My local coffee house has a single restroom for the entire establishment, and a single restroom key, available in a cup by the cash register.
On this particular day, there were around a dozen people in line waiting for the bathroom. The bathroom door has a sign asking patrons to get the key from the cash register, but people were just holding the door for one another. The employees were swamped, and did not care.
I was in the middle of the line when I noticed a woman walk up towards the front of the line and hover. She had the bathroom key in her hand. The next time the bathroom door opened, she grabbed the door, and silently handed the key to the person she had just cut, before entering the restroom.
Note: The line was long enough to see from the cash register.
I’ve gone through this scenario a couple of times in my head, and just come up with more questions. Did possession of the key give her the right to cut the line? Should everyone in line have been passing the key, or waiting at the cash register for it to be returned?
What’s the appropriate thing to say to such a person? What if she had some disability or illness that required immediate use of the facilities? If she had such a condition, would etiquette require her to ask the people in line, or is it okay just to cut? If you feel desperate enough so that you must cut, wouldn’t an apology be due when you emerge?
My first impression would be to condemn line cutting of any form, because there is no way of knowing the condition of the people currently waiting in line. What do you think? 0723-14
Well, this is certainly an interesting dilemma! My first thought is the line cutter is a legalist following the letter of the “law” as dictated by the restaurant signage. Following the directions as outlined by the management is generally a good idea but in this case, the employees and management appear to be just fine with people standing in line and offering an open door to the bathroom to the next person. A strict application of the restaurant policy would have meant each person obtains the key, unlocks the bathroom, does their business, returns the key to the cash register and the next person in line gets the key and so forth. It’s awkward and unnecessary considering how many people were in need of the bathroom so the patrons have skipped the extra steps and graciously hold the door for the next person.
As for desperate need to use the bathroom due to medical issues, particularly if it means cutting in the line, it would be polite to actually ask those waiting if you can do this…pretty please! To not ask presumes that your need is far more important and urgent than anyone else’s and selfishly presumes others are not in desperate need as well.