Ask Martha: Potty-Time Predicament

13 Nov

Dear Martha,
I just met you at the grocery store the other day and you handed me your card. I’m writing for two reasons: 1. Technically, I was closer to the checkout lane and you had more groceries so you should have let me through still. 2. Your card says you give advice so I have a question. Which public restroom stall is, statistically, the cleanest to use?

Still Waiting in the Checkout Line

Dear Still Waiting,

I’m glad you wrote me. You’re taking the first step toward anger and curiosity management. I’ll address all of your concerns but start by saying:
Numbering your concerns is such a considerate technique of writing.

True, I had more items in my basket than you, meaning I probably had been at the grocery store much longer than you therefore, with my last ounce of energy, I had to maneuver my overloaded cart into the small space you left me while trying to decide which lane was the least busy. If it makes you feel better, they screwed up and charged me twice for bananas and I spent another half hour at customer service.

I can sympathize with your concern about the public toilets. I remember the day when the statisticians or psychologists or whoever decides to study this kind of business… I remember when they announced that, indeed, the first stall of public restrooms was the cleanest. This of course, as you probably realize, caused mass hysteria and long lines for the first stall, even when the other stalls were vacant. Some people even misunderstood the information and began sitting directly on the toilet seat thinking the “cleanest” meant “in the whole world”. Shortly after, we began to realize that the first stall, after being used so much, was no longer the cleanest stall. In fact, it was becoming the stinkiest of the stalls.

So, you ask, which is the cleanest stall now? Good luck, until the experts come out with the new results. Here’s how I reason which stall to go into: DO NOT use the first stall UNLESS you have been on the road for 6 hours straight and have had one bottled water for every hour and the first stall happens to be the only stall.

Using the Wheelchair Accessible stall is against the rules unless, of course, you have three or more children all under age 6. Let’s say there are three more stalls to choose from. Don’t use the one closest to the first stall because chances are those who avoid the first stall go for the most convenient next choice. I wouldn’t use the stall closest to the Wheelchair Accessible stall either. That one is used often because there are so many people out there that try to get away with using the spacious Wheelchair Accessible stall and right before they go in, someone else walks into the restroom. The rule breaker says aloud, “I almost used the wrong stall, that wouldn’t be right!” and they escape into the nearest stall right next to it. The middle one is not the safest answer either; it’s the happy-medium toilet. When those in despair about which of the five to use finally decide, they either flip a mental coin or just pick somewhere in the middle. Now I’m no statistician, but I would say wait till you get home if you can without damaging your bladder.

But you’re in the restroom asking yourself this question for a reason, right? YOU HAVE TO GO NOW! Here’s my simple advice. Do The Hover. Use all the strength in your legs to keep your bottom from touching that toilet seat no matter which stall you go in. Do not touch anything! Especially not the toilet paper roll, it might fall out and you’ll be forced to sit on the seat to keep from falling over.

“I’m too short,” you might say, or “My legs are too weak.” Well then you need to build a barrier of toilet paper around every centimeter of that toilet seat. If you have to become a barrier builder make sure you go to the restroom earlier and without urgency, you don’t want to pee your pants standing right next to the toilet with paper in your hands.

Again, I sympathize with your dilemma. I’ve been there. I’ve done the leg lifts and lunges for strength and wore platforms for height and to this day I do The Hover, whatever it takes to avoid the contact with whatever is living on that toilet seat. It’s all I can do to see another day. I hope this helps.


P.S. If it’s your kid that has to use the potty, work those arms. It’s time for hover-assistance!


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