November 22, 2011

Bathroom Etiquette

Have you ever used a public washroom and against all better judgment wondered what the hell was going on in the stall beside you? 

“I don’t know and I don’t care.”

“It’s not normal,” says Stobby.

“La,la,la, la,la…I can’t hear you.” 

Scratch, scratch, scratch. It wasn’t the kind of noise that comes from running your nails through your hair or on a chalkboard. More like the sound you’d hear from an audio room of a small film production studio. I hoped to God she wasn’t brushing her teeth. 

Apart from the obvious, I found the whole scene odd because, in general, unlike the unshackled male, when women share a bathroom they try to make as little noise as possible. Number one, not such a big deal, but number two….you only hear that under the duress of flu season. The female instinct to provide everyone with a serene environment coincides with a predictable, but not definitive, behavioural pattern I’ve noticed in public bathrooms especially if the room is fully operational, sparsely populated and relatively clean. 

For example, two women arriving in a bathroom at the same time will attempt to choose toilets farthest away from each other or at least, off by one. Like on bus, you don’t sit immediately next to the only other person in it. 

This of course depends on the cleanliness of the stalls and, oddly enough, on whether the doors are open or closed. With an array of choice, a ‘client’ will invariably pick a booth with the door ajar. A door that’s closed implies a reason for it and I think I can safely say for most potty users out there, we’ve all opened a bathroom door only to find a profoundly disturbing scene lurking behind it.

Another observation I’ve made is that if the washroom is small and there is already a woman washing her hands, we will not scoot around her to check out the toilet selection. We will head immediately to the first stall. It’s nothing but politeness. 

Sometimes there’s a girl, already sitting in the very last booth, who is conspicuously quiet or coughs a lot. We all know what that means and console her by shuffling, flushing, sighing louding rushing to get the hell out of there. 

These remarks are loose but worth noting the next time you use a public bathroom. I don’t know what to say about the scratching though. I didn’t stick around to find out.  With regard to men, I can say from my experience sharing a co-ed dorm  the general discreet, courteous behaviour exhibited by females definitely does not apply. If you’ve ever had a guy you go to school with ask you to pass him some toilet paper, the experience is vastly different.


  1. Well, there's something I always wondered about, but you might be surprised; male public toilets don't sound all that different, I could go on, about the one lurking in the corner, the guy with his back half to you at the urinal, and other stuff, but quietness in there, seems similar to what you describe here - perhaps different at home, but in public.. uh uh, it's really not all that different.

  2. @SP Mount....I've always envisioned the male washroom as a much more curious place with body parts and various levels of hairiness on display.Admittedly, though I'd probably be more focused on who's washing their hands.

  3. I don't go to these place normally, but at airports and such like, anywhere really public, bars, restaurants, everybody washes their hands, and men fix their hair and look at their faces and adjust their clothe too. There are no body parts, no flashes of anything, and for the most part, everything is completely civilised, sectioned and hygienic. Again, not too different from the ladies at all; the main difference is we don't talk to each other in there, it is a not a place, like the ladies, to gossip, or whatever. Sorry if I shattered your image of the lesser half of our species. LOL

  4. @ SP Mount....really? So much for the locker room scenes in the movies.