I want to talk about an issue that’s been pissing me off-literally!-for quite some time and it’s something that I think fellow Broke-Asses will understand.
During the course of almost ten years of living in NYC, you find yourself in a variety of restaurants and nightspots which run the gamut from high-end classy to kinda sketchy, to downright squalid. It seems that the one constant, universal truth about all of these places, be it the bar at the Carlyle Hotel or the aquarium in Coney Island, is that you are guaranteed to find urine on the toilet seat in the bathroom.
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Now I’m all for sanitary living, but I am also not one of those hyper-insane germophobes who thinks that if the backs of my thighs touch the toilet seat at Le Cirque, that I’m going to somehow contract AIDS, crabs, herpes or some sort of fungal infection.
Let’s review, shall we? According to WebMd:
“The toilet seat is not a common vehicle for transmitting infections to humans. Many disease-causing organisms can survive for only a short time on the surface of the seat, and for an infection to occur, the germs would have to be transferred from the toilet seat to your urethral or genital tract, or through a cut or sore on the buttocks or thighs, which is possible but very unlikely.
“To my knowledge, no one has ever acquired an STD on the toilet seat — unless they were having sex on the toilet seat!” says Abigail Salyers, PhD, president of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).
Common cold germs, like most viruses, die rapidly, and thus may be less of a threat than you think. “Even if you come into contact with particular viruses or bacteria, you’d have to contract them in amounts large enough to make you sick,” says Judy Daly, PhD, professor of pathology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
The fact is, if you wash your hands — as I’m sure everyone does every time, since we are all so germ-phobic (blonde lady at Kittichai, I’m looking at YOU!) — nine times out of ten, the only thing that you have to worry about sitting in a stranger’s urine! Which IS actually, disgusting! Urine, perhaps, from the person before you who was so convinced that the toilet seat was filthy and disgusting that she decided to squat over the seat, urinate directly on it and then wander out of the bathroom to let you deal with the mess.
Come on, ladies. We’ve all done the squat-over-the-toilet thing, but if your aim is at less-than-William Tell levels of capability at least have the decency to wipe down the seat when you’re done. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve entered a restroom in a fancy, upscale restaurant and been faced with a toilet seat covered in pee. I’m pretty sure that paying $25 for an entree should not necessitate mopping random urine off the toilet seat in an otherwise clean facility.
I have been in my share of many disgusting bathrooms as well. (Lit, on 2nd Avenue? Now, I’m looking at you!) On more than one of these occasions conditions were so alarming that I actually left and went to another venue to use the bathroom. On other occasions, I felt safer running to the store for Purell than I would have using the sink. This is understandable and part of the price we pay for living in NYC. There’s no shame in it. There’s no shame in lining the seat with toilet paper, either, if those seat cover things aren’t available. (Why isn’t that a city-wide regulation?) In fact, take any precaution you feel you need to in order to preserve your sanity, but please, act like you have some sense: don’t pee all over the seat and leave it for someone else. It’s trashy and disgusting and just makes life harder for everyone–someone does eventually have to clean up after you, after all.
Bathroom conditions are hard enough for women in this city, what with them doing away with tampon dispensers, the astoundingly long lines, the no place to put your bag and the often too-late realization that there isn’t sufficient toilet paper in the stall. Don’t lets make things harder on ourselves and for each other. Unite for cleaner bathrooms and personal urine management!
If everybody sat, no one would have to stand.
READER POLL: What’s the most squalid, filthy bathroom in all of NYC?