Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why do people not flush the toilet after they have used a public bathroom?

In this post, I am going to explore one of the enduring minor mysteries of everyday existence: Why do people not flush the toilet after they have used a public bathroom? Before I proceed with this post, I think I should issue a few warnings:

Warning (1): This post probably has little if anything to do with yoga. So if you are looking forward to some nuggets of yogic wisdom from the yogic sage of the Dragon's Den (ahem!), well, then maybe you shouldn't read this post. I don't want to give you any false expectations. Remember, though: Expectation is the surest road to unnecessary suffering. Ha! So maybe this post has something yogic in it after all... 

Warning (2): This post contains references to things that happen or that are sometimes found in public bathrooms. If you are offended by such descriptions or references, you probably shouldn't read this post either.

Warning (3): This is really more of a disclaimer than a warning. I have no intention of starting a whole string of bathroom posts in writing this post. I understand that it has been the trend in the blogosphere in the last couple of weeks to focus on one very small aspect of daily life (tiny shorts, for instance) and to generate a whole slew of posts from this one small aspect of human existence. I have no intention of doing this.

Well, now for my post proper. I am now sitting in the coffeeshop in my apartment complex. A few minutes ago, after having enjoyed a strong cup of double espresso, I found myself having to go to the bathroom. Fortunately, there is a public bathroom in the hallway next to the coffeeshop, so I didn't have to travel too far to fulfill this most basic of biological functions. Not so fortunately, however, immediately after stepping into the bathroom, I found that somebody had peed and not flushed the toilet after having done so (I did warn you that this post wasn't going to be very sanitized). I was about to flush the toilet, when a thought occurred to me: Is the toilet stopped up? If the toilet was indeed stopped up, then not only would pushing down on the flushing lever not clear away the offending liquid, but might make things worse by raising the liquid level, possibly causing the liquid to overflow the banks of the toilet bowl ("Attack of the Noxious Yellowish Liquid"... Yikes!).

But I decided to take the gamble anyway, and pushed down on the flushing level. And lo and behold, the toilet worked perfectly, and the liquid that had issued forth from the bladder of the previous occupant of this room was no more. So the flushing mechanism was working perfectly. Which meant that the previous occupant had not flushed the toilet after he had used it. Why hadn't he? Some possible explanations:

(1) He was in a very big hurry to get somewhere, and did not have the time to flush. Possible, I suppose, but how much time can one lose by spending that extra fraction of a second to push down on that lever?

(2) He came from a particular civilization or planet in which it is customary for people to leave the flushing to the next user/occupant of the bathroom. Again, this is possible, I suppose. If this is true, then I am grateful that what he left behind wasn't something more... solid.

(3) He intensely dislikes me (in fact, he might be one of the many people who have read this blog recently, and got very offended by its contents) and somehow knows that I am going to be in the bathroom after him. So he decided to leave me a "parting gift."

(4) He simply couldn't care less about flushing the toilet. After all, he might be thinking, since the bathroom is public property, there is no problem with leaving the flushing to other members of the public. Hmm... interesting logic.

Well, if you are still reading this post, and haven't been revolted by its contents thus far, maybe you can offer your suggestion as to which of (1) to (4) is the most likely explanation? Or if you don't think that any of (1) to (4) is a likely explanation, maybe you can offer your own? 


  1. (5) he lives in a city so advanced that practically every public toilet has an electric eye for automatic flushing and did not notice upon finishing his business that his particular toilet was not so equipped.
    (6) he has been scared about water conservation and thinks that it's don't flush for #1, flush for #2.
    (7) he is afraid of contracting a disease by using his hand to flush. his show was too big with which to push the handle.
    (8) his mom called out and in a hurry forgot to flush.
    (9) he comes from extremly simple conditions found in rural areas and suddenly found himself in the posh environment and didn't know how to behave.

    1. Maby the person is just forgetful and has to much on their mind or doesn't remember simple everyday tasks. Maby the person doesn't like the sound of a flushing toilet I don't know but it a pet peeve for me.

  2. Hahaha! Nice suggestions, Arturo. Especially (8).

  3. Interesting, Karen. Come to think of it, (6) makes for a very respectable reason not to flush :-)


  5. Arturo,are we talking about you here as Robert De Niro said to Billy Crystal in 'Analyze This'? Ha ha just kidding but I couldn't help myself,you did leave yourself wide open lol.

  6. He's a psychopath.

  7. Maybe it was a little kid who forgot. Nah. I'm sure it's worse than you think and they really are out to get you.