Friday, September 16, 2011

Strange behavior in the men's room

Typically, I try to stay away from gender-based toilet talk. You know, the whole "men-leave-the-toilet-seat-up/why-can't-women-just-put-it-down-themselves?" genre and all the offshoots (no diarrhea pun intended). Not because the subject matter is potentially offensive but because it's been done...and done. And done.
However, I witnessed something the other day, something I've seen before, and now I have a question about it. For the sake of some expository background, this is a joke that a drill sergeant told our company in basic training...

A soldier and a sailor were in the men's room at a local bar. The soldier finished first and started to walk out. The sailor commented, "In the Navy, we practice good hygiene by washing our hands when we finish going to the bathroom." The soldier stopped and replied, "That's funny; in the Army we practice good hygiene by not peeing on our hands."
Now, whenever possible I do not use urinals. I don't like them. I mentioned this once before. I think they're unsanitary. largely due to a certain splashback factor. When you pee into a urinal, you're basically peeing into a porcelain receptacle which is flat and largely open, not unlike the tiled wall it's hanging from. Also, as shown in the photo, dividers between urinals into which other men may be peeing at the same time, are optional. As a result, I will wait several minutes if necessary, right up to the point that the situation becomes an emergency, for a good old fashioned toilet which is almost always cloistered in it's own four-walled cubicle. This provides me privacy, but more importantly significantly reduces the risk of getting anybody's urine on my hands. I still wash my hands afterward, though. It just seems like the right thing to do. I've observed over the years that many men don't. Many, many men. I don't know why and I try not to judge. I figure they're in a hurry or they forget or they just don't think it's necessary. Unless it's a restaurant or a grocery store and it's an employee, I generally don't worry about it. That's their thing and that's fine. I can remember their faces and always figure out a way to avoid shaking their hands or otherwise touching them if the situation arises.
What I'm writing about today is that some men will take care of their business and then step to a sink and run the faucet for a few seconds...but not wash their hands.
This befuddles me.
Why the charade?
These are adults I'm talking about. Presumably their parents aren't nearby to yell at them. Are they that worried about what other men who are in there, but not watching them, will think? It's a men's room and millions of blog posts, stand-up comedy routines and Vince Vaughn-style movies tell us there's a Code of Conduct that dictates that conversation is discouraged. Nobody is going to say anything. If somebody doesn't wash their hands, they don't have to. But if they're going to run the faucet anyway, why not stick their hands under there? They're not saving time anymore. Why would they not just wash their hands, since they're taking every step in the process except washing them?
Now I find myself judging them. Now it's disgusting. Because now it's not a matter of forgetting to do it or being in a hurry, now it's a deceit.
Look, peeing on somebody's hands, even if they're your own, or mine, is one thing. But don't lie to me about it.


JamesB said...

Okay, I've seen this before, but more frequently at work I've seen guys not even pretend. They just walk right on out the door. I'd almost rather they pretend. We call them Pee-n-Flee, or worse, Crap-n-Dash. And there's one bummy looking fellow whom I've never witnessed washing his hands in 10 years of working in the same building. And he's the worst violator because he's in that stall with his pants around his ankles for five minutes, then, boom, off like a shot out the door. Soap must be like kryptonite to him or something. I will never, ever shake hands with that dude for the rest of my life.

Surly Rob said...

That is a strange phenomenon. Witnessed it myself a number of times. Something I noticed that sort of helps with this problem (but really, it's just great fun) is to loudly call these people out once outside. The horrified look on their faces is worth all the dried up pee in the world.

Ruprecht said...

Possible New Phenomenon, "Blog Article Influence": When one's piece causes behavior one would not otherwise consider.

That "conversation discouraged" Code of Conduct in the mens room may very well now be replaced with a new-found need to witness this odd restroom denizen. In all the years I've been using public restrooms (thinks mightily ... decides not to elaborate) I have yet to witness the creature you mention above. Truly, this is a real head shaker. Men who do not wash their hands after using the facilities will come and go (I don't count boys; boys will be boys, after all) but ... men who think they're pulling one over on someone in a restroom by letting water run as an illusion of hygiene? Birds of an all together differnt feather, indeed.

Clark? This I promise: If ever - EVERr - I come across such a person, I will break that Code of Conduct and see about getting to the bottom of this behavior.

Stay tuned ...

bronsont said...

I'm hearing piccolo music as I read this :-)