Five years after my first visit to Croatia I'm still stunned at the fact that there are places that you have to pay to go to the bathroom. You heard me; you have to pay to use the restroom.
In America we have our inalienable rights. The right to use the toilet without paying a cent is one of those rights I’m proud to have. It’s humiliating to get to the bathroom after 5 hours on the highway and have to go to your wallet or pocket for spare change just so you can relieve yourself. And those times when you’re not particularly in a hurry, you stand at the door and ask yourself one of two questions:
1. Is my trip inside this bathroom worth the cash? If I choose not to use this service, is my discomfort until I arrive home worth half a coffee or a newspaper, or a liter of gas?
2. Is it stealing if I’m able to get inside before the restroom cashier comes out to charge me? Is there anywhere else where getting rid of something constitutes taking something that isn’t yours?
It’s still baffling to me.
A month ago we gave birth to a baby free of charge. No, check that – the Croatian government paid us to have a baby! In a former socialist country who will pay for your medical bills, has very few homeless people, and will help you pay for your food if you’re hungry, they charge for you to take care of that food once it’s done being processed?
Now I can understand the fact that the lady (and it always is a female) needs to get paid for her hard work in the bathroom. If you ask me she deserves more tips than waiters do. But shouldn’t this be a government job? If the state pays the doctors, can’t they pay the bathroom lady?
I will also say that inflation thankfully has not gotten involved in this business. The approximately 10 cents and 50 cents for liquids and solids respectively has not increased in price since I first visited. At least things aren’t getting worse.
But I believe we can make them better. Yes, Croatians we can do this together. How?
Don’t do it. Resist the urge. Plan ahead. Bring a bottle. Wear a diaper. Use the woods. Find another way.
You know what will happen then? The bathroom lady will find a job because the unemployment rate is going down faster than the swirl. There’s a job out there somewhere for her. And then the gas station guy will be forced to get up from his chair behind the register and earn his paycheck.
Who knows if it’ll work – it’s just my 10 cents.
Oh wait…I just spent it in the bathroom.