Monday, October 18, 2010

Public Bathroom Etiquette, Part I

People are so interesting in public bathrooms.

Of course, there are always exceptions. But really, no one likes the people who don’t follow these customs. I don’t know why, but it seems to be true. Feel free to comment with any corrections you might have for me, this is just from my own personal observations (also meaning that the following is all about women’s bathrooms).

The stall at the end is most valuable, unless you’re in a hurry and just grab a middle stall in your rush. It is very rare that the line up begins with the first stall in the row. After the first stall is taken, the next one to be chosen will be 1-2 stalls away. The row continues to fill up in a staggered order. 

No conversation unless you’re family or REALLY good friends. And even then it’s likely to see odd or awkward- if not for you, than for others in the bathroom.

Anything said in the bathroom is listened to by everyone else, whether they know you or not, whether they’re in a stall or not.

Even if you have a pleasant conversation with a stranger while washing your hands, or waiting, it will cease immediately when you part ways, and even if you run into each other in the building later, you pretend you have never seen them before in your life and keep on with what you were doing.

Women do skip out on washing their hands when they think no one is paying attention, or at least I’ve seen this done a fair amount of times.  But if they skip out and start towards the door, and realize someone else is there, they will either turn right back around and wash their hands or get out of there as fast as possible.
If you make eye contact on accident through the mirror or some other means, smile in greeting and drop your gaze immediately.

Now, in high school, things tend to be a little more routine for women. You hit the hand dryer before you go into a stall, to drown out the noise of your bodily functions. If you happen to forget, or for any other reason don’t press the hand dryer button, then another person in the bathroom will do it for you. If the hand dryer turns off while you are still in the bathroom, you then proceed with the utmost caution in attempting to make as little noise as possible. If you see someone writing on the walls of the stall, it’s death before comment. Also, if you are using the mirror and someone new wants to use it, you move over just barely enough to let them see themselves and resume your primping (women can cram a lot of faces into one mirror). If a person walks in for the mirror, but there is no room left, you pretend you don't see her until you're finished, and then pretend to be surprised that you were in her way and act apologetic. If a girl is sitting on the floor skipping class, pretend you never saw her. Also, if a girl is crying in a stall when you walk in, don't be alarmed. It's normal.

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