New York City has a big problem: there aren't many clean, reliable bathrooms available. If you need to pop off the busy streets for a pitstop, you probably won't find a free toilet — and even the ones you pay for are more than likely gonna be icky.
But we live in a time when we can instantly summon just about anything with our smartphones. Surely some enterprising innovator will soon introduce an on-demand, clean bathroom service to disrupt the Big Toilet industry.
Enter Charmin. The toilet paper company is giving NYC a taste of toilet freedom with a two-day promotion for Van-GO, its new mobile-ordering bathroom experience, this week. The press-to-order service will send on-demand bathroom service to fulfill the dreams of germophobic pedestrians with overfilled bladders everywhere — or, at least the select neighborhoods the van will hit during its run.
“At Charmin, we’re always looking to bring people the best bathroom experience, both at home with our tissue and in new and unexpected ways," Charmin's Associate Brand Director Janette Yauch said in an emailed release. “With the Charmin Van-GO, we are providing one of the largest, most-trafficked cities in the world a new way to Enjoy the Go … on the go.”
Yes, we will enjoy that go. This is the next generation of urban defecation. This, I daresay, is Püber.
I was given a preview of the service before the bathroom rush begins.
Hailing the Van-GO is simple: just pull out your smartphone and use your mobile browser to head to CharminVanGo.com. You'll be greeted by one of Charmin's anthropomorphic bathroom bears and a start menu, and after entering your first name, age, and phone number, you'll be able to call for your own personal, portable porcelain throne.
I called for my Van-GO at the corner of Madison Avenue and 23rd Street, but we wound up having to meet on 5th Avenue and 2nd Street. Charmin reps told me that's bound to happen in the busy city with so many people ordering the van — just like when your Uber driver winds up three blocks from your spot — so be ready to coordinate for your TP-time over text if you plan on calling for it during the promotion.
When I got to the van, there was a whole Charmin Squad on call if I needed any help using the facilities. Thankfully for them, I know exactly what I'm about in the bathroom.
The interior of the van was cozy and super-clean, just what I was hoping for after a long walk on the NYC streets. A personalized LED light welcomed me in, helping me prepare to do my business in the middle of the bustling city.
After I got my bearings (pun intended), I gave the toilet seat a demo for our photographer. It was a solid seat, and while the traffic noise outside was a bit off-putting, I was ready. It was time.
You can imagine what went down next. Or maybe, it's better that you don't.
After using the Van-GO, I'm a changed man. Once you've had your own personal toilet delivered to you at your smartphone's bidding, you won't want to go back to your old life, either.
If you're in NYC, you'll be able to catch the Van-GO later this week on June 21 and 22, when the service is unleashed with black-ish star Anthony Anderson in tow to crack jokes while you do your business.
On Wednesday, the service will be available in Columbus Circle (W. 57th), Herald Square, and Bryant Park from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Thursday you'll be able to hail a toilet around Lincoln Center, Rockefeller Plaza, Union Square, and the High Line during the same time frame.