Paper is cheap

July 22nd, 2007 · 43 comments

This note is from an the Philippines, but don’t try and write this off entirely as a “cultural thing.”

Camille in Manila says she finds “do not step on the toilet bowl” quite baffling, too, adding “stepping on the toilet could also mean probably stepping ‘into’ the toilet bowl itself, which is rather, uh, gross.”

Reminder: The Basics of Toilet Use

FILED UNDER: "helpful" advice · bathroom · office · Philippines · toilet

43 responses so far ↓

  • #1   Alberta Gore

    Haha, I love it!

    Jul 22, 2007 at 4:04 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #2   jamie

    hi! im from manila too. some people dont sit on the toilet seat. instead, they step on it and do their thing. it’s really weird, but to think about it, there are actually toilets that have no seats whatsoever in rural areas. like they’re already built in on the ground, so they squat. that’s how i look at it.

    that toilet training thing though is quite sarcastic. haha!

    Jul 22, 2007 at 4:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #3   Oana

    I think it’s an Asian thing – I saw this sign in a Japanese store in Richmond, Canada:

    Jul 22, 2007 at 5:14 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #4   ian

    I’m surprised camille in manila is baffled.
    In other parts of Asia I have seen signs above toilets of a man squatting on the rim with a red line through it. A lot of poorer areas have toilets with two pads for the feet and a hole to squat over – nothing more. I guess these people come to the city for the first time and use a regular flush toilet in the same way.

    Jul 22, 2007 at 5:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #5   Camille

    Hey, it’s me! Haha, I’m baffled because stepping on the toilet could also mean probably stepping “into” the toilet bowl itself, which is rather, uh, gross.
    When I was in college I saw a note exchange on the cubicle walls of the library restroom disputing just that. Which would be the correct way of putting this, then? Stepping on the toilet bowl? on the rim of the bowl? on the toilet seat?

    I’m familiar with the hole-on-the-floor type toilets, too. Also, some parents allow their kids to step on the bowl’s rim when they use public restrooms.

    Jul 22, 2007 at 5:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #6   meta

    i don’t step on the seat, but i DO use my foot to flush.

    Jul 22, 2007 at 6:06 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   freddy

      That’s way more gross. After all, you’re far more likely to have trodden in shit, than to have gotten it on your hand before you touch the handle.

      Dec 13, 2007 at 11:06 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #7   Simon

    It’s not just poor areas. Practically all public toilets throughout Japan and China are squat toilets. So if you think about it, if you grew up without making contact with a surface while you “disengage”, you’re hardly going to jump at the chance when it appears.

    Jul 22, 2007 at 6:42 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #8   stephanie

    I get the no stepping on the toilet bowl thing. But do they really have to shame the mom’s that potty train their kids “late”.

    Wait a minute. Did I just commit apostrophe abuse?

    Jul 22, 2007 at 6:54 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #9   bex

    Yeah, I’ve noticed that in a lot of Asian counties people still squat over a toilet – which I think is fair enough because it’s uhh, well it’s the anatomically correct position to be in.

    Jul 22, 2007 at 7:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #10   BoggyWoggy

    It’s all just funny. In many African and Asian nations, women still squat to deliver their babies! It’s so much more efficient…you know, getting gravity in your favor. Yet, when I begged my obstetrician to let me squat, the nurse said, “Ick.” If I wasn’t in labor, I would have slapped her face!
    Guess squatting over a toilet could make a difference for many…

    Jul 22, 2007 at 10:06 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #11   Dave/Bellingham

    That one is awesome, I’m going to print a copy of that and post it at work.

    Jul 22, 2007 at 10:23 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #12   Tarn

    I’ve travelled in India, and squatting over a hole is the norm there. Sometimes the hole is actually an inset urinal-looking ceramic bowl. But on trains, the hole opens straight onto the tracks. I can verify though that this does NOT apply on planes… ;-)

    Yes, squatting is the natural position, but unless you’re brought up to squat, you may find (as I did) that late middle-age is a bit late to start, as it does require a certain limberness!
    Stepping IN the toilet? Why would anybody want to do that?

    Jul 23, 2007 at 3:18 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #13   sweavo

    yeah. I’m in favour of squatting after trying it in india and nepal… but it’s tricky if you haven’t practised all your life. Conversely, if you squat on a sit-on toilet, it may be anatomically correct, but the bowl is no longer under your… exit… so the consequences for the next user of the toilet can be dire.

    Summary: asian way more hygienic, but only on an asian toilet!

    Jul 23, 2007 at 3:59 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #14   emily

    do you have to take off your pants? or just pull them down really low? this conversation is getting a little disgusting!

    Jul 23, 2007 at 6:28 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #15   Heather

    I have to say, I do enjoy the font and colors in this one. Very soothing.

    Jul 23, 2007 at 7:15 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #16   D

    @Emaily — You don’t have to take your trousers off. You pull them down rather low and then uh… well, there’s a certain way to squat, haha. You get used to it after you’ve been over there a while.

    Jul 23, 2007 at 7:36 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #17   D

    “Emaily”? Oy.

    Jul 23, 2007 at 7:36 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #18   Brigid Keely

    I live in Chicago and it’s not uncommon for me to go into a grody public restroom (especially in, like, nature preserves) and find footprints on the toilet seat and urine sprinkled all over the seat and floor. Some people don’t like to make contact between ass and possibly dirty seat, so they hover, let fly, and don’t clean up afterwards. I can kind of understand that when it’s a crusty seat in a shack surrounded by woods, and there’s only cold running water. But when it’s in a public library or grocery store or legal office? Man. Just carry some wet wipes or something, people. Your ass isn’t going to rot off if it touches a public toilet seat.

    Jul 23, 2007 at 7:38 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #19   Writer, Rejected

    Help…this is so much more information than I ever really needed. And I have to say that I side with the letter writer on this one. Toilet paper is cheap, though it does cost the lives of some trees. Still wipe the seat, people, no matter what acrobatic germ-phobic, culturally appropriate business you are doing in there.

    If you have to tell people how to use the toilet, it’s hardly passive aggressive as much as a public service. Team Basic Toilet Use Courtesy, Please

    Jul 23, 2007 at 8:26 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #20   Rocky

    It’s nice to see proper spelling of “you’re” and “yours”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the punctuation and grammar are perfect — rare for notes on this web site.

    Jul 23, 2007 at 9:30 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #21   Anna-banana

    Not sure what the big fuss is all about. Sure, this is from a different country/culture, hence the practices are a little different. That’s okay.

    But, what’s really cool was that video on CNN that showed that a public toilet can OFTEN have LESS bacteria and other nasties than your personal cell phone. Gross!!!

    Hand-off my cell phone people!!!!!

    Jul 23, 2007 at 9:36 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #22   john

    Being worried about the number of bacteria as opposed to the type of bacteria can be a very bad approach to microbial safety :P

    Jul 23, 2007 at 10:07 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #23   abi

    I live in Fresno, CA where we have a diverse mix of cultures, so I am not sure who the culprit is, but often at the car dealership I worked at I would find foot prints on the toilet seat.

    Jul 23, 2007 at 10:59 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #24   anonymous

    Actually, the foot on the seat is in response to people using their foot to move up the seat instead of touching it with their hands or using a tissue.

    Jul 23, 2007 at 11:43 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #25   Anna-banana

    Good point, John. Too true.

    But just the IDEA of a public toilet being “cleaner” than your personal cell phone gives me the heebie-jeebies!!! Yuck!

    Jul 23, 2007 at 11:45 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #26   Erin

    the other day, i was in the stall at work & noticed someone next to me lift their foot & flush the toilet. then, later, i used that same stall & noticed a black streak on the toilet seat. the kind of streak left when your shoe’s heel streaks on the floor. i thought it was incredibly gross that someone would do that. i mean, they are leaving the stall & presumeably washing their hands, right? so what difference does it make whether their hand touches the flusher thingy? now, instead, they leave their 300x nastier foot germs on a seat that i’m going to sit on with my bare ass. now that’s rude!

    Jul 23, 2007 at 3:46 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #27   BoggyWoggy

    Hey, Anna-Banana…
    Hope you never see any footprints on your cell phone! That would be weird!

    Jul 23, 2007 at 5:05 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #28   Dr.Saurabh Bhatia

    To put things in perspective:
    Most Asian countries have a squatting position for defecation because it puts more pressure on abdomen for better evacuation AND compresses inguinal can thus preventing HERNIA in the old and infirm and the constipated.
    To cater to these people, there are specially designed HYBRID WCs where you can see a foot-pad along the rim of the bowl. So if a person wishes to sit, he can sit; if he wishes to squat he can use the foot-pads to squat.

    Don’t forget that those who avoid ‘sitting’ on public toilet seats do it coz of hygiene reasons

    This note indicates they have a regular WC bowl but people there probably want a hybrid WC bowl.

    Jul 23, 2007 at 9:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #29   jamie

    there should be handles, claws, whatever you got on cubicle walls so that people dont get tired of “hovering” over a toilet seat. it strains the legs and back a lot.

    Jul 23, 2007 at 10:35 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #30   c

    I’m Filipino and still have no idea how to use the hole in teh floor type of toilet. Whenever I have a stopover in Japan, there is always a long line of fellow Filipinos waiting for the western-style toilet despite the availability of porcelain holes in the ground.

    On another note, hovering is an excellent thigh workout. Thanks to a year of a dirty college dorm bathroom, I can crush walnuts with my knees.

    Jul 24, 2007 at 8:21 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #31   Lovecarrots

    I have to confess to having squatted on a sitter on numerous occasions where the seat is too gross to touch and my dodgy knee too crook to make hovvering an issue.

    In France, at motorway service stations, they often have sitters but with no seats. Somehow I balk at putting my chubby thighs on the lip of actual pan so I always squat and wipe my shoe prints off the edges with bog roll when I’ve finished.

    As someone else points out, you do have to be careful about positioning though or it does, indeed, get messy.

    Jul 24, 2007 at 9:33 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #32   Siu

    Being a North American born Asian, and having traveled to China, I see why some Asians will actually stand on the toilet seat, and then squat. It’s just that they don’t realize you’re expected to sit on the toilet.

    But let me tell you something, after catching a stomach bug during a visit to China, after awhile, I was glad for the squatters toilets and preferred them to the sitters. You don’t realize the muscles you use squatting. You know you’re out of shape if you’re sore from squatting after a few days.

    Jul 24, 2007 at 11:25 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #33   jane

    Haha! I am currently living in South Korea. I teach at a private academy, and our school shares its bathroom with a bank’s corporate accounts office. I don’t know if it’s the bankers or the students… but quite a few people who use our bathroom could learn something by reading that sign! People definitely try to use our sitters as squatters.

    Jul 24, 2007 at 5:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #34   d

    I lived in Ecuador for some time, and it was the norm to see, as lovecarrots puts it, “sitters but no seats.” toilets were frequently REVOLTING, and the local method was to stand on the seat, facing the wall (this is KEY to, um . . . hitting your target. also easier to balance this way – the wall above the toilet is often clean enough you can put your hand there.

    believe me, in Ecuador, it didn’t have a thing to do with not realizing you’re expected to sit on the toilet; it had to do with the total disgustingness of the act. I adopted the custom because I’ve never been able to hold a hover and relax enough to take care of business at the same time.

    Jul 25, 2007 at 1:16 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #35   pink_orchid

    @ oana hahaha! i live in richmond and i was going to say that is a VERY common sign here b/c of the high asain population. apparently it is a common practice… i dont get it!

    Jul 28, 2007 at 1:31 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #36   pink_orchid

    richmond, canada

    Jul 28, 2007 at 1:36 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #37   some girl

    I just spent 2 months in Ukraine… We called their toilets “squatty potties”. Only McDonalds had the fancy SITTING kind… They told us at my job that there was a story of a village family who had been given a nice, new, western-style toilet, and that the family — very confused — solved the confusion by burying the toilet to rim-level, and building an outhouse around it in the yard! By the time I left the country, I came to think that squatting is a lot more natural than sitting, a lot cleaner (no worrying about trying to hover-poop so you don’t touch the seat), and, overall, no big deal.

    Dec 9, 2007 at 10:46 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #38   i_secrately_stalk_you bang

    but you have to step on the toilet to use it as a portal to the pipe dimension.

    Jan 15, 2008 at 7:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #39   stephizzal

    tissue is cheap? not in the UK its not! its like £5 (approx $10) a pack, its unauthorised use causes almost as many arguments between roomates as the dirty dishes!

    Jul 7, 2008 at 2:45 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #39.1   octavius

      Yes but in the UK you can get colored tissue to match your bathoom decor, well worth the extra cost.

      I’d missed this PAN and would like to mention my English female visitor of a few years ago. She was supposed to stay for 3 days which turned into 30.

      Shortly after her arrival I started noticing occasional sprinkle effects on my toilet lid, notably when I sat on it. At first I blamed my young son for not lifting the seat when doing his number 1s. But then it still happened after he went to summer camp. My girlfriend, a doctor, then explained to me that some women are so obsessed with toilet seat germs that they squat on or stand over it to avoid contact. This is actually a mental condition which also results in their being unable to even look back at the seat to check for friendly fire and clean up the collateral damage. I don’t like to seem naiive but this was quite a revelation!

      Anyway I couldn’t face a direct confrontation so I started doing things like leaving wet wipes and disinfectant on the lid as a little hint. Still no luck so I chucked her out and have never, thank God, heard from her again.

      Jul 7, 2008 at 4:44 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #40   shane

    This may be for people from India. My roommate works for a company and they had to train the new people from India on how to use the toilet properly.

    Feb 5, 2009 at 1:14 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #41   Lyra

    Uhm, can’t speak for there, but I know plenty of girls that put one foot on the toilet seat when putting a tampon in.

    Mar 1, 2009 at 4:19 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up


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