Public Restrooms: A Beginner's Guide - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Public Restrooms: A Beginner’s Guide

Public Restrooms: A Beginner’s Guide

Published July 29, 2008

I have recently spent some time travelling. The nature of  travel is that it  takes you out of your comfort zone – your everyday routine where you know how and where to find the things you need, more or less when you need them. Things like toilets.
    As a rule of thumb, I try to stay away from public restrooms, at least when I need to do some heavy lifting. This is easy when you are in your local settings. Between home, work and other reliable places that you have already mapped out, access to clean toilets is not really a pressing problem. Obviously, this does not apply in a strange city. This fact has brought me face to face with an old problem which, in my naiveté, I had allowed myself to ignore: public restroom etiquette – or more accurately – lack there of.
    To me, this is quite simple. Call it the Categorical Imperative of Restroom Morals,  the Golden Rule of the Urinal even. The one simple moral guideline to keep in mind when visiting the toilet: leave the restroom the way you would like to find it!
    That means: No pissing on the floor, toilet seat, walls or the toilet paper; no shitting on the toilet seat, floor and/or walls; no stuffing the toilet paper in the toilet; no stuffing the toilet, period; no stuffing the sink; no throwing used toilet paper on the floor, the sink, or the garbage; no leaving pads, diapers or tampons in or around the toilet.
    I have a hard time believing that anyone would treat their toilet at home in this manner, but for some reason, when we go into a public restroom, it seems as if everything your mother taught you is thrown out of the window. If we would all follow this one simple maxim – treat a public toilet the way you would want a guest in your home to treat your own toilet – you would  never again have to walk into to a public restroom only to become nauseated by the smell and the filth and be forced to leave again without finishing your business and eventually become constipated. I hate it when that happens.
    The simple truth is that it is in all our interest to treat public toilets better. And it would just make travelling so much easier.

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