The Old Coot Can’t Find a Terlit

The merchants in the Village of Owego are about to open a public restroom, in the “New” building on Front Street. (Fifty years from now we’ll still be calling it the “New” building, just like we call the Court Street Bridge the “New” bridge, though it’s been in place for more than a decade.)

But, back to the public rest room, it’s a vast improvement in a society that ignores the lack of public Terlits in this country. There aren’t any! At least when you need one. 

Public restrooms are as scarce as proverbial hen’s teeth. Our government has turned its’ back on the problem. Okay, they’ve thrown us a few bones, there are restrooms along interstates highways, and sometimes we are allowed to use the facilities in municipal buildings, provided we go there on Monday through Friday, between nine and five, it isn’t a public holiday and we can make it through the security checkpoint with a nail clipper (or some other deadly weapon) in our pocket. 

But, for the most part, our elected officials have ignored the “Terlit” crisis. Actually, they haven’t just ignored it; they’ve exacerbated it. They’ve made nature’s call a crime. If there aren’t public “facilities” around and you get caught behind a bush, you will be ticketed. 

We’ve just gone through a state and federal election, yet not a single candidate mentioned the Terlit crisis. Politicians have strapped us in our cars, taken cell phones out of our hands, defaced all the products we buy with warning labels and are forcing our favorite restaurants to prepare food in politically correct cooking oil, but they stick their heads in the sand when we ask them, “Can I use the Terlit please?” 

Candidates promise all kinds of new programs, but not one word about what we’re supposed to do when we’ve had three cups of coffee and are walking around in a downtown area looking for a restroom. All levels of government have failed us: village, town, county, state and federal. 

“Go find a gas station,” they say. 

It’s time to fight back, to tell the politicians to shut up about new programs, to get down to basics. BUILD US PUBLIC TERLITS! Don’t make us go from store to store, begging to use an “employee only” restroom. 

I’m not optimistic that anything will be done, not even in the next presidential election cycle. It’s just not a problem that politicians are willing to take on. Who wants to be known as the “Terlit” president? We’ll just have to depend on the kindness of strangers until some smart entrepreneur comes along and figures out that there is money to be made, and a lot of it, by simply opening a chain of public Johns. 

In the meantime, I’ll keep asking, “Where’s the Terlit?”
Comments, complaints? Email to, or text to (607) 972-6102. 

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