I GOTTA GO NOW!

by admin on July 2, 2013

This happened on the weekend. I’m laughing about it now, but at the time I was so upset I was shaking. I was at the grocery store and I had an intense need to visit the bathroom. I have symptoms of IBS, and sometimes I just can’t hold it until I get home. This grocery store has two nice, clean bathrooms, one male and one female for public use. Each has a toilet and a sink and a lock for the door to the hall. I had just sat down when someone knocked on the door, and rattled the handle. I said, “I’m sorry, it’s occupied!”,  and proceeded with my business. This older woman proceeded to rattle and knock and ask if “I was OK” and if “I needed any assistance” the whole time I was dealing with cramps and trying to focus on my objective. I told her to use the other bathroom, as it has a lock, and to please leave me alone, I’m busy! I have no idea what she was planning on “assisting” me with, I have been quite capable of wiping my own butt since I was 4! She was still waiting when I exited the bathroom, and I told her that it was extremely rude to rush people who were trying to use the washroom, and why didn’t she use the other unoccupied washroom if she had to go so bad. She just huffed at me. I hope she enjoyed the atmosphere, as there wasn’t time for the fans to”clear the air” so to speak.  0702-13

It’s tempting to start a new category on EHell called “Poop culture”.    Anyway,  are you sure you weren’t loud enough to cause concern for anyone within hearing distance of the bathroom door?  A few unintentional grunts and groans as if you were in labor?   Nonetheless, if you gotta that badly, better to use the men’s bathroom than to spread the urgency to others.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

MichelleP July 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Absolutely hilarious, although I’m sorry it happened to the OP. I have to respectfully disagree with admin that it would be better to use the men’s room. How would that stop “the spread of urgency”? It was fine for the woman to ask one time if the OP was ok. It was not fine for her to try the door and ask repeatedly.

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NostalgicGal July 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I am not too proud to use the other sex bathroom if I really really NEED and nobody else is using it or waiting for it.

It was a bit rude of the lady outside the door once finding the room was ‘occupied’ . Polite is wait your turn or find somewhere else to go.

You weren’t in the wrong, OP, you were there first and you were ‘taking care of business’ not dawdling around or otherwise “wasting” time in there.

I was taught if a door to a rest room is closed (single stall/room) to knock first and inquire, if someone indicates it’s being used, you settle in for the wait. If at home, whether mine or someone else’s… still, knock first.

I have medical issues that sometimes it’s really sudden I need NOW and I just have to deal with if that doesn’t happen! I also try to make sure I didn’t leave more of a mess than I found (aka clean up after myself) and I can’t believe some disasters I find others leave behind!

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another ibs sufferer July 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I totally know how the OP feels, and it’s the kind of thing that I don’t think non-IBS sufferers can quite understand. Until you’ve spent a few hours crying in a bathroom, anyway!

I do agree with the Admin, though – it’s easy to make sounds of distress that you don’t realize you’re making. I woke up my mother once when I had a bout of symptoms when I was visiting her and she did almost the same thing the older woman in the story did – pounded on the door, asked if I was okay, did I need help or an ambulance? She thought I was dying! I assured her that, no, crying and praying in the bathroom at 4 am is a normal part of my life.

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Stacey Frith-Smith July 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Glad you can laugh, OP! Really, though- this woman was a “character”! One remark should be enough to assure anyone that you are functional and thereafter it might be best to ignore her altogether. Thank Heaven for sturdy locks.

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Jinx July 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I guess I could possibly understand asking if you needed assistance (maybe you had suddenly gotten violently ill?) but once. I mean, asking more than that is kind of really odd and rude unless she was a doctor, and you were in a hospital. Since you weren’t, after you had already responded once to this lady, she really should have let you have some peace.

Stuff happens. I’ve been in the situation of the person waiting, and if I really have to go and the female bathroom is occupied, I use the men’s (assuming private bathrooms) — and I don’t even have a legitimate issue, I just don’t see the point in segregated single toilet bathrooms (and I’m bad at waiting).

Whatever her intentions were: asking once is completely understandable. Repetitively knocking (and drawing attention to the fact that you’ve been in there awhile) is rude and should only be attempted by badge-carrying bathroom police.

I’m sorry this bizarre situation happened to you, but it does give me time to come up with some hilarious responses if I were ever to get into a situation where someone kept knocking after I already let it be known that the bathroom was occupied.

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Lo July 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Being rushed by strangers while in a public bathroom is the WORST

In the other woman’s position I would definitely use the men’s bathroom if the ladies was occupied and I really couldn’t wait, rather than harass the person the stall.

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La July 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Am I the only one who gets bugged when identical all-in-one toilets are gendered? They’re functionally the same! But for some reason people are willing to cause a long queue for the ‘correct’ toilet rather than use the open toilets that are RIGHT THERE! It’s ridiculous, really.

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Chilli July 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm

As a fellow sufferer of IBS I understand your pain! One time I was entering as a mom and two daughters were exiting. It was clear that she had let her kids lock the stalls and crawl out from underneath. Fortunately I was able to unlock it with my my pocket knife, but who lets their kids do that?

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megan July 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I’m not sure I understand the answer here. How would using the men’s room instead of the women’s make this situation any less uncomfortable?

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admin July 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Honestly people, do you really think I’m telling the OP to use the MEN’s bathroom when the WOMEN’s room was open and available to her? The second woman, if she had to go that badly that she’s banging on the door, should use the available MEN’s bathroom. This is a no brainer….hmmm, the bathroom is not available, I need to go NOW, no one is in the MEN’s so I’ll go there. You don’t risk a catastrophic and embarrassing natural disaster because some hypothetical man may need to use the toilet. In public restrooms, there is no right to a bathroom….if all available stalls and restrooms are occupied, you deal with it as best you can and if that means tripping over to the MEN’s, you do it. It’s not like you’ll turn into a man if you use the Men’s bathroom nor should you be scarred for life if you happen to see a urinal. Don’t want to use the men’s? Then be quiet and wait your turn at the ladies.

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Yvaine July 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I’m afraid I don’t understand the suggestion to use the men’s bathroom. A man could just as easily need the restroom while it was occupied.

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admin July 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Isn’t it plainly obvious that if the women’s bathroom is occupied (by the OP) and if there is a second woman in desperate need of the facilities that the empty men’s bathroom is available to use?

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Cami July 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Well, last week I did alert a flight attendant to the fact that a young woman had gone into the airplane lavatory nearly 30 minutes prior and had not emerged. I did so because I was concerned that she had become ill and needed help since she was not responding to any knocks on the door from people also anxious to use the restroom. It turned out she was monopolizing the bathroom by sitting there listening to her ipod to get away from her parents. The FAs were not amused.

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April Damon July 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I don’t mean to sound rude but I am completely confused by the last statement. Should the OP have used the men’s bathroom and, if so, why? A gentleman in the store might need to use the bathroom just as urgently and may not appreciate finding it occupied by a female. The women’s bathroom was available and was used for its intended purpose. It’s unfortunate that another female had to wait but life is rough sometimes and she could have always used the men’s bathroom. Hopefully, that’s what admin meant by that statement. :)

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Mae July 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm

OP- I feel for you. My son has IBS and sometimes you have no choice but to rush to the nearest bathroom. It can be uncomfortable for some people to “poop” in public restrooms and all the knocking, rattling and offers of assistance can be quite disturbing.

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Kimstu July 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I sympathize with the LW’s irritation at what was either the extremely rude pushiness or the extremely rude cluelessness of the restroom pest. The only polite response to hearing “I’m sorry, it’s occupied!” from inside a public restroom is “Oops, sorry!” followed by silence.

MAYbe if the occupation lasts a further ten minutes or more, the person waiting would be justified in timidly knocking again and asking “Excuse me, are you all right? Would you like me to call somebody or get some help?”, on the assumption that nobody would be tying up a public restroom that long except in case of a genuine crisis of some kind. Otherwise, though, the current occupant has “squatter’s rights”, so to speak, and no attempt should be made to nag or guilt them into a speedier exit by addressing them through the locked door.

That said, I’m afraid that the LW was also rude in this case, although to a lesser extent. She should not have given the restroom pest unsolicited advice about using the other restroom, and she ESPECIALLY should not have rudely scolded the pest about her rude pestering on exiting the restroom.

Probably the best course would have been to keep on calling out cheerfully every now and then “Sorry, it’s occupied!” or “I’ll be out in a moment!”, or just ignore the pest’s pestering, as though you couldn’t quite hear what she was saying. Etiquette does not obligate people—in fact, it generally forbids people—to carry on conversations with strangers while going about their business in a restroom. Then when you come out, smile pleasantly but don’t stop to exchange views.

In particular, there’s never any need to apologize either for having been in the restroom when somebody else wanted to use it, or for having left any unavoidable traces of your presence, such as a charged atmosphere (of course, you should remove any traces of your presence that you CAN remove). A public restroom exists to serve the public’s eliminatory needs on a first-come-first-served basis, and it’s in no way rude or thoughtless to use it for its intended purpose.

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smarlo July 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I was at a department store recently and there was a 4 person line for the one-at-a-time Ladies Room while the Men’s was unoccupied.

I sure did use the Men’s, much to the horror of the other “ladies” in line.

What is the big deal people??

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Cj July 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I think she meant that the smell (from the business done) would go less noticed in the mens room.

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La July 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm

@admin

Surprisingly, no. It’s like in the Sims, if you put down a gender-marked door, Sims won’t go through it – and humans act exactly the same way even when it makes absolutely no sense to do so.

I was in a restaurant once that had 10 individual toilet units – one loo, one sink, one dryer in a small room – half marked male, half marked female. The hallway was off another hallway which lead to the kitchen. The queue for the female toilets was so long it was impeding the waitstaff’s kitchen access. I went in the men’s, and the looks on the faces of the queue members was shock and horror.

As far as I can tell, no-one thought of cutting down the epic queue by using all the available toilets.

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Jays July 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Admin, I also misread your statement as that the OP should have used the men’s room and it caused brief puzzlement until I realized what you meant. I think it was confusing because you went right from “you” referring to the OP to “you” referring to the other women within the same paragraph. Apparently others felt the same way. It was not plainly obvious.

“Anyway, are you sure you weren’t loud enough to cause concern for anyone within hearing distance of the bathroom door? A few unintentional grunts and groans as if you were in labor? Nonetheless, if you gotta that badly, better to use the men’s bathroom than to spread the urgency to others.”

I also have IBS. I can grant that the other woman made have originally had good intentions, but she should not have persisted. Speaking for myself, that pressure would have, err, just slowed things down. :P

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catherine July 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Hi, I’m the OP, and I can assure you there wasn’t any vocalizations LOL! The only difference between the mens bathroom and the ladies is the sign on the door. It doesn’t have a urinal. I had to pass it as I went down the hall and almost entered it until I saw the sign. I was in there for maybe 5 minutes, and this lady kept up her tirade the whole time I was in there, it was quite hard to relax and concentrate. I was very polite for the first 4 minutes, and then I was resorting to “please go away” and “leave me alone, I’m fine”. It was a mortifying situation as she was very loud and it was a short hallway to the main part of the store. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to her as I left, but it was rude and humiliating and at this point I was close to tears.

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Becca July 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm

That makes far more sense, Ms. Admin. I think the confusion stems from the pronouns– the “you”s preceding the last sentence refer to the LW, but the “you” in the last sentence refers to the rude lady (more or less). I read all the “you”s as referring to the LW, too, and wondered the same as earlier posters did!

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VR518 July 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm

“Nonetheless, if you gotta that badly, better to use the men’s bathroom than to spread the urgency to others.”

It was this last line that people are referring to. Coming in at the end of the part that was addressed to the OP, people thought that this last line was referring to her as well. If this line was intended for anyone in the position of the woman on the outside who was knocking, it should have been worded more clearly. No here said they fear they will turn into a man if they use the men’s room, but there are other issues involved, such as what if a man or more than one man come there to use the restroom and see a woman coming out. At the least, they will be confused and at the worst, they will be angry that a woman was using it, even though the women’s room was occupied.

I don’t know about the experience of the other posters here but, in some of the schools I attended and in some stores I use, the men’s room is usually filthy and sometimes not maintained well – told to me by men who used these facilities. That would put me off using one, even if I had an emergency.

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smarlo July 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I think some people would rather wet their pants than use the “wrong” bathroom!

Like the Potty Cops will catch them!

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Marozia July 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm

As a medical typist, I do understand what IBS is like.
Certainly OP had to go urgently. The other woman should’ve waited her turn, BUT not banged on or rattled the door. How gauche!!!! She should’ve used the unoccupied MEN’s.

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Cat July 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm

The knocking lady reminds me of teenagers at a party who would wait until someone went into the bathroom and then start to chant, “We know what you’re doing!” over and over.
Once you told her it was occupied, what you were doing in there did not concern her unless you indicated that you were in need of assistance because you had gone into labor or were about to lose consciousness..
And I agree with admin. If it’s an emergency, use the gentlemen’s facility without dawdling and go on your way.

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LovleAnjel July 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I feel for the OP. I have IBS and am pregnant, so I have urgent needs quite often! Also, my lower half is “shy” and other people talking can make things so much worse. I am sorry to say I would probably just yell at the lady in frustration, to be quiet when she kept rattling the door. What possessed her to keep doing that?

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Barbarian July 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm

The woman outside the door should have backed off after OP said she did not need help. It’s Ok to politely inquire if someone has been inside for a long time, but not to create a commotion. A few weeks ago I did see a news story that described how a female customer had died inside a restroom and a male employee was not allowed to go in there to check out the situation despite his concern. Also, children have been molested and killed in public restrooms.

I can sympathize with OP – years ago while I was in an in-office restroom, a customer called. Two incredibly juvenile female office staff (hired for their looks and not their brains) stood outside the door yelling for me to take the call even though I could not have been there less than five minutes. Thereafter, I always used the building’s public restroom outside the office suite. Other office tenants felt sorry for me that I had to work with such clueless folks.

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Anonymous July 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

>>I was in a restaurant once that had 10 individual toilet units – one loo, one sink, one dryer in a small room – half marked male, half marked female. The hallway was off another hallway which lead to the kitchen. The queue for the female toilets was so long it was impeding the waitstaff’s kitchen access. I went in the men’s, and the looks on the faces of the queue members was shock and horror.<<

@La–That just sounds like poor planning on the part of the restaurant. I heard somewhere that, in order for men and women to have equal bathroom facilities, women actually have to have about two-thirds more. So, if the men's bathroom had two urinals and two toilets, the women's bathroom would need six toilets, because men stand, women sit, and then there's that whole other thing that women deal with once a month, but not men. So, even when there's no "primping" (or IBS) involved, women just take longer. If more architects (or whoever is in charge of designing public bathrooms) took this into account, then there wouldn't be epic lines for women's bathrooms, and no lines for the men's.

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hakayama July 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm

The situation described is one of those instances for which obscenities were invented. ;-) I believe that telling the pushy wench to flake off, and to let you defecate in peace is the way to go.
To heck with the cheerfulness and smiles! During and after an uncomfortable “session” NOBODY deserves the supreme effort required for that… not even someone frozen in mental/emotional development at the age of 12. Naaaaaah. Make that 6.

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Auryn Grigori July 3, 2013 at 12:11 am

I think it was the use of the general you. For a second there admin, I did think you were talking to the OP, and then I looked again and realized that no, you were talking to the woman who was banging on like it would magically empty if she did instead of using the available bathroom. I used to have that taboo, even in single occupancy bathrooms, of the men’s and women’s room. Yeah, pregnancy got me out of that real quick, especially when the line to use the girls was sometimes 3 people in.

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just4kicks July 3, 2013 at 1:41 am

I have IBS as well as weak bladder issues. I’ve had to miss outings, such as my son’s baseball games if they are being held at a field I haven’t been to before, so I don’t know if there are facilities. The worst is when I have to use a port a pottie, only to come out and find four or five people waiting impatiently. It’s SO embarrassing! But as fellow sufferers have mentioned, you don’t have a choice in waiting. My family and I vacation at the Jersey shore every year, and believe me when I say I know EVERY rest stop between our home and our destination!

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ddwwylm July 3, 2013 at 3:23 am

I had something similar happen @ a public restroom in a public transit hub. I hadn’t been in the stall very long when someone started banging on the door yelling hurry up, hurry up, the train is coming. I can’t remember anymore if it was a unisex stall or the womens, but the voice yelling was male, and he kept banging and yelling louder and more urgently. I was super annoyed, but also slightly frightened. I remember thinking that I should tell the dude to F off, but also wondering if maybe I needed to call my husband since there are certainly some very sketchy characters that hang out at that station. I ended up just finishing and bursting out the door as quickly as I could to get away from the person, and it turned out he was some teenage kid who thought his sister was in the bathroom. He looked embarrassed once he saw it was me, and I didn’t say a word.

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TheaterDiva1 July 3, 2013 at 5:50 am

It seems like whenever I’m in a public bathroom (the one room type as is here), I always hear rattling from the knob. Doesn’t ANYONE knock anymore?!?

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Emmy July 3, 2013 at 6:47 am

Five minutes is not a super long time to be in a restroom. I agree that the door knocker should have used the men’s room if she didn’t want to wait. I’ve done that before, it seems silly to wait and be uncomfortable when there is a perfectly good restroom that is unoccupied. Rattling the door several times in such a short period when the OP answered she was OK is rude and five minutes in a bathroom isn’t really enough time for cause for concern. If somebody knows they will be stuck in a restroom for a while and another person knocks, they should apologize and say they would be a while. It would be upsetting to hear ‘just a minute’ and not have the room available for several minutes.

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Angel July 3, 2013 at 8:08 am

If the door knocker had knocked once I would say it was out of concern, but multiple times is just downright rude. I knew the admin was talking about the other woman–using the men’s bathroom if the ladies’ is occupied. The fact that she didn’t is on her.

My sympathy lies with the OP. I have a dear friend with IBS and she has been in a similar situation. And fyi it takes her longer than 5 minutes usually when we are out. If I heard somebody treating her like that I’d let them have it!

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Mer July 3, 2013 at 8:12 am

TheaterDiva1: Have you checked if the locks are fine? Because I’ve seen lately a lot of public bathroom locks that don’t work properly. For example they show the wrong indicator (Red is usually reserved and white free but I’ve seen locks that show red when free or even something like half of the red color is visible and half of the white).

I was slighlty embarrassed and annoyed but also amused as I was using public toilet recently. It was one you had to pay with coin in the machine outside and that would open the door. Toilets were separate rooms, each having own machine and also light showing if it was free or not. So I needed to use one, paid, went inside and thought I locked the door. Either the lock did not work or I did something wrong, because soon after I had ahem … started my business, I heard a kid outside rushing towards the toilets and running straight to my door and opened it. Kids mother was just after him and told him it was taken and guided him to other room. Kid had time to open the door for only partly so I was not exposed really, and it hadn’t been so bad otherwise but the toilets were having a system that when, after paying for one you open the door again, the lights will go out. That is to prevent several people using it with one payment. So there I was, engaged with my business in total darkness and nothing I can do about it. Luckily the paper was easy to locate.

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ferretrick July 3, 2013 at 8:20 am

@La. Totally agree. My small company has a ratio of three women and about ten men. We have one men’s, one lady’s, and one completely neutral in the warehouse (though that one is 99% used by men just by nature of the profession). Each one is one toilet only, and doesn’t have any urinals. One of the women is famous for monopolizing the bathroom, even doing crossword puzzels in there! The other two will wait half an hour or more, freaking out about needing to use the bathroom, but when I suggest they just use ours or use the warehouse they look at me like I have three heads! Ours aren’t clean enough for their oh so delicate sensiblities (they are perfectly clean as public restrooms go), even though supposedly they need to go SO BADLY.

Oh, and woe betide us men if the other two toilets are occupied and we had an emergency. They would FLIP OUT if we dared use “their” restroom.

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--Lia July 3, 2013 at 8:41 am

Some of the silliness over how restrooms are marked as being for men or for women have to do with local or state ordinances as per zoning laws. There might be something stating that for a restaurant of this size, this many restrooms are required with this many stalls and this many handicapped accessible and so on. Laws can be quite particular such that the store owners don’t have the option of just saying all the restrooms are unisex.

It’s not unusual for restroom door locks to be broken or for doors to get stuck. For that reason, I assume that a certain amount of rattling on the door is due to the person outside honestly not knowing if the room is occupied. It can be hard to tell if they’ve just heard someone say “just a minute” or if they heard someone elsewhere in the store. So they keep rattling. I don’t think they should do that, but sort of understand.

Once in a restroom, and once one hears either through yelling or through door rattling that someone is waiting outside, the proper thing to say is “just a moment.” Suggesting alternatives such as using the men’s room is impolite. Saying pretty much anything else is impolite. Say “I’ll be another moment” and nothing else. Leave it up to the rattler to figure out solutions.

It’s well known that it is impolite to correct other people on their manners, but it is O.K. to express concern for their well being. For example, if I’ve been kept waiting while a friend is late, etiquette dictates that I’m not allowed to say “You rude inconsiderate expletive. I hate you.” I am allowed to say “I was worried that you might have been carried off by wolves.” This is so well known that a fair number of those rude inconsiderate expletives now assume that as soon as someone begins with concern it’s really code for accusation. I wonder if some amount of that sort of confusion was going on here. The woman outside the door asked “do you need help” when she really meant “hurry up.” That still makes her rude, but it might explain what she meant.

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delislice July 3, 2013 at 8:42 am

I think when it comes to the number of toilets in public restrooms, many (male) contractors read the regulations as X number of STALLS.

So they put in a women’s room with six stalls, and a men’s room with six stalls.

And then they put six urinals in the men’s room. Hey presto, the men’s room has 12 potties to the women’s room’s 6.

Previous poster is correct — there should be at least 1 1/2 times as many potties in the women’s room as in the men’s … taking urinals into account!

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girl_with_all_the_yarn July 3, 2013 at 9:10 am

I was once in a department store in a large city and waiting in line for use of a stall in a public restroom (so not individual rooms, one big one with a long line of stalls). An older woman with a walker went into the handicapped stall. Two seconds later a woman bursts into the bathroom and tries the handicapped stall door, cutting the line of about five people, and starts yelling. “Hey! Come on! Get out of there, b—-! I need that stall!”

Now, I was next in line and this woman was large. Not fat, just linebacker big and intimidating. I politely mentioned to her that there was a line and she would have to wait her turn. She proceeded to round on me and get very much in my face. She then “What are you gonna do about it, skinny b—-?” and went back to banging on the handicapped stall door. The woman behind me ran off and came back with security, who escorted this woman out of the store.

And yes, we gave the woman from behind me in line her spot back.

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Anonymous July 3, 2013 at 9:44 am

Another thing–we have high-speed Internet, smartphones, instant versions of practically every food available, and, if microwaving a Stouffer’s frozen dinner is too taxing, you can pick up the phone and call for pizza or Chinese food delivery, or grab a hamburger at a McDonald’s drive-thru in between your kid’s gymnastics class and piano lessons. You don’t have to wait months on end to see out-of-town friends or relatives, because we have Skype, and if you miss a TV show, you can usually stream it online that very same day. What does this have to do with the situation in the OP? Well, these days, we live in a rather “I want it now!!!” culture, where that sentiment can usually (and increasingly) be accommodated. So, I think that this might have caused people to collectively become more impatient, because, while some aspects of life have accelerated, other aspects of life will always take a certain amount of time, and the bathroom aspect is one of them, especially if it’s an IBS situation like in the OP. I’m not saying that to condemn anyone else, and I’m a bit guilty of it too–I’ve caught myself getting impatient about things like, say, a potato taking too long to cook in the microwave, when I’m used to Facebook loading within a few seconds, so I think this “impatience” thing is a bit of an epidemic.

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Ashley July 3, 2013 at 10:28 am

I hate when people try to rush people who are in the bathroom. People need to learn to chill out, and wait a reasonable amount of time before they go and start doing weird/obnoxious stuff. There’s a restaurant here in my hometown that has bathrooms like the one’s in OP’s story but they have a VERY loud fans. You have to YELL to be heard over them, so if someone jiggles the handle, prepare to SHOUT that you are in there. I was in their once and I saw the handle start to move (I had it locked) so I yelled as loudly as I could that I was in there. I guess that wasn’t good enough because not even a minute later I hear a key go into the lock and a MALE employee is trying to let another woman into the restroom. I’ve never been so embarrassed. I yelled something about “next time wait five minutes” and huffed off back to my seat. I wound up getting a coupon for a free meal the next time I was there but still.

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Kovi July 3, 2013 at 10:56 am

That’s terrible of her, to force such embarrassment and humiliation on you.

I also have symptoms of IBS, and while they don’t seem to be as bad as some people’s, they can be extremely uncomfortable. I’ve spent up to and over 10 minutes in a restroom stall before, but thankfully, I’ve never had anyone but my mother ask me if I was okay. The only exception being a friend, through a text message. That kind of thoughtfulness I can appreciate – they know I can have issues using the bathroom, and want to make sure I’m alright without embarrassing me. That woman, though…. geez, the nerve of her!

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Goodness July 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm

What’s worse is when women are trying to use the woefully inadequate restroom at a theater during the ten-whole-minute intermission. Not only can men get in and out of their restroom in 90 seconds flat, more men than women can sit through an entire symphony/opera/play without needing to go. One evening some years ago at the Seattle Symphony, it became obvious that not everyone was going to get in before intermission was over. The women simply took over the men’s room, posting a guard outside to keep men from barging in and giving any woman who might be in there a moment to finish her errand and get out. It worked just fine and didn’t inconvenience the men at all.

What kind of an idiot builds a theater with only a three-seater women’s room, anyway?

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Michelle C Young July 4, 2013 at 4:49 am

I get that many people are really attached to “gendered” toilets, and if there are stalls, and people might be congregating at the sinks and mirrors, OK, I can see their point.

However, if there are multiple (single-toile and sink in a room with a lock) restrooms, why not have them all be just plain old unisex or even “family” restrooms? Put the baby change table in each one, a toilet, a sink, a small counter, and you are good to go, no matter what gender the patron is.

It’s a mad plot by those evil sign-makers, I tell you! They have brainwashed the populace into labeling EVERYTHING.

Also, I am also frequently hit with the “I gotta go NOW” bug, and I hate having to wait for an empty “ladies” room, when there is a nice empty “men’s” room right there.

And another thing. Gender equality. It should be ladies and gentlemen or women and men. Not ladies and men. Just a pet peeve of mine. Someone tell the sign-makers, please.

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Shalamar July 4, 2013 at 11:32 am

My hometown recently got an Ikea, which is pretty cool. I was flabbergasted, though, when I found that one of its ladies’ bathrooms (I believe it has two) has only three stalls. Considering how insanely busy Ikeas can get, that seems woefully inadequate.

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kingsrings July 4, 2013 at 5:47 pm

This is why businesses should never have just one or two private stalls! Have the multi-stall bathrooms. Especially restaurants, where food and drink will naturally make one have to use the bathroom eventually. Then others who have just as urgent a need to go don’t have to wait for the previous person to leave, especially if the person is taking a long time because of their needs.

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Rebecca July 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I’ve been harrassed too, when dealing with monthly issues (which became increasingly a huge issue for me as I got older). Outside one unisex washroom, I could hear a man saying to his small child, “What is she DOING in there?” (How nice for him that he’d never known this issue). Another time, and this was at a ski resort so I was navigating excessive clothing, two older women who must have forgotten what it’s like, were saying to each other, in a loud, PA way, “Some people are using the washroom stalls for CHANGING. They should be using the changing stalls. People need to get in and use the toilet.”

On another note, I’ve never been sure why single room washrooms are dubbed “male” or “female.” Only one person can go in there at a time anyway, so why not just take the first available one? (Which is exactly what I do, and I refuse to feel bad about it).

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Mary July 8, 2013 at 8:06 am

Goodness, I understand the theater thing. Last year we took our girls to the Lion King at a historic theater in the nearest large city. My 7 year old had to use the bathroom at intermission. Even dashing out of our seats at the first possible second, we ended up in a horrendous line. I was getting very stressed as the intermission passed since they emphasize at that show that no one will be let in after the show starts. Five minutes before the show was to start with at least twenty women on front of us and twenty women behind, my husband showed up and led our daughter into the men’s room. The other women in line practically applauded him.
There should definitely be extra ladies rooms in venues where your business has to be done in a very limited time span such as theater and sporting events.

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Sarah July 10, 2013 at 12:05 am

I had something very similar to the OP’s situation happen to me once. I had rushed into the bathroom in the grocer, barely able to keep myself from running. Like the OP, it was one room for women and one for men, no stalls or communal bathrooms, just 1 toilet each. Shortly after I was in, someone tried to open the door. She asked if anyone was in there (well, yeah) and I shouted back that I would be a few minutes. She tried the door again, and again I shouted that I was very sorry, but I was going to need a bit longer. I heard her very easily, and I am positive she could hear me. Thank dog I was able to finish quicker than I had thought (even with the added pressure), as when I was opening the door to leave, an employee was reaching to stick a key in the door and unlock it! I politely asked if she had been able to hear me shouting, and she replied, “Yes, I heard you” and left it at that. Well? Were you planning on sharing the one toilet with me or something?

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