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I've noticed that the younger kids in elementary and middle school will stamp their feet around with their hand up, whining this phrase to an instructor that could care less. Obviously, it has become such a standard that kids will automatically bang these words out in whiny, drawn-out succession when the need overcomes them.

This isn't effective, as teachers hear it all the time. You need something a bit more attention-grabbing than this tired old phrase.

Do what I used to do. It's guaranteed to get people's attention, and probably make them think twice about ignoring your plea:

"I have to urinate, and I'd prefer to do it in the bathroom."

The teacher would usually look up with a puzzled look, and utter something to the effect of "...what?" to which I'd reply "I obviously don't need to go to the bathroom; my urine will patter just as nicely here in the carpeted classroom as it would gurgling into the toilet. However, I don't think you or my classmates would appreciate that, so I'd like to head over to the bathroom if that's okay with you."

Usually, it will take a few seconds for what I said to actually register, at which point they consider their options and eventually make the intelligent decision.

I silently wished for the day where one brave teacher would refuse, however that never happened. Most of my teachers knew me a bit too well and were never foolish enough to try me. Damn.

It was after my graduation party from high school, and I was opening cards. I came to a card from my Uncle Tom (linking for surrealism). Now, Uncle Tom would always give humorous cards, usually with a Far Side sort of bent to them. The card went something like this:

Outside: Congratulations on graduating! Now you can look forward to something...

Inside: ...never having to ask for a hall pass to go to the bathroom again.

While the card made me grin, I can't help but wonder what it says about the United States that the bathrooms need to be restricted. I'm not just talking about authoritarian control of students by a school -- I'm also talking about the students seeing the bathroom as a convenient escape. Those of us who have a legitimate need to use the bathroom are punished for those who would do anything to avoid class.

It seems that the bathroom is a place where one does not believe one is seen by others. What evidence do I have? Look at most public bathrooms -- toilets not flushed, debris of questionable origin everywhere. Now, I find it hard to believe that there are that many unruly children causing this. In fact, if I recall correctly, the bathrooms became worse as I moved from elementary school to middle school to high school.

Perhaps the problem is that we're not properly socialized with respect to the bathroom, that we need to get over the secrecy and disgust with which we regard normal bodily functions. After all, look at things like urinal etiquette. On that note, perhaps it's just that my experience is largely with men's rooms, and ladies' rooms are cleaner.

Update from my inbox: dustfromamoth says ladies bathrooms aren't cleaner (at schools anyway). haha

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