on each side of the buffet table
Some retail companies are reducing lines as well. Have you ever bought anything at the Apple store? Try to find the cashier line. You won’t find one. The Apple rep will ring you up wherever you are located in the store, complete the purchase with an iPhone on steroids, and sometimes that same rep doesn’t even have to go in the back to get your item. Someone else from the back will walk to where you are and place it into your hands.
Reducing lines? The struggle is real. I once worked on a conference where the audience was mainly women so they removed the men’s room, converted it to a women’s restroom to accommodate their attendees and the closest men’s restroom was two floors below.
The example above was a quick fix to a temporary problem. We need a more practical way to solve this subject. Think about the dad who has an infant and they are trying to find a bathroom to change a diaper. What about a mom that won’t let their son use the men’s room because they are too young? My dad would cover my eyes and walk me into the men’s room to use the private stall because I was too young to go into the women’s bathroom alone. Think about someone who is trans and is "informed" they are in the wrong bathroom. Also think about a person with a disability that needs help from someone of a different gender. These examples will make you realize that this bathroom issue is bigger than just one group of people.
“Gender Binary Liberated Restroom”
Let me go back to my inspiration for writing this post -- the picture at the top. Is that picture being bit extra? For the situation it was in, I would say so. Do you really need to explain what a row of 25 port-a-potties is for? And who it’s for? When you see a port-a-potty or a port-a-john, it instantly becomes the universal, non-verbal sign of what its function is - especially at an outdoor concert. But this does lead us into the discussion of what is the best way to let people know that you can just walk in and use any bathroom?
What is being extra?
Someone or something over the top or being excessive.
Maybe we take the same approach as a baby shower. Baby showers were originally just for expecting moms, female relatives and all her girlfriends. As time moved on, it became the norm for it to be co-ed, inviting the father and other male friends into the event.
We can relate this same approach to public restrooms. More venues are creating private stalls in both bathrooms. I propose placing a sign that says co-ed restrooms. So if there is a line for the bathroom, everyone is on the same line together. No one is glaring at a bathroom they can’t use.
When I go to a restaurant and I see a row of private stalls with a common wash area. I’m momentarily taken aback, like a person that has to switch from Spanish to English, but then I don’t think about it anymore. And the lines do go faster. And that's what is important when the only thing you want to do is use a bathroom - do your business, wash your hands and leave.
Now do I think everyone will think this is a great idea? No, I’m not Pollyanna, but I do know that this is a good solution to the ever growing problem of how to reduce the bathroom line and help others with their bathroom needs. And besides, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration (OSHA), delaying going to the bathroom when you need to go is unhealthy. Reducing lines and making every stall available to everyone is key.
It would be great to hear what you think. Are you for it? Against it? Why? Do you have a better solution? Let me know in the comments below.
*LGBTQIA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual