If you’re human and you know it, you are part of the only species on earth self-conscious enough to be emotional (whether in embarrassment or shame or something else) when a certain bodily need makes itself known, especially in public. Unlike our fellow creatures, we humans have invented “restrooms” and “bathrooms” where we can contemplate and fulfill the human necessity of life that ranks in a tie with that of hunger and thirst. However, that does not mean we can act like savages while doing so.
Okay, “savage” is a harsh description…sort of. But believe me, it’s one thing to have a private bathroom, which in all accounts is one of mankind’s greatest luxuries…and it’s another story when you’re subjected and/or forced to frequent the horror of all horrors: the public restroom.
Over the years, stores, gas stations, and other public institutions have garnered “rankings” for not only their customer service, item selection, pricing, etc., but also the quality of the restrooms they offer to their customers and patrons. All restrooms are not created equal. And let’s just leave that at that.
Moving on…so, over my years of having to use public facilities like this, I have noticed more than just a lack in quality, cleanliness, and practicality. Oh yes. The worst of all when in public restrooms is not the place, but the company.
So what is my point here? What am I building up to? Well, here it is: if people have any manners at all in the first place, they certainly lose them when inside the room we all have to visit sometime(s) during the day and night.
I’m fed up with how rude, pushy, nosy, and downright violent fellow occupants of the ladies’ room have been and continue to be. So I’m going to tell the tale. (NOTE TO ALL GUY READERS: I’m basing my conclusions on my own observations, so this judgment is meant as words of warning and advice to you.)
- When faced with a private, one-person (unisex) public restroom: DO NOT repeatedly pull, yank, or try to batter down the door after you’ve tried the handle and discovered it’s locked. Your excuse? It could be locked by mistake. Yeah right. Look, the chances of a locked private restroom being unoccupied are close to zero. Trying the door once to see if it’s open or not is logical. Pulling the handle like your life depends on it is BAD. RUDE. And FRIGHTENING. I don’t know if you’re a sensitive human being or not, but when you do something like that and I’m inside that restroom, you’re terrorizing me. I’m doing my duty as quickly as I can, but I’m only human. Like you. Trying to forcibly break and enter the restroom to “hurry” me along is downright creepy, aggressive, and violent. I don’t care if you need to pee right now. If our places were reversed and it were you inside, I’d have the manners and patience to wait until you’re finished. So do the same for me and drop the jerk act. Keep in mind that some people take and need more time to “do their business” than others.
- When faced with a private, one-person (unisex) public restroom: DO NOT knock on the door or ask if anyone’s inside. Again, if the door’s locked, the room’s either being cleaned or someone’s using it. The chances of it being empty and locked by accident: near zero. Also, trying to start up a “conversation” with the unfortunate occupant: a big NO. Unless you’re my mother or someone who genuinely cares about my well-being, sod off. I’m not going to reply to some weird stranger who’s trying to contact me through a closed door. The door’s locked, I’m occupied with gastrointestinal concerns, you’ve got to wait your turn. So leave me alone. Unless I’ve spent 30-something minutes inside (and for some odd reason, you’re counting the time), you have no claim to say anything.
Okay, so we’re past the individualized, big issues. Now on to issues that concern all public restrooms and their users.
- Talking to fellow occupants — don’t do this. Unless you’ve dropped something and it’s rolled underneath my stall, or you’re talking to someone you know, don’t try to socialize with me, who doesn’t know you at all. I won’t respond because that kind of situation is beyond awkward.
- Stop talking on the cell phone while you’re in the restroom. Give me a break! Who do you think you are, that you can torment the rest of us with your loud, annoying phone conversation in a place we’re supposed to find relief?! And, um, we’re all listening to you yak on and on in the neighboring stall or sink area, so this is a mutual invasion of privacy — yours and ours. Talking on your phone in a restroom of all places just points to the kind of person you are. You don’t care about the opinions of others, you say in your defense? Start doing so, because if I were the person on the other end of that line talking to you, I’d hang up. You have no respect for others and certainly not for the person you’re talking to. You can talk on the phone anywhere else, so don’t do it in the restroom.
- Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say. When I’m in the restroom, I don’t drop paper on the floor, I don’t leave urine on the toilet, I flush the toilet and all “accessories” in it, I wash my hands, I use paper towels if they’re supplied, and I handle the door with a piece of paper on my way out. 95% of you out there ignore some or all of these steps. Instead, I’m faced in public restrooms with the most disgusting displays of uncleanliness and the most revolting messes I’ve ever seen in my life. Honestly, how can you not just flush the bloody toilet after you’re done?! What I’ve had to see in there has mortified and nauseated me. It’s like indoor vandalism, I tell you. And what the heck possesses you to strew toilet paper and/or toilet seats all over the floor?! By the way, if you have feminine “articles” you need to dispose of, put them in the trash or in the compartment inside the restroom. Don’t leave them in sight. As for washing your hands, no one can make you, but…you’re contributing to getting and spreading countless diseases, viruses, and bacteria, not to mention being incredibly lazy in refusing to do something that would take less than a minute. Hey, just justifying my attachment to sanitizer and why I’m reluctant to shake hands with you or anyone else.
- “Hovering” and loitering. The first: it’s annoying and a total invasion of private space. I’ve seen people stand way too close to my back and lean over when I’m washing my hands or waiting for an available stall. Your turn will come, so BACK OFF. When you do this unique form of intimidation, you are de facto invading my personal space and, ergo, I feel threatened. And I’m 100% sure you’d feel the same as me if I reversed the situation and hovered over you. The second: loitering, which means that unless you’re waiting for someone to finish up, leave after you’ve completed your “business.” Don’t wait around and meditate or watch the rest of us complete our tasks.
- Spying. No peeking in on me in my stall. Ever. That’s actually a crime, you know. So keep your eyes to yourself.
- Restroom photography. If I catch you doing this by a restroom mirror, one conclusion comes to mind: you’re an idiot. But it’s more serious than that: you’re breaking the law by exposing that camera or smartphone or whatever it is to the very air of the restroom and even attempting to take any photos, whether you actually do so or not.
- Remember to be considerate and have your manners in hand when you go to any form or variety of public restroom. Keep in mind that we all have to go there one way or another, and there’s no reason why the experience shouldn’t be reasonably decent. Don’t make messes, on purpose or “by accident.” Use bathroom supplies within reason. Don’t act like an ass and push yourself around because you’re such a VIP. Wait your turn. And above all, follow the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And yes, it does apply to public restrooms.
Have I missed some restroom faux pas? Or did I summarize them all pretty nicely? Share your restroom horror story and/or add-ons in the commentary box.
My final note for all who empathize with me and my sad tale: I wish I may, I wish I might…go to public restrooms without any frights.