Herpes on the door handles

Sorry I wasn’t here last week. I was trapped in the gent’s toilets at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam.

All week.

I didn’t know how to open the door. I don’t mean it was stuck, or anything. I just didn’t know how to open it without touching it.

You may think this is a question that’s too stupid to deserve the attention of even the most witless of ordinary human beings – but you’re wrong.

I can’t speak for women or their toilets. They may be different. I don’t know. I’ve never been in one. But I suspect that opening the door of the women’s toilets is probably easier (by which I mean safer) — because women wash their hands!

So do I. But you’d be amazed how many blokes don’t. Come to think of it you probably won’t be. It’s a well known fact that boys are disgusting and girls are made of sugar and spice. But I can assure you that despite the apparent lack of hygiene of most blokes there is still a fair number us ‘boys’ who do wash our hands.

You can tell by the way in which they’re never quite sure how to open the door of public lavatories.

You can observe us as we hesitate momentarily (at least, you can observe us if you’re another bloke. If you’re a woman you have no right being in there), wondering whether we’ll catch a sexually transmitted disease by hooking the door open with our little finger, or whether we can snag it with our elbow, and open it far enough to get our toe in.

I’ve even seen them hover in the vicinity of the door ‘adjusting their dress’ until some other mug comes and opens it, and they slip through at the same time, leaving the first bloke to contract herpes, or salmonella or whatever it is you get from gripping a door handle that may, theoretically, be covered in wee. Or worse.

A good alternative is to grab a paper towel and open it with that, but nowadays the public lavatories don’t have paper towels. They have air dryers (a complete waste of time if people don’t wash their hands) and you can’t open a door with one of those.

I even watched a Japanese bloke use a ballpoint pen. I wanted to stop him and ask what he planned to do with the pen after that. Would he ever write with it again? Or would he chuck it in the nearest bin; hopefully in a lead-lined container buried several kilometers in the earth.

Perhaps the worst possibility is when the bloke ahead of you did wash his hands, but was in too much of a hurry to dry them. Yes, yes… when it comes to your turn to open it, it’s probably clean water you’re feeling. But how can you be sure?

I have travelled a fair bit now. Not only on my present European trip, but on previous ones; and I can assure you this is a problem all over the world. I don’t know which is worse. Blokes who don’t wash their hands, or blokes who are so fastidious they can’t bear to touch the door handle just in case.

But what is most absurd is that the answer is as obvious as… well, the thing you’re just tucking back into your trousers – change the doors so they open outwards! Then we could just lean our backs against them, and be safe!

The unhygienic males of the species might have peed on their hands, but surely it’s not possible for them to pee on their own backs?

I remember that as kids we all wanted to see how high we could make it go, but I don’t think any of us were ever that good.