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queuing outside an unlocked toilet

How to prevent queuing in front of an unlocked toilet thinking it’s in use

There are several awkward moments in public toilets and laughing off these makes life enjoyable. As Herman Melville once said, “A good laugh is a mighty good thing, a rather too scarce a good thing.” Our thinking and concentration level could take a slight dip due to the discomfort we endure as a result of being too pressed or overwhelmed by the unpleasant toilet odour. The interplay of these unfavourable events makes us less observant.

We’ve covered a few awkward toilet moments in previous blogs. You’re so pressed and dashed to the public toilet in a famous coffee shop, train station or festival point. The toilet door is shot and in a flash, it looks like a red lock sign is on and you queue restlessly. It’s been over 3 minutes and you’re still waiting to use the facility. You’ve not heard any flushing sound, phone ring or message beep. Curiosity strikes but you are polite enough to wait your turn. Within a few seconds, someone walks into the toilet and gently pushes the door open and says to you “It is open and the green unlock sign was on.” You can’t believe how less aware you were and thanks them apologetically but somewhat embarrassed. Walking into the toilet and shaking your head in absolute disbelief. “I am so stupid.” You gently whisper to yourself.

This happens quite often and it is important to understand how best to prevent this from reoccurring.


Tips in avoiding queuing in front of a vacant toilet facility

1) A second look: You’ve stared at the lock and it indicates “in use”, “occupied” or “locked.” Pay the second look to be sure it’s red and not green. At times, a busy day and a pressing number 2 could blur our vision.

2) Listen for a sound: It is quite difficult for a toilet in use to be perfectly quiet. Pay a great deal of attention for a sound that will indicate if the unit is in use or not. Common sounds could be from a fart, smart devices, cough or notifications.

3) A gentle but convincing push of the door: If you are unsure a gentle push could clarify things. You’ve got to be prepared of the off chance someone is doing their business but forgot to have the locks on.

4) Ask someone else in the toilet: If you find someone else in the toilet when you walked in, they might have a better understanding of the toilet occupancy. It could be a good idea to ask them if the facility is occupied in the event of a confusing door lock indication.

Our degree of observation and attention might be slightly dented when we are pressed. Applying these simple techniques will ensure we do not find ourselves queuing in front of a vacant toilet.


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