So I spoke to a guy the other day who did not know how to piss in a urinal. Doesn’t seem that complicated, step up, zip down, flop out and aim in. However, interestingly, this is not the first person that I have spoken to in my travels with this particular problem. So it’s time for a VC public service announcement. How To Piss In A Urinal. Or more directly, proper urinal manners. Here we go.
The Ideal Situation.
If you are lucky, and rarely is this the case, then you may be on the receiving end of what is only known as the “Ideal Situation.” This situation is, of course, the presence of one urinal. The etiquette here is simple: if it’s empty, pee, if it’s not, don’t. Period. Of course, a foray to the world of the public stall could be merited if the urinal is busy, but it is always preferable to busy one’s self with washroom related activity while waiting for the urinal to free up. Wash your hands, check your hair, check the floor for loose change, do the moonwalk, etc.
An important note: It is NOT considered proper etiquette to enquire to a peeing person if he is almost done. Nor is it seemly to attempt to peek in the urinal for activity. If you suspect the patron is merely standing around with his fly open, it is usually best just to keep those suspicions to yourself.
The Two Urinal Tango
One urinal was easy. No tough decisions there. Two urinals, well, it’s a whole different world. With luck, they will both be empty. In this case, choose the appropriate urinal based on proximity to walls and other forms of shielding, and preferably as far away as possible from large sources of microwaves and free radicals.
Chances are though, that with two urinals one of them will be occupied. In this case under no circumstances should you proceed to the urinal. I repeat: DO NOT PROCEED. To proceed is to pee in one urinal adjoining another which is also occupied. This is the cardinal sin of urinal etiquette. Never pee beside someone. Instead, it is best to busy one’s self with activites mentioned under the Ideal Situation, with the possible exception of moonwalking, for which breakdancing should be substituted.
A question which becomes increasingly pressing at this point is the option of the stall. If the need is urgent (and it may well be), the stall may be considered. However, it is of utmost importance to make it appear as if the stall was the destination all along. This is why planning is necessary. If there is potential urination in the near future, one should always take these easy steps:
Scout out the bathroom: Urinal number and location
Map out a secondary stall acess route
Practice casual-seeming scouting of urinal area
Limber up for extensive periods of breakdancing
Planning is not all it takes though. Once in the stall, standing is no longer an option. To stand is to admit to all who peek for feet that you never had any intention of using a stall, but rather that your efforts at finding a suitable urinal were unfruitful. Sit and pee, and if at all possible, stay for an amount of time equal to that which you would normally take if the stall had been the appropriate initial choice, once again to suggest that you are not simply peeing in a stall. However, here we delve into the realm of stall etiquette, which is an entirely different field.
Well then, what about three urinals. Well, this starts to get tricky. If you should come across three empty urinals, then the natural male tendency to attempt to accumulate power and property might lead you to try the middle urinal. Unfortunately, in some countries, to do so is punishable in manners unspeakable. For to choose the middle urinal is to deny any subsequent patron of the urinals the opportunity to pee in isolation while you are still at your business. To choose the middle of three urinals is to commit an act of pure, unadulterated selfishness, and for it one should be ashamed. Instead, one should immediately proceed the the end urinal which is furthest from the door, or alternatively, best smelling.
However, all three urinals are not always empty. If upon entering the bathroom you discern that the middle urinal alone is occupied, ever, you should immediately seek out the proper authorities to punish the culprit. Hopefully though, one of the end urinals is occupied. This allows one to proceed to the opposite urinal, and pee in relative security.
Further complications arise if two of the urinals are occupied. If they are the two end urinals, then one should proceed with delay tactics which were described earlier, especially nose scratching and armpit sniffing. Alternatively, a stall may be employed, being sure to use the deceitful tactics also mentioned earlier. It is possible that two adjacent urinals of the three be occupied. In this case, it is best just to leave. Hold your urge, and retreat. To stay is to share in the shame that must accompany any two individuals who are engaged in such an unseemly situation. Furthermore, if you are ever engaged in peeing at an end urinal, and someone enters the middle urinal with the intention of peeing, it is most definitely appropriate to ask him to leave. If he is unreceptive to your request, you might consider peeing on his leg.
Should all three urinals be occupied, upon entry to the bathroom, not only should you beat a hasty retreat, but you should also avert your eyes in order not to have the horrible sight of three adjacent occupied urinals forever ingrained into your mind.
Just Four, Not More.
Well with four urinals, the decisions start to really pile up. Even if all four urinals are empty upon your arrival, there is still a lot of thinking to do. Ideally, you should still choose a nice, clean smelling urinal at either one of the ends. However, certain extenuating circumstances have set precedence for the selection of one of the two inner urinals. The reason that this is acceptable is that the selection of an inner urinal does not decrease the potential M.P.P.N.B.A. (Maximum People Peeing Not Beside Anyone). Therefore, if, say, a large deposit of nuclear waste has located itself in BOTH of the end urinals, an inner urinal may be employed, preferably the one farthest away from the largest nuclear waste deposit.
What about if someone is already there? Well, much like the other situations, pee if you can without peeing beside anyone, and otherwise lapse into delay tactics or stall deceit strategy. In fact, because the MPPNBA’s are identical for three and four urinals, etiquette is greatly preserved across the platforms.
Five! Five! Five!
Well, what about five urinals. This is starting to be a lot of urinals here, and so proper etiquette is even more important, as the potential for people in the washroom to view improper etiquette at work is steadily increasing. Now, however, in the case of an empty bank of urinals, the decision is going to reflect your personality. If you are relatively shy, or introverted, either of the end urinals is the appropriate choice. This shows your good knowledge of urinal etiquette, but in no way is flashy or showy. However, if you are bold and daring, you should choose the middle urinal. This immediately gains you command and authority over the entire urinal bank, while still maintaining the highest possible MPPNBA. Manners and power, and unbeatable combination.
Now, selection of a urinal remains simple if one or more are occupied. Pee if you can, if you can’t don’t. Don’t break any rules of etiquette, and make sure that others uphold them. However, because the number of urinals is increasing, it becomes increasingly difficult to assess the situation while still maintaining an entirely casual and matter of fact air. At this point, practice is essential. Use mirrors to scan the urinals, tie your shoe without ever taking your eyes off the urinals, etc. Of even greater concern though, is to appear all the time that you are not actually examining the urinals. Such actions could be misconstrued, and such misinterpretations must be avoided to maintain the proper bathroom decorum.
Six, Six, Pick Up Your Sticks.
Now with six or more urinals, the rules are not so concrete. However, a few things must still be kept in mind.
Maintain a high MPPNBA. Choose end urinals when possible, and plan your entry to the urinal bank so that every second urinal is occupied. To employ only every third urinal is a waste, and often is accompanied by a small fine if caught.
Pee as far away from others as possible. If you enter into a washroom of 6 urinals, and someone is at an end urinal, then by all means proceed directly to the urinal at the opposite end. Maintain your distance at all times. However, in banks of 8 urinals are more, or when the gap between a urinal patron and the end of the bank is 7 urinals, it is appropriate to choose the second farthest away urinal. To choose the farthest urinal might imply to a sensitive individual that he smelt, or emitted a blinding light, or some other such condition, and might cause undue insult. Therefore, the second farthest urinal is selected in order to suggest that while you have a good grasp of urinal etiquette, in no way do you feel that the other individual is a grotesquely deformed monster.
T So there it is, kids. It’s pretty simple if you follow the rules. Special thanks for the people in the Bathroom Etiquette Department (yes we have a Bathroom Etiquette Department… it’s a big company ok?) for working long hours and doing lots of unpleasant research so we could all learn something here today.