No. 1199



If you are old enough to remember the days in our country when the majority of people did not have indoor plumbing, you will appreciate and may even be amused at what I want to share with you today.
When I was growing up, my parents owned and operated a restaurant in a small town in Southeast Arkansas. We lived in two rooms in the back of this restaurant and did not have an indoor bathroom. We had a privy or outhouse out back. I still remember those days, and I can promise you that it was no fun having to travel to the outhouse to use the bathroom on cold winter days. I also remember the stories of Halloween when some of the boys in town would turn over a privy with an occupant inside.
The big deal back then was whether a family had a one-holer or a two-holer. To be sure, you were really up-town if your family had a two-holer with a Sears & Roebuck catalog. As time passed, technology increased and we came to have a higher standard of living, more and more people installed indoor plumbing, which included a bathroom. Again, in the early days, most homes and families just had one bathroom, but you could lock it from inside. This was important, especially when you had company.
What brought these memories to mind was something that happened to us a few weeks ago in one of our local fast-food restaurants. I might add, this particular restaurant is part of a chain that has restaurants all across the nation. My wife and I were sitting in this restaurant eating, and I happened to notice that both of their bathrooms, unlike most restaurants, had a unisex symbol on both doors. Of course this meant that regardless of whether you were a man or a woman, you were free to go in either one. I might add that this is the first time I had seen this in our community, as other restaurants (including the chains) have two clearly marked bathrooms, one for men and one for women. If a restaurant just had one bathroom, it could be locked from the inside where only one person at a time could use it.
Now clearly this restaurant chain was trying to make a statement, and after thinking about it I decided that I would like to make a statement, too, and as a result, we have not gone back. Now granted, I am old fashioned. I do not want my wife, daughters or granddaughters to go into a restaurant that has unisex bathrooms and have some man come in the same bathroom, occupy the adjacent stall and then have them seeing his shoes or hairy legs while they are having a very private moment.
Here is a thought I had after thinking about this for a little while. This is for the birds. When birds, and all other creatures out in nature, have to use the bathroom they don’t have to worry about where they are or who is looking.
Not so with human beings. When we became educated and enlightened, we know that privacy and discretion is one of the distinguishing characteristics that set us apart from all other creatures that inhabit this planet. This is just plain decency.
I must be pretty dumb because I fail to understand why they have their bathrooms labeled in this way and alienate a good number of their customers. Apparently they fail to realize that many Americans like myself not only vote with the ballot, they also vote with their wallet. Only time will tell if they wise up and join the human race, but as I said earlier, what they are doing is for the birds. Now, to be sure, I don’t get on a soap box often but this is one of those times.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)