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Common Indecency: Bathroom Etiquette

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People that don't follow bathroom rules have got to go.

I don't want to know what you do in there as much as I don't want you to know what I do in there. I'm sure you text in there because I text in there -- it should be uninterrupted time where I can get my shit together.

It's the door talkers that are gonna startle me, break my Candy Crush streak, and make me drop my phone in the water. It doesn't matter where you are -- at a party, at work, even your own home, who doesn't understand that you don't talk to someone through a bathroom door?

In a public bathroom, I stand at a urinal only if there's a really solid partition. I hear guys behind me in stalls on calls conducting business, closing deals. I'll shoot you an email confirming those points. Do they think the toilet is a giant porcelain button that when sat upon, activates a cone of silence?

I'm pee shy. I've always been suspicious of men able to walk up to a trough-type urinal, brandish their tallywhacker about and demand that it pee on command. And it always does. I want to be that type of man, but as soon as I hear the guy next to me let it fly, some insecure elf that lives in my brain turns the faucet off.

Then I have to flee the scene. I act like I've just finished peeing. I make a big move like I have to fold my member in half in order to coax it back into my pants, and I swagger away like a cowboy fresh off a horse. Moments later, I'm back in the lobby of wherever I am, hating myself, jiggling my leg and still needing to pee.

The Marine Corps immediately instilled in me a remarkable ability to hold my pee. When I enlisted, the recruiter played a video depicting boot camp life. I was ready for the head shaving, the boots-as-running shoes, and even the all-green wardrobe. But once at Parris Island, I walked in on an unspeakable indiscretion.

What I saw is a horror still fresh in my mind. A room full of toilets. A twenty-foot-square room lined with toilets. Just toilets. No stalls. One pot next to another pot next to another pot, ad infinitum. My bare-ass butt sitting on an exposed, bare-ass toilet in front of dozens of other recruits was a shitload of not-gonna-happen.

Recruits were dropping their pants and sitting down like this was the way they'd used the bathroom their entire lives. I'd travelled; I'd been to summer camp with its shared facilities. But this? This was not normal. These guys were acting like they'd been raised in a house with more than one toilet in a bathroom.

I agreed to serve my country, but I did not sign up for communal toilets. They have got to make a much longer recruitment video.

In a world where privacy has been flushed down the drain, we need to hold on to bathroom etiquette as our last bastion for common decency.

I wash my hands of those who don't respect this sanctuary. And for those who don't wash their hands, I pray for you.

This article is inspired by my just-finished memoir about my time in boot camp. And by the guy romancing his girlfriend in the stall next to me as I write this on my phone.