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Robert hunter / Staff Illustrator

Walking around New York City can be stressful. Walking around New York City after drinking a cup of coffee and a glass of juice and a glass of water at breakfast can be very stressful. I have experienced this type of stress, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone—especially if you are like me and afraid to ask restaurant hostesses, baristas, and store managers to use their restroom.

There is nothing like the intense fear of entering a restaurant and wishing that I could just become invisible for the five minutes I need to walk in, use the bathroom, and leave.

Lucky for me, on campus, I am blessed with 100 percent guaranteed facilities at all times, but that hasn’t stopped me from wondering about how easy it would be to find a restroom to use when walking down Broadway: Would there still be post-tea-time panic? Or would I be in the clear if I needed access to the lavatory?

To satisfy my curiosity, I called restaurants on Broadway between La Salle Street and 110th Street and asked them if non-customers could use their restrooms. Even speaking to a hostess over the phone was slightly terrifying. For restaurants that I couldn’t reach by phone, I later physically walked in to ask—a nightmare, truly. Any number of “no” answers is still less than desirable for those of us who have bathroom-ask anxiety.

While restaurants told me they are receptive to non-customers in need of a restroom, including Mel’s Burger Bar, The Heights Bar and Grill, Tom’s Restaurant, and Five Guys, not all restaurants offer that same guarantee.

Multiple people gave me a hard no. In some cases, the store was too small to even let customers use the restroom, like Mondel Chocolates or Pinkberry. In others, restrooms were only available to customers. Restaurants that have off-limits restrooms to non-customers include Pressed Juicery, Hex & Company, and Chokolat Patisserie.

Kung Fu Tea doesn’t have a bathroom at all: Employees use the one at Starbucks next door.

Charlotte Li
Source: Google Maps; information provided by restaurant owners.

These casual calls lead me to an even more profound conclusion than just the fact that I can stop at Five Guys to use the restroom if I want: I am living in the definition of a comfort zone. Around Morningside Heights, I’m pretty much always near a restroom—no purchases necessary.

In addition, I’m never very far from a dining hall. I don’t have to clean the bathrooms, floors, and lounges in my dorm. There’s a 24-hour library for students’ convenience. The 1 train station is conveniently located right next to the campus entrance. Needless to say, I have become quite comfortable in my new home.

This comfort has made me quick to point out inconveniences when I’m walking around town. I don’t like it when I can’t sit down, or if the walk is too far, or if a line at the store is long. That’s annoying. In my comfort zone, I don’t really have to worry about those things. I can go to the bathroom in my suite and never worry about having to clean it. I can walk into a dining hall and food is just there for my choosing.

I rarely have that same worry when I’m walking down Broadway after drinking a cup of coffee and a glass of juice and a glass of water at breakfast. I don’t regularly experience the dreaded bathroom-ask anxiety. I truly am living in my comfort zone, but living in my comfort zone doesn’t mean I can’t test the waters every once in the while—be it an investigation into the state of public bathrooms or daring to take a science class. In the meantime, I have a map to get me halfway there.

Enjoy leafing through our first issue!

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