I’m not referring to greetings at the sink, or a nod when we meet at the door. I’m not even talking about friends chatting while peeing. No, this was full-on public restroom taboo! Ick! Ick ick ick!
I knew I shouldn’t have gone to the public restroom, but the staff one is two levels down and I kinda wasn’t feeling so great, you know? Also, they just cleaned the public one and you know I can’t resist being the first one to use that certified clean toilet, with the seat up and the blue water and everything! (And before it smells like rotten strawberries - whoever you are, please stop bothering to cover up your smoke. Your perfume is nastier.)
So a total stranger follows me in. Maybe a patron I’ve helped once or twice; the point is, not a coworker, not somebody I know well. I pick my favorite stall, she picks the one next to me (weird, when there are others available and they’re all nice and clean, but not weird like next-urinal weird or anything). And then she says, “How ya doin’, ma’am?” Well, she isn’t talking to me.
Then she raps on the stall wall between us. “How ya doin’?”
Now, this is a public library. I’ve seen people washing their clothes in the toilets and bathing in the sinks. A coworker ran into a man peeing in the sink in the ladies’ room. A homeless woman once had a baby in this very bathroom. But I have never had somebody knock on the dividing wall to try and have a conversation with me! (I’ll note that, while I indeed wasn’t feeling so great, I hadn’t been in there more than a few seconds or made any noises that would make anybody wonder if I was okay. In case you were thinking she was just being nice.) I said, “uh… I’m good, thanks.” “That’s great!” Eek!
And she stays in there for ages. I don’t want to start my business because, well, I’m kind of uncomfortable about it now, and while I’m not one of those people who won’t crap in a public restroom if there’s somebody in there, well, I don’t know how this is going to sound, you know? (And now I’m kind of embarassed about posting this at all.) But she takes ages. She pees, and then she flushes, and then I don’t know what the hell she does, maybe files her nails or does her taxes or something. She finally leaves the stall, washes her hands, and then stands around talking to herself in the mirror! (Or maybe to me, but I’m pretending not to be there. Nobody here but us chickens!)
She natters on to herself for ages! Maybe she’s waiting for me to leave so she can take a bath in the sink and wash her clothes in the toilet? Maybe she’s the smoker who sprays the rotten strawberries? Maybe she comes from some weird alien culture where it’s rude not to leave with the one who brung you? Arrrrgh!
Finally, I do that thing where you flush the toilet and try to take care of your business under the cover of the flush noise. This woman’s presence has almost robbed me of the desire to go in the first place. And then I have to go out there and meet her at the sink, while she strikes up a conversation again! Jesus Christ!
So, am I completely neurotic to be so weirded out by it? It’s the knock on the stall wall that really got to me, I think. I seriously thought I had none of those weird restroom issues all those really neurotic Dopers have, you know? I’d been spending all this time feeling superior to people who only poop at home, or who really worry a lot about the appropriate usage of the courtesy flush, or who get all mad when somebody farts in a bathroom, but here I am with my own buried issues. Sigh.