We’ve all been subjected to things we don’t like or disagree with. That’s no mystery. We are brought up a certain way, come to value certain things, and uphold ourselves to a certain standard, either learned or developed throughout the years. I think most people end up reflecting more of the ideals and beliefs bestowed upon them by their parents than they would ever admit to. And therein lies the path to our confusion, annoyance, and sometimes, utter distaste of how someone else carries themselves in our presence.
We are taught (most of us, anyway) to chew with our mouth closed, raise our hands to speak, clean up after ourselves, address people with respect and title, say “please” and “thank you,” cover our mouths when coughing or sneezing, and wash our hands after using the bathroom, and a laundry list of other good gestures and mannerisms.
So, what then, you are asking yourself, am I trying to get at?
First, I want to take you on a journey. A journey to a place that not everyone can go, not everyone can experience. A journey into a place where you can just let it all out, cut loose, released from the confines of society, free from the rules and etiquette that you are subjected to on a near minute-by-minute basis.
That’s right, we’re going to the men’s room.
On average, men tend to hit the head about 6-10 times per day, usually to pee, sometimes to have a movement, sometimes to have a moment, and occasionally to check their hair.
In the span of time that is taken to conduct your business in the bathroom there is very little conversation or interaction. It’s business time. Not social hour. We have a definitive purpose to be in that particular room and it’s not to launch into a discussion about the results of Dancing with the Stars or who got killed in last night’s Sons of Anarchy.
No, the visit is deeply personal and has been since we ditched the diaper and donned the briefs. It’s not a particularly proud moment, nor a flattering one. It is a necessary one, though, and requires the proper attention to detail and follow through that will allow you to exit the doors with the utmost confidence that all is well and you are ready to play by the rules again and get your car back on the race track.
The problem, which seems to have grown along with our newly acquired technological “conveniences” and has also stagnated with the vastly different cultural and upbringing differences, is that no two people seem to agree on what’s proper and what isn’t.
You may be asking yourself at this very moment, “Do I really want to go down this road?”
Look, I know it’s uncomfortable and you’re squirming in your chair right now and it’s bringing up bad bathroom memories, but we need to talk about this shit (literally). It may not be life altering, but the bottom line is that somewhere, somehow, we have to make sense of the little moments in our lives that, in the end, add up to months and years of the entirety of our journey.
And it’s rather hilarious.
So, on a random Tuesday last month, I walk into the bathroom to take a leak. Nothing sexy about it, nothing special. Just conducting business. I approach the urinal, which has a privacy divider and proceed. Seconds later, another gentleman enters and proceeds to the urinal next to me. No problem. Eyes forward. No need for interaction here. Just, y’know, peein’.
“How you doin’?”
I’m frozen. Eyes wide and locked forward. I make a partial sideways glance to see who it is. I don’t know this guy. He’s looking down and has kind of a way-too-friendly smile on his face.
“Oh, yeah?” he continues. “That’s cool, man.”
I look around without turning my head. Who the fuck is he talking too? Me? Is someone else in the room? Is he a crazy person? Is he talking to his dick? He called his dick “man”!
“Yeah, we gonna’ pick that up on Thursday. Yeah, that’ll work.” It doesn’t take long to see what’s going on. As the man turns and heads to wash his hands, I can see the familiar blue glow of a silver, rectangular device attached to his ear. A Bluetooth. He continued the conversation, letting his social interaction transcend into the sanctity of the bathroom experience. He washes his hands, never missing a beat.
“Well, the problem we had last week was that the shipment was late. We shouldn’t have that this week.”
I wash my hands and we make brief, uncomfortable eye contact in the mirror. He gives me a nod of acknowledgement and continues with his call, all the way out the door and into the hallway.
I’m standing, amazed. I realize that there are normally repercussions of new technology and I think we’ve all seen the negative effects of these things in one way or another.
Carrying on a conversation with your Bluetooth while inside a men’s bathroom, broadcasting your personal phone calls (or even business calls) is just plain…ridiculous. Forget the natural awkwardness of running into one of your co-workers in the bathroom, especially after they’ve just fumigated the place with last night’s dinner. Those moments speak for themselves. But this Bluetooth shit was a whole other ball game.
Bottom line: There is no need for conversation while my dick is in my hand, unless you’re Cindy Crawford and we’re negotiating payment.
Another incident came to mind as I stood there. A few weeks earlier I had to have a movement. It was later in the afternoon and close to the end of the workday. I locked myself in the stall and was confronted with a sight not unlike the after effects of an IED explosion at an Iraqi checkpoint. I was as stunned as seeing Jaye Davidson’s pants drop in “The Crying Game.”
This wasn’t my first rodeo, however. Since I’d already committed to the stall, I grabbed up the disinfectant spray and went to work. As I cleaned that motherfucker like a maid order service, I couldn’t help but wonder why, on God’s green earth, would someone leave such a disgusting mess for another person to face? It was an ass explosion nightmare, one that would haunt me forever and probably affect even my children as it became part of my genome.
When cleaning operations were complete and I was finally ready to conduct my own supply drop, someone entered the stall right next to me. No harm, no foul, but seriously, why do you have to sit right next to me? There are four other stalls. In an empty movie theater, if one other person enters and sits next to you, there is a major personal space violation being committed. Or else a murder or rape is about to occur.
So, while we sit there in uncomfortable silence, about to share the musical arrangements composed by our internal organs, trying to time a cough or shuffle of the feet with each “note” in order to subdue the overall toilet bowl amphitheater, I am once again confronted by conversation.
Oh fuck, seriously? I think, reaching for my foldout knife. This shit’s about to get real.
“How’s your day going?”
I don’t answer. I remain still, knife now out, ready to slice and dice.
“Yeah, I’m excited, too.”
Oh, hell no.
“You don’t need that. It’ll be fine, just relax.”
Like hell. Let’s fucking’ dance, pervert!
I angle myself on the toilet, ready to stab a mutha.
“Sweetheart, I will pick up some bread on the way home, so stop worrying.”
I slowly retract my blade. I shake my head, both at my own prepare-to-kill alertness and my inability to comprehend the nature of what just happened.
Then, I give it some thought. Why would anyone want to make a phone call whilst taking a shit? It makes no sense to me. Perhaps it is my own private nature or my respect for others, but I just don’t see why people need to make their conversations public, especially in a bathroom (This coming from a guy who updates his Facebook status 2-3 times a day…I get the irony).
When I see people out in public, blabbing away in their own little world on their cell phone, not giving a shit, it challenges me. On one hand, I kind of envy those people, because they seem to have tapped into a mental state of truly not giving a fuck, immune to someone walking into the earshot of their phone conversation, no matter what they’re discussing. It’s a badge of confidence, no matter how ignorant or misguided.
On the other hand, it is an indication of the aforementioned ignorance. It’s a lack of etiquette or manners, due largely, I think, to the fact that this is such a new thing in our culture. Growing up, I didn’t have a cell phone; I had quarters for the pay phone. Nor did I have the Internet. I had the library. Ultimately, we have the equivalent of a Neanderthal being given the keys to a car. There’s no standard to work from. It’s all a long, painful learning process.
So, with the lack of guidance on the use of cell phones in public, we have a multitude of individuals that have no idea of how or when to restrict its use. It’s fair game! This attitude carries directly into the public restroom, where the misuse is just as prolific.
I guess you could say I’m being whiny about the whole thing. I could understand that perspective. Just shut the fuck up and stop crying about people talking on their Bluetooth next to you in the bathroom and having a conversation in the stall. I should just shut my mouth and mind my own, right?
Well, that’d be nice if my fellow cell phone abusers would let me. I just want to walk in and enjoy the peace and sanctity of whatever business needs to be taken care of. Is nothing sacred? At what point do we tell people to hang up their phone? Or do we just allow the steamroll of technology plow over our standards of proper manners and etiquette?
I see this at stores all the time; a person is having a full on conversation with someone on their cell phone while being rung up at a register. The person on the phone does NOTHING to even acknowledge the individual at the register, instead regarding them the same as they do a self-checkout kiosk. They complete the entire transaction without so much as a “hello” or “thank you.” Now, I’m calling down the thunder here and have seen this many times and I’ve done nothing to stop it. I have not done some dramatic shit like you see in movies and TV shows and grab the person’s cell phone and tell them to shut it off.
It gets under my skin, it angers me, it saddens me, but I just wait my turn and ensure that I at least treat the cashier like a human being than a soulless robot. I guess making the difference is proving that you’re not like the douche bag in front of you, and it’s enough for me. I guess it depends on the severity of each situation. Everyone has his or her own limits. Perhaps one day I will reach mine and start yanking cell phones and throwing punches in line at Costco, who knows?
As time marches on, I think more and more people will get fed up with the lack of cell phone manners, both in public and private areas. I am happy to see signs at Subway that ask customers not to use cell phones while ordering (and have seen this trend grow more and more) and knew it was only a matter of time before movie theaters had to take action.
Many businesses now have to take on the extra overhead just to counteract the rudeness of their customers. And before anyone decides to defend someone having the right to be a douche on the phone since they are patronizing a business, might want to consider the one thing that some value more than the almighty dollar and that’s at least a baseline of mutual respect.
Although I have committed plenty of the cardinal cell phone crimes myself, I am cognizant of my actions and make a diligent effort to monitor myself, especially when interacting with others. I implore everyone to do the same. I’m sure we can all pull together and use common sense to mitigate the issue. I don’t think this needs to go before Congress, although it’s obvious that the problem has gotten so bad on the roads that now using a cell while driving is illegal unless hands-free. For me, that sounds pretty fair. Drivers drive. They don’t drive, put on make-up, eat a cheeseburger, and have conversations that could wait until the vehicle is stopped.
In summation; wash your hands, turn off your phone, don’t speak to others while handling genitals, address others with respect (including cashiers and fellow movie theater patrons), and try to remember that we’re all in this together. Try not to be the douche of the group.