Thursday, January 3, 2013

How to Go to the Bathroom in Public

Wow, okay. That title may be misleading. A better one: How to Use a Public Restroom Without Being a Jerk


Using public restrooms is something that most of us have to do at some point in our day. Since most of us have to do it, it seems like a skill set we’d have down cold. Apparently not, though. So here it is, Elizabeth’s Totally Obvious Guide to Using Public Restrooms:

1. Wash. Your. Hands.* ** ***

2. If you encounter a door that doesn’t swing, always knock. After you knock, listen for at least 5 seconds before proceeding to try the handle.

3. If you are currently having a private bathroom moment and you hear a knock at the door, please, for the love of Lysol, say something. “Someone’s in here!” is perfectly fine. Also acceptable: “Occupado!” or “Just a second!” or “Congress and I are passing a bill, hold on!”

4. If you are a parent and have brought your small, ambulatory toddler into the public restroom with you, please, please, please do not let them crawl under other people’s stalls to say ‘hello.’ This is a confounding situation that leads to awkward staring. I never know what to do when this happens. Should I have a conversation with your child? Should we shake hands? It seems rude not to.

5. Be neighborly. Say, for example, you enter a stall and, realizing there is no toilet paper, move to the next stall. A few moments later, another woman enters that stall. Kindly gather a goodly bunch of toilet paper from your own roll and extend it underneath the stall at least four inches above the floor.  For goodness’ sake, ladies, that could have been your mother, your sister, your best friend!

6. The Rule of Stool: If you wouldn’t leave it sitting, unflushed, unhindered, or sitting out in your own bathroom, you really shouldn’t leave it in a public restroom for perfect strangers to experience.

7. What happens in the powder room stays in the powder room. Like Las Vegas but with more fluorescent lighting. 

*With soap.

**For at least 20 seconds, according to the Center for Disease Control. (I checked.)

***You should also scrub underneath your nails and you should turn the faucet off with the paper towel you have used to dry your hands. If you want to be extra fancy, you can use your paper towel to open the restroom door before you throw it away.

Help me out. What public restroom tip do you wish you could pass on?

love, elizabeth


Ashley said...

You're too funny, Elizabeth! :)

Amy said...

Words cannot say how much I love Rule #4. I was in Disney a few weeks ago in a bathroom and I moved my leg and apparently stepped on the hand of the small child that was crawling into my stall. We had a moment of staring before I moved my foot and he started crying. In a panic, I leaned over and pushed him (gently) on the top of the head back into the stall he was in. His mother then yelled at him.

Awkward to the extreme.

Amanda Schroeder said...

Comical. But seriously, true.

amanda @ we and serendipity

Emily said...

You crack me up :)

Allie @ Between Dreams said...

The moment where I burst out laughing: “Congress and I are passing a bill, hold on!”

I also pray that I never experience a child crawling underneath the stall to say hello. It makes me feel awkward just thinking about it!

Jenni@Story of My Life said...

This is going to be extremely disgusting, but Elizabeth, I think we are close enough for it.

I would like to contribute the rule that you should muffle any *ahem* sound effects with a bit of toilet paper so that we don't all have to hear and be embarrassed by your, umm... sound effects.

Over and out.

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