|I'd use it, would you?|
It's the law, in MN and 11 other states, thanks to the tenacity of a fourteen year old who used a humiliating experience to better IBD community.
Although it is definitely true that if you look like you walk like you belong there, and give a smile and a nod, nobody will say a thing about "that bathroom is for patrons only," especially helpful if you have a 3-year-old to drag along with you, to complete the MAMA MEANS BUSINESS look. I have only once been told NO and that was before I knew about Ally's Law (which does apply in Michigan).
My travels across the Twin Cities and parts of Wisconsin have made me familiar with some of the best bathrooms out there, and I thought I would share with you my observations.
Moste Importente Observation - the condition of the bathroom in any establishment is in direct correlation to how much they value you as a customer! Unless their ambience is overall 'Dive' in which case, you get what you expect. Accept it as a part of the overall experience.
- Rule Number 1: Coffee shops have fantastic bathrooms mainly because they smell good, and you have an excuse to get a chai after. Coffee Shop Northeast in Minneapolis (NE of course) has the added benefit of being owned by my cousins, so I get to say hi, and don't feel awkward, and they have fun wall art and stickers on the mirror to keep the kids occupied while mama uses the facilities. I think coffee shop owners understand that if you drink a lot of their beverage, you're going to have to use it, so they might as well make their bathroom nice. Caribou is great, too.
*Tea Source is the best - the bathroom is lovely, with grass-patterned tiles, and a wonderful, strong tea aroma. Plus the tea-on-tap afterwards. Kids will be entertained by their bathrooms.
- Rule Number 2: Restaurants are good, too. Specifically Subway (the bathrooms smel like freshly baked bread), Perkins (open 24 hours), and McDonalds in a pinch (there are so many of them!). I'm partial to the Subway on the corner of Lowry and Central in Minneapolis, because you can swing in their mini-parkinglot and sneak in the back door. The bathroom is right there, and I feel rather Jane Bond for being so sneaky.
**Ritzy restaurants have ritsy bathrooms, but scope out if they have a Maitre'd or hawk-eyed host - walk in with confidence, and don't forget the smile and nod, and you'll be fine. The Lowry in Uptown has lovely bathrooms, just past the fireplaces.
- Rule Number 3: Gas Stations are almost always a bad idea. I can't figure this out. Do they not clean them? Does the presence of a condom machine make the bathroom fair game for sleaziness and dirt? While some gas station bathrooms do have interesting graffiti, it's not worth it in general unless you have time to go home and take a shower afterwards because you'll feel gross all day.
- Rule Number 4: Porta-Potties & Outhouses are not as scary as gas station bathrooms. In fact, often they are cleaned more regularly than gas station bathrooms. My most whimsical bathroom experience ever was in a porta potty at the MN Scottish Festival. I am not sure what will ever top the experience of using a porta potty and having a bag pipe band march by, about a foot away.
- Rule Number 5: When times are tough, and parks become necessary, please be courteous enough to remove yourself far away from the line of the public. I was once horrified to find a hairy man pooping in the middle of a path in a park. Really? REALLY?!? No card-carrying member of the Gotta Go Now club would ever sanction this behavior. Especially since he was hairy. Gross.
I'll leave you with that.