Once you reach a certain age, I think it’s around forty, you start to hear people talk a lot about “the old days.” Things were so much better then, according to the people who talk about it. They say things like, we didn’t come in until the streetlights came on and we had discipline and no one gave me a trophy even when I won that Presidential thing in gym class! And so on.
These people are a tiny bit obnoxious, if you want to know my opinion. I mean, times change. The world changes. Progress is made and some things get better at the same time as other things get stupider. When today’s children reach this ‘certain age,’ they’ll be saying things like, “I’m so glad there was no teleporting when I was in high school,” or whatever. This is just the way it goes and on the whole, I’m sticking with the opinion that progress is inevitable and also generally good-ish.
However. There is actually one thing I really do miss about the glorious era that was the 1970’s and 80’s, which is that we did not talk on telephones while we were using a toilet. Ever. Granted, this is because the phone cord typically did not reach the bathroom, especially in office buildings, so we couldn’t. Possibly if we had the option, we too would have forgot our manners and went crazy with the freedom. Possibly. But I doubt it.
Not to brag, but I use a lot of public restrooms. This isn’t some kind of weird fetish thing. I’m pretty sure that anyone who has a job outside the home uses public restrooms on the regular. This makes it pretty difficult to avoid occasionally peeing while someone else is shouting into their cell phone like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. By the way, I really disliked that movie. I think the drug-fueled nature of the whole thing just brought me down. In the end I didn’t just want Leo DiCaprio in prison, I actually wanted to end his life with my own hands in some very gruesome manner. And I don’t mean the character he played, I mean Leo DiCaprio himself, for having accepted such a sleazy, sickening role and then making matters worse by playing it so well.
Even so, I can honestly tell you that The Wolf of Wall Street did not chill me to the core quite as thoroughly as the sound of a cell phone conversation in a public shitter. “Shitter” being what my dad would call it, not me. Seriously. I think the worst thing a person can do in life, worse even than feeling apathetic toward our current government situation or not limiting a child’s screen time, is to engage in a telephone conversation while simultaneously engaging in emptying one’s bladder (or oh God, producing a bowel movement) in a public restroom.
Just yesterday I had a quick stop in the lobby restroom of the William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. While there, I got to overhear a woman discussing the promotion she recently did not get. She talked and peed as if that’s just what you’re supposed to do. It wasn’t even one of those quiet pees where the stream hits the side of the bowl very delicately and then goes gently off into that good night, or whatever the quote is. This was full-volume, waterfall pee. Then she flushed. There is no quiet flushing no matter what kind of high-tech plumbing you’ve invested in. The woman was confused about why she hadn’t gotten the promotion. I was not.
None of this is to say that all of this is A-OK if done in the privacy of one’s home; it’s really sort of unacceptable no matter where you are. The only reason I can give you a pass when you’re at home is because at least then, I don’t have to witness it. Assuming I am not the unlucky person on the other end of the line.
To sum up: I think the rules are pretty simple in life. Be kind. Don’t text and drive. Don’t talk and excrete waste from your body. I wish we could make this a law but I’m pretty sure it would never fly. The best I can do is what I’m doing here: asking the 7 or 8 people who read what I write to set an example. Be silent types in the women’s or men’s rooms. We’ll be starting small, but progress is progress and eventually I bet we can change the world.
Because, as I mentioned, change is good. Ish.