The COVID Bathroom Conundrum: The Last Real Barrier To Hanging Out Again
It’s been a long spring, but after months of being cooped up in our homes, we’re starting to get a much-needed breath of fresh air.
In a lot of places in America, we’re finally able to start navigating the world of safely socializing in a post-COVID society. And after the seemingly endless isolation of the last few months, it couldn’t come soon enough.
We’re figuring out how to hang out without being completely up in each other’s personal space. BYOE is becoming the new normal—bring your own everything. If we’re seeing our friends and families at all, we aren’t doing so without first loading our cars full of chairs, snacks, drinks, and anything else we might end up needing during our six-feet-apart hangout sesh.
We’ve almost cracked the code. Except for one major (and unavoidable) area.
It may not be sexy to talk about, but you guys, we need to. We can prepare for every contingency we can think of, but what happens when that glass of wine or bottle of water inevitably hits our bladder? The same thing that happens when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic, that’s what.
Even if you’re super conscious of keeping your bathroom as immaculate as possible when things are normal, the nature of what we do in there makes it inherently difficult to keep it truly germ-free. Plus, most people don’t wash their hands upon immediately entering the room. That’s something that happens after the deed has been done and we’ve already touched the doorknob, toilet paper, toilet seat, etc. That leaves a whole lot of opportunity for a potentially deadly virus to make its way from your well-meaning friend’s hands into your home before any hand-washing happens.
And for those of us who have female parts below the belt, this is a difficult area to manage no matter what precautions we take when we’re out and about. We don’t have the luxury of whipping it out on the side of the road without seriously compromising our basic privacy. And as much as I love my friends, I don’t always feel like dropping trou and popping a squat while they politely pretend like it’s not happening a few feet away from them.
This becomes an even bigger problem when that Starbucks latte suddenly hits your bladder in the middle of a road trip. Rest stops and public restrooms are closed, and even though peeing at a random highway rest area can feel sketchy AF at best, it certainly beats just about every alternative most of us have access to while traveling. Finding a safe place to pee in public is hard enough when life is normal. It’s even more pulling-my-hair-out frustrating in today’s crazy world.
This is just one more example of the virus shedding light on the blind spots in our society as a whole (hi, failing healthcare system). Not to mention the fact that if I, a cis woman, feel like I’m scrambling to meet my basic needs at the moment, I struggle to imagine how vulnerable and marginalized our trans and non-binary brothers and sisters must feel at the moment.
I don’t have a clear solution to this issue, but there are a couple of ways we can at least feel a little less exposed when we’re out and just can’t hold it anymore.
When I was pregnant and found myself in search of a public restroom all the time, an older and wiser friend gave me a life-changing peeing tip about peeing on the side of the road when there’s no rest areas to be found. Some of you are already way on top of this method, but it’s worth mentioning for anyone who may still be attempting to squat on the other side of the guard rail.
Here’s how to pee on the side of the road as privately as possible:
- Pull over and go to the passenger side of the car. Open the passenger door and the back passenger door to create makeshift walls blocking you from view.
- Drop your pants like normal, and sit with your butt on the very edge of the passenger side floorboard (or running board) so that most of your undercarriage is suspended outside the car. If it feels silly, you’re probably doing it right.
- Pee! (Bonus points since you’ll be able to reach the fast food napkins that are currently stashed in your glovebox.)
There you have it. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy (no pee puns intended).
But what if you’re enjoying a few hours of sun in your bff’s back yard when nature calls? It might sound crazy, but now is seriously the perfect time to finally get that portable urine funnel you’ve been giggling about (yet secretly wanted) for years. Once the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, you can stash it in your car and take it camping, hiking, or anyplace else you may need to discreetly pee in the great outdoors.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible when you’re venturing out in public before restrooms have been reopened. No more doing the pee-pee dance in your car as you race home to your toilet, seething with envy after driving by a guy on the side of the road sporting the telltale legs-apart stance. With a little finesse and know-how, the world can be your urinal too.
(And for my friends with IBS...we’re still working on that one.)
It’s crazy that we’re all trying to navigate this new ‘normal’, isn’t it? We’re looking forward to going camping again but I am totally NOT comfortable with the number of people that make their way through campground bathrooms and showers. Luckily, we have a pop-up tent designed to be a portable bathroom/shower spot. We also have a portable shower that can hang above it so that we can clean our selves up there, and a porta-potty that can go in there for when we need to go. You just dump the ‘grey water’ when you’re done in the designated areas (usually a vault style toilet or at the dumping station for trailers). It will let us get out and enjoy our time camping without a lot of the risk!
I think paid bathroom attendants in highway stops would be an improvement too
Our new normal! We’re still avoiding going out except for necessities but we’ll be facing this issue eventually. It will be interesting to see how we adapt to our new reality. Thanks for the conversation we all need to have 🙂