How To: Deal if you enter the wrong restroom


I have a very dear friend who has a difficult time distinguishing the men’s restroom from the women’s. As you can imagine, this creates some painful situations for him. Now, this fellow is not alone. Much as we’d like to deny it, each of us has stumbled into the opposite sex’s bathroom once or twice.

Boys’ bathrooms are different from girls’ bathrooms. There are important and subtle ways to determine whether the bathroom you are entering is appropriate for you.

Before you enter a bathroom: The sign on the door should be a tip-off. Public bathrooms are traditionally identified as male or female both by word and by a male or female icon. The icons depict a woman in a dress and a man in pants. These icons reinforce stereotypes and could be very confusing to Scotsmen, but by the time we reach college, we’ve typically figured out what they mean. However, the label on the door does no good if the door is open and the sign isn’t clearly visible. This happens almost every time a bathroom is being cleaned, and many people unwittingly enter the wrong bathroom as a result. The people coming in and out might help you make a rational judgment about your planned bathroom. If these people are not your gender, you may have the wrong bathroom. If you aren’t sure about their gender and you really need to use the facilities, go on in.

Once you’re in a bathroom: You will find additional clues inside of a bathroom. In the girls’ bathroom are a billion and a half stalls. Even with so many stalls, these bathrooms always seem to have a line of impatient women. In the boys’ bathroom, one encounters urinals. These are not just a strange type of sink, and the blue things in the bottom are so not soap! If either of these things comes to your attention and you are still close enough to the door to exit safely retreat! Unfortunately, there are times when this isn’t a possibility.

So you’re in the wrong bathroom: Go nonchalantly about your business making sure to avoid any sudden movements. If someone screams or hits on you, abandon all caution and make a hasty exit. If you haven’t been detected, blend into your surroundings by imitating the interaction habits of the opposite sex. Women, you must grunt and do the reverse nod at every male. This strange motion leads with the chin and seems to be standard male lingo for, “I will acknowledge you and you will acknowledge me and then we will have nothing to do with one another.” Women have their own way of saying this. Men, you must give a creepy half-smile at the women in your bathroom. Follow this with a hair pat and make sure not to make eye contact for the rest of your bathroom visit.

Surviving: After an embarrassing incident like being trapped in the bathroom of the opposite sex, people have all sorts of advice: Act like it never happened. Laugh it off. These things don’t actually work. Counseling might work. Counseling services should be available in more places across campus: at the bookstore, in every parking lot, and outside every public bathroom. Unfortunately, these counseling services don’t exist. This is a shame because overpriced books, Peg the Pink Hat Lady, and accidental bathroom visits cause more stress than anything else Simpson students encounter. Support groups might also be helpful. Knowing that everyone else has gone through the same experience will help put your pain into perspective. A traumatic incident like this is not the end of the world. You won’t need to transfer schools, and people will still friend you on Facebook.

Though your life may never be the same, you will leave the opposite sex’s bathroom a stronger and wiser person.