A Note on Bathroom Etiquette

One thing I really appreciate about the Pacific Northwest is how we all go around acting really sorry to have bothered anybody we happen to cross paths with who isn’t obviously happy to see us.

Which is why the incident I have just been involved in is basically the most appalling thing ever. Someone knocked on the door while I was in the bathroom… twice. I know. I’m going to need some serious therapy to get over this horrible abuse of the acoustic qualities of the Powell’s Hawthorne bathroom door.

Here’s the thing. Unlike Powell’s downtown, my local Powell’s only has two bathrooms. One for book customers and one for cafe customers. Since I was there to buy books, I decided to do the decent thing and wait outside the frequently occupied book bathroom. I of course waited patiently and quietly because the lock was engaged, and I knew that because the little red “in use” flag was in the little window in the lock which had been put there for exactly this purpose. The person currently defiling that public toilet and I would have had absolutely no reason to ever even hear one another’s voices. Except for the fact that the person in the bathroom was talking to themselves. Loudly. And for a very long time.

And because I have lived in Portland exactly long enough that I will never again have the gall to ask another grown person why they are talking to themselves in a bathroom I want to use, I went to the cafe bathroom. Which also has the little “available” and “in use” flags on its lock. This is important.

Because less than 30 seconds into my already stressful (illegal use of cafe bathroom) experience, someone knocked on the door. Which is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY. There is a tiny flag for exactly this circumstance. When you go up to a bathroom door with a tiny “in use” flag, you know that THE BATHROOM IS IN USE YOU GOD DAMNED CRETIN. Only a firefighter should ever knock on a door with such a sign on it, and only when things are actually, totally, completely on fire.

The “in use” sign is there for both of us. So you don’t have to waste your time knocking on things millions of gross other people have touched, and so I don’t have to muster the fucking emotional fortitude to say “someone’s in here” as pleasantly and firmly as possible while rubbing desperately at my own asshole with the worst most horrible toilet paper on the market.

And this is very important. Under no circumstances whatsoever (except for aforementioned billows of flesh-searing flame) should anyone EVER knock a second time. DID YOU THINK I HAD ESCAPED THROUGH THE WINDOW YOU HORRIBLE TWAT?

I understand that the person on the other side of the door may have been in distress, but it’s not like I was just waiting for them to keep knocking on the door like some kind of sick public shame game. Short of letting them piss between my open legs like that one time on The L Word, I had nothing for them. Except for a second “someone is in here” identical to the first to indicate to this obviously dense individual that NOTHING HAD CHANGED in the 30 seconds between this knock and the last one.

And don’t even try to say it could have been two different people. No two people in Portland are that horrible.