Friday, June 14, 2013

Potty Talk: Cell Phones in Public Bathrooms

I just used the restroom at work—great start to a blog post, right?—and a coworker, who I don’t know well, walked in before me, talking on her cell phone. She stayed on the call throughout the entire process, including the flush (ew—fecal spray!) and “hand-washing.” I use scare quotes because she stuck the non-phone hand under the water and grabbed a paper towel.

Image source:
This happens quite a lot in public bathrooms and it keeps getting more bewildering to me. It brings a lot of questions to mind:

1)      Just… why?
2)      Do you actually enjoy talking on the phone in these circumstances?
3)      Who are you talking to? And why don’t they mind hearing your body functions and the toilet flushing?
4)      Doesn’t this ever create uncomfortable situations? You know… sound-wise?
5)      Aren’t you embarrassed to do this in front of other people? I mean, obviously not, but why not?
6)      Why do you think it’s a good idea to flush a toilet near your phone (which I’m guessing you never sterilize)?
7)      Why wouldn’t you wash the hand that’s holding the phone? That’s the one right next to your mouth!
8)      No, seriously: WHY???

…I’m just at a total loss. I don’t get it at all. In any way. On any level. But the International Center for Bathroom Etiquette (ha!) agrees with me.

Update 7/6/13: Apparently Corning is coming out with an antimicrobial phone display. Cool! ...But what about the buttons & case? Check it out.

Please comment if you can enlighten me on this strange phenomenon. Is this actually normal?


  1. I was just thinking that it would make a fun little research project, taking swabs of medical students'/doctors' phones and comparing them to phones of laypeople. Especially since we use our smartphones so much in hospital these days...
    I guess not everyone is very germ-averse. I know I'm not very careful with my phone, since I hardly ever get sick to begin with. But I DO sanitise it pretty regularly.
    I wrote a looong time ago about the infection-risks computers in hospital might pose. Think about how the CPU gets nice and warm, and just imagine all the little bugs that can grow there...

    1. Yeah, I've been thinking for about 4 years that whoever invents antibacterial phone and iPad cases (infused with silver or something) will making millions.

    2. How do you go about sanitizing your phone? Just some antimicrobial spray and avoid the openings? Or is there some more effective/less risky way?
      Also, you should get on inventing those antimicrobial cases. Settle up your med school debt ;).

    3. I take off my phone case about 1-2x per month and wipe down my whole phone with a damp alcohol swab. (And more often if I'm sick, someone sick touches my phone, or I'm around anything gross...) I don't know how effective this is, but I know it's better than nothing! :)


Questions? Comments?