Lesson #14 – What’s the Rule Anyway?



girl-standing-at-chalkboard rules

If you are ‘Seinfeld’ admirer then you know there are some episodes and one in particular that talks about the RULES!  I absolutely adore Seinfeld and the humor on that show.  It’s perfect.  No matter how often I see a repeat of any episode I laugh.

It is difficult nowadays to really know what the rules are.  The rules have changed in so many areas that it is hard to keep up. It’s really confusing for people of our generation and I think many rules should be broken….or maybe just changed a bit here and there.  I grew up following the rules.  Believe me when I say I had to follow the rules.  My father was 6 ft. 5 inches tall and weighed over 225 pounds so you better believe I followed the rules!

Not all rules are life and death situations.  Some are just silly and others not so much.  Some ‘rules’ may just be in my head that I heard about during those formative years and may not be rules at all.  Rules to live by are what differentiates us from other species.  We need rules to be a peaceful society.

Which brings me to….. public restrooms.

Very recently I have thought a lot about them particularly about those stalls in the bathroom marked just for the handicapped in wheelchairs.  If we were to park in a handicapped parking space without a decal, we would be sure to get a healthy ticket from the local police wandering around a parking lot.  But, what about that stall?  Is it for the handicapped just in case they were to enter that bathroom?  Those of us who are not in a wheelchair….are we not to use that handicapped stall if we go into the bathroom?  Let’s say there is a line of women waiting to use the bathroom.  There is ALWAYS a line of women wanting to use a public bathroom when we need one the most.  When we enter the bathroom should we ignore that handicapped stall just in case?  Or do we use it like any other?  What is the rule?? I don’t know about you but for years I acted like it was a ‘do not enter’ zone and NO ONE should ever use that stall just in case a handicapped woman would come in.  I can almost hear my mother saying ‘No dear, that is for the handicapped’.  However, recently I have decided that the handicap stall is not meant to sit idle.  It’s simple. I have never received a ticket from the bathroom police and I am still unsure, to this day, what the rule is.

One day just last month I actually used a handicap stall in a small bathroom because I had several packages with me as well as my purse and a jacket and I really NEEDED the extra room.  There is so much floor space in a handicap stall!  It is truly impressive.  The other stalls just don’t offer the same room.  In fact, we almost have to enter sideways and have to suck it in to turn around and be able to close the door.  It is not fun.  Obviously, there are no rules to make the non-handicap stalls large enough to maneuver.  I guess everyone should be size 4 to comfortably navigate a stall and never have a purse, jacket nor packages.  Anyway, I used the handicap stall and when I came out and there in front of me for the very first time in 65 years of being on this earth was a woman in a wheelchair waiting for the handicap stall.  I was absolutely mortified.  I apologized profusely that she had to wait for the stall and I mumbled something about having so much stuff and blah blah blah…….The woman didn’t say anything to make me feel better which made me feel worse!  She didn’t break a smile or make any sign for that matter that I was forgiven.  How stupid could I be.  I certainly wasn’t going to ask her what the rule is!  I still cringe at this memory.

Then a second occurrence… .  I entered a bathroom.  A woman was standing outside the handicap stall waiting to use it.  No wheelchair, no cane.  Another stall was empty and she motioned to me to ‘go ahead that one is free’.  I mumbled something like ‘are you waiting for….’.  She said she needed the handicap stall because she had a hip replacement.  I wasn’t sure what that had to do with anything except to say perhaps she needed to use the sidebars to help her sit and stand.  That had to be the reason.  Twice in a month and I just knew I had to write about this topic.

We cannot forget Ellen DeGeneres’ comedy skit about women and bathroom stalls.  She, too, is so funny.  She talked about what we women say when we are using the bathroom and another jiggles the bathroom stall door to find it locked.  We clear our throats or we say something like “I’m in here!”….. Perhaps we should introduce ourselves rather than say “I’m” since no one knows who “we” are.  Or we say, “I’ll be right out!” … but it is always in a controlled but concerned voice that somehow by shaking the door, it will swing open and whoops….there we are!  Or worse, we never locked it.

What is the rule if there is a long line of women and the men’s bathroom is empty with no line?  For the life of me I don’t remember having a problem with bathrooms like I do now.  When we were in Vienna my husband and I went to a concert hall and during the intermission (OF COURSE) I had to use the lady’s room ie bathroom, le toilet’ if you prefer…..and yes it was full.  Right next to ‘our’ room was the men’s room.  Empty!!  I was doing the jitterbug waiting to use the bathroom and there is something that ‘older’ women and pregnant women share.  We are sisters in this regard I like to think.  Anyway, I asked my husband to be on the lookout and ask approaching men to please wait just for a moment until I finished up.  Well, I was using a stall from ‘their’ room and I heard the door open and close, open and close.  SURELY my husband was doing his duty to me, his beloved wife, and asking men to please wait!  I hurried……I opened the stall door and there in front of me……WERE TWO MEN USING THE URINAL!  These men didn’t seem to care one way or the other.  They kind of glanced at me but I guess I figured what were they to do mid stream (as my husband will say).  They couldn’t very well stop and say something to me.  I am sure I stuttered and said ‘excuse me’ but I couldn’t say much more.  My husband had failed his mission.  I am unsure if he cared either.  Maybe men don’t think it is a big deal in Vienna or in Europe for that matter.  Look at Amsterdam where they have urinals on every street corner!  No stalls for women mind you…but urinals for the men!  I am unsure if these men thought…..’She must be an American!’ but I’m pretty sure they must have.  Hey, you have to pee, you have to pee!  Rather, you gotta go, you gotta go.

My husband and I were at a local pub last week and he excused himself and walked off towards the bathroom. Oops! Someone was in the men’s room and he waited for a few minutes and then walked into the lady’s room. No one was waiting to use that one. I think this happens less often. But why not? If it’s empty, I say go ahead and use it. Luckily for him it was just one room and one lavatory so when he came out women weren’t using urinals. Thank goodness.

Then we have bathroom attendants that I am always surprised to see standing in the bathrooms and handing out towels!  Normally, we see attendants at wedding receptions and other special events.   It never fails that I am surprised to find them in any bathroom since I very seldom see attendants anymore.  The sad fact is I never have change nor any cash with me.  Never!   Sometimes the attendant has other sundry items on the counter which I have never used nor will I ever.  I usually am embarrassed when I am handed a towel because of no tip but I wouldn’t know what to tip them anyway!  I normally mumble and say ‘thank you’ as I use that towel but guilt sets in and I promise myself that I will bring cash next time.  I happen to believe that bathroom attendants are yesteryear.  They are a flashback to slower times.  I asked my husband if the male rooms have attendants and, yes, they do.. sometimes!  I really thought it was a women’s issue but apparently not.  I wonder if men tip their attendants or, like me, they don’t usually have cash.  What is the rule on tipping attendants?  Drying hands on a towel is probably worth less of a tip than maybe using a cologne on the vanity.

I have always followed the rules without question.  Well, darn it, I think we need to question rules to make sure they make sense.  I, for one, am very tired of waiting in lines for the bathroom while the men slip in and out so quickly.  Maybe the 60’s mentality is taking hold after all!  Let’s revolt!  Oh heck, on the other hand, let’s not.  I need a nap.

Oh, by the way, am I allowed to say ‘pee’ in a blog?  What is the rule?


Tagged , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: