One of the more naggingly memorable stories in this paper recently was about a traveler who answered a pressing call of nature behind a service station on Maryland's Eastern Shore and was arrested on a charge of exposing himself.
There, but for the grace of God, said I, remembering some not-long-ago car journeys. How does one deal with such situations?
Skipping any attempt to answer, let's consider a commentary circulated by Ralph F. Angelillo, the Richmond-based executive vice president for Virginia of the American Automobile Association.
Angelillo contends that highway departments ought to provide toilets along highways and erect signs saying they are available. Avoiding the word shows, he says, that "we Americans must be acutely sensitive to the word . . . . "
Along I-95 northward from Richmond, Angelillo said, signs designate "rest areas." If, in those areas, "there are no toilets, a sign 'no facilities' is added. Of course, everyone knows which facilities are intended."
The English refer to a w.c., or water closet; the Scots to a loo; the Americans to a powderless "powder room," a restfree "rest room" or a bathless "bathroom," while the military refers to latrines or heads.
"As a desperate motorist, however," Angelillo said, "I do beseech our highway officials to take another look at a perfectly elegant French word, toilet, so that we will all know whether the rest area has that particular facility."