It Happened to Me – Public restrooms should be required in stores

Have  you ever been in a store and needed to go to the restroom, but your request was denied?

It’s Tax Free week in MD and is a great time to stack up on items kids need for school. Yesterday, I found myself looking for cheap necessities at a Dollar Tree. When we entered the store my girls quickly found found a toy to occupy them as I shopped for other items.  A few minutes later an employee of the store who was restocking the shelves, turned to me and my kids and asked if I was going to buy the toys, I said, “sure.” Unfortunately, I am one of those parents that purchases way too many toys for my children, so her question wasn’t a big deal to me.

Generally, I don’t shop at one-price stores, like the Dollar Store often; because I can often get a better more quality item for about the same price by taking advantage of CVS deals. Anyway, I wanted to see what items the store sold so I found my cart and looked around. After finding the things we needed I went to check out. The lines were extremely long and at first only two lines were open. Many people were taking advantage of not needed to pay taxes and stocking up on Back to School crafts and cheap deals. After several minutes in line. My daughter said, “Mom, I need to use the restroom.” I make sure my children go before we leave the house whether they need to or not, but it is almost inevitable they will need to again before we return home.

“Sweetie, please hold it until we check out,” I told her. I looked around and noticed some people putting their items down and leaving the store because the lines were insanely long.

Then I asked the same lady (who was now, no longer restocking items, but had opened up a third register) “If there was a restroom facility I could take my daughter to use.”

She looked at me and said, “No.” (She appeared to be the manager, so I didn’t bother asking anyone else).

Then, my daughter turned to me and said, “Mommy I had an accident.” Although now I was the 2nd person in line, the family before me wanted to do several different transactions and the store’s credit card reader didn’t appear to be working, so I had no other choice but to leave.

Then I told the lady, “I’m sorry, but I have to leave because my daughter needs a restroom facility now.”

The problem is, when children need to use the restroom they often don’t tell their parents immediately, and by the time they do their need parents to act on their requests immediately. Many children are also not equipped with the skills to hold their bladder for long periods of time. As a result of this experience I will no longer shop at this store because my children will probably be with me and if I need to take them to the restroom at  a moments notice I need to shop at stores that can accommodate my request.

This incident even prompted me to look up Maryland’s restroom policy, which states restrooms are required in food establishments and for people with a medical condition. The problem with this policy is that people with the medical condition would need to prove (by showing the store employee a health identification card) that they do have special circumstances that warrant the need for them to go. Using a restroom should be a standard and not a privilege. Although my daughter does have a medical condition that causes her to use the bathroom frequently, I keep a travel potty in the car (this time I thought I had enough time to wait, but I didn’t), now I realize I need to travel with her medical identification card to help prove that when she needs to go, I should be allowed to take her to the restroom.

If you have ever experienced a similar issue let your legislature know.

MD residents can contact the following address by mail:

Maryland House of Delegates, Judiciary Committee
Lowe House Office Building, Room 121
84 College Ave.
Annapolis, MD 21401 – 1991

Reader Response:

Do you think all stores should allow public restrooms if the customer asks?

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