Today, folks, we need to revisit preschool and bathroom etiquette. When we were taught to use the potty, our parents or teachers laid out some basic rules, including close the door, wash your hands, replace the toilet paper on the roll – and knock.
Or did I make that last one up?
Thankfully, the majority of the population has retained the “close the door” rule, and hopefully most people wash their hands. Replacing toilet paper on the roll is an iffier one. I know people that don’t.
WHAT THE HECK, PEOPLE.
For the last several months, I have noticed an epidemic of being in single-user restrooms and finding the door assailed like a dragon at the castle door without anyone knocking. Let me rephrase: I will be doing my business when I hear the door abruptly thudding in its frame as someone tries to force their way in. No one announces their presence before they’re breaking and entering.
I usually stare at the door before I manage, “Someone’s in here…”
The dragon departs, usually without a verbal response.
This has happened at Starbucks, at work, at the gym, and in airports. I’m trying to think of other attempted break-ins, but I can’t list my home. Let us praise roommates that knock or just see there is a light on underneath the door.
But I don’t know where I can use the bathroom anymore without the threat of home invasion.
When I was a kid, it was customary to knock. You need to use the bathroom, you see the door is shut, you knock. Simple as that. You wait for a reply. If you do not hear one, you try the door. You did not go from step one, needing to use the bathroom, to the step five, trying the door, in a single bound – nor was it acceptable to try the door three bazillion times before you realize it is locked. This is not Winterfell. If you can’t get into the bathroom with one handle twist, maybe a shoulder shove, then it’s probably not meant to be. Don’t throw your body weight plus some into the frame.
And I’ve been there. I’ve needed to pee so badly, my bladder is throbbing. I cannot sit without fear of leaking out. But I don’t take an elephant gun to the door! I knock, wait, and if someone’s in there or, for some reason, I can’t get in, I reassess my options. I don’t besiege the bathroom!
Also, once you knock, you’re supposed to wait. Your knock should not be simultaneous to your siege of the castle. You’re not going to hear me shouting, “Someone’s in here!” if you’re nuking the doorframe. And, honestly, you’re making me stay in the bathroom longer because I’m so startled that my body just seized up.
One last note on this subject: we’ve established that there is a heathen race out there who launches offenses on unsuspecting restrooms. This means restroom users should beware. We cannot expect a closed door to stop anything. Aka, if there is a lock, USE IT.
You betcha, after reading this rant, I knock. I knock, knock, and knock again. I am no hypocrite. But on one or two occasions, I have knocked only to hear no reply (or maybe I had headphones in, but that is neither here nor there), so I try the door handle (again, note: I don’t physically assault the door), find it receptive to opening, and into the bathroom I go only to find a man standing with his back to me doing his business.
Me: “OH MY GOD.”
Why didn't he say something?!?!?
The worst example of this was that time I was wearing headphones. I knocked, heard no response (or maybe I just heard Mumford & Sons, but that's neither here nor there), and I entered, fully aware this unisex bathroom had a quality lock that any intelligent person would utilize. I had almost shut myself in the bathroom when I realized there was a girl within, sitting on the sink, doing her makeup in the mirror. She stared at me in the reflection, and I stared at her.
“Ah! I’m so sorry!” I jumped back, but I had almost shut the door behind me, so now I had to fight to escape.
“Ah, I’m so sorry!” she said similarly – but continued doing her makeup.
Thank goodness she wasn’t in a more compromising position, but why didn’t she lock the door?!