Bathrooms serve as cultural windows: What do you take into the restroom?

When I travel abroad, I am often quite fascinated by the restrooms. Bathrooms can serve as cultural windows and thus I often use the restroom right after I land in a new country. It gives you immediate insights into what you are about to find.  I know this may seem like an odd series of statements, but trust me it is true. Do they use bidets?   Are you not allowed to even flush toilet paper?  Are there holes in the floor? Do you have to pay for toilet paper?  These all mean something at a larger societal level.


Now, what about at the individual level?


This past week, Twitter had a few laughs at the expense of a guy who took a large fountain soda into the restroom with him. He went into the stall and before he knew it, he dropped the soda drink. It spilled all over the floor splashing the man in the stall next door. Oops.   The soda dropper was so embarrassed that he stayed in the stall for close to an hour until everyone was out of the bathroom as he didn’t want to show his face.   Not only did he drop his soda, but he also live tweeted about. He went onto twitter and begged for advice from the Twitterverse. Many told him to wait it out in the stall. Many also chastised him for bringing a drink into the bathroom to begin with. Now this is where I want to focus.

Disaster strikes

You can now hear all sorts of conversations in the bathrooms as people readily bring their phones in with them. At first this yucked me out completely. Now, I am a bit more used to these random phone conversations in the bathroom stalls. But what about a drink? What is the etiquette for that? It would seem that you would want to avoid bringing something you plan to ingest. I mean there are a lot of germs there. The other day, I will admit, I did bring a soda can into the restroom. Not the stall. But the restroom. I was running from meeting to meeting and needed a soda. But I had no place to leave it as I was in a different building from that of my office.   I brought it in with me. But, I left it on top of the towel dispensary. I felt that was a good enough compromise.


However, when I finished using the restroom and washed my hands, I ran out of the restroom as quickly as humanly possible. I was afraid that someone would see me leaving the restroom with the soda can. I was embarrassed at what they might possibly think.   Even though I didn’t bring it into the stall, others might think that I did and that would be gross.  Oh, the horror.

Either way, it appears that people are pushing more and more the boundaries of what is acceptable to bring into a restroom.   Although, I sure hope no one brings in a hamburger anytime soon to a restroom stall.

6 replies »

  1. On my travels, I carry, not always wear, a type of vest overgarment that has lots of pockets. One of them is for toilet paper and one is for the small change in local currency to pay for entrance fees. In many restrooms, there are fees even when toilet paper is not required. I can never have too many pockets or plastic bags that I can use for document and important stuff protection during a rainy season.


  2. I always go to airport restrooms too, though i go out of necessity. Two bathrooms stood out the most, the one in Paris, where everything was for sale – tampons, pads, toilet paper, toothpaste, i even think there was a small sample-sized deodorant. and the bathroom smelled great. than there’s the one in Dubai, where every time someone leaves the stall, a cleaning lady goes in to clean it before someone else can go in.


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