The Public Restroom Survival Guide

If you've ever encountered an emergency situation where you're in dire need of locating a restroom and are desperate enough to settle for a public john, you've encountered what I'm about to discuss. Every trip to a public restroom is much more than a bout with your gastrointestinal and/or urinary tracts, it's a lesson in life. It teaches modesty, patience, prioritization, cleanliness, politeness, and, ultimately, self-actualization. The following aspects of such a trip are listed and elaborated upon in no particular order. Some apply to urination while some are more applicable to "number two," but each is a very real and inevitable part of a public restroom experience.

The Grunting or Otherwise Unnecessarily Loud Neighbor

In just about any multi-stall situation when you must answer the call of the wild, there is an individual in a neighboring stall whose noise levels are unnecessarily high. Be it a grunter, a heavy breather, or a shameless turd-dropper, they're louder than you. If you're like me, you don't simply unleash in public situations because it's inconsiderate and, well, gross. But they do. Everyone except you is entirely unconcerned with the auditory effects of their defecation. This doesn't apply when the deuce in question is a wet and urgent one (I've been there, and I know you can't help it…completely excusable) but your stallmate could definitely stand to turn down the volume a tad while communing with nature. Seriously, sir, it sounds like you're masturbating in there as much as you're sighing, grunting, and panting. It's fine if you are, but keep it to yourself.

Cough/Throat Clear Warning
Sometimes when I'm alone…or THINK I'm alone in a restroom, I'll make unintelligible noises, hum, sing, or talk to myself quietly. It's embarrassing to be caught doing any of these when you're not really alone in there. Also, there are times when I grab the door handle of a stall already in use accidentally. This is particularly dangerous in situations where the doors do not lock tightly because the potential for accidental flesh viewing exists. With these dilemmas in mind, I would like to propose my solution. If you're in a restroom stall out of plain view of a new user, you must feign a cough, loud sniffle, or throat clearing. I feel this is one of the most quiet and heterosexual ways to say "Hey man, I'm in here."

The Stall or Door Knock
Here's the scenario. You REALLY have to go. You just sat down and may have dropped one or two kids off at the pool, but you're far from done disemboweling. If you're in a stall, there's a firm knock on the stall door. If you're in a one-room dumpshack (like one at a small gas station), there's a firm knock on the door to the bathroom. You panic. There's nothing more horrifying and humbling than knowing someone else is experiencing the utter distress you encountered before being seated. In some situations you disregard the knock and selfishly continue dropping your chocolate cobra, but sometimes you pinch it off regardless. This is a crossroads for the entire male population (and I single out males because girls don't poop). Whose droppings are more important? It's a very personal decision but the bible says something about it being better to give than receive. You be the judge, but don't hold me responsible if they reject you at the Pearly Gates based on your self-centered shitting habits.

The Courtesy Flush
You should be familiar with this term. It refers to a flush that prevents the newly dropped Hershey squirts from entering the surrounding air. Most courtesy flushes take care of the early stages of an explosive sphincter spurt, which in my experience is one of the smelliest types of fecal matter. Courtesy flushes might also be helpful in situations where someone is waiting to use the restroom behind you. C'mon, you've endured the lingering scent of a monumental deuce before yours…don't put someone else through the misery.

The Seat Wipe
More often than not, when you enter a stall to grind the beef, you have to perform routine maintenance on the seat. Some asshole who apparently doesn't know how to control his hose has decided he'd rather urinate on the seat than in the actual bowl. Getting your ass occasionally splashed with water when you drop a turd is sometimes fun and mildly entertaining, however it is less thrilling to sit in a puddle of someone else's piss. Therefore, most boat-floating ventures can't begin until you've unraveled a generous helping of toilet tissue to remove all visual remnants of the previous tenant's liquid waste. There you go, you've got a dry seat. Enjoy.

Existing Materials (The Pre-Flush)

As victorious as it is to stand back and admire your own creation, there's something about the leftovers that remain in the bowl when you first arrive. The Pre-flush is a common occurrence and takes care of any inherited materials.

The Man with Child
Sometimes there's a man who enters the restroom with a young child who apparently needs assistance relieving him/herself. This is acceptable but there are a few annoying and questionable ingredients here. To begin with, said parent must avoid saying anything to his child which could be answered with "that's what she said" (IE: Just pull your pants down and try to get it all in there). Additionally, the child's urges are much more difficult to suppress, therefore, one should allow the man with child to enter the stall if only one stall exists. This is, of course, unless you have diarrhea. Diarrhea is more important than children but children are more important than solid, holdable shits. If you allow a man with child ahead of you in line, you may reward yourself with an extended restroom stay if the Stall/Door Knock comes into play.

Last but not least is one of the biggest panic moments imaginable.

No Toilet Paper
What a relief! You've made it this far. You've endured the hardships leading up until the glorious tushy wipe and…OH NO!…there's no paper. DAMMIT! Don't panic, there are a few options before you have to resort to returning to the car sans-wipe to answer the question, "what's that smell?" for the remainder of the roadtrip.

1. Your first option is one I've utilized multiple times in my fecal career. Sure, it isn't the softest option but it usually works out. Take the cardboard toilet paper tube and peel its layers off. It will come apart and the insides will be a little more paperlike than cardboardy. There are layers, so you can wipe multiple times. Your hiney hole might itch for a while, but you'll be streak- and odor-free.

2. Phone a Friend. It's likely that you're with someone else and, in today's fast-paced world of 8 year-olds with cell phones and iPods, you can call a member of your party to bring some sort of tissue to your rescue. This option is a little embarrassing but it'll make for some interesting laughs in the car…however, there's also a potential that your friend could be a jokester and bring you something absurdly inconvenient to wipe with.

3. Scattered Goodies. There's probably a piece of scrap paper, newspaper, toilet seat covers, or something around. Be a man. And never talk about it.

4. This two-fold option is for travelers. If you're traveling, you've got spare socks or underwear with you. Use what you're wearing if it's expendable. Feel free to flush them, too. What's that you're saying? It'll clog the toilet? No shit. They deserve it for not stocking their restroom adequately. Advantage you, you sly bastard.

5. Worst case scenario. If you're in a one-room public restroom and you're positive nobody will catch you in the act…and you're SURE you want to walk out of there with a clean butt… use your hand. Wash it like you've never washed before. Just hope there's soap. I don't have any answers for that predicament.