On the Road: Mobile Phones and Restrooms. (It’s a Don’t.)

February 17, 2014

It’s official.

When it comes to mobile phone use, no where is sacred.

Here’s how I know:

I listened to a mom have an entire conversation with each and every member of her family from the stall in the women’s room at Portland International Airport (PDX) today.

This was after I had to navigate around a woman who was leaning up against the bathroom wall like she was waiting in line for a restroom to open up, when, in reality, she was just supporting the arm she was using to hold her phone up to her ear. I asked her if she was in line and she grinned and said, “Oh, no, sorry. I am just on the phone.”

Great. Hope whoever’s on the other end of the line enjoys the sounds of bladders emptying.

Since I was already delighted by the prospect of my tinkle being broadcast to a listener unknown somewhere in the world, you can imagine how pumped I was to get myself situated only to have Mom / Susie / Jimmy / Dad enter the stall next to me. For. Real. She spoke to her husband, her daughter, her son. Full-fledged conversation in which she told one of them she was actually USING the restroom.


There are a few things that will send my father’s blood pressure straight through the roof. Talking on the phone while using the bathroom is one of them. (Hey, he wasn’t raising ignoramuses, yo.) Not having a clean towel for his evening shower and discovering all the towels in the house piled on the bedroom floors of his children was another. Cutting him off while driving is another. Ok, ok. Stopping there before I get too off track. My point here is that I would have loved to see his face / watch his reaction if he was relieving himself and someone started yukking it up on a mobile phone at the urinal next to him. When this happened to me today – twice in one bathroom visit – I definitely channeled him and felt irrationally angry about this.

Seriously, people. This is a PSA – please stop the madness. Let’s all band together and protect the one place that should be spared from mobile phone use of any kind – public restrooms, especially those with lots of stalls. (Not sure the single stall / private public restroom phone use is any better, but at least it’s more discrete.) Let’s act civilized and exercise patience. There’s nothing you have to say while hovering over a public restroom toilet that cannot wait five minutes. Unless it’s a medical emergency. I think that might be the only acceptable use case.

Listen, I get it.  I am a working mom who travels for her job – so I know first-hand that anytime you can connect with your family while on the road is a welcome one. But that doesn’t include restrooms. For real. They are not a ‘quiet area’ for you to connect with loved ones. Put your phone in your bag, use the restroom as intended, WASH YOUR HANDS, then make your phone call when you are back in a public area. I feel like moms (or parents) should know this more than anyone else – if only to teach their kids civilized behavior by example.

The irony in all this?

In the restroom at Phoenix Skyharbor, my work phone rang.

Obvs, I let it ring.

A woman somewhere in the restroom suggested I answer my phone. As in, “Oh, geez! That frightened me. Can you pick that up? or silence it?”

No. I cannot. I am using the restroom. 😉

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