Lost Among Europeans

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Toilet business

This is recycled from an email I sent my running group in NY this morning:

One of the areas where I was greatly surprised in this country was restroom behavior. Back home, when using the urinal next to another guy, it was rare to talk at all. If you were next to your friend you'd sort of joke about it, try to be funny: "So, how's it hanging?", "What's on your mind?". At work in Spain, it was much the same thing. When my boss was in the next urinal, we'd either not talk at all, or kinda joke. Conversations are typically interrupted until you're washing your hands.

I was pretty shocked when, at Bear Stearns, the hedge-fund manager, at the urinal next to mine, started a conversation with me. It was not only him, I grew used to seeing people chat about business or family while at the urinal. When spoken to at the urinal, I will respond just to be polite, but it seems pretty strange to me. It’s like mixing … well I’m sure you understand.

I have seen other things that strike me, like people talking on the cell while, um, sitting on the toilet. This one I have also seen in Spain a couple of times, and it is equally disturbing.

But today was the absolute topper. The guy in the booth next to mine was typing on his laptop between, er, intervals.

There is something sacred for me about books, computers, or conversations. I don’t want to bring any of them to the toilet. I guess I’m old fashioned.

Scott had a terrific answer:

I agree with "No pissing and talking." and "No talking on the phone/laptop use in the stall." Whenever I hear someone on the phone in the next stall I like to flush my toilet a few times and complain aloud about how the toilet is clogged and then shout, "Uh-oh! It's overflowing!!!"