Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Have you any Grey Poupon?

posted Wed, 26 Jul 2006

One of the big differences I noticed between England and the US is that the ladies’ rooms in England have walls around the toilets that go all the way to the floor. In the US, the walls stop about a foot above the floor, leaving a convenient gap for you to admire the shoes of the woman in the stall next to you or to borrow toilet paper should you find yourself in an unfortunate situation.

When I described this difference to SH, he was horrified. “You talk to the person in the stall next to you?”

“Only if she has cute shoes,” I said. “Or if I need toilet paper. But I almost always try to make sure I am in a stall with toilet paper, so that usually doesn’t happen. Don’t you talk to people in the bathroom?” I teased.

“No!” he said. “Never!”

“I’ve had complete conversations with woman I’ve never seen,” I shrugged.

Back to England. I wonder if I just didn’t see enough public restrooms or if indeed, my sample size is large enough that I may generalize and say that for the most part, English ladies’ rooms have walls that go to the floor. This is a disadvantage because not only can you not determine if the stall is occupied by bending down to see if there are feet visible, but how do you check out the latest in footwear fashion? What do you do if there is – gasp! – no toilet paper in your stall?

Is this great divide indicative of our national characters? Americans, brash and open and willing to talk to anyone, English, reserved, not wanting anyone to hear them pee, even at the cost of not seeing shoes or not having access to toilet paper. Does this improve English bowel health, do you think? Do English workers spend more time goofing off in the bathrooms at work just because they can get away with it? What are the implications here? Discuss and get back to me.

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