The public restroom is a beautiful thing. It is a very private affair, I think, to use the restroom. Yet, we’ve come to an agreement that we can all use these rooms for that very private use—the most intimate use—so long as everybody abides by a few simple rules. It goes without saying—but I’ll just go ahead and say it—that when you walk into a restroom, there are certain responsibilities that you have just accepted.
I can only speak for myself, a magnificent young mammal of the male persuasion, but I know that when I walk into a public restroom I have just agreed to clean that toilet seat, regardless of my treatment of it. I will probably even clean the landing where the porcelain meets vinyl. Furthermore, if the toilet is clogged before my entrance, there is no way to prove that I didn’t do it myself. Unless I perform some kind of public disgust in front of the restroom door, there is a high chance that the next in line will charge me with the crime.
I’d say the guiding principle of using public restrooms is that they should be cleaner upon departure than they were on arrival. If that sounds like too much to ask, then simply leave no trace, regardless of author, that you might be embarrassed to be associated with.
This is a principle I have learned the hard way. I was not the most accurate six-year-old in my class. I also had the proclivity to mark my territory, if you know what I mean—oh, in the corner of a room, private or public, or behind the toy chest. But, in regards to the restroom, I wasn’t a flusher. I would rarely lift the seat. Once I was leaving the restroom in such a state when an older boy I knew walked in behind me. As he passed I said, “Hey, someone peed all over the seat in there. Gross, huh?”
Another time I was over at my best friend Steven’s house when his sister came charging in the room and threatened her “little brat of a brother” with a fresh beating because of what she found in the bathroom (a true Jackson Pollack). A wide-eyed Steven denied his involvement, but even his sister was embarrassed when I raised my hand and confessed. She watched me clean my chef-d’oeuvre from the seat.
When I was old enough for employment, I often had to clean the bathrooms of our establishment—bathrooms whose primary clients were ages four through ten. This is where I learned the merits of hard work and the error of my ways.
“Who did this?!” But how could I bring myself to reprimand the little communists of whose party I used to be a member. Let he who is without guilt cast the first stone, I always say.
The motto that I’ve come to adopt, stolen from somebody’s grandmother, is, “If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seaty.” I like to add, “If you hit the floor, wipe some more.”