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Far from being ‘restrooms’, shared toilets, whether in a public space, in a restaurant or a workplace environment, can be treacherous places. Sure, we all need to go and answer nature’s call, but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had the same idea of what’s just plain good behaviour when it comes to communal lavatorial situations?
Grandma always said ‘Manners maketh man” – so here are 10 useful tips on how to avoid the biggest doodoos, and navigate the little boy’s/girl’s room for everyone’s convenience.
1. If you work in an office, there’s no need to announce that you’re having a loo break. Especially don’t try to be funny about it. Let’s face it, “I’m just off to park my breakfast” is not amusing, it’s just gross.
2. Don’t assume a cubicle is free just because it’s not locked. It’s polite to knock, or at the very least take a moment to look under the door for feet. Push the door open gently, just in case. Once you’re in, lock the door! If there’s a problem with the lock, you may need to hold it shut with your hand or foot, or alternatively place your handbag in front of it. Better still, change cubicles.
3. Multitasking is not always a good thing. When you need a wee, go and have a wee – there’s no need to bring your phone! Taking your mobile into the lavatory is not only unhygienic but may also offend the person you’re calling. If you heard an echo, flushing water or a clumsy attempt at muting on the other end of a phone line, you would hang up too.
4.Even if you do manage to make a phone call, it’s hardly a private environment, is it? How many of your co-toiletgoers will want to hear you apologise to your wife for forgetting to feed the cat, or discuss the weekly shopping list? Surely, this is neither the time nor the place.
5.In fact, conversations in the loo are awkward per se. Men categorically don’t chat while peeing; a simple ‘hello’ is totally adequate. Nor is it necessary to talk to people in the other cubicles. You’re there to take care of business, not to chat about the weather. Reserve small talk for when you’re in the queue, not when you’re in the cubicle.
6. There’s really no need to make jokes or comments about strange toilet noises or unpleasant smells as they happen. Don’t be immature. Be kind. Ignore it. It’s embarrassing enough for the person concerned and, after all, if you can’t let go of your bodily controls in the toilet, then where can you?
7. Unless you have a medical condition that compels you to spend ages on the loo, try not to prolong your visit unnecessarily. Public toilets are usually not the plushest of environments, so it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to take a book to read. This applies especially when there’s a long queue. Be kind to your fellow man. Get on with it and get out.
8. Basic hygiene dictates that you flush after you’ve done the deed, leaving the cubicle as you would wish to find it. It’s surprising how obvious this isn’t to far too many people. Toilet seat drips, floor spills, half-hearted flushes… it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out how what’s the right thing to do.
9. Toilet paper is there for more than one reason (see above) which is why it is sometimes in short supply. If you’ve finished the last sheet, do look around to see if there is a replacement roll – look at it as ‘paying it forward’ for the next person. Alternatively, tell someone in charge (restaurant manager, loo attendant, your boss) that you’ve run out.
10. Finally, wash your hands. Duh. It takes less than a minute, makes your hands smell nice and helps prevent the spread of germs. What’s not to like? Interestingly, shared toilet facilities now increasingly boast snazzy high-speed hand driers, which takes the last bit of inconvenience out of the proceedings.
This article was provided by Mike James, an independent content writer for the events industry – working alongside a selection of companies including Serviced Events, who were consulted over the information contained in this piece.