A while ago I recounted the story of a woman walking in on when while I was using the restroom and wouldn't leave (I'm too lazy to go back and find this post so if you recall this great, if not...well...). The only thing worse than being in a public restroom and having someone open the door on you is being the person who opens the door. I always feel so guilty and weird and never know what to say. But, after years of experience, I've come up with the best ways to handle this awkward situation.

Silently sneak away - I know your first reaction when you see someone on a toilet in front of you is to scream, but I’m telling you this is the worst possible thing to do. It will freak the person out so much more and it might draw a large crowd. So, I suggest being completely silent in hopes of being invisible to said person on toilet.

Overly apologetic - If you can’t silently sneak away you should be prepared to give your sincerest apologies. You can stand outside their door and beg for their forgiveness, offer them something from your purse as a peace offering. Suggestions include lip-gloss, pens, granola bar or a gift card (it could be expired but don’t tell them). You can go even further with your apology by locking their door so they can’t get out of the bathroom, then running to the closest store and buying them flowers. While there you might as well buy extra lip-gloss, pens or a granola bar in preparation for another awkward bathroom encounter. If you noticed that they were low on toilet paper when you accidentally walked in on them, go the extra mile and buy them a roll of toilet paper. People appreciate thoughtfulness. You could also just go to a bathroom close by and steal some toilet paper, but be sure to knock before and make sure no one is in there. You don’t want to get stuck doing double bathroom apologies. It will get weird and expensive.

Be a boss - If you are an aggressive person and have trouble mastering the sly sneak away and if apologizing isn't’ in your nature, then I recommend you yell at the person in the bathroom. Tell them that they should either lock the door or react more quickly to you opening the door. You could also claim ownership of the bathroom. Tell them that the stall they were in is your special stall. You could say that the stick-figure girl or boy on the door is you when you were younger. If the door says "Women" then say your name is "Women." The same goes for the door sign saying, "Men" or "Unisex." Do all this yelling, however, after you have shut the door.

So, next time you find yourself in an awkward bathroom encounter, just remember my tips. You’ll be able to flush that embarrassment out of your system for good.


  1. Haaa!!! Man I HATE when this happens. I usually opt for profuse apologizing (even though it REALLY isn't my fault they forgot to lock the door...), avoiding eye contact, and then trying to avoid any personal contact with them for at least 2 weeks in the future. Then we can pretend it never happened.

  2. This totally reminds me of an incident that happened to me last year during my ectopic. I was in the ER and they were giving me loads of saline through the iv. I had to pee so bad so I ran down the hall to bathroom and the door wouldn't lock. I took the chance and obviously odds were not on my side that day. While squatting over and peeing some guy walks in on me. To say the least we were both so embarrassed, but nature called. I heard him say something about locking the door so I had to inform him that I am smart enough to use lock when it works :)


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