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When ya gotta go…

If you're like me, and have a hard time using a public restroom when there's somebody else in there, then you probably know these thoughts and feelings all too well.

Say you're working away at your job, and it occurs to you that you need to take a leak. You walk briskly to the loo, doing your damndest not to meet eyes with anyone else along the way. Once inside, you assess the stall situation. The best public toilets, designed by the God of Restroom Architecture, have actual walls between the toilets, not the metal cubicles where there's about 2' of space at the top and 1' of space below, where anyone who walks past can see your feet. So. Are any of the toilets free? How many toilets are there, all told. Multi-toilet facilities with only two toilets are just plain evil, 'cause there's no possibility of a buffer zone between yourself and another potential toilet-user. Three-stall loos are pretty standard, and of course it is only acceptable to use the toilets on either end, except in extreme emergency, such as one end toilet being in use and the other being stopped up. The preferable toilet, obviously, is the one furthest from the door. Ideally, the pee-spiration hits you when nobody else needs to go, and you have the pick of the stalls. Unfortunately, sometimes you're getting ready to go, and somebody else comes into the restroom. If the other person is at all compassionate and civilized, she will go into the stall furthest from the one you are occupying and go about her business. If, however, she is particularly oblivious to the rules of appropriate toilet conduct, she will plonk down right there in the next stall beside yours, and horror of horrors, might even speak.

Folks, I need to tell you, the toilets are not for chatting. Chatting and pooping do not mix. Chatting and peeing don't mix either. Chatting is fine for the cafeteria, fine for the hallways, fine for pretty much any other place and time, but gosh….some things are private!

The worst-case scenario, however, is when the other person who comes into the restroom also has a “shy bladder” and makes the unwise attempt to try to pee anyway, your presence notwithstanding. Now I know what's going through this other pee-er's head, because I have been that pee-er.

“Ah, I'm sure she's just about done. No biggie, I'll just wait a little bit.”

Here, the other person unrolls some toilet paper.

You, as the newcomer to the stall, think, “Aha, the wrap-up…soon, the flush, and the restroom will be mine, all mine.”

They rattle the toilet paper roll some more, shift a bit. Flush.

“Oh good, they're leaving”

Rattle, rattle, sigh, rattle, scootch, shuffle, sigh. Wait, wait, wait, wait, sigh, shuffle.

“Oh crap, she can't pee either…should I wait until she gives up….she's been here longer…”

At this point somebody else invariably comes in, recognizes the state of standoff, and leaves.

You think, “well, mayyyyybe I can go…I sure need to, God, I wish this bastard beside me would go and get the hell out of here so I can go. Or at least quit that infernal sighing.”

You reason with yourself: “Why is it such a big deal. Everyone's got to pee, me, and this fool in the other stall. Why can't one or both of us just let loose and have done with it. It isn't like it is that big of a deal.”

Finally, one or the other of you gains mastery over a recalcitrant bladder and the peeing begins. Usually, the other person manages shortly thereafter.

Then comes the dilemma of who is going to emerge from the stall first for the hand-washing. For there is awkwardness and a tinge of resentment in the air by now, and you just don't want to look the other person in the eye across the restroom mirror.

Life is too complicated sometimes!

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