Saturday, August 25, 2012

Need to know

Ladies room, Comet Tavern, Seattle
Do you use paper seat covers when you use public toilets?

In my adult life, I've used some pretty foul and sketchy toilets - particularly in my youth, in bars, in the louche quarters of lower Manhattan I frequented. Oh, and also in various aged and crumbling theatrical venues.

When I was 21, I worked in an office building in midtown Manhattan. My female office mates were an older lady who'd been working for the company for over 25 years, and a lady perhaps 10 years younger than the first, who'd only been working there for 10 years. The three of us shared a locked ladies room on the floor - sometimes female customers and clients used it, but it was mostly the three of us.

One winter day, I was in the stall, and Doris was at the sink. The custodian had left the window open, and it was cold. I said something foolish about how cold the seat was. With her hands in the stream of water, Doris froze. "You sit down?" she asked, incredulously.

I suddenly had a picture of Doris - then in her mid-fifties - for twenty-five years hovering over the seat in a bathroom she shared with two other people, her calf muscles flexed and trembling.

There's too many other things to worry about in life. I'm making a confession here - I don't use paper toilet seat covers. A quick wipe on the seat with a bit of toilet paper if there are some sprinkles there, but otherwise - I'm good. The way I figure, as long as the seat is dry and there is no discernible soilage, whatever's there is not going to penetrate my epidermis and immune system and infect me. If it's really bad, I'll go to another stall, or if it's the only option, I'll hover. But in a public toilet that appears to be regularly cleaned, I don't feel that squeamish.

But I can understand that maybe I came of age in an era before disposable toilet seat covers were regularly available. Maybe it is a norm for younger generations to use them.

I don't question other women's choices for hygiene. But what I want to know is - Why do some users of disposable toilet seat covers leave them on the seat for the next user to throw away? How can someone be so squeamish they must put a paper barrier between their butt and the plastic seat other people sit on, and yet be so inconsiderate they leave their used paper barrier for someone else to deal with?

I encountered this today in a high-end restaurant. I had to clean up some other fastidious person's mess. What do you think? Discuss.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so happy you posted this! I thought I was the only woman in the world who didn't squat over the toilet. And the crass, women who leave their messy toilets for me to clean up (toilet seat covers left behind, sprinkles on the seat, toilet paper all over the floor) are a pet peeve that I could rant about all day. I do not use toilet seat covers, I do, however wipe my seat off before and after I have used it. I always wash my hands and clean up any water I've left around the sink. I have never caught anything from a toilet, and I too have used some bad ones. I hate port-a-let's though, mainly because there usually isn't anything to properly clean my hands afterward. I always have to sit on these as I am only 5 feet tall, my feet dangle and I feel pretty dirty when I leave one of those. I always carry hand sanitizer with me when I know I'm going to encounter one. ALBUG

smalltownme said...

If the toilet looks clean, I don't bother with a seat cover. If it's gross, I do (or make do with tp). When going to a place with portapotties, like races or fairs, I always carry some kleenex or tp just in case! Since the potties are unisex, there is always man splatter all over!

Happydog said...

Yes! Thanks for coming clean :-) with your secret! I'm much like you about toilet seats. When I was a kid my Mom taught me to sit on my hands, washing them afterwards of course, and I did that for years. Now i just sit....

Ilyanna said...

I sit, quite happily, on naked seats. I know just enough about germs to not worry -- my tush is far less vulnerable than my hands, which can easily be washed.

Jessie said...

Right there with you Aunt Snow! I remember though, my grandma used to tear off four long strips of TP, then fold them in half and lay them around the seat. She had four children, and as an adult I wonder how her bladder had the patience for that!

Nan Sheppard said...

If it's lightly sprinkled I give it a wipe with TP and then sit. If it's really stinky I hover!

materfamilias said...

Me too! When my kids were small in late 70s and through the '80s, the AIDS scare was in full flame, and this topic often came up with other moms. Some were so fastidious, they continued to hover their five-year-olds several inches over any public toilet they used -- I've often wondered since how their backs have held up. Interestingly, the moms who were either nurses or doc's wives were the ones who were least likely to obsess over toilet seats. A good friend of mine, a nurse married to a GP, was really dismissive about taking hygiene concerns to such lengths. She held, quite emphatically, that healthy skin and good hand-washing would guard you and your kids from whatever you might pick up in most bathrooms. I was glad to have my instincts validated and this has always been pretty much my approach although I'll use tp to clean up someone else's sprinkles -- and like you, I'm amazed someone could be so concerned about their own hygiene and so cavalier about the next sitter's. . .

materfamilias said...

I should add quickly that, obviously, there's no connection between AIDS and toilet seats -- but in those years, the paranoia was such that less educated people were making that ridiculous link.

Anonymous said...

No, I do not use toilet seat covers, and yes, I dislike it when I find leftovers when I enter a stall, and yes, I love to discuss such earthshattering subjects with other women. Jenny

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I'm with you and your other commenters, Aunt Snow! My mother taught me to use the seat covers or folded TP, but I no longer have the desire to waste paper nor the ability to be that patient (4 kids, last one was 9.5lbs). I'm rarely sick.
I don't mind outhouses but the rental portapotties are usually nasty. I try to carry my own TP and hand sanitizer for those situations.

Janet said...

I was flipping stations on the way to work today and heard some folks talking about this very subject. Like you, and most of the commenters, they were puzzled why the folks that felt a need to use toilet seat covers didn't feel a need to dispose of said object. Guess once their nether region had touched it, it wasn't safe for their hands. Other people's hands, I guess, are fair game and of no concern. I always wipe the seat first, because who wants to sit on someone else's pee LOL!