Sunday, January 14, 2007

Restroom Etiquette

(A special post for Sunday Scribblings ....this week, we are talking about IDEAS. In the below, you will see how a real life situation gets you to wondering....which leads you to another place you wouldn't have gone...which is really how most ideas happen. Be present....notice....process...think of related situations....IDEA!!!)

I stepped into a public restroom this week
- was the MEN'S! It is where people of my gender properly...uh...well....hmmm...."go."

As I walked through the door - I was greeted by a little girl standing there. I would guess that she was about 3 or 4. I gave her a slight smile to acknowledge her as a person but that was it. I just didn't think it was right for me to strike up a conversation with a 4 yr old girl in a men's public bathroom.

The brain is astounding on how quickly it processes information - in the blink of an eye, my mind saw, "this is out of the ordinary. She must be in here waiting for her dad." Instinctively, I glanced over at the urinal and, from the back, I saw a man of an age and ethnicity that matched up leading me to, in a flash, conclude that I had a father-daughter match.

I went about my business - but as I had time to stop and think, I pondered, "are there posted rules somewhere in society about this situation?"

While we live in dangerous times to leave children outside unattended - we also live in weird times when we have people accusing people of different sex violations. Public bathrooms can be caldrons for that. I suppose that is why we have seperate places for men and women.....and also why I wasn't going to communicate any more than the minimum eye contact with that little girl.

At what age can a man no longer take his daughter into that bathroom? - we saw just this week how a young boy in Missouri was kidnapped. He was 13 (thankfully, he was recovered) so 13 year olds get kidnapped.

What is a guy supposed to do when nature calls and he is out with his 10 yr old daughter - should he have her wait outside the men's room? If he should have her outside, where is the inside/outside line? 9, ,8,7,6 etc....?

I don't know what the etiquette is - now, just so you know, it really doesn't matter to me personally who is in my bathroom. I am there on a mission to get in, get out, and get on with my day.

Yet, I decided to ponder a bit further - what about the assistance issue? Now, we get to the other end of the spectrum.

My late mother would be 87 yrs young right now - ....our elderly commonly have incontinence problems.

So, let's suppose my mother was still alive (...that would be a big HappyUP!! for me) - and I was taking her on errands.

First, you would thank me that I was taking her and she wasn't driving on the same street that you are - but, beyond that, let's say that as we got done with a piece of business she looked over to me and said, "Whoopsie." Basically, I would be there with a near-90 yr old with a load on.

What would I do? - do I, a grown man, take her into the women's bathroom to help her freshen up?

I posted that question to three women in my office - "Heck NO! YOU do not go into that women's bathroom!!!"

" I should take her into the men's?" - to which they responded, "of course!"

I then asked, - "OK...let's say my sister-in-law is out running errands with my father and she runs into the same situation. According to your line of thought, she should take him into the women's? In other words, you go into the appropriate bathroom to the Wiper and not the Wipee?"

The ladies responded - "NO! She should take him into the men's!"

It was at that point that I realized - no answer would be obtained to this issue in front of this particular forum......and that, next time I open a fun little can of worms, I need to have a more gender balanced panel in which to pose the question.

...and, no, Mr Smartalec, the answer to where you take the elderly is not - "Depends!".....those need changing too!.


Liza's Eyeview said...

You got me thinking ... but I still have have an idea on what is the best approch to these scenarious. :)

Tiffany said...

These can be difficult situations. thankfully, there are family bathrooms in many places now. One large room, usually with changing tables for babies. They would be perfect for helping an elderly parent or when your with a young child.

paris parfait said...

That's an interesting point (very well stated). I often see little boys in the ladies' room with their moms, but I've never thought about the issue of fathers/daughters being out together and what the protocol would be vis a vis le toilette!

Anonymous said...

If this should happen again use the stall out of respect for the female child. If they come in the restroom or leave the stall to wash hands while your urinating, be discreet as possible, again out of respect for the young female.