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Is it ok to talk to someone on the phone while using the bathroom?
August 13, 2004 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Is it ok to talk to someone on the phone while using the bathroom?

I get the feeling that I'm the only person left on Earth that gets bothered by people calling me from their toilets. Its happened to me several times; I always find out afterwards ("hang on I gotta wipe") and I always feel kinda grossed out and insulted. A female friend of mine who had to go while we were connected - after I asked her to hang up, TCB, and call me back - said it was no big deal, since girls talk to eachother all the time in the bathroom, and talking to someone you can't see (because either you're on the phone or you're in a stall) is par for the course in the ladies' room. Other people, of course, play the "If I didn't say something you never would have known, so what's the difference?" card. So I'm altogether unsure of what the conventional wisdom on this one is.

By now the phrase "cell phone etiquette" is largely a meaningless one, but I was hoping that this last barrier held fast. Have the barbarian hordes swept even unto my [porcelain] throne?
posted by ChasFile to Human Relations (76 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
it's not okay to talk to me while you're in the bathroom. i think it's disrepectful.

and that "no-one knows if you don't tell them" is bullshit. one can clearly hear public restroom noise, as well as private restroom noise, over the phone.

(yes, i have refused ever again to speak on the telephone to at least one person over this)
posted by crush-onastick at 9:44 AM on August 13, 2004


ChasFile: I'm with you on this one. Sadly, the number of people who I see (actually hear) in the bathroom answering their cellphones, we might be a dying breed.

But seriously, someone has told you "hang on, I gotta wipe?" I only use that when I'm trying to get someone to hang up. ;)
posted by Stynxno at 9:44 AM on August 13, 2004


So maybe people are pretending to be in the john as a way to get me off the phone because the don't want to talk to me? EEEEeeeeentresting.
posted by ChasFile at 9:49 AM on August 13, 2004


I think I would have to draw the line at #2,
if one could pee quietly and didn't feel embarrassed, then that's probably OK.
posted by milovoo at 10:14 AM on August 13, 2004


Is it ok to talk to someone on the phone while using the bathroom?

No.

[wipes]
[flushes]
[washes hands]
[resumes typing]
posted by grateful at 10:20 AM on August 13, 2004


It's disgusting as hell. Don't do it.

Sadly, as many have stated, it's a common deal. I think it just shows the lack of common decency that is prevelant in our society. But that's just me.
posted by damnitkage at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2004


I don't think it's ok at all. how hard is it to say, "hey, can I call you back in like 5 minutes?" it's easier than trying to take inventory of who does/doesn't mind and you don't have to worry about someone being embarassed to say no and getting weirded out when they talk to you.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:30 AM on August 13, 2004


It's perfectly fine. Stop being so uptight, people. Then again, this is a place where people are scared to fart in front of people they fuck, so this is probably just pissing into the wind.
posted by dame at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2004


I've heard a guy doing this in the bathroom here at work, while, you know, sitting. Freaked me out until I figured out he was on the phone. I didn't hear it ring, therefore I assume he initiated the call. It was work-related, too.

Please don't call me if you have to occasionally pause to perform some act that requires your complete concentration (unlike driving it would seem), thanks. It's just courteous.
posted by tommasz at 10:36 AM on August 13, 2004


If speaking on the telephone is perceived as a bodily function, then it is okay to speak and use the bathroom at the same time. However, if you think speaking on the telephone is indeed a bodily function, then you and your fecal-phone need some help.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:38 AM on August 13, 2004


No way, it's not cool.
posted by agregoli at 11:04 AM on August 13, 2004


No phone call is so important that it can't wait 5 minutes. Sheesh. (You know, there are still people alive on earth who don't have a phone at all!!!)
posted by JoanArkham at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2004


I think it's fine, altho i think the bathroom is more for reading and not talking, really.
posted by amberglow at 11:08 AM on August 13, 2004


it's certainly appalling but LBJ did it all the time
posted by matteo at 11:10 AM on August 13, 2004


Good lord, how tacky. If you must do this at least be silent about it, and please hit mute before you flush.
posted by caddis at 11:17 AM on August 13, 2004


I think it's OK (at home, at least) as long as you don't let the other person figure out what you're doing. Of course, there are different standards -- it might be OK if you're talking to your best friend, but not if you're doing a telephone interview. (Duh!) The noisest part is the flush, so (on the rare occasions that this happens) I usually wait until a point when the other person is talking, I cover up the mouthpiece, and then I flush.

That said, I don't like it when people use cell phones in the stalls of public restrooms.
posted by Tin Man at 11:19 AM on August 13, 2004


EEeewwwwwwwww.
posted by theora55 at 11:19 AM on August 13, 2004


It is never okay to talk on the phone in the bathroom. Never ever. I've always had a problem w/ any conversation in public restrooms, so maybe I'm a bit sensitive on the topic, but it is just repulsive to me.

It is about as high on my list as eating in the bathroom. No thanks.
posted by shotsy at 11:26 AM on August 13, 2004


> The noisest part is the flush

Speak for yourself.
posted by goethean at 11:29 AM on August 13, 2004


What about in the shower? Can you talk on the phone in the shower?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:30 AM on August 13, 2004


I don't do it, but I certainly don't consider it "appalling," either. That said, there's certainly no need to announce it or discuss it with the person on the other end of the phone.

If you live in an enlightened world where your bathroom, uh, business is no different than, say, scratching your arm, then there shouldn't be any reason for you to announce what you're up to to the person to whom you're speaking. No big deal means no big deal - you don't announce every time you scratch your arm on the phone, do you?

On preview, I agree that doing your best to cover up noises, including Mr. Flushy, is the only polite thing to do, and between covering the mouthpiece and the fact that that every phone made in the past three or four years seems to have a "Mute" button, really isn't too much of an imposition.
posted by Sinner at 11:33 AM on August 13, 2004


Is it ok to talk to someone on the phone while using the bathroom?

NO.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:41 AM on August 13, 2004


i'm sorry, sinner, scratching your arm is not like urinating or like defecating. and dame, it's not about shame; it's about being polite. and about having a little dignity. there's a reason we don't squat in gutters anymore, and only part of it is prevention of cholera.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:42 AM on August 13, 2004


I'd just like to reiterate - because there seems to be alot of second-person voice going on - that *I* don't do this. Read the first comment, posted by me.
posted by ChasFile at 11:45 AM on August 13, 2004


Not to derail but I have a similar question...
I work in a building with washrooms shared by many organizations. When I have to go around the corner and down the hall for a...uhm, #2...I like to take a book or magazine. Is this okay? I try to keep the reading material tucked tightly by my body while en route in case anybody sees me go by their opened office door. But the question is this - should I be embarrassed that I read in the stall at work? Actually, that's not what embarrasses me at all. Should I be embarrassed if somebody sees me heading there with a book under my arm?
posted by Jaybo at 11:50 AM on August 13, 2004


Look, I don't do it on formal calls, with strangers, or when pooping (that's readin' time, as Amberglow notes). But with my good friend, someone I'm dating, or my mom, honestly, it's just easier sometimes. And if you gave birth to me or regularly insert your genitals into mine, me peeing should be nothing. If it isn't, you have bigger problems that will probably come between us sooner or later. I don't care when other people pee—it's water and some salts coming out of a ureathra. There isn't anything undignified about it. What is undignified is acting like peeing is bad & has to be hidden. If that isn't shame, I don't know what is.
posted by dame at 11:55 AM on August 13, 2004


Jaybo-

I'd avoid the boss on your way to the toliet and hide the book in some "office work" just incase you run into him. That way, you look like you're still working even though you might be on the toilet for awhile.

And you shouldn't be embarrassed. People do it all the time. I, however, don't really understand the reason to stay on the toliet for longer than necessary. Maybe if I had a gold toliet, or one with heated seats, I'd change my tune.
posted by Stynxno at 11:57 AM on August 13, 2004


Do you believe there are no worthwhile social politeness conventions, dame?
posted by five fresh fish at 12:02 PM on August 13, 2004


I do it at home with people I know really well; I belch and fart in front of these people, too. I don't do it in public restrooms because that's crappy (heh) cell phone etiquette.
posted by stefanie at 12:03 PM on August 13, 2004


What is undignified is acting like peeing is bad & has to be hidden. If that isn't shame, I don't know what is.

Amen.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 12:07 PM on August 13, 2004



Do you believe there are no worthwhile social politeness conventions, dame?


As a question to you: are existing social politeness conventions necessarily worthwhile, FFF?
posted by dflemingdotorg at 12:11 PM on August 13, 2004


What about in the shower? Can you talk on the phone in the shower?

I had a roommate in college who talked to his grandmother on the phone while in the shower. I personally witnessed it happening.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 12:13 PM on August 13, 2004


I believe in good table manners & trying to keep my volume down in public spaces, FFF. Thanks for asking. I also am rather idealistic in civic & literary matters.
posted by dame at 12:14 PM on August 13, 2004


It totally depends on who you're talking to. Some people will freak out, others won't care at all. If you know someone well, you probably know which reaction they're more likely to have.

In general, with protocol issues like this, I like to do as the IETF recommends, and "be strict in what you send, and lenient in what you accept."
posted by sfenders at 12:33 PM on August 13, 2004


David Sedaris has a great piece on this, I think on This American Life.
posted by gramcracker at 12:37 PM on August 13, 2004


the toilet is the last respite of the modern quonsar. no cellphone shall ever violate that sacred space.
posted by quonsar at 12:54 PM on August 13, 2004


Yeah. Why read on the toilet? Does it really take that long? It shouldn't.
posted by agregoli at 12:54 PM on August 13, 2004


Some of us take longer on the toilet than others. It's just how we're made.

Me, I play a little handheld solitaire game when I go. Best distraction ever.
posted by beth at 12:58 PM on August 13, 2004


No reading, no talking, no eating.

Just get in and get out.

Precision strike mission.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:08 PM on August 13, 2004


Honestly, what's the big freaking deal? God gave me a very small bladder, and I think it's way more irritating to hang up and call back twice over a 60-minute call than it is to hold my penis and a phone at the same time. Man, you Puritans. Isn't there another New World we can send you all to?
posted by kjh at 1:13 PM on August 13, 2004


I believe in good table manners

Ugh, I hate it when people eat while they're talking on the phone, too.
posted by JanetLand at 1:16 PM on August 13, 2004


Perhaps one of the reasons we have social politeness conventions is to remind us all that it's not all about us.

When you don't talk on the cellphone while pissing, it's all about showing enough respect to the other party to not force them to participate in an act they may not wish to be party to.

If you've cleared it with them beforehand, and they jauntily reply "Oh, piss away! I delight in sharing your toilet experiences!", then by all means go for it.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:27 PM on August 13, 2004


I'm with dame and kjh and a few others on this one.

Damn Puritanical weirdos.

Looky here. You piss and shit. I piss and shit. We all piss and shit, unless there's like a bag and a tube hanging out of you from some new man-made oriface. And you're still pissing and shitting in some form or another, unless you're dead, and then we've really got something weird to talk about.

It's not like I'm baking a piss and shit fairy-cake for you to consume or something. I'm not even in the same room or building as you. I'm not pissing in your kitchen sink. I'm not flinging poop around your bedroom like some kind of retarded and diarhettic zoo monkey.

If I'm silent and you don't know during the fact, and you find out later, and you go off on some weird-ass decency trip like I somehow came over and stuck my wang in your turkey dinner, well, the weirdness is all you and your own damn weird head, now isn't it?

Decency? What the fuck is decency except not being a cruel and malicious asshole to someone? The last vestiges of human decency - if any - flew right the fuck out of the window when we invented war and the nation-state, when we allowed nuclear weapons to be developed, when we turned a blind eye to the escalating mountains of human cruelty, greed, avarice, waste and malice.

For fuck's sake, there are so many more important things to be worried about. Shit or get off the pot already.

All that being said, no, I wouldn't call a potential boss or client from the crapper. Or a first date. Mainly because I'd be too nervous to function properly, and I'd rather be able to focus my attention on the phone call.

However, if my laptops battery was still working, I would have wrote this from the loo. Feel free to imagine that I did for your own Puritanical amusement. It doesn't really make a difference, does it?
posted by loquacious at 1:37 PM on August 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


The last vestiges of human decency - if any - flew right the fuck out of the window when we invented war and the nation-state, when we allowed nuclear weapons to be developed, when we turned a blind eye to the escalating mountains of human cruelty, greed, avarice, waste and malice.

Wow. I had no idea that this was a nuclear-war level issue.

Anyway, the reason I don't like it is because the bathroom for me is a private area. I don't like people watching me while I do my business, it makes me uncomfortable. If that makes me a puritan, or a shame-filled fool who hates his own body, well, so be it.

For me, its a fairly short leap from someone watching me to someone talking to me through the door; the point is not so much their judgement or knowledge that [gasp] I have bodily functions, its that I would like some privacy, please. I have the door closed for a reason.

From someone talking to me through the door it is an even shorter cognitive leap to someone talking to me on the phone while I'm in there. Indeed, it is probably more intrusive, as the source of the voice is now in the room with me.

Quonsar is right [jesus!] in that the bathroom is a sanctuary; it is probably the one room in my house without any noise-making devices or people in it. So on one level it is about respect and manners, but on another its about having a personal space bubble that can final stretch out and extend to the walls, and my desire to keep that space intact.

You're right, if I don't notice it shouldn't matter. But it does. I don't know that what we need is more times and places we are allowed to contact other people.

I think, if done right, this could make an interesting academic study. Alot of work has already been done on personal space and how we interact with others, especially comparitively across cultures. But what about a time-based or cohort study? As during every waking moment and in every possible location we can potentially contact eachother, how do our attitudes about privacy, space, knowledge, and relationships change?

Are we better friends because we shit over the phone together?
posted by ChasFile at 2:02 PM on August 13, 2004


No, it's not okay, and I insist that those of you who are claiming otherwise NEVER call me. Please.
posted by rushmc at 2:08 PM on August 13, 2004


If the other person isn't making noises that would gross you out, you really don't have much of a leg to stand on, complaint-wise.

If it bugs you? fine. Say so. But don't act like the other person isn't "respecting" you. You've just got a wierd hang-up.

This is about as silly as some puritanical person getting offended if you mention on the phone that you're less than fully dressed. Oh, the indecency!
posted by GeekAnimator at 2:16 PM on August 13, 2004


Oh, well, yeah. If you want peace and quiet and sanctuary in your bathroom, have at it. Don't answer the phone, etc. Nothing Puritanical about that.

Y'know, you could even make it kind of decadent. Get a velour seat cover, some candles, lemon slices floating in little bowls of water drizzled in essential oils... SWEET C'THULU GET OUT OF MY MIND YOU DOMESTIC DEMONSPAWN! LA LA LA LA LA!

*ahem*
posted by loquacious at 2:16 PM on August 13, 2004


Did I mention that I'm completely stark nekkid! Oh the joys of working at starting a new business from home.

I'M TOTALLY NAKED! WOOHOO! *does a silly little wang-swinging dance, knocks over coffee, runs away sheepishly*
posted by loquacious at 2:19 PM on August 13, 2004


I'm using a laptop right now.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:22 PM on August 13, 2004


Chas: I think that's a great series of questions. I wonder how much of the interest in "private space" is related to one's ability to carve out an interior private space and one's notions of politeness. I notice that some people still think they have to pick up the phone just because it's ringing, they have to answer the email just because its there, they have trouble turning off the TV, etc. Some people would find it impolite to say, please don't talk to me right now. For them, for you, having an inviolable space may be important because it is a default. I don't find it difficult to get an internal solitude when I want it, so labeling one space as inviolable isn't as important.


And fish, as is common, your indignant outburst points to something really interesting. Or two things. To a fair extent my life is about me; I am not responsible for others beyond suggestion & request, and in the end I am only responsible to my own conscience. If someone were truly bothered by my peeing while on the phone, and asked me not to do it, I wouldn't. But as I've noted above, it's unlikely that I would really end up close to such a person because said request is probably indicative of a greater mismatch.

Personally, I find most insistence on "social politeness" comes from people more interested in superficial nonsesnse bordering on supersitition than in actual personal dignity or responsibility or kindness. If you actually knew me, you'd find that I am rather conscientious. I don't flake; I call when I'm late; I have enough respect for people to avoid lying to them, trying to manipulate them into things, or enabling them in their bullshit. The latter includes taking part in charades based on wussy sensibility or an unwillingness to look critically and independently at received ideas. I understand you don't see it that way, which is totally fair, but the theory is not so craven as you suspect.
posted by dame at 2:31 PM on August 13, 2004


607-255-4696

And I'm on the toilet right now...
posted by ChasFile at 2:39 PM on August 13, 2004


I'm still reading some of the longer comments, but does anyone know or has anyone mentioned which American president used to meet with advisors while on the john (it could obviously be a myth), I couldn't find it on google and it seems (obliquely) topical.
posted by milovoo at 2:50 PM on August 13, 2004


milovoo: Lyndon B. Johnson, according to matteo.
posted by loquacious at 2:56 PM on August 13, 2004


I can not imagine a situation in which the callee would appreciate being an auditory participant in the splashes and echos of one's excretory processes.

And this is why I don't do it. Not because I'm shy about my body -- I do, after all, enjoy nude beaches and my wife and I are not reticent in describing the quality of our daily bowel movements -- but because I don't think others care for my sharing of such events.

I'd piss while on the phone with my wife, and that only because I'll also piss when she's standing right beside me.

I'll not subject others to the same, not even my dearest friend whom I'm absolutely certain wouldn't much care: not because I'm a prude, but because I can see no fathomable way that it would benefit, affirm, console, energize, or otherwise provide her some sort of positive gains in life.

This isn't because I haven't looked "critically and independently at received ideas." It's because there is nothing to be gained by rejecting the behavioural guideline that traditionally gives people privacy while they are using the toilet room.

I remember being in the same headspace as you. I thought it utterly stupid that we have so many inconsequential rules and expectations, and thought it daring, intelligent, and superior to reject them and, indeed, to flaunt oppositional behaviour: to prove myself above the sheeple who dumbly behaved in accordance to the norms.

And then I grew up.

Bottom line: don't share your toilet experiences with people on the phone unless you also make a habit of sharing the toilet room with them in face-to-face life.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:14 PM on August 13, 2004


milovoo: Lyndon B. Johnson, according to matteo.

cool, thanks, I think that registered only on my subconscious and even scanning the thread several times I kept missing it.
posted by milovoo at 4:38 PM on August 13, 2004


I don't answer the phone from the bathroom or place calls from the stool, but occasionally I'll be on the phone with someone when I have to go. I do take the phone into the bathroom, but I always make sure they don't hear anything, and I would never mention to them what I'm doing. I also wait and hang up before flushing.

I once answered a call at work from a man who had a lot of questions. We talked for about 30 minutes. At the end of the conversation, he flushed. And I was apalled, or at least a little disconcerted.

Hey, it could be worse: my mom admits to pooping on a piece of newspaper one time during a long phone call with a friend back in the day before cordless phones. Now THAT's unacceptable.
posted by bonheur at 5:01 PM on August 13, 2004


Do you guys all put on pants to answer the phone, too? Jesus... as if half the people in this thread aren't having a wank with one hand and doing Meta with the other.
posted by scarabic at 9:05 PM on August 13, 2004


Is it acceptable to talk on the phone while having sex?

While giving birth?

While throwing up?
posted by rushmc at 9:19 PM on August 13, 2004


How about WHILE GETTING MARRIED.

Thanks, DaShiv!
posted by scarabic at 9:24 PM on August 13, 2004


rushmc: Yes, yes, and sure, if you think you can manage it. Sounds difficult though.

Assuming all parties are consenting, of course.

FFF: There's all kinds of stuff to be gained. Continued train of thought, for example. Time management. Excremeditation.

I did include a set of qualifiers. A) Would you do it if they were there in person? B) Can you do it quietly enough so that it's not known if not?

Relax, man. If you're so grown up, why are you pointing out how grown up you are?
posted by loquacious at 2:40 AM on August 14, 2004


Why do people read on the toilet?

That's easy.

People who read on the toilet are people who don't like being disturbed AT ALL while they are reading. When you are on the can, nobody, and I mean NOBODY should be bothering you about stuff. So, you sit there for 30 minutes and polish off that magazine you really wanted to read, or engross yourself in a chapter of a good book. Nobody bothers you unless the place is on fire. And if they do, you're within your rights to tell them to fuck off.

Try telling someone to fuck off because "they interrupted you reading your magazine".

Simply: Can time is me time.
posted by shepd at 3:03 AM on August 14, 2004


Just pee in the sink as it makes no noise, then run the faucet as it sounds innocent enough.
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:15 AM on August 14, 2004


Assuming all parties are consenting, of course.

This is rather the point of manners, that the presumption should be that people do not consent to certain behaviors in their presence. Sure, you may find some people who don't mind if you belch and scratch your crotch at the dinner table or fart in their faces or spit on their floors or blow your nose on their curtains, but the fact is, most people WILL, so the polite thing to do is to forego such behaviors until such time as you have determined that they will be accepted/approved. If you find someone who doesn't mind your excreting while talking with them on the phone (and there are several in this thread, if you are desperate), by all means, go for it, but don't impose it on the rest of us.
posted by rushmc at 7:36 AM on August 14, 2004


Personally, I find most insistence on "social politeness" comes from people more interested in superficial nonsense bordering on superstition than in actual personal dignity or responsibility or kindness.

I think it's more complicated than that. "Social politeness," among other things, is a form of communication. All social acts communicate. Sure, they may be "superstitious" rituals, too. That just means they serve more than one function.

If you offer me some wine, and I say "Thank you," I am -- admittedly -- partaking in a ritual. But I am also communicating to you that I recognize you aren't compelled to offer me your possessions, and that I think it's nice that you did anyway. "Thank you" is shorthand for all of that -- and more. It also says (and I think this is the meta-message of many social rituals) that I recognize you as a fellow human being.

My guess is that 99% of us partake in SOME social rituals that are symbolic (as opposed to the nuts-and-bolts type that dame brings up -- not lying, etc.)

The trouble comes when the symbolism differs from one person to another.

For instance, my grandmother was much more anal about please and thank you than I am. She would get really outdone if I asked her to pass the butter, without saying please. To me, in a close family group, it's okay to forgo that. In fact, to me, saying please in that context would be overly formal. It would signify a LACK of closeness.

It was easy for me -- especially when I was younger -- to think of my grandmother's desire as a superficial rule. But if I'm thinking fairly, I have to admit that I have my own "superficial" expectations. Mine just weren't the same as hers.

If you feel like you have NO expectations or rules of this type, you may be right. But you should examine yourself a bit more closely before you judge other people. When they are OUR superficial rules, they don't feel superficial.

Now, an additional problem is that we can't follow EVERYONE'S rules. We have to pick and choose. When we DON"T follow a rule, we have to either admit that we're being impolite to someone -- which might make us feel guilty -- or we have to justify. I think that's why discussions such as this often come down to "Come on folks, that's not rude -- Jesus! How puritanical..." It's just easier to go through life thinking, "my rules are reasonable and other rules are superficial."

By the way, I suspect that there might be some hardwired (instinctual / biological) feelings of disgust when it comes to fecal/urine matters. People who fall prey to these instincts aren't necessarily prudes. And these instincts may be very hard (impossible?) to overcome. It may not be rational, but when I HEAR defecation/urination, it FEELS like the offending person is getting his excretion ON me -- like I'm coming into physical contact with it. And if I'm cooking dinner while I hear it, so much the worse!

Finally, I really hate it when, it conversations like this, people pull the "come on, folks, it's NATURAL card." This is equivalent to the "Hitler" card. It's a argumentative con-game. It assumes that because something is "natural," it's good. Using this argument, you could "prove" all sorts of things are good: nuclear war is good, because it's a form of violence, and violence is "natural" (animals kill, etc.)

Saying, "it's natural" is usually just a way of saying, "it's something *I* like" while trying to justify *my* likes on a cosmic scale.
posted by grumblebee at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2004


Have any of you actually heard farts and splashes/plops and flushes while on the phone with someone? Most of us wouldn't even know where or what someone's doing while on the phone.
posted by amberglow at 9:44 AM on August 14, 2004


Amberglow: Yes, I have. I did not appreciate it.

Grumblebee, rushmc: 'xactly.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 AM on August 14, 2004


You people got issues.
posted by majcher at 10:49 AM on August 14, 2004


Ok, to be clear. We're not talking about someone calling you while you're on the can. All of you that want to be left alone while pooping can relax and turn off the ringer or whatever.

We're not even really talking about initiating calls while on the can, though that's valid for the sake of this particular argument.

What we're really talking about is Party A talking to Party B, Party A needing to answer nature's call but for whatever reason not wanting to break the call with B. If B doesn't know what A is doing (or doesn't care), has A actually offended B?

When a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there, does it make a sound?

Sure, there's all kinds of ways to take that as offensive, B could feel like they're being pooped on, etc.

But what we're really talking about here is intent. The assumed intent here isn't that A wants to poop all over B at all, but wants to continue the phone call. (Out of respect and interest, or out of laziness, these are all varying gradations.)

Generally speaking, I'd much rather risk hearing something unsavory than have someone break off the call, interrupting the thought processes, etc. It's rare that I'm actually on the phone these days. If I'm on the phone doing voice, generally it's pretty important and requires an immediacy that IM or email can't provide. (And it's even rarer that I'd be on the phone *and* have to answer nature's call.)

But then, perhaps I'm among the first generation of the pure telecommunications age. The first apartment I lived in after moving out had dumb-terminals on an x.25 serial network in every room in the house, including the bathroom. This is ho-hum now, in the age of cheap computing and wireless networks and such, but back then, this was obsessive and pretty hardcore geekery. (Do you have any idea how hard it is to run full serial cable in a star topology? We're not talking cat-5 twisted pairs here. And CRT terminals? Those things are heavy! And multiple serial port ISA format DigiBoards are expensive!)

And claiming that the "It's natural - don't be a prude" argument is invalid simply because everything (even man-made objects or concepts) is natural seems to be pretty specious to me.

There's a vast difference - hopefully - between dropping the kids off at the pool while you're on the phone and, say, having a black hole suddenly appear in your pocket, or having a thermonuclear device go off in your back yard. (I mentioned this earlier. There are more important problems.)

The point I and a few others are trying to make is that these particular taboos are pretty much useless except for perhaps protecting the squeamish.

I think a good litmus test would be that mirrored glass "art toilet installation" - in France, I think? - where there's a public restroom encased in one-way mirror glass.

Could you use such a toilet? Even if it appeared to you that you were out in the open, even if you knew that no one could actually see in and you could only see out?
posted by loquacious at 10:53 AM on August 14, 2004


And claiming that the "It's natural - don't be a prude" argument is invalid simply because everything (even man-made objects or concepts) is natural seems to be pretty specious to me.

In what way? Which "natural things" are ok to parade in public and which aren't? Am I uptight because I don't want to see people squatting on the side of the road, taking a shit? I realize that's an extreme, but who decides which "natural" things are normal to display in public?
posted by grumblebee at 5:51 AM on August 15, 2004


But it's not displaying if it's going on in the background in someone else's house--out of view.

We all do other things while we're on the phone--going to the bathroom is one of those things. I've never heard explicit bathroom noises in the background when on the phone with someone, but certainly don't give a shit (insert groan here) whether they're there, or in the kitchen, or on the couch scratching themselves.
posted by amberglow at 8:21 AM on August 15, 2004


I'm also reminded of how All In The Family was the first tv show to play the sound of a flushing toilet coming from upstairs--and the ruckus it caused, to some delicate ears.
posted by amberglow at 8:25 AM on August 15, 2004


The original question was "Is it ok to talk to someone on the phone while using the bathroom?"

The answer is exactly this:

There may be people it is okay to talk to while using the bathroom. I am not one of those people, and because of that, I do not talk to people on the phone while I'm using the bathroom.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:36 AM on August 15, 2004


Some of you really need to examine your obsession with the telephone, methinks. I'm hearing a lot of denial.
posted by rushmc at 9:43 AM on August 15, 2004


Rush & fish, the point it it isn't hurting anyone*. It isn't like blowing your nose one someone's curtain because they aren't there. It not only improves somesone's life as noted above for continuity, but also keeps me from getting off the phone with you; in a number of phone-pee cases, I'm just shooting the shit with someone on the other side of the country, and if the momentum is killed, there isn't really any point.

The reactions above also prove it really is about uptightness.
"Stop imposing your peeing on me! Wah!" Honestly. People do things that drive me up the wall all the time (see: being absurdly loud on the subway). I wish they wouldn't, but I don't go hopping all around denouncing them and calling them names. I don't decide it makes them bad people. I bitch about it to my friends and MOVE ON. In the grand scheme of things, it just isn't that big of a deal.

Which is why I find an overfondness of these rules usually denotes a more superficial disposition. It's like the way people who look the coolest are usually the most boring. They invest so much in outward show that they neglect the inward tempering & strength that makes up true consideration, decency, and kindness.

* Yes, it hurts a certain (overly) sensitive contingent like Grumblebee. In this case, it makes sense that you would favor the most strict of rules because they protect you. However, I would rather not be protected or expected to protect up to the most sttringent levels. At that end of the curve the energy expended totally outweighs the benifits. It's like demanding everyone contstantly drive at only 5 mph because you are made uncomfortable by higher speeds.

Further, I find it interesting, Grumblebee, that you make a case for being convinced that an aversion to bathroom noises is instinctual right before you slam the "it's natural" argument.
posted by dame at 9:49 AM on August 15, 2004


Oops, I realize I didn't make it clear that some cognizance of and operation within the superficial rules is inevitable. Just that the minute obsession evidenced here is, well, suspect from this end.
posted by dame at 9:56 AM on August 15, 2004


...but also keeps me from getting off the phone with you

You're begging the question. The point is, we WANT you to get off the phone with us.
posted by rushmc at 12:05 AM on August 16, 2004


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