When you write and post your writing on the internet, a lot of the time you don’t know who is reading your stuff. Then again, now that I think about it, that can be applied to all forms of writing. You never know if anyone is reading it. I hear stories of newspaper columnists who write about a given topic and then get a full e-mail inbox from people with more information about that particular topic. Usually they find out that people are very passionate about even the strangest of things. While I have been publishing articles I never got a response quite like that.
I published an article not long ago about how I have spent most of my life having to always go to the bathroom. To many this was a story so personal that at least one place refused to pay me for the article. Oh sure, they said, you can publish it here for free but something that personal could not possibly appeal to a wide audience. Turns out, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I opened my e-mail the other day and was greeted with a subject that stopped me cold. If I were a cartoon I would have shaken my head and it would have made a “yadda-yadda-yadda” noise like you hear in cartoons. The subject said: AMERICAN RESTROOM ASSOCIATION.
Yes, you are reading that correctly. The American Restroom Association. In case you are having trouble comprehending what I am saying let me tell you that it is an organization about restrooms for people in America. Their motto is “America’s advocate for the availability of clean, safe, public restrooms.”
Did you know that public restrooms needed and advocate? I sure didn’t. I think that this just goes to show you that if you look hard enough you can find your niche and then you could really find a way to excel at it.
Now, I am not one to make fun of anyone for their cause or dedication. OK, well, maybe I am one to make fun of people for their cause or dedication, but I honestly do have an issue with having to go the bathroom all of the time. So, really, the idea of an organization that wants to make sure there are plenty of clean and safe public restrooms is OK. It’s just that I never thought there would be anyone who would want to organize, lobby legislators and politicians and make a kind of public statement about the potty.
The e-mail I got says that the American Restroom Association is trying to “make sure that government and business officials understand that while many may not talk about I, there are quite a few of us out there that hesitate to travel or participate in activities if we’re not sure we’ll find a restroom there.”
Now, I have never turned away from doing an activity because I was worried about restrooms. Being a guy, this isn’t always a worry, or, at least, I had always thought. If I can find a place even slightly private, I figure I can find a place to pee. Still, having more restrooms might be a good thing. Lord knows there have been times when I was driving to and from St. Louis and Chicago that I worried about when the next restroom would come up. I have certainly spent a lot of time in very nasty-looking restrooms as well.
So, I had to check out the website. If you want to check out their website you should know that their site is www.americanrestroom.org. The site tells us that the scope of the organization is restroom design and technology. Also the worry about restroom availability and accessibility. They are worried about pertinent legislation and regulation that, I guess would affect the design, technology, availability and accessibility of public restrooms. They also want to document the problems that people who have concerns over the availability of restrooms have faced.
So, if you have a story about that kind of thing I would recommend that you visit the website and write to them. Paging down the website is something that is alternately interesting, amusing and hilarious. I am amused by the clippings and videos where people belonging to the American Restroom Association have been quoted. I love the drawing for something in Germany called “Where Would You Hide?” under the “Public Awareness” section. It shows a man with his pants down squatting behind some sort of planter.
Then there is, of course, the link to the “World Toilet Summit.” While the summit linked there is from 2005 my point is that there is and probably will be again a “World Toilet Summit.” The one last year was evidently in Ireland. What sort of things are discussed here? When the U.S. President and the leader of the Soviet Union had summits it was to decide the fate of the entire planet and what to do with nuclear weapons. What kind of earth-shattering things regarding toilets are being discussed at the “World Toilet Summit?”
Now, I really do not want to offend anyone affiliated with this organization. They are all volunteer. They are very sincere. They have found a problem, a problem I myself face, and they are trying to do something to fix it. Meantime, I am just sitting here writing smart-ass articles for publication on the internet.
If, indeed, the American Restroom Association does things that help someone out there, I guess they will have succeeded. It just seems a little odd, at least to me, and despite suffering from the need to visit the restroom too much, that with so much going on in the world that you would pick this aspect to fixate on. However, if you’re like me, and you have to go potty, you really can’t think about much else. You could have a starving child who is burning set in front of me and if I have to pee, I will walk around him or her and find a place to pee first.
There is an interesting part that offers a guide to public restrooms in North America. Turns out, my book, “Places I’ve Gone” might not have been a bad idea after all. I could have been the Zagat of public restrooms.