It’s unavoidable. You’re walking through the mall or standing in line for a ride at the amusement park, and the three extra-large double doubles you had at breakfast return to haunt you. You need a PW stat. Duhn! Duhn! Duhn! On no! Not the dreaded public washroom!
Yes, folks, the bane of existence for any germaphobe or mother of a toddler. The public washroom is a place to be feared, avoided, and used only in the direst of circumstances. If you have young children, my recommendation would be to keep them either severely dehydrated, (which, as an added bonus, also makes them lethargic and much easier to control), or keep them in diapers until they’re 12 or so. Trust me, after a few therapy sessions, they’ll learn to love you again. Should you find yourself in need of a toilet, but think you can hold it without rupturing your bladder, then this should be your first course of action. In relation to the latter, I am a firm believer that the degree to which you have to pee increases exponentially as the distance to the washroom decreases. There’s a mathematical formula for it I’m sure. Where’s Pythagoras when you need him?
Aside from the desperation coffee pee, there are circumstances where public washrooms are a part of everyday life. If you are a productive member of society, a job will require most of you to leave your homes and spend 7.5ish hours in an office, on the road, or performing some sort of menial task in an environment not of your choosing. This cannot be avoided, nor can the subsequent washroom visits, unless you have a bladder of steel, or a catheter. If you are lucky enough to work from home, you’re my hero.
But for those of us who slave away in the confines of a cubicle, etc., we must deal with sharing our bodily functions with others. (Sounds so gross that way, doesn’t it?) Therefore, a review of the ground rules is in order, because it seems that many of you have forgotten. There is such a thing as bathroom etiquette. A set of guidelines that, when adhered to, will make life in the stalls so much more bearable. I should note here that although this is written from a female perspective, most of the rules can be applied to both sexes. Where the reference is made exclusively to those of the male persuasion, research was conducted.
Please commit the following memory:
1. “Thou shalt not leave the bowl unclean” – Commandment #11. There is no greater sin than to leave the scene of the crime. Flush! What makes any of you think that the next person has any desire to clean up after you? Even the cleaners don’t want to clean up after you and they’re paid to, poor things. All it takes is a little depression of the handle and Voila!, it’s gone. And if you’re lucky enough to benefit from a hands free toilet/urinal, please wait until you hear that distinctive sound. Remember, it is motion censored, not AI; one can’t assume that it will always work. If the flush is not forthcoming, push the button. Those that follow will thank you. And if you choose to ignore this most holy of rules, may all of the toilets in your future be pre-plugged!
2. In keeping with the theme of cleaning up after yourself, wipe the seat. Whether you’re a girl who’s an incompetent squatter, or a guy who likes his privacy but doesn’t have the decency to kick up the seat, take a look before you vacate the premises. Sprinkles belong on ice cream sundaes and cupcakes, not toilets. So if your aim is poor, please give the seat a once over. Your fellow pee-ers will thank you.
3. Wash your hands. With soap. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t pee all over them, (if that’s the case you may want to have that looked into), they’re still icky. “Splashes…More splashes.” – U-571. Yes people, there is residual spray. And even if it was a false alarm or you’re just hiding out from your boss, at a minimum you’ve still managed to touch the door and stall handles, and/or your own member. You may not have tinkled, but at some point in the not so distant past, somebody else did. And if you think about it, they can’t wash their hands until they exit the stall, which means that you’ll have to grasp the very same door handle that they did. Now, for those of you who are non-hand-washers, the next time you decide that you’re in too much of a hurry or whatever your excuse is for being so nasty, think about that last statement and ask yourself, would I lick my fingers right now? (Apologies to all who just threw up in their mouths a little bit).
4 a. Gentlemen, camaraderie amongst the urinals is strictly prohibited. This is not the place to make friends, unless you’re PeeWee Herman. It’s a mission – Infiltrate. Void. Sterilize. Withdraw. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200, (unless you’re PeeWee Herman). And do not make small talk. You are there for one purpose and one purpose only. Picture you’re neighbour watering his lawn, only it’s not a hose he’s holding. Would you stop to ask him how his day was? I think not.
4 b. Ladies, we are social beings. We do tend to chat no matter where we are, including the loo. Here we can talk amiably our wonderful bosses, or compare lipstick shades while reapplying in the extensive but not-so-flattering mirror. However, washroom fraternization also needs to be scrutinized. Case and point. There is one centralized ladies washroom at work for four different companies. Two coworkers from one of the other companies, never to be separated, will frequent the washroom on a regular basis throughout the day, where, upon entering, they plot one of two courses. They will each either enter a stall at opposing ends of the washroom, or one will enter a stall while the other stands by the door. Regardless of where they’re situated, they will carry on their loud conversation. They talk over flushing, peeing, water running, soap dispensing, and any other noise one might hear in a lavatory, and then increase the volume of their voices to compensate. They can be heard from the opposite end of the hallway outside the washroom. This is not allowed. Suspend your conversations. Talking whilst peeing is not a good way to showcase your multi-tasking abilities; it’s just annoying to everyone else within a mile radius.
So there you have it. Bathroom Etiquette 101. There are other small steps you can take to make public washrooms a more tolerable experience. Courtesy flushes. Leaving a grace stall/urinal. (If there are five empty ones, there’s no need for you to use the one right next to me!) Keeping your eyes on your own junk and not the dude’s beside you. (Again this is data collected from research and not personal experience.) Small gestures that can alleviate some of the stress associated with carrying out a very private act in a very public place. And unless you’re at home, never, I repeat, never, be seen taking a newspaper or magazine in with you!