Dos and Don’ts of Public Restrooms

At the performing arts center, we don’t have an employee restroom. We use the public facilities.

And I’m not talking about sharing the restroom with people coming to shows or visiting the town offices located down stairs. There’s a bus stop out front and it seems everyone waiting for a bus has to parade in and use the bathroom.

Not just use it, but inhabit it. Stand at the mirror and curl their hair, sit on the floor and charge their cell phone, completely change their outfits in the handicapped stall.

As a regularly user of a public restroom, I would like to suggest the following rules for public restroom etiquette.

1) Don’t use a stall immediately next to another person.

Why in the world would you choose the one stall next to mine if there are four other empty stalls from which to choose? Do you like peeing right next to a total stranger?

Just give everyone their space and move a couple of doors down. It’s the polite thing to do.

2) Don’t talk on the cell phone.

Have you ever been in a restroom and all of a sudden the person in another stall starts talking? At first, it’s startling. You think they are talking to you. Then it’s awkward because you have nowhere else to go and you can’t help but listen.

And people talk like they are completely alone. I have overheard fights with siblings, people reprimanding their children and, in one memorable case, what I think might have been phone sex.

Just finish your business before you make that phone call. Nothing is so important that it can’t wait three minutes.

3) Flush the toilet.

When I was at girl scout camp, the councilors would always say, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” so I understand the conservation benefits of not always flushing a toilet immediately.

But who really wants to pee into a bowl of someone else’s pee? What if it splashes up? No one likes to be splashed by a stranger’s urine. Just flush it and conserve water some other time.

4) Wash your hands.

It completely baffles me that people don’t wash their hands after using the toilet. Don’t people know about the disgusting germs on their hands?

But even if you don’t wash your hands at home, wash them in public.

You can cover yourself in pee and poo and touch everything in your own house, as far as I’m concerned, but in a public place other people have to touch the things you touch.

And they don’t want to have to get your pee and poo on their hands in order to open the door.

5) Don’t stand at the only sink and fix your hair / apply lipstick.

This probably something that only happens in the women’s room. A woman decides that she is going to stand in front of the only sink, or the only available sink, and give herself a makeover while other women wait to wash their hands.

It’s incredibly self-centered to think that your cosmetics are more important than my cleanliness.

Maybe next time this happens to me, I’ll just rub my hands clean on their back instead of waiting patiently for them to complete their beauty routine. I bet that would get them to move.

6) Don’t make “ew” noises or hold your nose.

The things people do in restrooms sometimes smell. That’s nature and everyone does it. Be mature enough to not hold you news and squeal “ew” or “yuck” when you walk in. It doesn’t make the smell go away, all it does is embarrass the person who made the smell.

7) Leave some toilet paper hanging.

I can’t even count the number of times I have scraped my hand trying to reach up into an industrial toilet paper dispenser trying to find the end of the roll. When you pull off your paper, leave the end hanging out so the next person doesn’t have to search, or spin the roll around and around hoping the end will flop down on its own. It’s only polite.

I believe if we all followed these simple and common sense rules of public restroom usage, the world would be a happier place.

At least the restrooms would be.

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