22 Feb, 2011
Fact or myth? You need small change to go for a wee in Poland
Posted by: Michał In: fact or myth?
Or do you? It’s a commonn misconception that you need to pay to use the loo in Poland. Yes, maybe in some places, but not everywhere.
In the past, most places, including restaurants and bars, would have toilet attendants who’d charge you a small set fee to enter the loo (and in some cases provide you with some toilet paper too). The attendants would most likely be female pensioners, hence their nickname, “babcia klozetowa” (literally: “toilet grandma”). But they were there not just to charge you money. They kept the place clean, provided a sense of security and often became, inadvertently of course, a source of entertainment. They’d sit there with their tiny AM radios, crocheting or knitting, loudly gossipping away, keeping an eye on their customers and often telling them off if they broke any of their golden loo rules.
Obviously they are not – and have never been – a typical Polish phenomenon. And neither has been the custom of charging for the toilet. But somehow many people still think that unless you have some lose change in your pocket, your only option when you’re desperate for the loo in Poland is the nearest park.
Chargeable toilets and toilet attendants are probably still present in some places – mainly, I would suspect, railway stations and other busy public transport hubs. But over the past several years I have not encountered them in any of the shopping centres, cinemas, restaurants or bars I have visited in Poland.
But I’m glad they have been immortalised in popular Polish culture.
I’m also glad we got thir particular subject out of the way.
Image © Iwona Kellie, used under the Creative Commons licence