We’ve all been there—you’re out on the town, you’ve gotta pee, but you don’t know where to go. New York City has astoundingly few public bathrooms for a place that harbors so many residents and even more tourists. There’s almost never a bathroom in a subway station, so it’s often a choice between catching your train and walking one, two, or three blocks to find a restroom. And the situation may be even more dire if you’re intoxicated.
The most important thing to remember is: don’t panic. Here are some tips to get you through it:
1. Find a fast food place or a chain coffee shop
If you happen to see a Starbucks nearby, it’s a safe bet there’s a line of people who didn’t buy any coffee in there waiting to use that bathroom. And the employees probably won’t say anything. A McDonald’s or a Chipotle is also a good option.
2. Find a department store
You don’t pass by them as frequently, but if you happen to be near Macy’s, it’s easy to casually go in and use the restroom. This, of course, only works during business hours. If it’s 2am you’re out of luck.
3. Stop into a bar you’re familiar with
A bar is a good place to stop if you know the layout. Ideally, it has no bouncer and you can quickly slip into the restroom without having to ask where it is.
4. Some churches are always unlocked
God won’t mind. He knows it’s an emergency.
There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get to the part of the church that has the bathroom, but if you’re desperate it’s worth a shot.
5. Only try a restaurant as a last resort
Restaurant bathrooms are usually strictly reserved for paying customers. They’ll probably either turn you away or demand you pay to use the bathroom. The best tip here is to get in the habit of going whenever you eat somewhere, before you go back out onto the scary bathroom-less streets.
6. If all else fails, there’s no shame in going outside
If you absolutely can’t find anywhere with an available bathroom, you might just have to go outside. Alleyways can be pretty private, as can thick shrubbery in a park. It helps majorly if you have a friend to stand guard. And you should probably check first to make sure there are no cops around.