Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My office's restroom design defies the natural laws of men's restrooms!

The men's restroom in my employer's office has a critical flaw in its design: two urinals.

As any conscientious male knows, there are certain buffer zones of personal space that should be honored when concerning the act of relieving one's bladder.

For example, if you enter a three-urinal restroom and find all unoccupied, you would select either the leftmost or rightmost station; this allows any subsequent urinator to occupy the urinal on the far opposite side. In this way proper proximities are established and each man can go about his business in a relaxed state.

What if, you say, you enter a three-urinal restroom and find stations 1 and 3 occupied? The buffer zone rule can actually be waived here; it is acceptable to use the middle station #2 because, in this case, there are not one but two other persons besides you in the immediate area so the unnerving "it's just you and me" effect is no longer a factor. Still, if I encounter this setup I generally move on to any unoccupied toilet stalls as I consider it the most courteous option.

There are many more established rules (different variants of "# of stalls vs. # of occupants") but they're too lengthy to discuss here; back to my office situation.

The problem with my office's design is that the two-urinal setup eliminates entirely the buffer-zone or multi-person options; they might as well have just installed only one urinal as the second one is effectively rendered ineligible for simultaneous usage under the proper guidelines.

To make matters worse, the area in which these two urinals are stationed is enclosed by thick walls on either side, further amplifying the "too cozy two-person" factor and increasing the chances of "can't-pee" syndrome when you step up to one of the stations in the otherwise empty set and someone else, ignorant of the rules, sidles up to the other station shortly thereafter.

"Can't-pee" syndrome, or "inrelievicus latrinum stat", is one of the world's true Catch-22's: you need to relax to put an end to the syndrome but every palpable second in which the syndrome is in effect raises the awareness of its existence to both you and your unwanted urinalmate, thereby raising social discomfort and preventing the necessary relaxtion process.

In addition, more of my coworkers than what I would have imagined seem to be unaware of the basic rules; because of the greater potential for sidling urinalmates I am thinking of bypassing the urinal section entirely in favor of the toilet areas during future visits.

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