On 12 April 2016, a Facebook user published the above-reproduced status update, showing two photographs of a bathroom renovation and claiming that “the travel center in Mebane, NC” was installing urinals in the ladies’ bathrooms.
The post included two separate photographs, the second with a separate caption reiterating the claim that urinals were being installed in the womens’ bathroom:
As you can see there not finished installing them, this is just not right putting them in the ladies bathroom.
This status update was shared as gender and bathrooms were a popular news topic (particularly in North Carolina) making the claims at least plausible to some. We identified the location in the photographs as the Pilot Travel Center of Mebane, North Carolina, and called them to ask about the Facebook rumor.
The person we spoke to was aware of the rumors on Facebook. She said that the poster simply snapped the images without further asking whether Pilot was indeed installing urinals in the women’s bathroom, or simply renovating the restrooms overall. The poster had commented on her photographs, maintaining that the sign outside the door said “women”:
No the sign on the out side of the door said women,,no way would I go in if it was the men and neither would the ladies that was in there with me
According to the Pilot employee, both public restrooms at the Mebane location underwent renovations around the time the Facebook user shared the photographs. During the renovations, the outlet closed one of the two restrooms and rented an additional “port-a-potty,” or a portable toilet, for male customers. She said that women used the men’s room briefly while the women’s room was being renovated, and men used the portable toilet outside. When the men’s room was being renovated, men also used the port-a-potty so that so women could comfortably use the men’s room. At no point were men and women sharing any bathroom, with or without urinals.
As of 13 April 2016, the employee said that the renovations were completed and both bathrooms were open to the public. However, there were never any urinals in the ladies’ room, just a period of time when women used the newly-renovated men’s room and men used the outdoor facilities.