Saturday, June 23, 2012

Paying for the Toilet

This week, my fun train/bus reading is the infamous Bloggess’ book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.  I’m not at all surprised by how hilarious it is, but it is a little embarrassing when I blurt out giggles on the stoic S-Bahn into the city.  It is soo good that I’m having trouble putting it down and there may or may not have been an incident of me missing my stop because I was too into the book to be bothered to pay attention to where I was.  In the book, Ms. Jenny Lawson bemoans the fact that she heard you have to pay for the toilet in Russia, noting that if she is ever in Russia she will indeed pee on the floor.  Oh Jenny, if you only knew…and now you will...if you actually read this, which you probably won’t, but I’m writing it anyway. 

Please do not let the fact that you have to pay for toilets in Berlin deter you from visiting this fabulous city.  I’ve sampled the free toilets elsewhere in Germany, and I’m telling you that I am happy to pay the 30-50 cents for a clean toilet.  If you have to pay, it is because an old woman is sitting outside and going in to wipe down the seat and/or clean the whole stall after each and every person uses it.  These attendants are 90% women in my experience too, not in a gender identified way that they told me they feel 10% man, but in that 90% of the attendants appear to be women.  Andy says they even walk around the men's room while the guys are at the urinal and it always creeps him out a bit.  I digress. 

I am so used to paying for using the toilet here now, that I almost never forget to take my change with me.  We regularly empty our pockets and wallets of change for the toilet, especially when we go to a beer garden.  There ARE 3 of us who use the toilet right now, and one of us has to pee all the fricking time too.  I will not lie, I most assuredly force my 4 year old to share a stall with me and only pay for one use of the toilet sometimes.  Does that make me a bad person?  Maybe, but I figure they only have to clean one toilet, and seriously, sometimes Ani pees every 10 minutes. 

Sometimes we even use the “City Toilettes” that are around town.  They are super space-age capsules that self-clean after every use.  They are pretty big, and we can even pull our double stroller comfortably inside with all 4 of us to take turns peeing for one low price.  Does this make us a little too thrifty?  Yeah, maybe I’ve said too much.   I'm sure this signals some sort of demise of our relationship or family, as I distinctly remember Lily & Marshall having a breakdown about peeing in front of one another on a HIMYM episode. I'm not saying it's a bonding experience, but I don't honestly think it is such a big deal.  SEE: 

Interesting thing I’ve noticed: the City Toilettes are not priced the same in all parts of the city.  In Prenzlauerberg, the trendy hipster parent spot of the moment filled with super crunchy organic-only cloth-diaper types that only wear their babies (read: ultra-gentrified!), the City Toilette costs 50 cents.  In Wedding, aka the scariest of all German ghettos (read: tree lined and beautiful and looking NOTHING like an American ghetto at all!)  the City Toilette only costs 20 cents.  I find this extremely interesting, and I wonder how the decisions were made for the pricing.  But I digress again... 

So the moral of the story is, sometimes paying to pee is worth it, but there are ways to work the system if you have small children. 

I leave you with a fun story from my honeymoon in Brazil, where we also often paid for the toilet.    While we were in Rio de Janeiro, we went to a professional soccer game to see how the Brazilians do it.  It was an AMAZING experience that I’m soo glad we had, despite the extreme chaos and insanity that it was.  (Seriously, they were setting off fireworks in the stadium stands!)  Naturally, we got into the spirit of things and had a few beers at the game.  As the game was winding down near the 75 minute mark, Andy made his way to the bathroom to empty his bladder before a traffic filled van ride back to our hotel on Copacabana beach.  Much to his chagrin, he found out the hard way that the stadium officials actually throw a gate in front of the bathroom door to prevent people from using it for the last 20 minutes of the game and on their way out.  It made no sense to him or to the 3 other drunk dudes who really had to go and were expressing their displeasure with this policy by pissing through the gate onto the bathroom floor.  When in Rio... 

Seriously, buy Jenny Lawson’s (theBloggess) book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.  You’ll laugh your ass off!  Bonus points if you read it on the treadmill! 

P.S. Jenny, I’m totally knitting you some leg-warmers with Turkeys on them when I get back to the United States.  Or would you prefer oversized Quail?  

P.P.S. I am in no way being compensated by Jenny Lawson for promoting her book!  I just think she is a seriously hilarious amazing human being who makes me laugh sooo much and deserves any success the world can throw at her.  She's also an outspoken advocate for truthiness surrounding mental health issues, and that makes me love her even more!  Laws(b)ians RULE! 


  1. Last week I used my first ever free public toilet in Berlin (Tempelhof) and there was absolutely no toilet paper. In any of the stalls. No paper towels, either. Obviously, as soon as the monetary incentive disappears the whole system falls apart. I will gladly pay 50 cents if it means I don't have to dig around in my purse for an old receipt to wipe with. (I really, really had to pee.)

    And thanks for pimping Jenny Lawson! I have a couple of accidental Audible credits that I wasn't sure what to do with, but now I think one of them will be going towards her book. It's been too long since I was the crazy person laughing on the train by myself.

  2. EXACTLY!! Now you know the OTHER reason I carry tissues in my purse all the time.

  3. I totally love the pay-clean toliets. Life is just better with a pretty potty.

    1. Agreed, life is always better with less EWWWWW in it.



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