Bathroom Etiquette According to Me

Psst. Over here.  Yeah, I’m talking to you.

Got a second? I’ve got to tell you something personal that’s been weighing on my mind. Okay, here’s the thing and don’t freak out. I’ve got two words for you:

Bathroom etiquette.restroom

If you ask me, there are two kinds of people in the world.

1) Those who don’t mind talking to others while doing their business in a public restroom.

2) And those who do.

Know what I’m talking about? Well, consider me among the latter. In other words, to me, using the restroom is such a private matter that I’d rather not talk to you or anyone. It’s nothing personal.  If I enter the restroom, and you’re already there, perhaps washing your hands (thank goodness!) and about to leave, no need to say “hi.”  I know you’re there. I see you.  I just would rather pretend I don’t.

For, when I enter the bathroom, all I want to do is make a beeline into the first available stall and do my business. I like thinking I’m alone and not in a crowded room. Even if there’s a line for the toilets, in my head, I don’t see anyone. It’s just me and the rest of you are all a blur.

So, please don’t even try to speak to me after I’ve closed the door to the stall. I’m not trying to be rude or anything. Suffice it to say, I won’t even talk to my daughter once inside. Frankly, now’s not a good time to talk about what happened last night at the party you were at, or whether the rain is going to interfere with my plans for the weekend. I don’t need any distractions or awkward conversations. Maybe I’m peculiar in this way, but it’s just the way I am.

Because if you ask me, if we were meant to talk about what-not when doing our business, then the walls of the stalls would be made of clear glass. Or, maybe there wouldn’t be any stalls at all, except one large room with a bunch of toilets. And maybe, to encourage conversation, the toilets would be in a circle, so we could all face each other and chat to our heart’s content. Maybe there’d even be electrical outlets so we could charge our cell phones while we gab away with friends we haven’t spoken to since who knows when. But if that were the case, I’d start relying on Depends or looking for the nearest bush.

This is not a party, after all.  You’re going to the bathroom for one reason and one reason only, and you know to what I am referring. We’re not dining out at a restaurant, not dishing at the laundromat. And, this certainly isn’t a coffee shop, though it was probably going to a coffee shop, and having that super large latte, that brought you here in the first place.

Frankly, I don’t know why some people like talking to each other through the stalls during what should be the most private of moments.  There are folks who are quiet all day long, but go in the bathroom and, Lord help us. They’re shouting from the rafters, asking you for your recipe for chocolate chip banana bread, and peeking under the stall to get a better look at your new shoes, as they try to guess where you bought them. (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating.)

So, now you know. This is my bathroom protocol in a nutshell: Save us a lot of pain and leave me be.

I am happy to talk to you when we’re back on the outside, away from the sound of flushing toilets, knowing that our hands have been washed, our teeth have been checked for specks of lettuce from the salad we ate at lunch, and a fresh coat of lipstick has been applied. We are ready to go back into the world again.  Five minutes of peace, that’s all I ask. Maybe 10, depending.

Respect the space, follow the ettiquette. And, when we’re finished, talk all you want. I’m all yours.

Enough said.

51 thoughts on “Bathroom Etiquette According to Me

  1. Lol! Guilty as charged for TWP (Talking While Peeing), though mostly I will follow a g-f’s lead – I don’t START talking when the butt hits the seat.

    And I think everyone would agree that “OMG, please tell me you’ve got toilet paper you can share” is always acceptable bathroom talk.

  2. Chatting over pee. Eew, and eew. I feel your pain, Monica! There’s nothing that urgent. Unless you and I have entered the bathroom to chat because it’s the only place we can have a private conversation, which I doubt very highly, then we have nothing to talk about in the bathroom. I’m there to handle my personal, already inconvenient, business. Please, and thank you! 🙂

  3. This was priceless! But I gotta tell ya: as an HR professional, the fastest way to get a company rumour going is to talk about it in the ladies room. Gal to gal, stall to stall 😉

    • And that about sums up the problem, Thoughtsy. Chatting in the bathroom opens up a whole new can of worms as to proper etiquette. Do you wait to flush because if you do it while she’s talking, then you’ll miss what she’s saying. Do you ask her to hold her thoughts so you can flush? And, is there an awkward moment while you’re both waiting for the flushing sound to end? Too much to consider!

  4. Being from the south, and being from a very talkative family, I must admit that I have talked in the bathroom. Heck, I haven’t stopped talking since I learned to speak. I would probably talk to the Pope during prayer – well – that might be a stretch, but you know what I mean. Sorry Monica. If you come to NC, I promise to stay silent if I see you in the restroom – well – that might be stretch too. I’ll only speak quietly and you’ll probably laugh!

    • Renee, I’ve been known to make exceptions for just about any of my rules, so I’m happy to oblige your chatterbox ways. I’ll listen, just don’t expect an answer right away… 😉

  5. Okay, Monica, I may be late getting here, but I’m glad I didn’t miss this post. How hilariously true! Seriously! I’m with you on this one! And when you come visit us in Ecuador, I promise not to talk to you through any bathroom door–and I’m comforted to know you will do the same! Here’s to private peeing–even in public places!

    • Kathy, I hope your moving plans are going well. I so appreciate you taking time from selling your home, to stop by. Writing this particular post was a hoot. It’s been interesting to see where everyone falls on the talking/no talking bathroom protocol. Glad you agree with me!

  6. I’ll never forget when daughter handed me the portable phone while I was you know where. “Pleeeeez”…I wanted to scream…”can’t you see I’m busy?”…but alas, the line was open…yes, I took the call, but I had to inform her after the call, do not, do not open the door and hand me the phone! Great post!

  7. I can only remember talking while in a stall twice in my life. Once was with an auditor at work – that was wierd. For the most part, the companies I’ve worked for have mostly employed only a handful of women, so it is rare to run into someone when using the restroom.

    When I was much younger and going out with my friends – it was a different story. We had many conversations in the restroom and I doubt if we cared whether we were in a stall.

    • Savvy, my workplace is the opposite. Mostly women. So you can imagine how hard it can sometimes be to avoid conversation. Besides, people you know in a professional way, when it comes to the restroom, feeling awkward is all too common.

  8. Monica, I’ve had many people talk to me when I’m in the bathroom, I will not answer, I will not acknowledge, I don’t even want to know if the Queen is visiting, as much as I love the royal family. If I go with my friends, then we wait outside until we are all done. No talking in the loo for me, not even when I’m washing my hands. You made me laugh so hard at this because I have similar questions… A round table loo for all… Haaaa. I love it.

    • MM, I love how this post has brought out both sides of the issue. Now this is the kind of thing the candidates should argue about during presidential debates. Think how much more fun it would be to watch? 😉

  9. Oh Monica, thank you. I totally agree with all you said. In fact, one of my recurring dreams is that I have to go to the bathroom in a public place, and each restroom I go into is just like the one you described–no stalls, only toilets! Oh wait, there are ones with stalls but those ones are all backed up and, um. GROSS…. Hmm… now you’ve got me psychoanalyzing myself about these dreams…. Fear of being exposed? Wow. Thanks for the therapy session!

    • Michael Ann, I have that dream all the time, that I need to go to the bathroom and there are no doors on the stalls. And usually what it means is that my body is trying to wake me up because I really REALLY need to go to the bathroom!

  10. Monica, I confess that I too see other bathroom contenders in a blur. However, this is not the case if I’m in the company of my mother or sisters. If this is the case, bathroom time becomes fiesta time and we will exchange banter like you can’t imagine! Unless there’s other people in the bathroom–then we try to speak in a lower tone of voice–but we still speak! hee hee! That said, I shall be utterly silent if ever we go on a bathroom break together! Hugs for you and Sir Henry from Roxy and me! 🙂

    • Wow, Bella, I’m glad you found a way that works for you. Sounds like a fun time to be had in the women’s room. 😉 Now, imagine if we were just like Henry and Roxy, going outside? Too funny, right?

  11. So funny, Monica. I used to feel the way you do, but thought I was the only one, so I never said anything to people who would converse with me while in the stall. I’m glad to see there are others among us :>)

      • I don’t converse with perfect strangers in public restrooms, but I don’t mind if people talk. I just wanted to be polite to your feelings instead of pressing differences. By the way, I generally have a cat in my lap when I’m on the home toilet! 🙂

  12. Monica, this is sooo true! When I worked in offices, inevitably women would enter the restroom and start chatting. I’m with you — give me a few minutes’ peace and when I’m done, then we can visit. It’s bad enough that Darling Doggie follows me into the bathroom. Every. Single. Time. You’d think he’d know by now why I’m going in and that his services really aren’t required!

  13. I actually can go either way on this one. I appreciate the little break and quiet much of the time. I have also done the “girl” thing and escaped to the bathroom to dish on something I didn’t want to share with the rest of the table. Of course sharing in the bathroom means sharing with EVERYONE who’s in the bathroom so I do try to be aware of who else is in the space, I know that’s not universally true. The things I’ve heard! Maybe it’s a background thing. My Mom hardly ever shut the door at home and always talked. I’ve had plenty of not so pleasant conversations with nurses while sitting on a bedpan or commode. I have a son with mobility issues who sometimes needs help (and the two of us in a bathroom is really outside of your comfort zone). You do what you need to do. That’s what the room is for after all.

    • Girls love chatting in the bathroom, and I’ll do it if they have an attached lounge. I don’t mind sitting in there for a few minutes and talking there, away from the toilets, smells and such.

  14. Monica,
    You’ve out done yourself my dear! So clever. I hate it too. And don’t talk to me during my massage either. I’m not your therapist. This is my time.:)

    • I chatter my head of with my masseuse. Maybe she’s my therapist. She takes the hint of the client to talk or not and says she has a mixture of talkers and nontalkers. Personally, I wondered whether those of us who live alone are more inclined to want to chat than those who are escaping busy lives.

    • I don’t get massages but I imagine that would be annoying. Even when I get my hair done, I’m not in the mood for small talk. It’s one of the rare times I can zone out or read my magazine. Sometimes, I end up falling asleep and catching much needed Z’s!

  15. Okay, I won’t talk to you… lol.
    I don’t care to talk to people in public bathrooms either but I do throw dirty looks at abled-bodied people who used the handicap stall to do something stinky if I have to wait a long time.

  16. I don’t mind useful exchanges at the sink and mirror when I’m washing up or tidying my hair. (“That faucet doesn’t work,” or “The soap dispenser is empty.”) I might even ask someone what shade of lipstick she’s wearing. And I’m happy to pass some toilet paper under the stall wall for you. We all forget to check the roll sometimes, usually on the day we don’t have tissues in our purses. But please, please, please don’t talk on your cell phone anywhere in the ladies’ room. That makes me crazy.

  17. Over here one thing has always puzzled us mere men for years, why do women go to the bathroom or as we call it here the toilet in pairs? We can never work that out.

    I know what you mean though some people treat it as a social occasion especially when it’s a group on a night out and several go at the same time.

    As for them using phones whilst there well that’s a whole new story, I mean what do they say to the people on the other end of the phone when they flush? Do they say they are by a waterfall?

    I treat going the same way as I do shopping. I go in do what needs to be done then straight out again. In a restaurant not too far away from here in the gents they have satellite TV showing the sports channels, I ask you!!!!!

  18. Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    This is funny and OH SO TRUE. I am a card carrying member of the second group, which I have titled the “Leave Me The Samuel L. Jackson alone when I’m in the bathroom” group….public bathroom or home bathroom.

    Thank you Ms. Monica for this post!!

  19. You have touched my heart and soul with this one. I don’t see you or anyone else. Don’t talk, don’t even smile. I don’t hear you. Please, leave your phones somewhere else, no one and I do mean you missy, is so important they must carry on a conversation while carrying on the business of their nether regions. EWWWW

    Men do this, they talk. Women, we just don’t or at least we shouldn’t.

  20. I agree with everything you have said. I also do not like people who are talking on their cell phones while doing their business. Especially if those people sometimes call me, because I do not want to imagine them talking to me while they are doing their business…

  21. I never really see folk I know in public restrooms. I don’t talk either, mainly ’cause I don’t like going in them in the first place. Now that you bring this up, I have notitced how intense folk seem to be when handling their business. I wonder if I have that look took.

    Glass stalls and a circle of commodes for talk time? I’d have to hold it ’til I got home.

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