COLUMN: Why must people talk on the phone while on the toilet?

It’s been years since I first encountered the issue, but to this day, I still can’t quite understand it: why is it that people need to talk on the phone while using the loo?

I remember the first time I “experienced” it. I was in the middle of a phone interview with a woman – for a story that I no longer remember the specifics of – and suddenly, the distinct sound of a toilet flushing came over the line. It was clearly in the very near proximity of the woman I was speaking to, and I remember I was horrified. I’m still horrified.

Now, it’s quite possible that the woman I was speaking with all those years ago was in the middle of some must-be-finished-now cleaning of said toilet, and that the flush was the final rinse that simply couldn’t wait.

But… I’m doubtful.

Thankfully, years passed before the issue began to swirl afresh.

But sadly, in addition to reappearing, the practice has become rather regular. More and more often – weekly, at least, in my experience – I’m hearing the sounds of conversation coming from occupied public washroom stalls, with the chatter continuing through every step of the process.

And these aren’t emergency phone calls – I have no problem with those whatsoever. I’ll even admit that I’ve sent a panicked communication – but not a phone call – from a public-washroom stall myself, after falling ill at the ski hill and being simply too sick to exit without assistance.

I’m OK with anyone reaching out from anywhere, if help is needed.

But casual conversation from the ‘comfort’ of a porcelain bowl? Certainly that can wait, if whatever you sat down to accomplish simply can’t.

At the very least, switch to texting. Then, no one – at all, ever – has to know (wink, wink).

Technology has made amazing advances and one of many highlights – although some may poo-poo the notion – is our increasing ability to keep in touch. Really, there’s next to no excuse for losing track of someone, or not responding in some way.

But there are a few things that really don’t need to come along for the ‘staying connected’ ride, and if you ask me – or even if you don’t – talking while tinkling or taking care of other, ahem, ‘business’ absolutely fits that definition.

I will acknowledge that there are much worse sounds to hear in a public washroom. But, ideally, that’s about the only place they’ll ever be heard, particularly when you’re not the one responsible for them.

Despite the impression social media gives, not all experiences need to be shared. But will abstaining from this particular practice be a movement others can get on board with?

Please, some relief…

Tracy Holmes is a reporter with Peace Arch News.

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