Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stall Selection

The other day, Elmo and Stevie approached me with great concern to warn me about a fairly well documented facet of my lifestyle, my affinity for the middle stall.  They told me that there is an extensive litany of scientific research showing that the middle stall is the least hygienic location in any given restroom.  They bombarded me with statistics and charts from accredited online universities to make their point.  For example, did you know that the middle stall is 23.7% (after rounding) more german (is that the right word?) than the furthest stall from the entrance and a whopping 54.1% ( rounding) filthier than the first stall?  They also informed me that as a result of this, every trip to the middle stall reduces life expectancy by 14 minutes.  For reference, one cigarette supposedly reduces life expectancy by 11 minutes.

I would like to take the opportunity to try to:  1. explain the supposed "Phenomenon of the Central Poopin' Stool" and 2. to defend my decision making as rational despite the medical evidence.

Upon being confronted with the figures about the relative death risks of each stall, my immediate thought was that it can't be true; casual observation shows that people are generally lazy, so why would the closest stall be the cleanest?  After splicing psychology and anatomy books together and analyzing day and night, it became clear that there is a higher saturation of shame than laziness in the average human body.  That would certainly explain it, as everyone will be walking past you if you're in that first stall, and that is unacceptable to most.

What about the puzzle of the last stall being cleaner than the middle stall?  After all, it ought to be the least shame-ridden office of all.  Additionally, this particular throne generally has some irresistible characteristics.  This stall is traditionally the Versailles of bathrooms: The Handicrapper.  I would have thought that the extra room it has for one to take his shirt off and kick his feet out would draw people to this stall like OJ Simpson to trouble.  Throw in the hand rails, and you have yourself a borderline regal setting to do your business.  In this case, the same human instincts discussed above manage to overpower the glory of these benefits.  Shame is no longer an issue once one opts out of the first stall, so laziness makes a fashionably late entrance to the potty party.  Thus, people, content to drive a Nissan, do not expend the extra effort to walk to the Mercedes.

You're probably asking yourself, "If he knows he's risking his life by venturing into a Hazmat zone so frequently, why does he keep doing it?  Is he daring, or is he indifferent?"  The answer is neither.  The bathroom in question is not your typical one.  Stall 1 has a seat cover dispenser that rips the seat covers.  That has to increase the filth factor exponentially right there.  Add in the "man left behind," the other day, and you have one dangerously tainted stall.  The third stall...well, I've seen some shady characters going in or coming out.  I'll say no more on that, but suffice to say, it's the seventh layer of germaphobe Hell.

To Elmo and Stevie, I thank you for your concern, but I hope you now understand a little more about where I'm coming from.



  1. I read some statistics like this and ever since I only use the first stall. I am not private at all. The problem with the handicapper is: first, it is not as comfortable: the seat is a bit too high; second, I am extremely nervous and keep wondering what if some disabled person actually comes in? Like sitting on the priority seat on a bus, you cannot truly enjoy the ride.

  2. Consider this: What if people started to think like you as they became more aware of the situation? Would the first stall not morph into a bacterial stronghold?

  3. I agree with CH on the uncomfortable height of the handicrapper stall. It's just no fun to squat over.

    I use the "scan everything that is open before choosing" method of selection. Sometimes the 4th one still has the seat up from cleaning (clearly the least germy) other times it will have unflushed residue - you can never really know which to pick without scanning all available options first.