As I entered the restroom at work on one of my frequent trips throughout the day, I heard an unfamiliar noise coming from one of the stalls. Someone was clearly playing a video game on their phone as they conducted their business. The unusual part was that he had the volume turned up to an abnormally high level for a public setting such as this. I did not meet this man, but here is the conversation we had while never laying eyes on one another.
ME: Sooo uh what are you playing in there? Sounds kinda like Super Mario Bros.
GAMER: Good ear. Yea I’ve got this great emulator on my phone.
ME: Don’t you feel like the volume is a little loud? I know this isn’t the library but there is usually some sense of keeping it on the quiet side in the restroom.
GAMER: Why is that? Like you said, this isn’t the library. It’s certainly not church. Why does everyone always speak in hushed tones?
ME: I think it’s because of the tile. The acoustics in hear amplify everything. Sound bounces everywhere. That and the fact that many unspeakable things happen behind these doors. Also, no eye contact should ever be made in here.
GAMER: We are a squeamish culture when it comes to matters of the intestines.
ME: Let me ask you this – would you take a phone call while sitting on the toilet?
GAMER: My toilet at home? Yes for certain people. A public toilet? Never.
ME: Thank goodness you said that.
GAMER: What am I a barbarian? Playing Super Mario Bros. with the sound up while on the bowl is one thing. The music and sound effects are critical to playing the game properly. Taking a phone call is just disrespectful to the other person on the phone and the other people in the bathroom.
ME: You know what’s strange – I just got a little angry that you called it a bathroom. When there is clearly no bathing that takes place here. But then again, there is no rest that takes place in this restroom either. Sure you can sit, but that is hardly resting.
GAMER: Would you prefer the term water closet?
ME: If I were European I would.
GAMER: Well you’re-a-peein’ in here aren’t you.
ME: (hearty laughter) Ahhh classic joke. Can I ask you one more question? I realized that you were in the handicap stall. Clearly the handicap stall is the superior stall - there’s more room and there are those nifty handles for balancing. But don’t you ever feel guilty taking the handicap stall if the regular stall is open? Like what if a handicapable person comes in and you’re occupying his stall? I never take the handicap stall if the other is open even though I always want to.
GAMER: I never thought about that.
ME: I have an abnormally guilty conscience.
GAMER: That’s no good for the intestines. Too much stress.
ME: I’m trying to get past it. By the way, I’m circulating a petition that will require all public restrooms, by law, to have OCCUPIED and VACANT signs on the outside of the door and/or stall. It’s time we put an end to accidental walk-ins. Would you be willing to sign it?
GAMER: Just slide it under the door.