There is nothing like traveling outside of your own country to put things into perspective. In Germany, pulling off at a rest area off the freeway (Autobahn) to go to the bathroom, we were caught by a minor surprise:
To gain access to the bathrooms there are major turnstiles, similar to how they have them at subway entrance stations. With each turnstile, there is a large vending machine attached that takes cash in form of coins or bills, makes exact change and issues a ticket before you can enter the bathroom. The price: 70 cents (Euro cents) per person. That’s about a dollar to wash your hands or take a leak.
I should have taken a picture of the thing but was too embarrassed. There was a major line of people fiddling with money trying to get in as we came out.
The equipment installed there was complex and sophisticated, like you’d find at a subway station, as I said, or perhaps a self-pay parking lot, that takes your cash and issues your ticket to be put on the dash-board. Major equipment, in several lanes, to extract cash from patrons that need to urinate.
Of course, this ensures that the bathrooms are squeaky clean all the time. Custodians are constanly there checking them out and cleaning them up. I could not get used to the fact that female custodians are happily mopping the floors right around the urinals where men are standing all in a row…. That’s Europe for you.
Next stop we pulled over at some bushes…
Oh, the tickets you get are then redeemable for 50 cents discounts at the convenience store of coffee shop. Oh, goody.