Yesterday I was in Super Wal-Mart using the bathroom. Just on principle I try to stay as far away as possible from Wal-Mart, but when a boy has got to go; a boy has got to go. When one is confined to a car for great lengths of time, one begins to figure out where one can use the facilities without all the sticky moral hindrance of thinking, "Well, I did use their urinal...I'll buy this Snicker's Bar and we'll be even." That way lies an empty wallet and a big ass.
Supermarkets work well for guiltless elimination, but they are often not that crowded - especially in the morning - so the restroom seeker cannot get lost in the crowd and therefore avoid detection. There's nothing worse than exiting a restroom to be examined by the penetrating eyes of a half dozen pimply-faced teenaged grocery jockeys who know you just used the crapper they have to clean and that you did so without the slightest intention of buying anything from their store. It's a breach of trust. Peeing and leaving is sort of the public restroom equivalent of a one night stand or a trip to the pound just to pet the dogs. Buying something is like cuddling and promising to call or actually adopting the puppy you've spent all day petting.
Best Buy is another great place for sweet relief, but it has its obstacles. Mainly, the restroom is in a different place in every store and is usually tucked away from plain sight. One's hurried hunting is an obvious giveaway to one's intent and attracts "Can I help yous" from every wise-to-you employee. Plus, if you get a sudden attack of guilt from dropping a deuce in the Best Buy bathroom with no intent to make a purchase, you're almost assured your crap will have cost you at least twenty dollars.
Starbucks also has it's pros and cons. Having formerly been in the employ of said establishment, I can tell you that every Starbucks employee is commanded to be unfailingly polite and non-combative to any potential customer. This includes vagrants who come in off the street and bathe in the sinks of the restrooms (which, for the restroom seeker, presents a different set of issues altogether). So, if anybody is going to make you feel bad, it's you. The downside to this is that most Starbucks have one solitary throne in each restroom. Coffee is a diuretic. Lines can form. If one is in need of some quality sit time, one can be assured that one's time will be interrupted by an impatient knock or ten. Also, one's personal bouquet does not typically mix well with the aroma of perfectly roasted coffee beans. Starbucks also commands its employees to not wear cologne or perfume as it might taint the aforementioned coffee bean aroma. Clealry, the odor of human waste would have made the list if they had thought of it. The potential for embarrassment is significant. Cozy, intimate, and artsy are not adjectives that typically mix well with verbs like strain, wipe, and flush.
Border's and Barnes & Noble present many of the same obstacles as does Starbucks, and bookish people can become judgemental in a hurry. Buying a magazine to appease them only adds to their anger. Not only are you the type of person who uses the restroom without making a purchase, but you're also the type of person who reads MAGAZINES! Classless. Plus, the Heartland is alarmingly devoid of bookstores and nature frequently seems to call in the void between two points, but they'll do in a pinch (pun intended).
University campuses are the Ivory Towers of the public world and of the public restroom world. There's nothing to buy and no one to offer you their help. I can still remember using the restroom in the English building at my university and having to wait for a stall while a road tripper had his Danish and coffee and read the morning newspaper. University restrooms are comfortable, clean, and, if you find the right building, almost always empty. Unfortunately, they're not as common as Super Wal-Marts, which leads me to the Grand Compromise...
But before I go on, I must say a few things, mostly about how much I hate Wal-Mart. One of my exes and I had a two part theory born of many forced weekend trips to the local Wal-Mart. 1). Any Wal-Mart in the United States on a Sunday afternoon is the most depressing place in the world equaled only by every other Wal-Mart in the United States on a Sunday afternoon. 2). The world would be a much, much, much, much, much, much, much better/more intelligent place if every Wal-Mart in the United States was consumed in a 100% percent fatal ball of God's fury on a Sunday afternoon. Elitist? Yes. True? Absolutely. As exhibit "A", I present the following: After using the bathroom of the Super Wal-Mart yesterday, I ventured over to the Halloween aisle in an effort to stretch my legs whereupon I observed a man with a real mullet purchasing a mullet wig. He was amused, obese, and seemingly completely oblivious to the fact that, for him, the purchase of a mullet wig was wholly unnecessary.
Thus, the Grand Compromise: I hate Wal-Mart, but it makes a pretty good place to take care of business. Because Wal-Mart sells everything from clothes to tires to paintball guns to onions, it is almost always packed to the gills with sweat pants clad Heartlanders seeking one of the billion things Sam Walton decided to stock on his shelves. The restroom seeker's nefarious intentions are literally cloaked by a wall of humanity that is undoubtedly responsible for much worse in-store infractions than using the restroom and leaving without buying anything. The restrooms are typically located near one of the entrances sandwiched between two of the separate businesses Wal-Mart tends to have operating behind its checkout counters. If a person were so inclined, a person could enter the belly of the beast, take care of business, and exit without even raising the eyebrow of the elderly and/or retarded greeter Wal-Mart pretends to responsibly employ. It's glorious and completely guilt-free.
Now that I work for the Man and am pretty confident I will not play much of a part in The Revolution, I like to think of using Wal-Mart bathrooms without buying anything as my own little act of resistance (insert "resistance" joke here). Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly subversive, I don't even flush. Hasta La Victoria Siempre!