Thursday, November 4, 2010

Public Bathroom Etiquette, Part II

I asked a guy friend of mine to enlighten me on how things work in men's bathrooms. And here is the result:

Before the dawn of time, the first man paved the way for every man after by setting the Bathroom Code of Men.  It is an unwritten law that every guy intuitively seems to know when using a public restroom.

In general, whatever conversation was happening just before must end as you enter the restroom.  The basic rule of thumb is that if you do anything in the bathroom that draws attention to yourself, you are a pervert.  If you talk to another guy, you must be perverted.  If you make eye contact, you must quickly avert your eyes.  If you don't, you are perverted. 

Ignore any and all sounds in the bathroom. 

The biggest stall is the first to fill, then it doesn't much matter which someone chooses next.  The only thing is that no one chooses the stalls that have even a hint of the feces of the previous user (or yellow water, both are a no-no).  There have been cases where a line forms when there are still open stalls, just because someone dropped some toilet paper in those toilet bowls.

Urinals are different.  Given their open nature, you must choose wisely.  It is worked down to a science.  If someone has taken a urinal in a row of urinals, you need to maximize your distance from them.  But you can't choose the furthest one; that would be rude, and probably imply that they stink.  You must choose the one that puts you directly in the middle of the other person and the next occupied stall.  It's a lot like choosing a seat at the movies.  Scenario: There's a row of 6 urinals.  Someone is in stall number 1. Which do you choose?... If you chose number 4, you're right!  That leaves two open stalls on either side, giving you your space while not offending the other guy. Also: death before eye contact. 

If a man is in a bathroom, and no one is around to see him, will he wash his hands?

There are basically three schools of thought on hand washing.  There's the obsessive hand washers, the casual splash-and-go type, and the kind that will wipe his hands on his pants, check that they look clean, and go.  Most guys will at least splash some water if someone else is in the room, just for appearance sake. 

Men and mirrors are interesting.  Guys do preen in front of the mirror.  But they can't let anyone else see.  If you're checking yourself out in the mirror and the door opens, you must either start washing your hands or drying your hands.  Wait for the person to enter a stall or leave (inevitably drying your hands for a suspiciously long amount of time) then continue to preen.  You go, guy.

Understanding Human Behavior (2nd Edition)

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