Public Bathrooms, Toilet Paper & Paper Towels: Faith vs. Risk

A few weeks ago I found myself in a quandary, while sitting in a public bathroom stall. It was in one of my favorite stores and its usually one of the better public bathrooms I’ve ever been in. Yet I still found myself sitting in the stall, on the pot, having done my business, with no tissue.

Well, the NO tissue statement isn’t entirely the truth. There was no tissue on the roll. There was a lone moderately sufficient sized 5 sheet sliver on the floor – that looked completely clean – at least to my increasingly panicked eye.

So I stared at that sheet trying to determine the amount of germs it held, sitting there so innocently on the bathroom floor. I looked under the stall, no one was in the bathroom; I listened intently to be sure. Yup, no one was around.

I contemplated running with jeans at my knees to the next stall to retrieve some tissue from the  roll next door. Yet, halfway to the door in my own stall it occurred to me that it may not have any tissue either. Sigh – could I make it in and out of multiple stalls searching for tissue on the roll, with no one walking in on me? Should I sit here and wait for someone, so I can ask for help?


I looked back down at that potentially disease infested sliver of toilet paper that seemed to be growing longer and longer as it lay on the floor.

With what I’d read in a magazine article about public bathroom toilet seats and floors, all I could think about was trying to explain an STI to my husband if I caught something from a random piece of toilet paper.

I half stood, half crouched at the door of my stall a moment longer.

Should I risk it? Did I have enough faith in one of my favorite public bathrooms, which had already let me down to check another stall? Did I have enough faith that I’d God would create a star wars force field outside the bathroom door so that no one would walk in on me running around a public restroom with my bum out?


I unlocked and cracked the door. No one there.

I opened the door…


Angels sung!

I didn’t even have to move my bum completely out of the stall…if I bent over awkwardly.

I only took a split second to acknowledge, and quickly dismiss, the fact that the paper towels were those hard brown paper bag ones. Even though I used this public restroom many times before, I always use the hand blow dryer to reduce the environmental waste of paper towels.

Sigh. This registers as I make use of the paper towels. I take solace in the fact that least no one  walked in.

My risk was rewarded. There were greater risks I could have taken that would not have required my reliance on so many unknowns. For instance, I could have used the tissue on floor. I could have just pulled up my pants and left (surprisingly as I am writing this I realize that the latter never occurred to me).

How often do you take risks, especially in a situation where you’ve already been let down by someone or something you’ve previously had faith in?

What would you have done?

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