Monday, December 13, 2010

Freedom of Choice

I can’t remember when or where I learned the trick of using the single-occupant men’s room when the similar women’s room was occupied with a line.  Some people tend to look askance when I do so, wondering what could possess me to break the rules.
Today I faced such a dilemma as I rolled into Washington Hospital Center for a 10 AM appointment with an urgent need to unload my bladder first.  The women’s restroom was locked and the cleaning girl out front reminded me the other one was for men only as I went for the door handle.  Instead of trying to explain I simply crossed my legs and waited for the woman in a wheelchair to emerge.
Even my favorite new restaurant -- Sushi & Kushi -- has had a change of heart.  Originally the restrooms were marked for MEN and WOMEN.  Now they are UNISEX, with the one painted blue still sporting a urinal with a somewhat risque poster in front of it.  I suppose they figure men using the red bathroom (sans urinal) can do whatever they do to pee in the comfort of their own home.
Let’s face it:  Men are simply quicker in the bathroom.  It makes perfect sense to remove the single-sex signs and let everyone have free access.  As for the venereal disease from the toilet seat my mother used to warn me about, I think that’s been pretty much proven to be a myth.
How about you?  Do you care what the sign says?  Do you care if people roll their eyes in disgust?


Blogger Terry said...

I confess I am put off by the idea of using the men's restroom. I appreciate establishments that acknowledge that women need more restrooms than men do.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I like a room of my own :) Men are quicker most of the time but I don't want to do the unisex thing if we both have to sit down!

4:35 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I am sorry to disagree with you but it does bother me when women use the men's restroom. In general or in theory it does not but when I need to use the bathroom and am waiting patiently for someone to emerge (from one of those one at a time bathrooms) and that person is a woman I get really annoyed. It says "I am more important than anyone else in the universe". At least that how it seems to me at the time.

However, it does not bother me when women use the men's restroom at big stadiums where the bathrooms are huge and the lines are moving quickly and they don't cause me to wait. In those situations seeing women in the bathroom amuses me. Go figure.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I can see my readers have very definite opinions on this one!

Terry -- Unfortunately most establishments don't provide more toilets for women than men, not yet anyway.

Pauline -- Let me be perfectly clear: I am not advocating mixed gender restrooms that serve more than one person at a time! I certainly don't care to be that friendly with strangers.

Gary -- I treat single-occupant restrooms as an extension of our own homes, where no one I know has one exclusively for men and another exclusively for women. I am as fast as most men, so I will never be the cause of your waiting longer for your turn -- I promise!

8:30 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I don't suppose I've thought much about it; I just know that I want one when I need it. I don't tend to go for the men's room, though. Too much of a rule follower, I guess.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I used a bathroom indicated for MEN only when all else fails and I am desperate, which does sometimes happen. If there were men waiting, I would never go ahead of them. But when was the last time you ever saw men lined up to use a bathroom? Maybe on a plane, where all bathrooms are UNISEX. It's embarrassing that it's always a woman who seems to take forever when you are at 30,000 feet and the flight is turbulent.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

I don't think it's any big deal to use the men's room when nobody else is waiting to use it. But I usually avoid that if possible for reasons I won't go into here.

So in general, I'll wait for the ladies room. Of course with my luck I'll be stuck waiting for a mom and her three kids all in there at the same time. I'll try the door and the mother will tell her kids to hurry up because someone's waiting and then the kids will all glare at me on their way out because I was the reason they had to hurry. This happens to me pretty frequently for some reason. Maybe I should start using the men's room more often.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Merle Sneed said...

My all time favorite story is when I was in a crowded men's room and a woman burst in, shouted "Sorry guys, but I can't wait", and dashed past a guy coming out of a stall.

Seems reasonable to me.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Christine Thresh said...

Maybe we could carry paste-up signs with us saying "Women" and put one on the door when we just must go NOW.
I've been at a large event catering mainly to women, and some smart person did change the signs on the restroom doors.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cyndy -- You must tell me those reasons you wouldn't go into when we meet up soon!

Merle -- Sometimes necessity takes charge. I'm glad you guys were all so cooperative.

Christine -- What a great idea. There is incredible power in that little label, isn't there?

2:22 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

What an interesting topic! I must think about it a little. But I think I LIKE that idea with just pasting WOmen on the door. It is not so easy in Germany with the words Damen/Herren, though.

4:27 PM  
Blogger e said...

I only know that when I gotta go, I should not wait, so if no-one is using the men's toilet and there is no-one waiting there, I go ahead. No real problem and I am always polite about it.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Angela -- I would think Europeans would find this amusing!

E -- Exactly my thinking.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Steve Reed said...

I think all single-occupant restrooms should be unisex. It's silly to have one gender lined up while another restroom sits empty. (Hi Barbara!)

6:30 PM  
Blogger karen said...

Haha! I enjoyed reading the comments here... I have used the Mens' room in an emergency, but did feel rather uncomfortable doing so. However, the alternative made me feel more uncomfortable!! We've been to several campsites etc with Unisex bathrooms, which I think tend to work very well indeed as they are at least designated as such, so your expectations are different from the start!

7:31 AM  

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