Don’t get it twisted, this is no grand homage to the nation of my birth. But today I reflect upon one of the exactly two things that make me thankful I live in the U.S. I was going to put this out around the 4th of July, but I was busy not celebrating it (my patriotic dad loved that).
The first of two things I am grateful for is religious freedom. In my humble opinion, this is one of the things the U.S. really has going for it. The other highlight is the gas station bathroom. Having recently driven halfway across this great land, worshiping as I wished along the way, I had cause to think about our nation’s unwritten policy on restroom use.
This stands in stark contrast to nations like Spain, for example, where a person is barred from using the can unless they be a paying customer. My experience of living in Spain and never being able to get a bathroom when I needed one scarred me for a lot of years and coerced me thus to go into U.S. gas stations thinking I needed to purchase a pack of gum I wouldn’t chew or a bottle of water I didn’t need, simply for the privilege of taking a pee. Paranoid and anxious, I would get strategic with my stops: get gas at one station but wait an hour to get my coffee or water so I had another free pass to the bathroom. But of course you know where all those liquids put me about 45 minutes later.
In other countries, in locations where there are no purchasable goods like a cathedral in Italy for example, those bloody ‘money changers in the temple’ flat out demand a fee to use the W.C. Aren’t there better ways to gouge an already paying customer out of another euro than to charge them a tax because nature calls?
No more. For whatever else its faults, this country has it figured out on freedom to use a gas station bathroom with or without a purchase. You are a traveler on the road, a pilgrim on a journey, a fellow human being, and thus you have the God-given right to use other people’s plumbing, even if it costs them a pittance in TP and soap.
Maybe it sounds silly, but that actually makes me feel good. It reminds me that there is a little more operating in this place than just the pure capitalist machine. Altruism and good will for the fellow man still exists and that’s delightful.