The Buffers

By overwhelming request (which means at least one person), I've created another category for the sidebar, wherein my various bathroom adventures and curiously rigid standards of urinal etiquette will be archived. Here are the quick links anyway:Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 And now, on to newer matters: The Buffers The women's restroom is an orderly place, with a couch and a foyer and full-service deli. But life in the men's room is much more cutthroat. In addition to some of the various rules I've discussed here — e.g., don't speak to me while I'm doing the do — there's an even more basic set of guidelines I feel I should discuss. I speak, of course, of the buffers. Buffers aren't always necessary: Some groups of urinals have walls separating the individual units, which I'm strongly in favor of, even if it does invite coworkers to stand next to you and start jabbering away. But sometimes I'll walk into a bathroom and see a row of five urinals, no walls between them, and that's when strategy comes into play. • If possible, there should always be an empty urinal between the one you're using and the one the other guy is using. The empty urinal acts a buffer, ensuring the respect of personal space. • If you're the only one in the bathroom, always take a urinal that would allow for a buffer if another man came in to use the facilities. For instance: If there are five urinals, you can take urinal 1, 3, or 5, since that would allow two more fellow urinators to have buffers. Taking urinal 2 or 4 is just dumb, man. • If 1, 3, and 5 are occupied, it's okay to saddle up to 2 or 4, since there's nothing you can do about it. But if, say, only 1 and 3 are occupied, and you slide into the 2 spot, you're violating all kinds of unspoken moral and ethical codes. You should never stand next to a man with his junk exposed unless necessary. I'm just saying, respect the rules.