Friday, November 11, 2011

Public restrooms: Not so restful

I frequently find myself trapped inside socially awkward situations struggling to breathe, it takes a lot to make me blush these days. I've pretty much done it all - toilet paper tucked into (and flapping wildly from) my waistband, essential buttons missing from my shirt without my knowledge, completely overlooked pants zippers, and (no I am not exaggerating for effect here) forgotten Velcro rollers stuck to the back of my head an hour or more into my workday.

I guess my point is - I am a heavyweight when it comes to potentially embarrassing situations. For me, embarrassment is relative: if I haven't already lived through it, I've probably lived through worse. Unless it involves ... a public restroom. Nothing disarms me quite like this communal experience every time I find myself reduced to pitiful displays of pathological germophobia and social inadequacy that only a shared stall can inflict.

First, you should know that I don't particularly enjoy "bathroom talk." I'm not a fan of body function humor, and I almost resent the necessity of having to subject my shy bladder to countless strangers on a daily basis. On top of that, nothing disgusts me more than the women's public restroom. In fact, I am willing to wager a hefty bet that the men's public restroom is generally cleaner than its estrogen-beckoning counterpart. Probably because men, in general, just take care of business without turning every experience into a social event. Women, on the other hand, turn the bathroom into their own personal playground, so that every time I try to sneak in and out in record time, I am forced through the following process:

1.    The Hunting Expedition. Why is it that most days, in a 5-stall bathroom, I'm lucky to find ONE stall that doesn't require a Haz Mat label and an Anthrax suit?

2.    The Radio City Rockette High Kick. This is a big shout out to the nonhygenic of my gender: Thanks ladies! Thanks for requiring me to do everything with my FOOT! Hitting the Flusher. Turning the sink handles. And you know that hunting expedition from number 1 above? Yeah, how many doors have you had to kick open today?

3.    The Streamers. Look, I know budget cuts have necessitated scaling back on luxuries like expensive soaps. Complimentary lotions. Toilet paper that actually gives up more than a single, one-ply square at a time. But may I ask where all the shredded toilet paper streamers are coming from? Was there a celebration I didn't know about? If so, congratulations! If not, please pick up your sandpaper confetti so I don't have to wade through it before kicking my way into and out of stall number five.

4.    The Extended Primp. I get it: you're washing your hands. You look up. Mirror alert. You smooth that one flyaway hair, and another hair pops up. Then you notice that eyeliner streak. And suddenly, what's this? A pimple? And oh lord, where are those tweezers? Before you know it, you're lost in your own personal spa day while those of us who hold our breath with the ultimate goal of escaping as quickly as possible stand quietly behind you. Waiting. For those of you who put people like me through this kind of torture, I should tell you that I'm proposing pay-by-the-minute public restrooms. And you're the reason.

5.    The Phone booth. Yes, I know. I know. We're multitaskers who never get a break. As a single non-parent who rents an overpriced "townhouse," I guess most of my multitasking occurs in the form of self-induced anxiety about things that will never happen, rather than tangibles that actually require my energy. Even so, I understand the necessity of personal calls and I sympathize with the "lack of time" phenomenon - you gotta do what you gotta do when you have time to do it. But here's the thing: Cell phone calls in a public bathroom lead to unwanted responses from those of us who assume your questions are directed at ... us. So unless you want your own personal bathroom version of Single White Female, either hold your calls or hold your bladder. Because I was raised to politely answer "I'm doing fine, thanks" when you ask "How's it goin'?" It doesn't matter whether your question is intended for me, a complete stranger on the other side of a bathroom stall, or the person in your cell phone that I am apparently (and unknowingly) interrupting.

Above all, please remember this: civilized society does not stop at the bathroom door. Be courteous. Be polite. And please, for the love of all that is holy, be quiet and be quick. Life is too short to be wasted in the bathroom.

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha you forgot the one we heard so often - women do their best work in bathrooms! Really!?! And the public fart in the middle of talking to you over the stall wall ROFLMAO


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