Thursday 10 November 2005

how low can you go?

When I was at work today, I got to wondering.

I was wondering if toilet etiquette was the same for girls as it is for boys. I was wondering if toilet etiquette is the same for the rest of the world as it is in England.

Perhaps I should explain. There is an unwritten code of behaviour in toilets that all men are expected to abide by. Failure to abide by this code is unthinkable. You are probably familiar with it. It goes something like this.

(In case you weren't aware, one thing you should know is that every gents toilet, at least in the UK, consists of a number of urinals and a number of cubicles)

Rule number 1: Always leave a buffer zone. Under no circumstances should you ever stand at a urinal immediately next to another man.

Rule number 2: You should always leave the biggest possible buffer zone that you can between yourself and anyone else. The first man into a toilet should always choose one of the urinals at the end of the row. The second man in should choose the urinal at the other end. The third man in should choose the urinal in the middle, and so on.

Rule number 3: If you can't leave a buffer zone, you should go to a cubicle. It is not acceptable to violate rule 1, or to wait for a vacancy.

Rule number 4: eyes front at all times. The standard is to look at a point on the wall directly in front of you and about a foot above eye-level.

Rule number 5: no talking

Rule number 6: If circumstances dictate that you cannot abide by any of rule 1, rule 2, rule 3, or rule 5, you should leave the toilet immediately and come back later.

Rule number 7: If you cannot abide by rule 4, then you should always use a cubicle.

There are some exceptions (half-time at a football match, for example), but basically that's it.

Do women have a similar set of unwritten rules? Is it acceptable to use a cubicle immediately next door to another occupied cubicle? I have heard stories that it is even acceptable to chat to your neighbour when in a cubicle. Can this be true?

Do these rules hold good across the world? Is it just the British who are this uptight?

Now I've started to think about it, I feel I must be told.

Or perhaps it's just me?


(you can see just how well you understand the rules with this little game - full marks is the only acceptable score if you are a man, by the way)

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