Saturday, August 16, 2008

Opinions wanted

(Yes, I'm really not blogging as often as I intended. More later. Maybe. No promises.)

That said, I've a question for all three of my readers regarding expectations for public behaviors.

What needful activities should be discreetly performed in public and which should be banished to a public bathroom (or not) and why? I have in mind here things like nursing an infant or giving oneself an insulin injection.

You're free to provide explanations, caveats and qualifiers. Please consider the range of public restroom experiences, gender issues, specific locations (restaurants, parks, theaters...)--the whole thing. Compare, contrast....


Chalicechick said...

I am indifferent on the breast feeding, but soundly against public injections in anything but an emergency.


ogre said...

Where emergency is something like use of an epi-pen?

Chalicechick said...

An epi-pen, sure, or even a sudden, serious need for insulin.

How about any situation dire enough to justify what would be fairly significant breach of ettiquette in most circumstances?

(e.g. Blatantly cutting in line in front of me at a deli: Ordinarily not good.

Blatantly cutting in line in front of me at a deli saying "I'm sorry, my blood sugar is very low and if I don't eat in the next few minutes I'm going to faint!": No problem.)

And even if the situation does meet that requirement, the people around you are justified in being grossed out or mildly peeved as the situation and their own temperments dictate.

who doesn't think giving oneself injections in public should be against the law or anything, but considers it at least as rude as the line cutting. Line cutting is mildly annoying. Lots of people are REALLY freaked out by needles.

ScottMGS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ScottMGS said...

The things that should be done in a public restroom are the only things I think should be required to be done in the restroom.

* excreting waste, to be grossly euphemistic about it
* changing diapers (only if the facilities allow it to be done safely and cleanly)
* washing up after aforesaid activities

Activities that should not require people to use the restroom to perform them are those requiring some level of cleanliness.

* consumption of food or drink (I don't want to eat in a restroom so I don't think babies should either.)
* medical procedures of any sort

Other people's heebie jeebies don't constitute a legitimate banishment to the restroom. Online, we have the Del key and the Back button. In real life, we can turn away. That said, discretion around activities that will draw unwanted attention (including people oggling or gagging) is called for. Make it easy for people to turn away.

ogre said...

Just to get another opinion, I asked Madame--who has needle heebie-jeebies and nursed infants.

She comments that her infants were uncooperative and didn't permit much in the way of discreet nursing--no covering with a light blanket and no sense of decorum at all (some things don't much change...). She tended to try to avoid the situation but did nurse some in restrooms (which she didn't care for).

As for injections, anything "urgent" is a no-brainer for her, and that could involve an "oh crap, I should have gotten an injection, and need to do it pronto" event. But she agrees--as someone who deals with infectious disease considerations at times in her line of work--that there's something just wrong about please go do that in the restroom.

I can't imagine that walking into the bathroom and finding someone with a needle would make me feel comfortable--have I just walked in on a junkie who's shooting up? Interesting issue. I wonder what the mores will be as more and more of the population becomes diabetic, given the levels of obesity in the nation. At some point, the things that a large percentage of the population do as a complete matter of course simply become normal; hardly different from "excuse me," and someone taking medications in tablet form.

Maybe I've just gotten jaded by the fact that for the past three weeks we've been giving the dog insulin shots twice a day. It's also made me all the more determined to keep the cats on a very non-grain diet; carnivores don't eat carbs almost at all, ever. And dogs, like people, should not eat much grain....

kim said...

Scott makes some good points about cleanliness. I guess I agree with him.
Though, I do dislike needles, even though I give injections in my work. Something I dislike as much as needles is seeing someone rubbing their eyes. So, I'd love it if people were more discreet about that, but I realize that I'm probably one of very few who feel that way, so I generally don't say anything, but try to look away.
I don't have a problem with breastfeeding, but I just wanted to mention that some "restrooms" have a lovely anteroom designed for relaxing and would probably be fine for breastfeeding or calming the baby. I have no experience with this but it seems like a nice addition to a restroom.

Chalicechick said...

Is the assumption here that restrooms are by their nature dirtier than other places?

If so, why do we think that? Most restrooms are cleaned on schedule, have plenty of trashcans and I, for one, feel somewhat odd leaving one without washing my hands even if I've only ducked in there to change clothes.

Yes, some people don't wash their hands, but those people's hands do no become clean when they leave the restroom--they go on to touch other things in other public places.

I'd say there's an excellent chance that a restroom is no dirtier than any other public place, and they do afford lots of light and a bit of privacy.

who did NOT say "please go do that in the restroom" to the person whose public injection started this.

Earthbound Spirit said...

OK - so I'm on the somewhat militant end of the spectrum on breastfeeding in public. My kids got nursed when/whereever we were when they were hungry. Yes, we were discreet and sat in out of the way places. Most restrooms, unless in nice hotels or department stores, are not conducive to feeding infants.

On injections - well, if it's an emergency (e.g., a bee sting or other allergic reaction requiring an epi-pen) - do it, of course!

On the other hand... a person in one of my classes had a habit of flossing in public. Ick.

DremeMynd said...

In my opinion restrooms are for waste management. It would compromise public health if it's not taken care of in a reasonably sanitary manner.

I don't think people should feel bound to hide normal parts of their life just because it would make people uncomfortable.

If my gay friend walks down the street holding hands with his husband that will make lots of people uncomfortable.

Is it really that different to tell someone they shouldn't take their medication in public because it would make people uncomfortable?

So people have needle-phobias. Fine. And I have lots of homophobic relatives who claim to get sick to their stomachs too ...

Is "I don't want to see it" reason enough to sensor someone's behavior as long as they are not breaking any laws? (and I'd question those laws, too...)

Chalicechick said...

Again, I am considering this a question of ettiquette, not legislation, so the concept of censoring does not apply.

Much as a couple might hold hands in public and be perfectly fine, yet for a couple of ANY orientation to be heavily making out and groping one another is rude, so there are some medical activities that are innocuous in public (taking a pill) and some that are best done in private (an injection.)


DremeMynd said...

If I was taking medication by injection, I would give myself the injection in public. It would never have occurred to me that it would in any way be offensive to anyone before seeing this discussion. I would still do it. No one here has given any reason why someone should not inject themselves other than "I'm squeamish and people should cater to my desires".

If holding hands is equivalent to taking a pill, then perhaps an injection is similar to a quick passionate kiss, after all it only takes a moment. Some people would be offended by that, too. Perhaps walking around in public with an IV would be similar to making out (heavily) in public.

But then I would ask: Why is making out in public offensive? At what point does making out in public cross the line from acceptable to unacceptable? Whose line should the happy couple respect? Yours? And no, there is no true consensus in our society about what is rude and what is not, no matter what behavior you are looking at. The line varies dramatically from sub-culture to sub-culture and across socio-economic levels.

People should not have to continually worry that there might be a person near them who takes offense to what they are doing. If we did that our behavior would be extremely limited. Every day I run the risk of "offending" someone with a phobia, prejudice, or peculiar sensitivity. Frankly, those issues are their problem, not mine.

I'm not going to stop wiping my eyes in public because there was someone here who said it bothered them. I'm also not going to cover my mouth when I yawn, nor am I going to stifle the desire to scratch under my armpits. I'm certainly not going to stop kissing my husband in public.

Chalicechick said...

So where do you draw the line?

Do you only bathe when you feel like it? Do you not bother with deodorant? Urinate in the swimming pool? Cuss around other people's small children?

When your kid starts to cry in the movies, is other people's annoyance their problem?

If you feel sick, do you simply throw up on the nearest sidewalk and let everyone else deal with their own disgust?

I mean, I don't see what's wrong with having a certain amount of consideration for other people and wishing others had the same amount.

I have no problem not rubbing my eyes around Kim since I now know it bugs her. It amazes me that people would take any other approach to life.

who actually has known a guy who took the "I don't care if I'm stinky, so I don't wear deodorant, and if other people don't like it, that's their problem" attitude.

He didn't have a lot of friends.

DremeMynd said...

A certain amount of consideration is reasonable ... Ok, but what is that certain amount?

You can't dictate what other people think is acceptable, and if you don't like their behavior, stay away from them.

I consider all the things I listed, including the injection, to be consideration beyond what is reasonable, for me. I am happy to exclude people as friends who don't like my behavior. That is a normal part of how a person chooses friends. Very picky people will exclude many people because they can't tolerate certain behaviors, and that is their prerogative.

In a private location, such as a home, a theater, or a restaurant, it's up to the owner to determine what is acceptable behavior, and to bar people who do not meet their expectations. If you disagree with the limits the owner sets, then don't enter that private location.

In a public location the limits are, and should be, what is legal, and if you do not like someone's legal behavior in a public place then it is up to you to avoid them.

Robin Edgar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ogre said...

Sorry, Robin. That's entirely a tangent. Not an opinion or perspective on or really related to the question at hand, and thus deleted (you're free, of course, to save that and post it on your own blog, if it's important to you).

Chalicechick said...

(((In a public location the limits are, and should be, what is legal, and if you do not like someone's legal behavior in a public place then it is up to you to avoid them.))


Do you only bathe when you feel like it? Do you not bother with deodorant? Urinate in the swimming pool? Cuss around other people's small children?

When your kid starts to cry in the movies, is other people's annoyance their problem?

If you feel sick, do you simply throw up on the nearest sidewalk and let everyone else deal with their own disgust?

All of those behaviors are perfectly legal.

But I don't want to live in a place where they are acceptable.

Of course, as I mentioned, I didn't complain to the manager of the movie theater or anything, I just moved a few seats away and
bitchined about it in my twitter status.

I'm coming back to this thread because I just talked about it with a friend last night and she made what I thought was an excellent point.

She said that when she was breastfeeding her kids, she found it to be occaisionally a messy process and there was occaisionally a bit of milk squirted or flung that she couldn't totally control.

Can we agree that doing anything where you might get bodily fluids on a stranger is not socially acceptable?


Chalicechick said...

OK, clarification:

I'm not saying that breastfeeding in public should be socially unacceptable, I'm saying it's only reasonable to move at least a few feet away from other people.