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The Scourge of the Ladies Room

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The Scourge of the Ladies Room

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I hate to bring up something so disgustingly unladylike as bathroom etiquette—well, specifically toilet manners—but since I came across a recent item on CNN.com about a mysterious office mate at O, the Oprah magazine, who colleagues dubbed the Tinkler, I felt it was appropriate to add my thoughts about the Ms. Piggies in my own office. Or shall I say the Ms. Piggies who occupy restrooms in offices across the country. Because I don’t doubt for one second that the lack of proper toilette manners is reaching epidemic proportions and, unfortunately, those poor manners extend beyond an inconsiderate, sloppy coworker who pees on the seat. Oh no, because we’re women, it can get a lot more disgusting than that. What’s a little pee on the seat compared with….You know what I mean.

Though I don’t have much personal experience exploring men’s rooms, I believe ladies rooms rival them in terms of sheer disgustingness. We expect it from men— those macho, potty-mouthed hooligans who can’t even wash a dish, let alone flawlessly aim into a urinal. We don’t, however, expect it from women, the fairer sex, the clean future-moms who supposedly possess the innate ability to smell nice, look pretty and never, ever betray even a whiff of—you know.

All women have experienced the awesome grossness of office bathrooms. Here’s how it generally works:

You need to pee. You isolate an empty stall, gently push on the door and step in. Just then you look down to see one of three things that can be floating in a toilet bowl (I’m only speaking truth here). Your face registers horror and you quickly scurry out. If there is a coworker who just walked in standing directly behind you also looking for an open stall, you may feel inclined to say: “That wasn’t me” or somesuch statement to assure her that it, in fact, was not you. Maybe you mutter it (you never want to “protest too much”) and then make your way into another stall and repeat the scenario.

Only this time, you see a used toilet seat cover half on the seat, half in the bowl. You would think someone who uses such a nifty invention would know that the tongue of the seat cover — that thing that is supposed to dip into the toilet bowl so that it gets sucked down when you flush — doesn’t always works. In fact, it rarely works unless you…flush twice.

Of course, these scenarios only reveal the real problem: Some women simply do not know how to flush. They don’t know that they have to hold the flusher down for at least three seconds. They don’t know to wait to make sure everything goes down. And apparently, they don’t know that, Yes, they can flush twice.

And yes, I understand you don’t want to be THAT person, the one who needs to flush twice. You don’t want to step out of the stall and know that everyone in the bathroom is wondering why you had to flush twice. You don’t want to be the gal that steps out of the stall to burning stares, to unspoken accusations that you may be plagued by some third-world infection. (Otherwise, why on earth would you flush twice?!) News flash: That’s textbook paranoia. Nobody cares.

Here’s the scientific reality: The length of time you spent in the stall is more revealing than the number of times you flushed. And if you spend enough time in that stall, the probability is that whole new set of people have entered the bathroom. Translation: nobody ever really knows how long you were in there in the first place. Flushing twice is hardly memorable. Getting caught leaving a mess in the toilet? That’s the kind of memory the brain can’t erase so easily.

So please ladies, be considerate. I know you have important work to do and meetings to attend. But an extra 10 seconds in the stall could save us all.

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