Bathroom Politics

Family GeekMom
By Nancy Wombat [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
So, who’s had enough of political fighting? Ready to move on? Gosh, this stuff can be tough on an EnneaType 9 aka “The Peacemaker/Mediator.” I’m married to someone whose views on the purpose of government are very different from my own. My extended family is full of truly good people who truly don’t agree on what’s best for the country. I grew up in an extremely rural area raised by parents who grew up in an extremely urban one. I am really good at seeing all sides of a situation, and it really hurts when people I love unwittingly bash other people I love by making assumptions based on party-line politics. It really hurts when people don’t listen to each other and try to understand what the other is saying. Politics is messy enough for me as it is, but this past election cycle has about done me in. I’ve been too stressed out to focus on, say, the article I’ve been trying to write to coincide with Ava DuVernay starting filming on the new Wrinkle In Time adaptation last week, which I swear I WILL get back to at some point, possibly many times, over the next year.

So let me take another tack. I’m going to use this opportunity to clear the air of some of the needless partisan arguments that have festered in the world for too long. I’m going to show how a natural-born mediator thinks about things, how many arguments persist only because people insist on seeing them as dichotomies, one-bad-one-good-no-middle-ground. I’m going to solve a couple of these arguments once and for all.

I’m going to the bathroom to do it.

Does the toilet paper roll go on so it rolls forwards or backwards?

Both sides are right! Like in many not-really-dichotomies, the answer is really “it depends.” Putting the roll forward makes the end easier to find and is arguably more aesthetically pleasing. This is the ideal roll-hanging position. But not every situation is ideal. In some houses the presence of cats and/or toddlers would cause a forward-rolling roll to be in a constant state of unravel. There would be waste, mess, and contamination. Backward-rolling prevents or greatly reduces the likelihood of this.

Neither method can lay claim to complete rightness in every situation. Those who insist on forward-rolling ignore the very real needs of the cats-and-toddlers population. Those who insist on backward-rolling force a less-convenient method on the rest of the population, one that’s more of a hindrance when there is little to no chance of a cat-or-toddler attack.

Let us put this fight to rest. Let each household choose their rolling direction based on their own individual needs.

Now let’s discuss the matter of “leaving the toilet seat up/down.”

Manners guides have noted the importance of “putting the toilet seat down.” Some people, normally those who sit to accomplish all their toilet business point to those who often stand to accomplish toilet business and say it’s rude of them not to return the sitting surface to the bowl when it has been lifted by a stander who wants it out of the way. Some standers then volley back, well, it’s rude of the sitters not to think of our needs. Why don’t they leave the seat up?

This time, both sides are wrong! Of course this argument is nonsensical and can’t be fair to either party. Why are they even arguing? Maybe if they stop, think, and really try to understand the situation, they might discover they’ve both completely misinterpreted the original rule.

What if the “seat” in question is actually the part sometimes referred to as the “lid”? This seat turns the toilet into an actual chair, not a chair with a giant hole in the middle. What would be the benefit of putting THIS seat down?

Plenty. It keeps items stored near or above the toilet from accidentally toppling in. It looks and smells cleaner without the inner bowl exposed. It prevents pets and small children from drinking the toilet water or toppling in themselves. And since both sitters and standers must both move this seat up and down again, it is equally (mildly) inconvenient to everyone, making this solution fair.

In this case, setting aside the usual argument and taking another, deeper look at the actual facts of the situation reveals real solutions no one had considered because they were focusing on the wrong problem.

Well, now that that’s settled, I hope some of the discord has been lifted off our collective shoulders and we’ll have that much more strength to face whatever comes next.

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