Knock-Knocking on Public Bathroom Doors
When I go to a single-stall public bathroom and find that the door is locked, I back away from the door and wait. That strikes me as being a reasonable and civilized response. However, when I’m in a single-stall restroom and other people find that the door is locked, the response is not so civilized. At the least offensive end of the response spectrum is the jiggle-and-knock. The person using this method tries to open the door, finds it to be locked, and then knocks. The most charitable interpretation of this behavior is that the person is letting me know that someone else is waiting. Still, I might have just entered the restroom, and letting me know that someone is waiting only makes it more difficult for me to conduct business.
Even worse is the person who employs the jiggle-and-knock-knock-knock technique. This person knocks at length after jiggling the door. Let me be clear: I am not going to let this person in. Nor am I going to answer this person vocally; if the door is locked, he should infer that the bathroom is occupied. I do not need to confirm this fact by saying “occupied.” On the other hand, if my silence implies to the knocker that no one is in the bathroom, how does he think that he’s going to get in?
Perhaps the knocker thinks that I should give him an estimate of how long I’m going to be. Let me be clear about this as well: I’m not going to respond vocally in medias res, as it were. Ever. I’ll be out when I’m out. Also, I often don’t know how long I’m going to be, and I want to avoid conversations like the following:
"You said you’d be out in five minutes."
"The situation has changed and my initial estimates didn’t hold. Give me another five minutes, and don’t knock on the door or jiggle the handle."
The worst culprit, however, is the person who jiggles and knocks and then attempts to open the door with brute force. One such culprit did this for several minutes, terrifying me and forcing me to ponder how I would defend myself in flagrante delicto, as it were, should he break the door down. He stopped, but then I wondered what was going to happen when I opened the door. I can only assume that door breakers have to go so badly that they’ve lost their human reason and are now nothing but insensate beasts. The prospect of meeting such a beast is alarming. Fortunately, he was gone when I did open the door. Having transformed into a beast, perhaps he found a tree or bush to accommodate him.
So let’s hear it. Do you jiggle-and-knock? If so, why?