Friday, 29 August 2008
I'd Give It a Minute or Two, If I Were You...
Thinking about camping and the minor inconveniences made me think about the other occasions when we are forced in to rubbing shoulders with people we don't know particularly well. It made me wonder whether there was an etiquette that might save the embarrassment that comes with doing private things in public.
I had cause to think following our most recent trip at the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Rhandimrwyn in Wales. I had a particularly bad attack of wobbly tummy (readers of a gentle disposition might want to turn away here). and sat in a cubicle I heard a chap enter the Gents and after taking a lungful of the air, struggle to stifle a retch. Fearing I was the cause of his nausea I hid until it was safe to emerge undetected.
Fortunately the C&CC toilets were their usual excellent standard and so I was quite comfortable sitting reflecting on how a life among working men has made this sort of incident unnecessary. There is a sort of culture among men, particularly from the manual trades, that breeds toilet etiquette. Some of you will already know what I am talking about. The sort of thing that causes a colleague to say, as you pass in the doorway of the Gents', "I'd give it a minute or two if I were you son..."
And there it is, a perfect expression of etiquette: the one not wishing to burden the other with the dreadful smell he has left behind.
But is it that simple? Experience shows that it is not always easy to gauge the quality of the fug you leave behind.
I think there is a gap in the market for some sort of guide, coupled with an indicator device to be left on the toilet door. I can see it now: a single fingered clock with ten minute segments to indicate the length of interval required before it is advisable to enter.
On the inside door of each cubicle we could have a guide that helps the inexperienced sitter determine what interval to recommend. For example, whether you can actually smell your own, is a good guide to severity; whether there is any thickening of the atmosphere is another; and whether you feel lightheaded is a good indication of toxicity.
Yes, watch the next series of Dragon's Den and I might just be there making a pitch to Sir Alan.