Etiquette Questions, Answered: Social Situations
Q: My job requires me to travel a lot. When I have to go to the bathroom on the road, I usually stop at a gas station or a coffee shop. However, I feel bad about using the bathroom and leaving empty-handed. Should I purchase something at an establishment if I use their facilities?
A: In a perfect world, everyone would have access to lots of clean public restrooms. Alas, that’s not the case, so we end up relying on random stores and restaurants. (It’s enough to make you feel like Blanche DuBois, depending “on the kindness of strangers.”)
In my opinion, it’s acceptable to use any establishment’s bathroom without making a purchase. Here’s why: Every business has the option of making the loo off-limits. If they choose to leave it open, they’ve probably reasoned that it’s worth the small expense, since a person who comes in to use the bathroom may browse a bit and eventually buy something. So go ahead and use the facilities, guilt-free.