My office just got a new gender-neutral bathroom. There was a lot of objection from some staff members, mostly women, about having to ‘share with men,’ but ultimately, no amount of objection could erase the simple need:
We needed it to meet building code for minimum number of toilets per residents.
It’s true! The building codes let us have fewer toilets if some were able to be used by everyone, and that helped bring down the cost of renovating the building. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that where enlightenment fails, frugality may just push us forward.
So, how was it to pee next to someone without knowing their genitalia? Why is that a question?
I was afraid guys would feel awkward if I was present in the bathroom with them. That was it. I didn’t care if guys were in there, but I didn’t want to make THEM feel bad.
One of the first times I went in, I saw a pair of sneakers in the last stall.
I went into the stall next to it. Probably out of a perverse need to not give in to my own desire to make things easier for random sneaker-wearer, who could have been a girl, but whom I suspected was a boy.
I did my business fully aware of ever splash, plop and fart. EEP!
Then I was done. I flushed, washed my hands, dried them.
There had been no sound nor motion from the last stall. I wondered if this person was okay, or just scared to come out when there was a woman present?
After a brief pause, I left.
So… that was it. The most awkward experience so far.
I wonder if part of the resistance to gender-free restrooms is this desire, from straight people specifically, not to have the other gender know that they poop? Sort of the whole ‘be attractive at all times even if I’m not interested’ drive? Or something? But the fact remains: everyone poops.
A coworker actually said, “Do you want TOM to know you just pooped? He’d see you come out of a stall!”
“Uh, he could already see me come out of the bathroom if he was in the hallway?”
For a while, people avoided the gender-neutral bathroom so it was the cleanest in the building. It became my favorite. I noticed, though, it’s started to get just as dirty as the others. Yesterday, the staff member who objected the most, and most loudly, was casually talking about the timing on the auto-flush. “Is there a ghost in there? I swear the stall next to mine flushed twice with no one in it.”
It’s hardly been a year, now, and I’m not sure anyone still thinks about it, though I am surprised, sometimes, to see a guy coming out when I’m going in. But we just both laugh at ourselves and go about our day.
That’s what progress looks like: laugh at yourself, and carry on.by