Why Visiting A Public Restroom Makes Me Twitchy

So I think we’ve established that I tend to ruminate and am a wee bit anxious about social situations such as ordering coffee and dealing with public meltdowns at Target.

I have found, lately, that there is something else that causes me to be overly twitchy and preoccupied with matters of fecal contamination and transmission of stranger’s urine.

You see, there’s this:

The public restroom is hard to avoid, a necessary evil and the place of very questionable public behavior by many people.

First, there is this to contend with:

Stepping into one of these requires touching the following:

 And this:

and don’t even get me started on the complexity of adding this to the experience:

This topic is handled brilliantly by Amber Dusick in this hilarious post called Public Toilets vs. Newly Potty Trained Kids. Her illustrations are priceless.

However, The Department of Public Toilet Germ Busters have tried to mitigate this twitch inducing situation by introducing this:

(which I think of as the Sploogeomatic)

but then there’s the issue of this:

which is sometimes also addressed (in some bathrooms) by The Department of Public Toilet Germ Busters by the placement of this:

which may or may not knock your toddler across the room into the dirty stall or remove the top layer of your epidermis.

And finally, there is the problem of this:

The tricky exit.

One touch of that handle could undo all of this:

So why not equip public restrooms with someone kind like this:

Or how about some of these:

To combat the transmission of your friend and mine:

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27 thoughts on “Why Visiting A Public Restroom Makes Me Twitchy

  1. Plus doing all these tricks with one child crying, one child trying to climb under the stall and into the other one and one deciding this is the time to ask a simple question like where do babies come from add to the fun!! You always make me laugh!!

    • Kathy, The whole public restroom experience makes me want to be hosed off after I am done doing my business. Bleh. But taking multiple children inside? Horrible! I hear ya!!

  2. I decided years ago to not think about it. Because really, the number of germs we counter all day long every day…

    It’s horrifying.

    I had a biology professor at UCLA who once told my class this:
    Human beings are pretty much just walking bacteria.

    I try to remember that and not vomit when I realize what this means.
    Especially in public restrooms.

  3. Yes, visiting a public restroom with more than one child is awful. Especially if the Handicap bathroom isn’t available and I have to squeeze all three of us into a normal-size one. All while (calmly) screaming about not touching anything or peeking under stalls. And the hubby won’t take either of them anymore because even he doesn’t want them sitting on a men’s toilet.

  4. I have to show my husband this post. He is hilarious when it comes to public restrooms and he has a “process.” He has to use the paper towel to open the doors. Well, one time the bathroom only had air dryers AND all the stalls were out of TP. After washing his hands, he couldn’t get out because he didn’t have anything to use on the door. I sat & waited…and waited…and finally he came out because someone else opened the door to enter. It was a bit of a traumatic experience for all.

  5. I am not a germophobe, and never got too worried about this stuff. Ignorance is bliss. I do want to share that I once knew a little boy who called the symbol for Women that adorns restrooms the “broken mommy sign” because of the separation of the head from the body. He was obsessed with signs and interpreted them very creatively. He is now about 18 or 19. Jennifer, I am that old friend of David F’s and I read your blog regularly. It’s so great. I am considering starting to blog, but your post about Bitches made me worried. If I blog, do I have to tweet? I don’t want to tweet. Do I have to drum up readers by venturing into the blogosphere? The reason I want to blog is that I don’t like to leave my chair. I don’t know if I want to even do that virtually. Any advice would be lovely. I feel I know you and I RELATE to your mom stories and other stories so much (lost my mom in 2004, the saddest thing ever to happen to me). Sooooo–thank you!

    • Hi Alice! Thanks so much for stopping by regularly! You have an Eliza, too, right? I remember you. I would love to talk to you about blogging. I’m pretty new to this myself, but I can tell you what I know and point you to some great blogs that give excellent advice. Please shoot me an email and we’ll talk. (kvetchmom(at)gmail(dot)com)

  6. I really don’t think I should tell you this. In fact, I know I shouldn’t- but I don’t want to be the only one knowing it.

    When I was still teaching- I was in the school restroom one morning using the bathroom. As I went to use the hand dryer the health teacher said ‘STOP!!’
    I froze. She then told me that all those hand drying machines do is recycle the fecal matter that is in the AIR and we breathe it in. I scoffed- ‘oh you JEST of course!!!’ I said.

    Oh no. She was not kidding.

    I haven’t used one since and that was 3 years ago.

  7. I’m borderline OCD (translation: OCD in denial) and public restrooms make me sad. My son is older now, thank heavens, but when he was little I often considered tying his hands before we went into a restroom. He’d run his hands up and down the little grip rails, and he wanted to flush the toilet. No wonder I’m nuts.

    P.S. I’m REALLY glad I found this blog. You are a riot!

    • Hi Janice, Well I’m so glad you visited and shared a comment. Thank you! Public restrooms are depressing, I totally understand why they make you sad. I try to get in and out as quickly as possible without touching many surfaces. So happy for you that your son has outgrown running his hands over the nasty stuff :)

    • Galit, I so feel for any parent leading a child into a public restroom. You just know they are in for it! My 2 yo is a very tactile kid, so I know there’s going to be every more mucho handwashing in our near future. Now that your guy is potty trained you must be visiting lots of bathrooms, huh?

    • Amberr, I’ve had a nice 5 year break from dealing with potty training, but I see that the time will soon be upon me again and I am dreading all the toilet touching, licking, exploration. Shiver. :) Thanks for popping by!

  8. Jennifer… so glad I’m not alone on this one. I flew to Japan without using the airplane bathroom because those freak me out even more than regular public restrooms! My husband had to take our kids into public bathrooms when they were little because the thought of bringing my kids in there completely freaked me out. And, he is a neat/clean freak like me, too! I’m getting the twitches just reading/writing about this! My friend (and pledge sister) once told me a story about her daughter (now 19) and how she tried to flush the toilet with her foot at her grandmother’s house after being taught never to touch anything in a public restroom. I’ve always tried not to be a complete lunatic with my kids when I have to take them into the public restroom… but it doesn’t always work. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to feel normal about my public restroom issue!

    • Lisa, I always, always flush with my foot. (Not in my own house. Yet. But I might once the boys get older!) You aren’t alone! Many of use are totally skeeved by public restrooms. They are nasty. How you made it to Japan without peeing is impressive, lady! :0

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