Bathroom Etiquette

27 Jun

Girls who snore, drunken Michiganites urinating on the floor beside my bed, showers that smell like toilets and the occasional sound of two people eating eachother’s faces in the bed beside mine. These are the things I’ve grown accustomed to over six weeks of hostelling in Europe. Coming up on my seventh and last week, there is but one thing that I just can’t seem to get used to: poor bathroom behavior.

Knock knock.
“Someone’s in here!”

It’s a simple exchange unknown to essentially every backpacker of every nationality. The knock is meant to gauge whether the toilet area is occupied or not. The verbal exclamation is to let the inquiring party understand that, Yes, There is Someone Inside, Wait One Moment Please and You will Have the Room to Yourself for Relief, Primping, Masturbation, Whichever Activity your Heart Desires. …But I don’t need to tell you this, Interneters, because I give you the benefit of the doubt that you perform the courtesy-knock prior to violently yanking the bathroom door handle.

Here’s my problem. I’m from the suburbs of Boston, a place best known for people who use road rage, sarcasm, and inappropriate personal comments on a daily basis. But any time I’ve been to any public bathroom in any neighborhood whether in the suburbs or the city, people here still have the decency to knock on a bathroom door. It’s almost as common as shaking hands or waving goodbye. In fact, anywhere in the Northeast it’s pretty much the same. It’s just decent.

Over six weeks of travelling, someone knocked on the bathroom door while I was inside once. I don’t know who this phantom door knocker was because he or she was mysteriously absent when I emerged. (Did the urge to ‘go’ suddenly vanish? Did you prefer a more natural setting such as the outdoors?..) All other times, I’ve been enjoying the solitude of the one private place for budget travellers –well I mean I wasn’t like having wine and cheese next to the toilet or anything but mainly just savoring silence while washing my hands or something– and YANK someone pulls on the door handle, scaring the crap out of me.

The only logic I can see behind this is that knocking is strictly an American thing. Either that, or there are a buttload of creepers hoping to surprise a girl with her pants down.

Either way I’ll never get used to it.


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