It’s one of the most awkward experiences man has confronted. When faced with this challenge, the most interesting man in the world was reduced to silence. Countless numbers of men and women face this problem every day. Yes, the uncomfortable confrontation with a co-worker, friend,or stranger in the restroom.
You have to admit, this is an awkward 2 ½ minutes. You walk in, find a spot and right next to you is that person you never really talk to from history class. Here’s where things can get a bit uncomfortable.
a) You recognize your companion, address them by name and ask how their day is going- small talk that can last until you are done. Maybe not the most stirring conversation, but interesting enough.
b) You do not make eye contact. Stare straight ahead at those ugly walls trying to focus your attention on some minor detail, while you pretend to think to yourself. Without a word, you exit the facility and get back into the flow of the day.
As trivial as this may seem, this subject always presented me with a tough choice: to converse or not to converse. It seems quite simple and irrelevant, but the long and uncomfortable 2 ½ minutes are unbearable. I think it is disrespectful to ignore someone just because you are in the restroom, whereas you would chat with them in any other place. From previous experiences, I decided a while ago to break the ice and strike up a conversation with others in the restroom.
Most of these instances occur when you would least expect it. You are either stressed, rushing to get somewhere or in a bad mood when you get caught off guard by someone in the neighboring urinal. In one instance, I was rushing in between classes midafternoon and ran into the head of my upper school. It would have been extremely awkward if I didn’t acknowledge his presence then, and ran into him later that day. We struck up a brief conversation, and what may have been an awkward moment turned into a stimulating talk about our day. As I walked away, I chuckled at the fact that I just had a meaningful conversation with a faculty member in the bathroom.
I am naturally an introvert. Up until my junior year of high school, I was the kid that picked option “B.” On occasion an upper-classman would strike up a conversation with me in the bathroom, and talking with an upperclassman was an honor, let alone in the bathroom.
Over the past two years, I have become much more gregarious. Now, I select choice “A” without thinking. It is always an honor and pleasure for me to interact with other students and people, and not necessarily just in the bathroom. I enjoy high-fiving students in the hallway and leading the student section at sporting events. Riding an elevator to the second floor with just one other person turns into a summary of the Philadelphia Eagles’ win on Sunday, as does sitting between two strangers on an airplane to Newark turns into an appraisal of the Harry Potter books.
He is the most interesting man in the world, but stares ahead at ugly bathroom walls in silence. I kill two birds with one stone in the restroom. I urinate and carry a conversation at the same time. Stay hydrated my friends.