Hangin’ in the Men’s WC

Let me tell you about my experiences lurking in men’s washrooms.  Carrying a measuring tape.

First, I have to say that men’s washrooms are (sorry, guys) disgusting.  There’s piss everywhere.  And those urinal pucks with the pubic hairs stuck in them?  Eeeuuw.

You may argue that, as a female, I should stay out of men’s washrooms, and that if I don’t like what I see in there, it’s my own damn fault.  This would be entirely true, if not for the fact that it was part of my job to be in there.  Yeah, with a measuring tape.

This was back in the dark days when I was still attempting to be an interior designer.  I’d gotten a friggin’ bachelor’s degree in it.  Thesis and all.  Trouble was, I sucked at it.  Hard.  The only reason I scraped through with the degree was because I kicked ass in all the academic subjects (the ones that dealt with real, objective facts). 

I couldn’t design my way out of a paper bag.

This wasn’t as much of an impediment as you might think.  I worked for a design firm that specialized in commercial spaces – offices, hotels, restaurants, and so forth.  A very large part of that type of work involves long, tedious hours measuring the sites and doing technical drawings.  I was excellent at that part.  And all the other designers hated it.  It was the perfect symbiotic relationship.

Which leads to me lurking in men’s washrooms carrying a measuring tape.  Because when you’re doing renovations, the whole damn place needs to be measured.

I had a system.

First, I’d hover outside the door for several minutes.  If a guy actually arrived to use the washroom, I’d ask him to scout it out for me.  I really had no desire to catch anybody with their pants down.

But usually, I was on my own.  After a decent interval, I’d knock on the door and call out.  If there was no response, I’d stick a sign on the door, “Temporarily closed – come back in 15 minutes.”

That usually worked.  But every now and then, some preoccupied guy would blow right past the sign and barrel into the washroom.  He’d usually get about half unzipped before he realized I was there.  Then there’d be this frozen deer-in-the-headlights moment, while his gaze darted between my female presence and the partially extended measuring tape in my hand.

We’d lock eyes for a second, both of us with tools half-unfurled.

Then there was usually some embarrassed mumbling, a half-assed explanation, and a hasty retreat on his part.  Sometimes they just fled without a word.  Frankly, that was more entertaining for me.  But I have a nasty streak.

While I’m on the subject, there were a couple of other things that I invariably found entertaining about washrooms.  The first was the colour scheme (excluding piss-yellow, which isn’t entertaining at all).  I was truly amazed by how many places stuck with the tried and true pink-for-girls, blue-for-boys colour scheme.  Really?  For adults?  In a business setting?

But for me, the best part was the condom dispensers.  In those fine establishments that provided this helpful service, it was always the same.  In the men’s, the condoms were always labelled “extra large” or some other turgid (or perhaps I should say tumid) adjective.

In the women’s they were always labelled “slim fit”.

I’m not even gonna go there. 

I’m just sayin’.

Anybody else got bathroom stories?  Ever walked into the wrong one by mistake?  Or on purpose?  Inquiring minds want to know.

21 thoughts on “Hangin’ in the Men’s WC

  1. I have , inadvertently, entered men’s washrooms more times than I care to remember. After pulling all nighters at university, cramming for exams, I would automatically choose whatever washrooms was handy. As I wear jeans most of the time, the symbol on the door made perfect sense to my sleep-deprived mind. Hardly noticed the urinals – just walked into a stall. Got some strange looks from those standing against the wall, but still it didn’t register. However, one time, as I was leaving, a man who was entering, stood stock still staring at me and the sign on the door, then turned and walked away, muttering under his breath. It was only then that I realized what I had done.


    • Big oops! In our university dorm the washrooms were unofficially co-ed so the sight of urinals would never register as a warning sign for me, but the washrooms in the Grizzly House Restaurant in Banff, Alberta never fail to make me do a double-take. The sign on the outside of the door reads ‘Women’ in nice clear print. But when you leave the washroom, there’s an equally clear sign on the back of the door that reads ‘Men’. That’s about the time that my brain goes, “Uh-oh, what have I done…?”


  2. Another great and funny post but I must make a language clarification not unlike the faces vs feces writers challenge you posted about. Just a tad south of you, way down near parallel 30 on the geography map, we call those “urinal pucks” that you mention by a different name: They are known here as “piss cookies”. Just so you know.


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  5. Ha! Love it… “with tools half unfurled”. I can just see the look on their faces when they saw you there with tape in hand. I’m surprised you never any particularly “cocky” (sorry, couldn’t resist) guys that thought they could win whatever contest they figured you were running!

    Great post 🙂


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  9. Being a fellow U of M grad from the same interior design program, I so know what you mean about being a sucky interior designer. I too did much better at the technical end, measuring and drafting up interiors, all the stuff the real interior designers hate doing. The only bathroom stories I have is from when I had a summer job working at the beach. I was the token female for two reasons. One was that I was least likely to try and find out how fast the tractor could be driven and the other was so that I could look after the female washroom. I was in there one day, painting the floor when a woman and her young daughter came in to use the facilities. The daughter took one look at me in my painting duds and said to her mother in that inimitable loud child voice, “Mommy, there’s a man in here!” To which her mother replied, “Never mind, we’ll use it anyway.” Sigh…


  10. I’m still laughing at your blog. It reminds me of when I was teaching, and the principal called a meeting to discuss the “mess” in the teachers washroom. Somebody was missing when they had a pee, and he wanted to let everyone of us to know about the disgusting behavior. One of the men was offended and every time after that, he sprinkled a bit of water around the toilet – just to be obstinant. Yuck – what a topic.


  11. I can’t imagine a more disarming item to brandish when caught in a men’s restroom than a measuring tape.

    But all public bathrooms are disgusting. Mine is too, but at least it’s my own ick. Actually we do all right. Dave took some vitamins that make his pee bright orange once and when he saw all the teeny dots all over the walls and floor and whatnot, he was so revolted that he cleans the toilet several times a week. Stand back ladies, I saw him first.


  12. “We’d lock eyes for a second, both of us with tools half-unfurled.” LOL That’s priceless.

    No restrooms stories, but I always wondered why the men’s urinals didn’t have dividers between them, and weren’t higher up off the floor. They seem to promote messiness the way they are. lol


  13. When I managed a dental practice, I discovered that the soap dispenser in the ladies’ loo needed replacing at least every quarter; in the men’s after one year, the soap was still nearly up to the top of the dispenser! EEWW.


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