Goddammit Lester
Goddammit, Lester NG

There are a lot of good things about working at The Stranger. For one, I can do basically whatever I want with very little oversight. One day I can review the new taco place up the street, and the next I can interview city council candidates, and the next I can write 10,000 words on how I'd (hypothetically) assassinate the president if given a wind machine, an invisibility cloak, and a giant fly swatter. We also get free hot water. There is, however, one serious downside to this place: the goddamn toilet seats.

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I've worked in lots of places in a lot of cities with a lot of people, but nowhere is the toilet seat left up as consistently as it is at The Stranger. More often than not, when I walk into the editorial department bathroom, I find the toilet seat has not been lowered into its proper place and I am then forced to touch the toilet seat with my own precious typing fingers. It's fucked up.

It's not a mystery who has been leaving the toilet seat up: It's the men. Not all of them (Chase pees sitting down), but a whole fucking lot of them, which is a little surprising considering that this office is also full of men who seem to like and appreciate women (except for the gays, a couple of whom may have face blindness when it comes to the opposite sex).

One of these guilty parties came out this week in a post entitled "I Admit It: I Do Not Lower the Office Toilet Seat." The author of the post is one Lester Barnard Black, a man who, until reading this, I considered a prized colleague and collaborator. Lester wrote his post in response to Nathalie's totally valid Friday afternoon mini-rant about the toilet seat being up (and on International Women's Day, no less!), and now every time I walk into the bathroom and see the toilet seat gaping open like an arrested yawn, I'm going assume that it's Lester's fault. He did this to himself.

But before we all declare Lester a misogynist and ritually burn him at the stake, I will commend him for giving a lot of thought to this issue, which, if you read his essay, he clearly has. But in his warped stoner logic, he's somehow come to the conclusion that leaving the toilet seat up makes the bathroom cleaner. How is this possible? He writes:

The primary goal of toilet etiquette should be that the bathroom is clean and usable for all people, regardless of their method of relieving themselves. A permanently lowered toilet seat does not accomplish this goal. And while a raised toilet seat does not guarantee a clean bathroom, I have deduced that leaving the seat up is in fact an insurance policy for a cleaner bathroom.

To this end, I leave the toilet seat raised.

Let me explain my reasoning behind this. I think it’s disgusting when I see dribbles of urine on toilet seats. This is almost always the fault of people (and these people are usually men) who stand to urinate and fail to raise the toilet seat. This isn’t a problem of “men with bad aim” as the tired cliché goes, but rather a combination of lazy men and the rules of physics. You cannot reasonably expect to leave the round ring of a toilet seat unscathed when directing a stream of urine from multiple feet above the toilet bowl. Some of that watery fluid is going to end up on the toilet seat no matter how “good your aim is.” So I always, always, always raise the toilet seat if I am going to relieve myself from the standing position. But I don’t trust that every other person who stands while urinating is diligent enough to raise the toilet seat. So to hedge against the future bathroom occupant who attempts to urinate while standing without getting the toilet seat unscathed (it is impossible to do so), I exit the public bathroom with the toilet seat raised.

Yes, you read this correctly: Lester doesn't leave the toilet seat up after pissing, he actually raises it after using the toilet in the sitting-down manner. This is insane. It's also got a tiny seed of rationality, or at least it would if Lester worked in an office with only men, whom are indeed prone to pissing all over the seat and/or floor and/or magazine rack by the toilet. (Women, obviously, also whiz on the toilet seat, but I suspect that we are less likely to hover in our own office than we are in, say, airports or highway rest stops, and I have never once noticed seat dripples after using the bathroom here after a woman.)

The Stranger's editorial department has, by my count, 12 women and nine men, which means that unless there are a number of women around here who pee standing up (and, let's be real, if any of the women around here stand up to pee, it would probably be me), the majority of toilet-users in this office never require the seat to be lifted to the upright position. What's more, because men also use the toilet in the downright position, the odds that the person using the toilet after Lester is going to pee standing up are less than 50 percent. As a utilitarian, I support policies designed to bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people, and by this measure, Lester is doing it all wrong. He's bringing the greatest amount of happiness to the smallest number of people, which, in this office, happens to be men who pee standing up.

Now, I don't think Lester is a bad person. In fact, despite what Erica C. Barnett says on Twitter, he's actually pretty decent. He leaves the toilet seat up because he really thinks it makes people less likely to dribble. But no one wants to touch the toilet seat, and every time he leaves the bathroom with the seat up, there is a greater than 50 percent chance that the next person is just going to have to lower it. Besides, it makes the bathroom look dirty and we don't need any extra filth around here. The office fridge is bad enough.

Of course, there's one easy solution to this problem: Lester and the other guilty parties could take a page from Chase's book and learn to start peeing sitting down. There's no mess, no fuss, and no piss to worry about wiping up.