“The worst cruelty that can be inflicted on a person is isolation.”
—Sukarno, Indonesian President
Upon entering a Domino’s franchise I discovered I had a minor problem: I needed a restroom. But when I mentioned this to the woman who took my order, she said they do not have a restroom for customers.
So I explained I have a problem with urgency and need a restroom right away. “You must have a restroom for employees. Can you ask your manager if I can use it?” She replied they have a policy that only employees can use the restroom. “But you can go next door.”
I didn’t have time to argue. So I went next door. Though it was only 5:15, it was closed.
So was the next business. My “accident” began. Then another business denied access.
I returned to the Dominos franchise and spoke with the manager. I explained the situation and stated I couldn’t avoid soiling myself, but now I need the bathroom so I can clean myself. He refused. So I became more explicit: “If I cannot use your restroom, I will have to get in my car and sit in my own feces.” He still refused.
I told him this is unacceptable and canceled my order. I also told him this is only the second time in a year this has occurred: “But I am not going to stay home because a few businesses deny me use of their restroom.”
I asked if others told him they urgently need a restroom. He said “yes,” and offered an excuse: They have drug addicts who do that. He implied they were lying. I looked directly in his eyes and said firmly, “You need to give your customers the benefit of the doubt, sir.”
In my case, I often need a bathroom urgently because I have proctitis, a result of radiation treatments for prostate cancer. Fortunately, my cancer is gone and will not likely reoccur.
But this side effect is probably permanent.
After leaving the store, I stopped at a supermarket and went through the indignity of cleaning myself. I thought I could be seated but inadvertently stained the toilet seat. So I cleaned it, draped some toilet paper over the seat so no one would use it, and informed customer service the toilet seat in the first stall needed to be sanitized.
Still craving pizza, I decided to call another Dominos franchise and speak with the manager. I explained the situation and asked, “If I came to your store and had to use the employee restroom urgently, would you let me?” Without hesitation, David responded he definitely would. He said he would also speak to the owner of the franchise that turned me away.
So I picked up a Deluxe pizza from this Warwick Avenue franchise. As I did so, the young man at the counter informed me, “Your pizza is already paid for.” I thanked him.
But before leaving I had to thank David as well. He was glad to meet me and said he was sorry for my experience. I told him I felt much better about Domino’s because of the way he treated me.
But this story is not really about me. Yes, it makes the case for everyone with the gastrointestinal problem of urgency. But there is more at stake: Homeless people need access to a restroom every day, yet businesses often turn them away. This is unconscionable.
It’s true some homeless people are drug addicts and alcoholics. Others are mentally ill.
None of this matters. They are human beings. They should never be denied a restroom.
So I would ask business owners to follow David’s example. Also, restrooms are part of the cost of doing business. Homeless or not, if a person occasionally messes up your bathroom, I would much rather you give everyone access and charge customers like me an extra nickel for your time and expense. To do otherwise is cruel and inhumane.
Comments on this column may be sent to Rev. Rix at firstname.lastname@example.org. ©2018 Harry Rix. All rights reserved.