This article originally appeared on Salty Running.
We’ve covered bathroom emergencies before, but since that remains one of our most popular articles to date (yes, really) we know we can never talk too much about the topic. You’ll understand why the next time you get caught in a potty emergency! The more prepared you are beforehand, the better.
All runners know the standard emergency pit stops—e.g. public park restrooms, gas stations, the bushes. But sometimes, especially if you’re in a city or a residential suburb, those options just aren’t available. Instead of soiling your neighbor’s driveway, try one of the following options. I can personally attest that I’ve had ‘success’ at all five!
1. Offices. Office buildings are great, especially medical offices, since there’s usually a restroom in the lobby. Warning: Sometimes the restrooms can be hard to find, however, and in case of emergency you don’t always have time to search.
2. Stores. Grocery stores often have a public restroom; if the restroom isn’t in the front near the registers, don’t be shy about asking employees! Grocery stores cater to families, so are usually sympathetic even if their restroom is in the back. I recommend that you take note of where the restrooms are in all the grocery stores along your running routes. Better to know before the fact. And whether it’s Target or Saks 5th Avenue, a department store is always a good bet too!
3. Hotels. Find the bathroom near the lobby. Try to sneak out before the continental breakfast-goers catch a whiff of what just happened.
4. Starbucks. You may not like their coffee, but you’ll love the fact that they are pretty much everywhere. Make sure to examine the menu for a moment with a discerning eye and a demeanor that says, “In fact, I was running here to meet a friend and buy a triple-shot-eight-pump-venti-soy-frappe-no-whip” before breezing by to do your business. And if you can’t find a Starbucks, keep your eyes peeled for other cafes or fast-food joints. Bonus points: on the way out ask politely for a free cup of water or grab some honey packets if you’re running low on fuel!
5. Random people’s houses. This is for real! When your tummy starts rumbling in the ‘burbs, just look for someone out gardening, unloading groceries from her car or sitting on her front porch. Notice I say “her”—if you are going into a random stranger’s residence it’s probably safest and raises the least questions if that stranger is a lady. Plus, if she’s had kids, she’s more likely to sympathize with you than a man. What better way to get to know your neighbors? Or more likely, what better reason to hide your face from your neighbor when you see her in the grocery store later that day?
Bonus! If you’re really in a pinch, you can always try a garbage can. These can be located anywhere. Just tilt the can your way, and for heaven’s sake, try to cover up a little! This one was definitely NOT me, but was one of my very favorite people and I was there to witness her act of desperation—you know who you are! Are you glad I remember this shining moment in your life?
That’s it, Saltines! Good luck out there …
Where have you gone in a potty emergency?
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