Friday, May 15, 2009

Get it Right: Toilet Paper-Throwing Etiquette

Sometimes when you move to a new country, the organization you're with offers classes titled "Social Customs" or "Sensitivity Training", etc. You know, just to give you a heads up before you drain the communal bath water (as a friend did in Japan) or signal with the wrong finger and accidently give the bird (as the Chinese often do since they use their middle finger as a pointer). And as much as you read up through books, the internet, and blogs, there's still some things left to be discovered on your own, especially when you're in the confines of a bathroom stall. 

At school this week, a fellow teacher on the way out warns me as I enter the bathroom, "Be careful. It smells really bad in there." The other two teachers inside nod in agreement.

I walk in a stall, and what do I see? Not the usual unflushed mess in the toilet (although, that too, will create the same kind of chaos in the ladies room), but an upturned HUUUGE wad of toilet paper in the trash can soiled in you-know-what!! I think to myself, "That is sooo wrong." 

And apparently, everyone else thought so too. It was a commotion you might find amongst the students, not the teachers, as they stood around and gasped at nerve someone had to foul up the bathroom like that. You just don't leave the dirty side of the toilet paper exposed. You purposely throw it face down, and in the event that it fails to fall in the appropriate manner, either do the deed and dig down there and turn it over, or, as my husband suggested, lay a clean piece of toilet paper over it so as to not offend the next user with your personal belongings (dare I say that he might have some experience in this practice?) 

Now that I think about it, this is a universal social custom. If you had to throw your toilet paper away in the trash in any other country, you would do the same, no? Though I'm not really sure, as I have no other experiences to compare it to. But something tells me deep down inside that this is a fact of life. A fact of life that doesn't need to be written up in any book or blog... that is, until someone violates THE UNIVERSAL CODE OF CONDUCT. 

1 comment:

  1. You are so totally right on this one. The toilet paper always goes face-down, or "covered" with a clean piece of toilet paper. A pox on the person who broke the universal code of conduct!