A Country Divided—Over Bathrooms!

Some friends and I were cycling Hines Drive this past September, 2017, when we came across a nice little (and much needed) bathroom building, called “The Haggerty Comfort Station” (photo #1):

Note: This location is the little castle image on the map, here.

It turns out to be a rather historic place, as declared by the sign in front, (photo #2). It reads:

“This comfort station was one of the early public rest stops, and it was a prototype for roadside development. When originally constructed in 1937, this station had a full-time attendant, an information booth and concession stand. Wayne County was one of the first county road agencies in the United States to officially promote the ‘Good Roads Movement,’ setting procedures for design, construction and maintenance of roadside developments.”

But I noticed something: this line for the bathroom, on the right when facing the building, was for the Ladies’ Room! Here is a close-up (photo #3) showing mixed blacks and whites, but ONLY women waiting to use the bathroom!

This observation reminded me of a pet peeve I had previously described in an email (copied, below), which I sent August 13 , 2015 to letters@detroitnews.com. I was never contacted and to my knowledge (a later internet search) it was never printed. But now I know the problem has existed since at least the 1930’s!

When will things change!?! Doesn’t this upset anyone else? It should! It should matter to all who claim to “love” their female family members, significant others, and friends. Love is more than emotion–you have to do things differently, think differently, live differently. That we men, who like to think of ourselves as gifted with talents of planning and constructing things, have let the problem go on–for so long, and seemingly everywhere–is simply pathetic.

As a reader, what can you do? If you know someone in a position of public responsibility, forward this article to them. Otherwise, just post a link on your preferred social media and maybe someone else will pick it up.
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Dear Detroit News:

I would like to submit a brief missive to your letters column in the hope that the right people among your readership might be paying attention. Here is the text I would like you to print:

“One of the undeserved privileges of being a man is not having to wait in line to use a public restroom. I never cease to be amazed at how women put up with treatment as second class citizens–namely, in the way of frequent queuing outside their restrooms. Whether in a fixed public location or at a temporary public event, the commonly lopsided ability to accommodate both genders is an insult to women.

“Ladies, why do you accept it! At home you request the up / down position of the toilet seat and sometimes even its cover be conscientiously managed; why don’t you demand that elected officials, civil planners, contracted architects, and large event planners calculate an appropriate number of stalls and fund their availability?

“Here are two recent examples from the month of July. (1) I was in baggage claim at Detroit Metro Airport’s new ‘north’ terminal and the women’s restroom had a line out the door while the men’s did not. (2) I attended the Concours d’Elegance classic vehicle show at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, MI (where the lowest entrance ticket was $30) and the lone mobile restroom truck in the center of the event, in the center of the grounds, had a line for the ladies, not the guys. Why? Neither venue / event qualifies as impoverished or otherwise poorly planned. Yet, despite all the time and money that was devoted to preparation, planners managed to screw up such a basic thing. But it’s not just these two places where it happens. This lack of consideration routinely occurs everywhere I look.

“Well, I think women deserve better! Those responsible for hosting vast crowds of people on a regular basis need to get a clue. Those city officials who review building plans and event siting proposals need to, as well. It’s not like such mistakes are made without having passed multiple pairs of eyes.

“Ah, yes. I can imagine the excuses already, being formulated by those who lack the ability to hear criticism and take appropriate action. To such persons, I have pre-formulated a response: I am an engineer, I know all about queuing and planning and I don’t want to hear your excuses. Review your processes; make changes; or resign your positions in shame for not being able to anticipate such simple needs.”

Signed,
Mark LaPointe

Yes, you may contact me for publication purposes, but do not print my contact info:
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Please do me the courtesy of telling me when the above will be printed, or if you decline to print it at all.
Thank you!

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