Perhaps with the sole exception of running into Larry Craig, my biggest fear in airport restrooms is encountering a bathroom stall that appears to have been last used by one of the baboons of the Kalahari. Why, in the name of humanity, would there ever be a reason for someone to leave a toilet seat dripping in urine, or the floor in front of the toilet covered and piled high with soaked and soiled toilet paper, or the toilet bowl filled with something that looks like it was deposited by an incontinent yak? Who among my civilized-appearing fellow travelers is secretly engaging in the manners of an Australopithecus? What ‘s the matter with these people?
I just don’t understand it. Was ever an application of the Golden Rule so obvious, so necessary? “Thou shalt not leave a public toilet and environs in a state that would cause you to vomit and go on a seek-and-destroy mission if a guest left your own bathroom in a similar mess!” How hard is that? Yet easily two out of every five times that I am forced to use an airport rest room, I open the door, take a look, retch, slam it shut and announce to everyone else within ear-shot, “Do NOT go in there!”
Is this how furious travelers anonymously express their frustrations with the increasingly unreliable and user-hostile air travel system…by behaving like angry zoo-confined primates who throw their feces at visitors? Maybe. It’s no excuse. The frequency with which air travelers show contempt for the most minimal of common courtesies—cleaning up after themselves at least as effectively as local ordinances require them to clean up after their spaniels and French bulldogs—seems to me to be one more canary dying in the mine of our culture, as Americans increasingly show no consideration for anyone but themselves and perhaps their immediate families.
Or maybe I’m deluded, and they act this way at home too.
That, perhaps, is even more disturbing.