I know there are lots of other things to worry about, and this doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. But this is a question that bothers me greatly, and I’d like to know what you think.
If you’re staying at someone else’s house, and you go to the toilet in the middle of the night, should you flush, or not?
(If you’ve only done a wee, I mean, I’m not a barbarian).
I used to think I knew the answer to this. I mean, wee’s just water, with some urea and salts dissolved in it. It’s mainly sterile. Some wee in the toilet never hurt anyone. I assumed most people wouldn’t be bothered by it.
Whereas flushing the toilet in the middle of the night could be really annoying. Some people’s toilets make a loud noise. Some people’s toilets are right next to someone’s bedroom. Some people are light sleepers.
As someone with insomnia, I can find it difficult to get back to sleep if I’ve been woken up. I’d a million times over rather deal with a bit of urine in the toilet in the morning, than be woken in the night by a flush. I always assumed most people felt the same.
Then a random pub conversation with my fastidious friend Jon revealed that he’s disgusted by urine. He thinks it’s really dirty. He would never, even in extremis, wee in a sink. He was disgusted to hear than anyone ever does that.
And thus, my assumptions lie in tatters.
I didn’t think there was much point subjecting Jon to a party political broadcast on behalf of the urine-is-not-a-hygiene-threat-party. Disgust is a fairly primal emotion, if the research is to be believed. He’s been brought up with this idea about wee being dirty – it’s something he viscerally feels. He can’t be logicked out of it. All I can do is respect his view on that, flush the toilet if I ever stay at his house, and remember never, ever to pee in his sink.
But this leaves a dilemma. I know for definite that my friend Abi couldn’t give two hoots about wee in the toilet, and is a light sleeper. So I should flush at Jon’s house, but not flush at Abi’s house. But what about all the other people, whose views I don’t know? What should the default setting be?
You can make an educated guess for people you know reasonably well, but what about people you don’t know well? It happens more often than you’d think that you are an overnight guest in the home of people you don’t know well. There’s your partner’s relatives or friends who you may stay with. You might stay overnight at a friend’s house, without knowing much about their housemates. In Tales from the River, we were sometimes staying with people we’d never met before. Is it urine in the toilet or midnight flushing that makes you the worse houseguest?
Ordinarily, I’d tend to go with the ‘fussier’ view as a default setting. By which I mean, most people seem to be more hygiene-conscious than I am. If I’m in doubt, I assume that I’m the weird one. On that reading the ‘polite’ option would be flushing. But that’s not a no-risk option as you might wake people up.
Am I the only person who stands in an unfamiliar bathroom at 3am pondering these questions?
So I’m putting it over to you, denizens of social media land. Which would you prefer?