It is true, women usually go to the restroom in pairs. This is the secret place where we share private conversations about the day, our dinner companion, emotions, or what is really happening in the meeting. We take the time to chat quickly, honestly express ourselves and check in on what our comrades in the ladies room think. You would be amazed at what women will share in the restroom, and what complete strangers will chime in on while washing their hands. It is almost as if this is our secret conversation space, when we can comment without reprise or reprimand or fear of being misunderstood. Like the moment we pass through the door we enter a sacred vestibule of womanhood.
I have watched complete strangers share beauty tips, hair care secrets, and emotional outbursts. I have heard amazing conversations and commentaries discussed between the stall doors. I have watched women try on each other’s shoes, open their bags and share Tylenol, take away a dirty diaper and hand Mom and fresh one, and Kleenex given with a smile and a kind nod. Rain or shine, line or none, women will share amazing ideas, stories, events and life challenges within these walls. I once saw a women walk out of the restroom, to only be pulled back into the space by a complete stranger…her skirt was tucked into her pantyhose and the other woman was rescuing her from embarrassment. Laughter ensued and everyone shared their nightmare pantyhose encounter, then they all left and went back to their own lives, never to cross paths again.
So why are we able to say things in this space that we won’t in other places? What is it about these hallowed stalls that gives women permission to squeal? Does this room remind us that we are all basically equal which allows us to stop competing with each other? After ‘paying the water bill’ we somehow know that every other woman in the place understands our hearts, our minds, our challenges and our hopes. Whether she is primping, washing her hands, changing a diaper or brushing her teeth, we all get it. Being a woman can be tough and rewarding all at the same time.
Next time you enter a public restroom pay attention to the dynamics between patrons. I cannot tell you if men have the same rules of engagement, though my husband seems to imply there is urinal etiquette. Keep your eyes open for the person who needs a kind word or rescue from a fashion fiasco. You may be the person who helps them see the reality of life and leave this space with their head held high. Or you may stop them from leaving with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of their shoe. Either way respect the space and your gender and support your fellow patrons any way you can.