Let Me Pee in Privacy, Please

Yes. I used the word “pee” in the header of a blog post.

But seriously? It’s because sometimes I want to have this stamped on my forehead. Okay, not my forehead, because if it was, people would have to get awfully close to me to read it, and I think by the time they were that close it would already be a major invasion of privacy. So perhaps I should say that sometimes I want to yell this through stall doors when I am trying to have a personal moment. Because it seems that more often than not, my personal moments are interrupted by some dumbass woman who is blissfully unaware that not only is the bathroom stall she is trying to enter closed but also locked and attempts to barge through anyway.

And to me? That is a cardinal sin in the 10 Commandments of Public Restroom Etiquette.

I’m well aware that I’m more…how shall we say…”Type A” than the average individual. I get upset when people write “there” when they mean “their” or when they walk on the left side of the sidewalk instead of the right (c’mon – would you drive down the left side of the road? When you are not in London? No. So why would you walk on the left side and mess with the man-made order of things?). I am irritated with incorrect pronunciations of simple (and ubiquitous) brand names (really? Ambercrombie and Finch?) and people who wear too-small watches on too-chubby wrists (okay, this has almost nothing to do with a Type A personality, but it is an irrational annoyance that plagues me daily). But even so, with all these personality quirks, I don’t think it’s too much to ask of other women that I be allowed to pee in relative privacy.

Here follows Kelsey’s 10 Commandments of Public Restroom Etiquette:
1. Thou shalt never barge into the bathroom without looking around first for other patrons and/or closed stall doors.
2. Thou shalt not choose the stall with the closed door.
3. Should there be no other option, thou shalt always elect to peek under closed doors to ensure no pair of heels, flip flops, Doc Martens (God forbid) or fabulous boots are present before entering.
4. Thou shalt always KNOCK before entering, should it be unclear on any level whether a woman is actually present in the stall.
5. Thou shalt never select the middle stall of a bank of three, thus leaving other potential patrons no other choice but to pee on either side of the middle (and now occupied) stall.
6. When available, thou shalt ALWAYS close the toilet seat lid before exiting the stall.
7. More importantly, thou shalt always FLUSH the toilet before exiting the stall.
8. However, thou shalt never use one’s foot to flush the toilet.
9. Thou shalt never speak publicly (particularly to strangers) of anything that happens in the stall to other patrons.
10. As a matter of fact, thou shalt never speak to other patrons in a public restroom. Ever.

As you can imagine, with this list of detailed commandments, I am more sensitive to public restroom situations than probably anyone else. But the thing is, it’s because I get walked in on more than anyone else. Even with all my precautions. Even when I choose the stall furthest from the bathroom door (as I’m convinced women – in a hurry – go for the nearest stall to them, which is when embarrassing moments tend to happen for less vigilant patrons than I), walk into the stall, lock the door, make a lot of noise, hang or set my purse on the door (in such a way that even if someone were to just barge in, the purse would create a modicum of resistance first, thus allowing me time to react appropriately), grab a wad of TP (thus reducing the amount of time in the stall with my pants down), do my business with a hand on the door (hopefully to keep anyone from barging in) and race to finish – even with all the time and effort spent attempting to prevent barge-ins…they happen anyway.

Case in point: my luxury hotel has a lovely public restroom that is available to our guests as well as our restaurant patrons. And considering our restaurant is one of the more popular dining spots in town, you can imagine our guest restroom gets a lot of action. As a manager in the hotel, I often elect to use this restroom to ensure that our housekeeping staff is keeping everything up to par. But this proves to be a risky move each and every time I need to use the restroom, as the frosted glass doors of the stalls are evidently very confusing to the general public. 9 times out of 10, rather than going for the open stall door nearest the door, they beeline for the ONLY CLOSED DOOR IN THE WHOLE RESTROOM, which often contains me as its occupant. Not only that, but upon attempting to open the door and finding it locked, they more often than not also continue to jiggle the handle, as though behind door #2 there will be a cash prize instead of an embarrassed – and actually, now furious – hotel manager. Why is this? The logic escapes me on every level.

And this happens to me in many other public places as well. I recently participated in the Race for the Cure, which (as you might imagine) had an overwhelming number of women entrants. Knowing this, the thoughtful staff of Qwest Field took it upon themselves to convert several men’s restrooms to women’s for this specific event. A good idea in theory, but one that proved illogical in the long run, as unsuspecting women went to get in the “women’s” restroom line and found themselves waiting 20+ minutes to gain access to a bank of 7 stalls and 10 urinals (thankfully, unused by any waiting women). Even in this scenario, in which all stalls were visibly occupied and two full lines of women were waiting on either side for their turn, I found myself having a small heart attack when some intrepid woman came to my stall to see if it was available – somehow assuming that alllllll the other women in the line were simply standing around, rather than taking advantage of an open stall. Again, I was then – as I am now – completely bewildered by this logic (or lack thereof).

So I implore you, ladies, the next time you have to pee, take a moment and look around. If you see a closed door and an open one, go ahead and take the road less traveled and beeline for the open door. It’s true that you never know what might be behind an open door…but at the very least, you already know there won’t be another woman.

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2 responses to “Let Me Pee in Privacy, Please

  1. i adore you. quick question…does rule, i mean commandment, ten still hold fast if you walk into a public restroom with a friend? I absolutely hate when strangers-or even coworkers-talk to me through the stall…but a friend i'm ok with. thoughts??

  2. Oh, of course. Stall-to-stall conversation between friends is fine. As long as it doesn't violate #9. I often choose to carry on conversation with my friends as we reside in our respective stalls…probably much to the chagrin of other patrons. πŸ™‚

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