Urinal etiquette

There is a highly amusing video doing the rounds at the moment. It explains public toilet etiquette, which is one of the most important things for a male to understand. This also reminds me of The Urinal Game — although it’s clearly not a game; it’s an issue of immense importance.

Apparently women’s public toilets are quite nice places where people have a general chitty-chat. But men’s public toilets are places of fear and suspicion. If somebody speaks in a male toilet, it is practically the start of World War III. I suppose this is because the chances of being buggered are much lower in a women’s toilet.

The rules are fairly simple:

  • No eye contact
  • Don’t use a urinal if it’s next to a urinal that somebody else is using unless it is strictly necessary to do so
  • Never, under any circumstances, speak — not even to a good friend

They are kind of unspoken rules. You don’t even consciously follow the rules. You only become aware of the rules when somebody breaks them. This happens a lot in pubs. Picture it. I’m standing there taking a leak, and some drunkard comes in making some small talk about the weather or something as though we were in the queue at Tesco rather than holding our penises.

The thing to do here is to finish your piss as quickly as possible, and do everything in your power to end the conversation quickly. There’s no time to wash your hands. Just go. As quickly as possible. Inform your friends of the man who started a conversation in the toilets. Everybody agrees that it’s just not on.

Some of you non-males out there might be wondering what the big deal is. Well I’ll tell you what the big deal is.

One time, a good few years ago now, I was in Dundee visiting a friend. I took the train home, and I decided at the train station to visit the toilet. I didn’t really need to go, but I thought I might as well. Worst. Decision. Ever.

I enter the toilet, and a man is already standing at the urinal. Bad news. I stand at the urinal furthest away and attempt to dispose of my waste when the man — let’s call him George — starts speaking. An alarm bell goes off in my head.

“I was bursting when I got off that train, and now ah cannae get it oot.”

This isn’t any old conversation. This is a conversation about how he is struggling to do a wee. There is a pause. But because I have been spoken to, I have completely frozen up, and now my winkie is malfunctioning aswell. The other guy will have been well aware of this, because there was no tinkling noise emanating from my urinal. I had no option but to explain myself. “I’m struggling aswell,” I said.

George replied, “You need to shake it aboot to get it oot.”

What. Thefuck! A pause.

“Of course, with all this shaking, I’m only getting hard.” Klaxons, flashing lights, air raid sirens go off in my head.

That’s not the end of it. “Are you hard?”, he asks. It was rather wishful thinking. I’d probably never been so shrivelled up in my life. Time to run. I put my willy away and get ready to zip up.

George: “I need to get rid of it.”

I need to speed up. I make my excuses: “I think I’ll try to go later.”

As I reach the door, George makes one last deperate attempt to retain my company. “Do you want to watch me get rid of it?”

And that’s why you never, ever speak in a men’s toilet.


  1. I say gentlemen… what a fantastic site! You may like to find out more about urinal etiquette, design, architecture and general decorum in the forthcoming book ‘A Guide to the Urinal’. This guide to a hitherto unmentionable aspect of everyday life will be unleashed upon an unsuspecting public soon. And you can download pre-release extracts at http://www.urinalology.net. Keep up the great work chaps!