Imagine for a moment, just for the sake of argument, that you are female. You’re in a public place with public restrooms–not the kind with a bunch of stalls, just single-occupant restrooms where you lock the door and have the place to yourself. You try the ladies’ room handle and find it locked. Nobody’s looking. Do you wait for the ladies’ to be free, or do you slip over to the men’s room?
This happened to me yesterday at Trader Joe’s. I went over and tried the men’s room door, but it was locked too. So I went back and stood outside the ladies’. The sounds coming through the door were ominous. First, I heard the woman talking. This is bad. It means there’s somebody in there for her to talk to, possibly a small infant with a bulging diaper.
It only got worse when I picked up on some words: “But you said you had to go just a minute ago!” Very bad. I’d bet a lot of money that somebody in that room was in training pants, and those kind of people are total bad news potty-wise. Their little bladders are going to change their minds five or six times before Mommy gives up. Then this small person will come out the door and give me The Look. Toddlers have limited experience with gray-haired ladies: we’re either their beloved Grandma, or else some storybook witch who’s likely to eat small children. I’m not Grandma; therefore, I’m viewed with serious concern.
I figured I’d stand outside the ladies’ room door, looking as nonchalant and innocent as possible, till the men’s room vacated and I could make my break. I didn’t want some guy to find me hovering by his rightful door.
When the men’s room door opened, though, it turned out another middle-aged woman had been using it. I smiled at her and went to take my turn.
Why do we even need single-user bathrooms separated by gender, anyway? it almost always goes badly for our side.