We NEED To Have A Potty Talk


Hi, strangers.

We need to have a talk about potty training.

Not for kids… for adults. For YOU.



I would say, seven times out of ten, I walk into a Manhattan public restroom and find piss everywhere. More than just a few sprinkled. More than the errant drip. Much more than a forgivable “there was no toilet paper and I had to shake myself dry.” This is…. a lot of urine.


This is like, you just drank a Big Gulp and actively tried to piss on every surface in the stall that isn’t the bowl.




It can’t just be tourists, though it seems to be more of an issue in Times Square and near tourist destinations. There’s probably a few New Yorkers in the mix who seem to think that hovering is acceptable.


And I get it! I hovered once.


Picture this: it was a public park bathroom in Battery Park (near the Statue of Liberty ferry, so, lots of tourists). There’s an inch of water (water/pee?) on the floor, and I’m wearing a parka and carrying a purse. While hovering, tip-toed, and holding my purse on my lap, I had to change an o.b. tampon without making contact with the seat because it was COVERED in human excrement.


That was the ONE TIME I hovered. The rest of the time, YOU SIT ON THE SEAT.

That’s why a toilet has A SEAT.

It’s called A SEAT for a reason.


To recap: YOU SIT unless the seat is smeared in feces, the bathroom is 20 degrees Fahrenheit and flooded with water and piss, and you’re bleeding through your tampon. If all of those criteria are not met, JUST FUCKING SIT.


Okay, I get it. You see a dry toilet seat in a well-maintained restroom with an attendant actively cleaning and you’re still skeptical. You think, “Maybe there’s germs there! If I sit my butt down, I might get germs on the upper back of my thighs!”

Well let me pull out my exceedingly tiny violin and play you a ballad of GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF. Germs are goddamn everywhere. Who cares if you get imaginary, harmless germs on your butt? It’s your BUTT. Unless you’re about to head to a Naked Sushi event where kinky businessmen are going to eat raw salmon off your bare ass, WHO CARES IF YOU GET GERMS ON YOUR BUTT?!?! I see you hovering over the seat afraid of invisible butt-germs one minute, then the next you hop on an A train and lean your face against the pole?!?! Are you fucking kidding? No, you’re a full-blooded hypocrite.


You know what they say, and it’s my motto for life:




So while you are in the stall, with your palms to the wall, swiveling your fanny all around like You Might Be A 90’s Kid and “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira just came on, you may not be thinking about Society At Large. But you should know that the next person who needs to use that stall is going to walk into a Nightmare Scenario. And you know what? That’s rude. So the next time you decide to clean a public restroom with your Golden Shower, Miss I. P. Freely, think about how you would feel if you walked into that crime scene.


And finally.


Do you know what the Port-a-Potties at Burning Man are like?

Nine days in the desert, constant intoxication, once-a-day cleaning, tens of thousands of people of all ages and genders using the same glorified hole in the ground for all of their bodily excrements?

Take a guess.

Do you know what the Port-a-Potties at Burning Man are like?



They’re immaculate.


They’re fucking sparkling.


Go ahead and ask me.

“Meghan, how are the Port-a-Potties at Burning Man cleaner, on average, than the well-maintained indoor toilets at the Port Authority Bus Terminal?”


Ok, I have two theories.


One, is that for nine days in the desert, those Port-a-Potties are your “home” toilets. No matter where you live in Black Rock City, there’s an outpost of Port-a-Potties marked by blue lights that are the toilets closest to your camp. Think about the toilet in your apartment – if that’s the toilet that you use several times a day, it’s in your best interest to keep it as clean as possible every time you use it, because you’re gonna be back again later, and you hope to find a clean toilet when you do! So that’s one theory. Selfish self-interest.


The other theory, and I like to believe this is the real answer, is that we just care more out there. In a city of only 70,000, we know our neighbors and we care about them. We care about them not sitting down blindly in the middle of the night onto a toilet seat that we have liberally doused in our piss. Do unto others, if you will. Most of the time, there’s a line at those Port-a-Potties, and when you open the door after doing your dirty deeds, you’re gonna look into the eyes of the person who’s using that stall after you. You’ve gotta be able to meet that human’s gaze with the full confidence that you aren’t about to ruin their day by Welcoming them to a Wee-wee Wonderland.


So, what’s the solution for public restrooms?

Potty train according to the new “Golden Rule”: “Doo-doo unto others as you would have them doo-doo unto you”? Or how about the classic, “If you sprinkle when you tinkle…” Guys, life hard enough without having to worry about marinating in strange pee when you’re relieving yourself? As the inside of a Port-A-Potty at Burning Man once informed me:




Suck it up, take a seat, and remember your training.


image via Jarmoluk on Pixabay

4 responses to “We NEED To Have A Potty Talk”

  1. THIS! My major one right now is people at work (in India) who SQUAT on the western toilets – leaving MUDDY FOOTPRINTS ON THE SEAT like ew no that’s why we have squat toilets in the building, if you have to squat just go and use them. Gaah it’s so frustrating.

    • Oh, how interesting! I must confess I have never seen footprints on a toilet seat, and now that you mention it, I’m surprised that I haven’t!

      I hope I don’t come across sounding intolerant – I know to expect a little bit of mess from people who are in a hurry (I didn’t mention the train bathrooms when I finally sat down only to hear my train called EARLY and I had to mad dash to the platform). Because SHIT HAPPENS! A little blood left in the bowl, or a tiny speck of pee on the seat, like, I’m not unreasonable and I can wipe the seat after a stranger just like I wipe the seat after myself. I ain’t too proud!

  2. I remember years and years ago this was apparently a serious thing senior year at my high school. I just pictured people hovering above the toilets like little UFOs. A girl got so pissed–from sitting in piss–that she started carrying a whistle with her into the bathroom and every time she’d see a girl come out of the stall who’d make a mess, you’d hear a shrill sound. I think she traumatized half of the senior class. Now jumping to the topic of BM (my former doctor would never call them anything else), my toddler cousin was visiting today with my aunt. All was well, his sisters were running around trying to see who could kill each other first, and he calmly comes up to his mother and goes, “Mom I have poopy on my tummy.” I’m looking at his stomach thinking, WHAT? HE PROBABLY RUBBED SHIT EVERYWHERE! OMG WHAT IF HE POOPED IN THE POOL?? She looks at him and says, “Honey, that’s your belly button.” Just thought you might get a kick out of that.

    • Oh no! That toddler story had me envisioning like, have you seen those photos of what a Roomba does when a dog poops in the house? I never thought of this but once you google it you can’t unsee it ever. I love the high school whistle girl, though. In my fantasies, I would be as brace as she is, forcibly potty training tourists through negative feedback. But in reality I usually walk up to a “crime scene” long after the culprit had split!

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