Public Washroom Etiquette Tips

Unless you are a hermit or a gambler who knows when a slot machine is hot and ain’t about to risk leaving it, chances are you will occasionally have no choice but to use a public washroom. (That is excepting those for whom the world is a toilet – the folks who give entertainment districts their distinctive morning-after smell.) It’s not an ideal situation – there is no option of positioning a television in front of an open bathroom door as there would be in the homes of craftier bachelors, for example.

Still pub lunches and restaurants where the buffet is good value for money but only if you choose carefully mean that public facilities will continue to be disturbingly full. Here we offer 10 tips to help us all tolerate the fact that we’re laying one down within a couple of arm’s lengths of a total stranger. This is our handbook to bodily functions exercised in public — Public Washroom Etiquette Tips!

10. Mask Sounds by Flushing

This one might not win us any fans among those who promote peeing in the shower to save on water usage, but until we’re all using soundproof stalls, consideration is needed for the neighborhood when you’re paying the price for your chimichanga craving. A particularly heavy meal comes with its own musical scale and it’s one that no human ear other than your own needs to hear. Flush the toilet to ensure that at least one sensory receptor is not being harmed.

9. One Stall, One Lock

A UN high commission must condemn the one stall, one urinal and no door lock scenario. confined spaces, no urinal user (if they should use one at all – see below) should be subjected to the sundry sounds and odors ominously omitted from beyond the swinging door of the shitter saloon. By the same token, dropping a deuce is stressful enough without having to worry you’re within earshot of another user, who has invested only a fraction of the time you have setting up shop. Any bathroom with a one urinal, one stall design should have the two elements separated by enough space for a fairly athletic individual to throw a Hail Mary football pass.

8. Use Paper Towels, No Hand Dryers

Technology is not to be relied upon in the terrible world of public washrooms. Dryers are broken at least 67% of the time on average and if they’re the motion-sensing kind, you’re left flailing like you’re under attack by locusts, before realizing all hope is lost and being grateful you’re wearing dark jeans. By the same token, we take umbrage with motion-sensing taps. Pity the poor soul who has to run the gauntlet of taps before finding one that actually works.

7. Stand Back

This refers to horrific circumstances, such as outdoor concerts where port-o-potties risk being toppled by drunks and urinals in places where queues develop. Avoid these places. But if you can’t, approach the queues as if you are witnessing a building’s controlled demolition or are photographing Mount Rushmore — stand as far back as humanly possible.

6. Avoid Urinals

It’s accepted by most civilized people that urinals are no place for acknowledging the existence of other human beings. But it is our contention that urinals themselves should be avoided in favor of the vastly underrated stall pee. Man was not intended to stand so close to other men while making water in public (water sports orgies excepted), and at home men regularly urinate into toilets, so it’s inexplicable why such an alien behavior should be foisted on us outside of the home.

5. Urinal partitions

There are times when urinals are the only option – usually when something that would make big city homicide detectives grip their bellies and retch has happened in a stall. The only urinals that are acceptable are ones with partitions, with the following specs — as high as the tallest guy you know, and possibly double that depending on ceiling height, and protruding at arm’s length. It’s not a stall but it’s preferable to pissing in a trough.

4. Offer No Assistance

We’re fairly confident that this only ever happened on Seinfeld, but should someone in an adjacent stall suddenly discover that the toilet roll is empty, do not reward this lack of foresight by offering assistance. If asked for toilet paper or, say, a mint, reply, “Sure, here you go,” and when the person reaches a hand into your stall stomp on it. Nobody in that situation is going to whip up their skivvies and go to war.

3. Don’t Linger

Afterwards, just wash your hands and get out of there. The bathroom is not intended to be a social lounge where you and the rest of the Rat Pack can exchange witty barbs while styling hair and playing tournament bocce ball. It’s a matter of get in, do your business in a solemn — almost ashamed — manner, wash hands and leave. You should avoid talking to the extent that even your own mind is silenced into a meditative-like state approaching Buddhist nirvana. The only exception to this is when someone avoids washing hands. If that happens, you can feel free to say: “Hey, pigpen, the coming super flu thanks you for your efforts.”

2. Select Stall Wisely

Try to situate yourself in a stall where you are not surrounded on either side. This is of course not always possible, but it is a goal to strive for upon selecting a stall. First and last stalls in rows with adjacent stalls empty are fine. Stalls further in require units on either side to be vacant. This way you don’t have to have to stick your fingers in your ears and pretend you don’t hear — we won’t even get into smell — the person next to you celebrating the benefits of a high fiber diet. And you don’t have to relieve yourself with someone doing the same beside you like some kind of chorus line for bodily functions.

1. Home Relief

Do your best not to defecate in public places. While we have provided some guidelines here on what to do should an emergency arise, you should make an effort to confine your more offensive bodily functions to your own home, where the only ones who have to suffer are you and your family perhaps your pet gerbil whose little eyes water every time.

The Shark Guys are the authors of the new book, Tastes Like Human.