The Rules of the Middle Urinal
The men’s bathroom nearest to my office has three of everything — three sinks, three soap dispensers, three stalls, and three urinals. Two urinals on each end, one in the middle, the middle urinal. The urinal on the far left is lower for short people and children. The other two are 18 inches from the ground. Between the urinals hang 18 x 40-inch gray metal partitions. The dividers are there to give users the appearance of privacy, but as I said, they’re only 40 inches tall.
The one overriding rule of the middle urinal is, by all that is sacred and holy … don’t use it. Ever. Never. If you’re designing a men’s bathroom with three urinals, I recommend saving money by installing a decal of a urinal in the middle.
Why You Should Never Use the Middle Urinal
When a man stands at a urinal relieving himself, it should be a private moment. One kept between the urinal and the urinator. It’s not a casual environment, or shouldn’t be, that fosters community and conversation. Not long ago, a co-worker chose the middle stall when I was occupying the right-hand stall. The left end stall was open when he made this breach of etiquette, and then to make matters worse, he rested his right arm on top of the gray partition and asked for my input on a project he was working on. No. I mean NOOOOOO!
Rule One: If all of the urinals are open, never choose the middle urinal.
Rule Two: If one of the ends is occupied, go to the other end urinal not the middle.
Rule Three: If both end urinals are in use, go to a stall.
Rule Four: If both end urinals are in use and all of the stalls are filled, wait. Do not use the middle urinal. Come back in five minutes. You can wait five minutes, can’t you?
More Inappropriate Urinal Behavior
For more years than I want to remember, my younger brother has tried to embarrass me in the men’s room. For example, the Indianapolis 500 doesn’t use urinals — they have troths. They’re oval shaped and more than 20 feet long. I’ve seen 30 to 40 men using them at one time. Anyway, one year my brother, while standing next to me, finishes before I do, zips up his shorts and loudly exclaims, “Nice Package!” except he didn’t say package. Another time, at a comedy club, he took the urinal next to me, you know the middle one, and said with anger in his voice, “Quit looking at me!”
Let’s Make Urinals a Quiet Zone Again!
It seems when I was younger no man would break the quiet of a urinal. It just wasn’t done. But something has changed, and I hope it’s not permanent. However, if it has evolved to the point of no return, I have a plan. I’m going to install a urinal in my garage. No end urinals, no middle, just one private, “used only by me” urinal. As long as I don’t talk to myself, everything will be fine.
I wrote this at Clifty Falls State Park in Madison, IN. If you’re familiar with the Inn at Clifty Falls,
I was seated at a table in the common room next to the restaurant. When I finished the first draft, I headed to the restroom around the corner. It had two stalls, three sinks, and three urinals. I wasn’t alone. There was a man in the middle urinal. I used a stall.
Randy Clark is the Director of Communications at TKO Graphix, where he blogs for TKO Graphix Brandwire. Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He’s the proud father of two educators; he has four amazing grandchildren, and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of How to Stay Ahead of Your Business Blog Forever and The New Manager’s Workbook: A Crash Course in Effective Management.