Bathroom Etiquette

June 28, 2007

Recently a friend sent me one of those joke emails containing a list of politically incorrect “laws” that govern a gender. In this case they were “man laws,” and one dealt with the men’s room. To whit:

Never talk to a man in a bathroom unless you are on equal footing (i.e., both urinating, both waiting in line, etc.). For all other situations, an almost imperceptible nod is all the conversation you need.

Just a few minutes ago, after washing my hands in the restroom, I and another man were both reaching for paper towels from the lone dispenser. After giving him a nod, and gesturing for him to go first I thought we following the aforementioned law. He, on the other hand, took my politeness as an excuse to talk. A lot.

My tactical mistake was to allow him to be between me and the door. Throughout my drying of my hands and then while I stood there waiting, he stood, holding the door half open, telling me all about some new hot-air hand dryer that will use “400 MPH air” to instantly dry your hands. When my lack of response didn’t cause him to stop I had to resort to crowding him and reaching for the door. Fortunately, there are two paths away from the men’s room. Pausing slightly I was able to let him choose one and then I picked the other, to effectively end his now rambling discussion of using the “same cyclonic wind tunnel technology some high-end vacuums have” to dry ones hands.

Normally I think the contents of gender specific humor emails are worthy only of being deleted, but for once I agreed with the author. I’m not trying to be anti-social, I just would rather not strike up lengthly conversations with strangers in the men’s room.

On a related note, I have successfully found a way to defeat the over-eager automatic flush mechanism now employed here at work. Wrapping a length of toilet paper around the sensor eye housing effectively blinds it to any variations in my posture that might trigger a premature flush.

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.