Marolt: Disturbing the peace with toilet time
I’m willing to compromise in order to right a serious cellphone wrong currently carried out far too often. Sometimes, parents may need to take a call from the baby sitter while they are in a restaurant. Once in a while, a text might have to be answered during a movie. Occasionally, a real estate deal must come together on a ride up the gondola.
But when it comes to initiating a bowel movement or urinating, let’s all agree right now that putting down the cellphone for a few moments to take care of business is the only decent thing to do.
Come on, people — it isn’t very hard. There are already built-in euphemistic excuses for begging out of a phone conversation when nature is on call waiting — “I’ve got to take this” is nearly perfect. “I really have to go” is almost as good.
It’s not like anyone wants to converse with a voice reverberating throughout the tiled confines of a public restroom, anyway. Toilets flushing, faucets gushing, hand dryers blowing and the natural intestinal noises being generated during the process, which are not noteworthy in the places they are supposed to occur, stand out loud and clear when they are broadcast into my ear.
I see a guy standing at a urinal with a phone pinched between his cheek and shoulder, talking sports like he’s standing around the office water cooler, and all I can think is, “Why?” I hear another guy apparently participating in a conference call in a toilet stall with his phone on hands-free speaker mode, and I think, “What the crap?” Literally!
One of the worst luxury features ever dreamt up was the bathroom telephone (followed closely by bathroom television sets). Those have been mostly eradicated by a populace paying attention to life. Why, then, have we brought them back in wireless form to the most intimate publicly private places we visit only on an as-needed basis?
It is a waste product of technology that I might be enjoying lunch at a favorite dining spot while you squat and squawk to me from a stall in the Wagner Park outhouse. Your call is not that important to me; please hang up and try again later.
It’s not like people don’t understand when you have to go. Most people are overly accommodating when it’s understood that nature is calling. I know a woman who got pulled over for speeding on Highway 82.
“What seems to be the rush?” the highway patrolman asked, ticket pad in hand.
“It’s kind of embarrassing,” she replied urgently. “I have to go poop.”
She was on her way in seconds without as much as a warning. Of course, she was lying, but the point is that people give you leeway with your time and theirs in these situations. There is no apology necessary.
The reason this has become what I consider an urgent topic is not because somebody dropped their cellphone into the toilet on an airplane while it was at the gate waiting for departure at Christmas time on my daughter’s flight home from college, and 150 passengers were delayed for an hour and a half while mechanics fished for the offending phone and then had to make an inspection to ensure no damage was done to the aircraft, causing many to miss connecting flights and generally creating a nightmarish travel day for everyone involved.
No, that is not the reason. Nor is the reason because this exact same thing happened again to me this week. Some boob was yakking on the can on an American Airlines flight out of Dallas as people boarded and accidentally dropped his phone in the bowl while tweeting around or, heaven forbid, taking a selfie, and a couple of hundred people paid a miserable 90-minute price waiting on the hot tarmac.
These cases are not highly unlikely, odd coincidences. People must be dropping their phones with stunning regularity into all sorts of public toilets, not to mention their own private ones, too. But no, this is still not the reason we need to talk about this — or at least not the most critical one.
The reason this has to stop is because the other day I thought I actually heard a grunt on the other end of a business call. (No, it couldn’t have been.) Then it sounded like a balloon was sputtering flat in the background. (Naw, impossible.) Finally, there was the unmistakable sound of efficient plumbing eliminating wastewater. (Awww noooo — it was so!) This is why we need to talk.
Roger Marolt believes more people should read on the toilet to keep their minds off of trying to feel important. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My husband and I have been together for 11 years and have two young children. I had been working in finance when we met, but I’ve never really prioritized my career.
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