Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Violations of the Social Contract

image lifted from here

I know there are quite a few people out there who have public bathroom phobias, and I try to have sympathy, but I am not one of them. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Once I read a funny essay in The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club about the "rules" of the public restroom, and I was shocked and amazed that no one had ever enlightened me before. I thought the rules were quite simple: always flush the toilet and always wash your hands afterward. I have since added one thing to the list, which is "do not ignore the girl in the stall next to you if she sticks her hand under the divider and asks if you have any extra toilet paper, because next time it might be you over there with your jeans around your ankles hoping that you don't have to sit there till you drip dry."

Today I was in the ladies' room at Gabes (it ALWAYS smells like pee in there), minding my own business, but I couldn't help notice that the occupant of the stall next to me seemed to be literally pissing like a racehorse. I am talking the auditory equivalent of being sprayed with a firehose. This in itself did not provoke any personal judgment from me, however for whatever reason it piqued my attention, so I looked over at her shoes. They were super strappy black sandals, which I thought was kind of odd for this time of year, whatever. It was only moments later that I began to seriously dislike the girl, because I noticed she left the stall without flushing. How Rude! Then I resolved to wait till she was gone so I could go over there and flush for her. So I waited moments, and then I heard her leave the restroom - never having heard water running in the sink, I concluded that SHE DIDN'T EVEN WASH HER HANDS!

I was absolutely appalled. This kind of behavior ranks right up there with not stopping at stop signs and driving diagonally through the empty parking spaces in a parking lot as identifiers of dangerous sociopaths. Seriously.

After buttoning up (these pants my sister gave me have three buttons, I guess Lerner New York wants to make really sure my pants stay secure), I moseyed over to flush the toilet for that inconsiderate non-hand-washing trollop, and Guess What? She had also peed all over the toilet seat! GROSS.

Maybe she was hovering because she is a serious Germ-O-Phobe, I thought. But wouldn't a person like that wash her hands? I really tried to find some reasonable excuse for this woman's odious behavior, but I could not. It made me pretty angry. Good thing public toilets are sturdy, 'cause I kick flushed that puppy pretty vigorously - but I wasn't going to clean up her pee, someone who gets paid to wield a spray bottle of Clorox would have to do that part for her.

So after washing my hands (why don't they have hot water? is it so expensive to have 2 working taps on a public sink? maybe they took the hot water away from us because some people are not responsible enough to turn the water off after they are finished washing their hands. who knows? not I), I stalked out onto the sales floor, eyes cast down, and searched for the strappy black sandals. The plan was to find her, and point her out to my husband in a moderately loud voice, saying "There's the woman from the bathroom who peed all over the toilet seat and then left without flushing or washing her hands. Yes that woman Right There."

Luckily I didn't find her. I would have regretted it, if I had said those things. Someone savage enough to do what she did... who knows? She might have tried to beat me up right there in Gabes. More importantly though, it isn't my place to try to educate perfect strangers on the concepts of courtesy and personal hygiene. Is it? Why do I feel an obligation to abide by the Social Contract yet she does not? How important is it to have social rules that everyone follows? Am I some kind of fascist because I want her punished for failure to flush? These questions are still troubling me, hours and hours later.

I really need to get some sleep.


Bryan L. Smith said...

you could have taken her.

Melita said...

lol, i love this post!