Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Desperate Measures

It’s scary how relieved one becomes to discover something one detests so much. Such is the case with me and public restrooms.

When I’m business traveling, there is no choice since “I have to go” = “I have to go.” This, of course, quickly escalates into The List of “I have to find a ladies’ room. That isn’t closed due to the always untimely cleaning person. That doesn’t have twenty women waiting in line. (HA!) That has toilet paper. That has a door on the stall that will close, and actually stay that way without contortions. That isn’t filthy. That flushes, and was flushed after the last user’s visit.”

To you male readers, I understand that your easier jobs don’t entail my entire list. And yet, when it comes to your more time-consuming bathroom duties, I know you get my drift here. Imagine what it would be like if your every pit stop involved so many variables! And especially imagine yourself always having to stand in the lines you see snaking out of the restrooms labeled WOMEN, DAMES, GALS, COWGIRLS, LADIES, FEMMES or ODD PICTURE OF SOMETHING THAT LOOKS LIKE IT’S WEARING A WOMAN’S HAIRDO AND/OR SKIRT SO I GUESS I’LL CHOOSE IT.

But the truth is, men usually don't have to stand in long restroom lines, so thank your lucky stars! Nonetheless, this blog post is all about you, so keep reading.

When I’m gearing up to go, but am not yet DESPERATE, I can afford the luxury of reordering my list, ruling out the inferior, heading down the concourse to the next ladies’ room, moving over one stall and/or first flushing (hoping it will) “content” that did not previously flush since there’s always the possibility someone simply forgot. I can, through years of involuntary training and endurance, hold the door, my breath and my patience. I can even hold my “content,” but I can only hold it for so long. Difficult decisions need to be prioritized and implemented, and as we all know, DESPERATE DESPERATENESS calls for DESPERATE ACTIONS. When I’m DESPERATE enough, I skip everything on that list but the “I have to find a ladies’ room” part.

Throughout my years of jogging through terminals, I’ve learned I can hurdle a “CLOSED FOR CLEANING” sign, endure all kinds of messes, get Very Creative when it comes to toilet paper (that was missing), stand on my head to check under stall doors for feet, invoke super-human tolerance skills to endure the line, and still make my flight. I am a grown-up woman possessing grown-up skills.

And now, Dear Male Readers, we’re back to you. At least one of you. (Apologies to all the sincere gentlemen--the majority of you--who understand the Mars/Venus thing. At least a little.) The POLICE OFFICER “one of you” who leisurely preceded me--as in right in front of me—into the mini store at a gas station during one of my road trips. There was no evidence or sound of sirens or squawking squawk boxes. We were just two folks walking single file on our way to the bathroom. Right in front of me, he tried the MEN’S door, but it was locked. Right in front of me, and in fact seeing me, hand outstretched heading for the WOMEN’s doorknob, he veered into the WOMEN's and clicked the lock. No asking or explaining. No shouting anything about an emergency. No DESPERATE begging for a line cut.

My emotional knee-jerk response was, WHAT?! Since I waited right outside the door, I heard the familiar seat-slamming-up-against-the-tank sound. Then I heard, um, an easy job in process. Then I heard a flush followed by a squirt of water in the sink. (Who was he kidding?!) By now, my arms were crossed and I was glaring when THAT MAN exited the WOMEN’s bathroom, grinning like it was all a one-big-family joke.

“Men can’t wait?” I asked incredulously. He turned on the charm, grinned some more, coyly shrugged his shoulders and waited for me to respond in kind. Waited for me to acknowledge that the entire incident was nothing more than an adorable kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar by his loving Aunt Betty. But he should have noticed my inhale.

That was RUDE!” I spewed in a gusting hurricane of words.

Yes, I all but yelled at a police officer. Who offered no apologies or explanations. He simply turned red and sheepishly slunk away like the "Bad boy!" he was. He knew. He knew!

Then I entered the WOMEN’s room, only to discover . . . you guessed it! The seat was still up.

Like I mentioned before, I am a grown-up woman possessing grown-up skills. One of them is the old knee-to-groin maneuver. If you’re ever thinking about cutting in front of a lady to use the LADIES’ room just because you don’t feel like standing in line, think twice. I might be that lady, but I likely won’t respond like one.
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PS I had my husband read this before I posted it. He—way too defensively, I might add--tells me he (speaking for all men, of course) has waited in restroom lines. He mumbled something about sporting events and beer. To which I responded, “And don’t YOU try to cut in line in front of me to use the ladies’ room, either!”

PSS I know what some of you are thinking, and yes, I've seen women abandon the long lines outside the LADIES to sneak into the no-line MEN's. I know it happens. Just for the record, I don't like that behavior either. But at least when there's a dozen in the LADIES line (typical) and none in the MEN's (typical), I understand the temptation.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Good reporting!
I have learned (bless my departed Mother's nagging in childhood) to ALWAYS have 1 or 2 of the small travel packs of tissues. That solves one problem.
I wish someone could explain sinks in the UK and Ireland. Why separate hot and cold spiggots? Scaulding hot comes out of one, if it is hooked up, and freezing cold from the other several inches apart. If, as I have often found, someone has stolen the sink plug, hand washing is a far less pleasant experience.