Etiquette: Would you have said anything?

I just used a public restroom in the building where I work and the woman in the stall next to me kept moaning and saying “Oh, God.” Not in a good way, either. I just finished as quickly as I could and got out of there so she could have the place to herself.

Do you think I should have asked if she needed help? I’m no stranger to intestinal distress and I mainly just want to be left alone. Also, we’re in a facility where there are plenty of medical types wandering the halls, if she needed real help.

What would you have done?

I would ask if someone sounds like they might need help. Better safe than sorry.

At my work, I would have asked if the person was ok, but there are only a handful of women here so I know most of them. If I was in a strange public bathroom I don’t know if I would say anything. I don’t know why. It’s probably better to ask if they need help, but I can see how it would be embarassing if the person just wants to be left alone. ETA: maybe I feel this way because I want to be left alone when I am sick. However, I can see an emergency situation when I might need someone to call for help for me.

Now that I think about it more, the right thing to do is probably ask if they are ok. They can always just say no and you can quickly leave. But confronted with that situation unprepared I can see why the instinct would be to leave them alone.

I would definitely have asked if someone needed help in a similar situation. It could have been lots of things, but if she sounded as if she were in distress I wouldn’t worry about embarassment. Maybe even report it to management, depending on her response.

I don’t think this is an etiquette question, but more of a Samaritan question.

I probably would not have asked, recognizing that I probably should. But public bathroom, total stranger, intestinal ooginess . . . I’m a bit ashamed to confess that I would probably flee, unless the sounds indicated a true emergency.

The sounds indicated a painful round of the Big D.

It would really depend on the degree of distress in her voice. If she sounded “sick, but because of bad chicken” I think I would flee. If it sounded like she was giving birth I would probably ask if she needed help. Tough to say, really.

In that case, I think your best bet from an etiquette standpoint is just to keep a polite (if embarrassed) silence.

Unless you have a voice distorter that can make you sound like a basso profundo. Then you can always wait for her to say “Oh, God…”, and reply, “…Yes?” (Or “Yea, unto the tenth generation.”)

One day at work I was the one needing some help while in the stall.

It wasn’t any “intestinal ooginess”, but a massive nosebleed that I could not get to stop. I was borderline hysterical, starting to hyperventilate (all that blood was freaking me out!!) when finally a co-worker came in and asked if I was all right. I told her that I was having trouble stopping my nosebleed and she ran right out and got a manager to help calm me down and make sure I was OK. I was in that bathroom for at least 20 minutes before someone came in and I was lucky enough that this person was concerned enough to ask.

So, at the very least I would have just said something to the effect of “Are you OK?” Then if the answer was “No,” run out to get help from a manager or one of those medical type people that are roaming the halls.

I see your point, HelloKitty, but she knew I was there. I think, if I had it to do over again I’d ask if she needed anything. I went back just now and there was no one there.

I was acting on the basis of what I would have wanted someone to do, I guess. Let’s hope it was just the lunch special disagreeing with her.


Let’s see… I’d get "C"onstipation, "P"eriod or "M"enstruation. Do you mean "D"iarrhea or is there yet some additional mysterious female ailment I’ll always be relative uninformed about?

I think I’d ask but, considering the setting, don’t feel bad for being hesitant.

ETA: If you knew she knew you were there and she still never called out to you, then you shouldn’t feel bad at all for leaving her to her own devices.

Big D. Little i. Little a. Double r, h, e, a.

Ah… and “Big” too!

Carol Burnett fan, are we?

What are you supposed to do? Say, “Is everything coming out of OK?” No. You flee. Run like you are being chased by priapic demons. There are no unusual goings-on in the public restroom needful of additional enquiry.

This poor person’s bottom seems to be associated with any number of locales.

Man, I"ve had some serious GI issues, but never enough to cry out loud “OH GOD!” or anything else. I would find that really alarming and ask “Are you OK?” Hell, she could have been having some sort of severe stomach pain or something else that really needed medical attention. I think when you lose your ability to stay quiet in the restroom, something serious is probably going on.

Speaking of low-cal, maybe this was an Olestra incident.

You’ve heard of Leaving Las Vegas? Well now there is Oh God! in OK.

It’s hard for me to say - I often use the public restroom here at work, because the staff one is in the basement. It’s a public library. People wash their clothes in the toilets sometimes. You generally don’t want to get involved.

On the other hand, a lady once had a baby in that very restroom.

So I think I wouldn’t have said anything, but I think I would also have felt pretty conflicted.