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Piss ‘n’ Chat

December 11, 2009

I drink about two litres of coffee a day, and that has certain consequences. Today I found myself – not for the first time – in the following philosophical predicament: I had entered a bathroom stall with the intention of indulging in a little urination, but I soon realized that the occupant of the stall beside me was engaged in a cell phone conversation.

On the one hand, I knew that if I began peeing, the noise would carry right on into the curious ears of the individual at the other end of my neighbour’s call. I had no way of knowing whether that person knew that his/her friend was talking to him/her from a bathroom stall, and either way, I didn’t want the sound of my prodigious stream becoming part of anyone’s phone call. I didn’t want to be present for the inevitable inquiries (“Where are you? Is someone peeing?” etc.) that would generate.

On the other hand, a bathroom is a place where people go to go to the bathroom. I wanted to use the stall for its intended purpose, while Chatty to my right was merely taking advantage of the relative privacy and good acoustics of the place. I wasn’t doing anything remotely questionable. I had every right to be in there and to pee as loudly as necessary, and I resented this impolite person for turning what should have been a minute of nice relaxation into a manners crisis. I had to pee, but now feelings of awkward conspicuousness were holding me back.

On the other, other hand, if I didn’t start peeing, this beotch was going to start wondering what the hell I’d entered the stall for. She’d start to get curious, and that would make me self-conscious, and her curiosity and my self-consciousness would feed off each other and grow to crisis level proportions, and meanwhile she’d be yapping away and I’d be holding it in and back at the bookstore someone would be like, “Where did Kate go?” and someone else would be like, “She went to the bathroom–ten minutes ago.” And looks would be exchanged, and unspoken questions would fill the air, and this is how rumours get started.

I felt like a hostage.

One time in 2005 I was in a stall next to someone who was engaged in a long, involved, friendly chat with her mom while taking a poo. I believe I am still scarred from that experience. I just couldn’t believe it. I’m not disputing the need to answer the call of nature; I’m disputing the need to take other calls at the same time. Surely one call at a time is a good rule to live by. Isn’t that rule the premise behind the invention and popularity of voice mail?

I spent a few years studying philosophy, but I never learned one practical thing that entire time. How does one proceed in such a situation? Does anyone have any constructive suggestions? Because twenty bucks says it’ll happen again before the year is out.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alison permalink
    December 12, 2009 5:55 pm

    Her problem to have to explain to her phone buddy what that noise is. Not yours. Pee away. The faux pas was not yours but hers and I don’t see a problem in doing your business as necessary and perhaps with some faking of something to drive the point home. How RUDE!

  2. Sleepless in TO permalink
    December 13, 2009 12:22 pm

    Yes. Pee away. Also, to really embarass her, make some satisfying noises and flush a couple of times just because.
    Bonus points if you yell ‘HEY! Out of toiler paper here, can I borrow some?’
    The goal is to make her never ever use a bathroom as her personal telephone booth again.

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