In response to the maddening restroom etiquette of some of the people here at the law college, I am going to go through several potential situations, and discuss the proper etiquette. The hypothetical restroom is exactly like several such rooms in the law school: there are two semi-private toilets, two sinks, and three urinals as shown:
In every situation, you have to pee (really bad). Where do you go?
1. No one is in the restroom.
2. Someone is using urinal C.
3. Someone is using urinal A.
4. Someone is using urinals A and C.
5. Someone is using urinal B.
6. Someone is using urinals A and C, and both toilets.
Write down your answers (or don’t, I don’t care).
1. Did you answer A? If you did, you were right. Urinal C would be acceptable, but due to its lower height it has lower status, and whether or not you’re the alpha wolf, you pee on the biggest tree in the forest when no one’s around. If you answered B, then you were dead wrong. Give everyone else a little room to breathe. Some of you may be appalled that someone would actually use B, but believe me that some people do. It’s maddening, isn’t it?
2. This should be easy after doing the first situation. The correct answer is A. Not only does this give you breathing room, but you retain all of your dignity. If you answered C, however, something is seriously wrong with you. I don’t care how short the other guy is and how tall you are, it’s never polite to read over someone’s shoulder, and it’s even worse to pee over their shoulder. (No, I’ve never seen this, but I wonder about some people.)
3. If you answered C, then congratulations! It gives you a little breathing room, and it’s only a step down on the totem pole. Unless you think the place you pee is going to have some effect on your mating prospects, then it’s no big deal. If you answered B, then you need to bitch-slap yourself. There’s a lot more dignity in peeing in a low urinal than there is in getting next to another man’s unsheathed member.
4. This is where it gets tricky. If you said you would go to one of the toilets, then you’re well on your way to being a polite restroom-user. If you forgot the toilets were there, don’t sweat it. Just keep in mind that at home you pee in a toilet all the time. If you didn’t forget, but picked B anyway, then you made the wrong choice, friend. I’m here to help you, but there’s only so much I can do. And remember to lift the freaking seat before you pee, you filthy animal.
5. OK, you’re right, this guy is being impolite. By now you know you’re supposed to use a toilet, but when you do, don’t slam the door because you’re mad at the other guy. Just let it slide, and maybe gently inform him of his error (this is something I never have the guts to do). At the end maybe we’ll talk about other possible solutions to this problem.
6. Yes, we are in a real pickle now. Many of you, thinking you had no other options, probably picked B. That was wrong. You should never, under any circumstances, use urinal B. (Unless you’re going to pee in your pants. In that case, think ahead a little bit next time. You’re not five years old anymore. Actually that’s another good reason to leave urinal B open, just in case someone’s going to piss himself.) The correct answer is that you should wait for the next open urinal, or, in the alternative, leave the restroom and come back later or look for another restroom. If you said you’d pee in one of the sinks, then you really need help.
ConclusionUrinal B is simply ornamental, a buffer zone between you and the next guy. In fact, if I had my way they wouldn’t even be equipped with plumbing. OK, maybe that’s asking for trouble. So let’s just put a plant there instead. No . . . some people will still pee in there. Trash cans have the same problem. Maybe we’ll just put up a sign there that says “This space designated as a buffer zone.”
So the question is: what do we do about people that don’t follow the rules? I’m tempted to post up an “out of order” sign over urinal B. If people take it down, then carry one with you and post it up every time you go. Or you could just subtly talk to people, saying “Hey, don’t you hate it when someone uses the middle urinal?” Or you could direct them to the URL of this post. E-mail it to every man in your address book. (Oh, the shameless propaganda!)
So, to test your knowledge, let’s try two more. In the first of these, assume any of the above situations, but there are dividers between the urinals. Think about your answer.
Ready? The dividers make no difference! You’re still too uncomfortably close to the next guy if you use B.
In the second new hypothetical, assume there are nine urinals, lettered A through J. Someone is using urinal A. What do you do?
Ready? You should have answered J. You may feel safe taking C, or E, or G, but you should always put as much of a buffer between you and the next guy. Using H or F or D is reducing the number of usable urinals, and that’s a big no-no. If you were wondering why there is no urinal I, well, that’s just a silly question. Everyone knows there’s no urinal I.
Am I just crazy? Am I just being insecure? Let me know what you think.
One last thing: wash your hands when you’re done!