Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Official Harrison Farm Statement on Bathrooms

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a conference out-of-state to represent a farm organization -- and on this trip I had one of my classic Katherine embarrassing moments.  While sitting in meetings all day, I inevitably take several breaks to stretch my legs and visit the restroom.  At this particular conference, I ducked out of a presentation for a few minutes to take a break during a very long day.  I headed for the ladies' room, and walked into the stall immediately in front of me.  While in there, I observed that there was someone in the stall next to me.  My observant nature operates at all times, so I realized it was a member of the cleaning staff by the uniform of their pants leg.  My mind -- always running -- thought to itself, "That poor lady . . . They really make the cleaning team wear such awful shoes!  Those shoes are just so manly.  What a terrible uniform for a lady!  Wait a minute . . ."  I hurriedly looked around the stall, and realized there was no discreet box on the wall for waste as would be present in every ladies' room.  And it suddenly occurred to me that I was observant enough to be judgemental about the shoes of the "cleaning lady" in the stall next to me, but not cognizant at all that I had just walked into the men's restroom.  I pulled myself together, stepped out of the stall, and as luck would have it there was a gentleman washing his hands at the sink.  He looked at me with questioning eyes.  I smiled and said "lovely weather we're having!" . . . And then hustled out the door as fast as my non-manly stilettos would take me.

My friends have laughed about that story for years.  As embarrassing as this story is for me, I love to make my friends laugh and thus the experience had a purpose.  Blissfully, I was not arrested for using the restroom of the gender to which I was not born -- a concept which never entered my mind when I made this mistake years ago.  Now we are oddly in a world where such things are being debated.  It seems to me to be a most ridiculous debate.  A bathroom is created for a specific purpose.  No one angrily chased me out of the men's room when I made my error.  At my church, there is inevitably a group of women who end up in line for the ladies' room during the "halftime bathroom break" that is the offertory.  In an effort to move things along -- and reserve the ladies' room for mothers with children -- some of the ladies will instead use the men's restroom (which never has a line).  I can report that the ladies' room is usually a bit better organized and cleaned, but both rooms are there for a specific purpose.  Arguing over who gets to use it is not a constructive use of our time.  Animals relieve themselves in front of me (and sometimes on me) all the time, so I am very happy that as humans we actually use dedicated restrooms.  Beyond this, it was not that long ago that my grandparents were using an outhouse at Harrison Farm.  We should be filled with joy that as humans we have the technology to offer real functioning bathrooms!

This morning in the Wall Street Journal, there was a photo on the front page of a bus that was bombed in Israel, injuring many.  There was an article inside on the hundreds of people who died in the earthquake in Ecuador and the current humanitarian crisis facing the survivors.  There was in-depth follow up on the terrorism in Europe over the last year and the intelligence failures that permitted these atrocities.  A particularly intriguing article discussed the struggles of aging parents in China (a culture that expects adult children to provide for their elderly parents without a strong safety net by the government) who lost the only child to which they were restricted to have by the government, and now have no one to provide for them.  And in the United States we are arguing about who gets to use a bathroom.  Our country has had 240 years of freedom and liberty, and we choose to exercise our First Amendment rights by arguing about bathrooms.

Friends, this post is not to attack anyone's beliefs.  These words are to remind you that our country is engaged in dialogue on a trivial matter: who gets to use a toilet.  I happily endorse that there are differences between the genders, and I happily promote that we are all unique individuals.  Parents who are concerned about their children using a public bathroom should always go with their child.  ALWAYS.  Women tend to go to bathrooms in groups -- this is both social and basic good safety.  In Wyoming, my girlfriends & I visit the woods in groups when we camp to help protect each other from bears of all genders!  It is as equally ridiculous that government bodies are trying to regulate the use of bathrooms, as it is that other government bodies are trying to protest this regulation with their own proposals.  I doubt there is a government entity in this whole great country that does not have at least one rule on the books that would be offensive in some manner.  Move on, and address issues that truly matter.

And if you end up in the wrong bathroom, just comment on the lovely weather!

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