The Horrible Reality of the Bathrooms Siren Song


Landon Carter showing how to properly flush the toilet / Photographer: Chris Waage

Over the years, there has been a questionable increase in the amount of time students spend in the bathrooms at OHS, especially during class. It is not the frequency at which students are visiting the bathroom that stands out as significantly higher; rather, it is the sheer amount of time spent in the bathroom upon each visit that concerns me. If it was a simple matter of a minute or two longer, I would not preoccupy myself worrying. However, along with the amount of time increasing gradually each month, there have been highly concerning incidents in which students have missed entire class periods. That innocent yet burning curiosity consumed me with a passion that I have not experienced since investigating the fascinating backstory of the cheese-covered microwave. Deep questions filled me as they had not in a long time: Was this a simple desire to miss class, or something far more complex, or even sinister? What could have made the bathroom, of all places, an increasingly interesting place to be? Or was it perhaps not that the bathroom was interesting, but that some sort of bowel disease had slowly made its way through the school population, slowly but surely? The possibilities were endless. My curiosity peaked when, upon innocently asking a peer why they took so long in the bathroom, I received the very evasive and confused answer of “I don’t know.”

Of course, I proceeded to look into the matter, and the investigation yielded a heavy truth that was both much simpler and yet much more horrifying than I could have imagined. I was able to conclude that the extended time spent in the bathroom was due to the sheer amount of time required to flush the toilet. The toilets, having always been problematic, have become increasingly difficult to flush without time-consuming labor. Although the signs within the stalls direct the user to simply “flush twice”, it is clear that the problem has become an issue of much larger scale. To “flush twice” may have worked in the past, but the problem has progressed to the point that one must keep a foot on the lever for a worrying amount of time. “I don’t understand Precalculus anymore,” one student remarked. “Every time I go to the bathroom during sixth period I miss most of the lesson because I’m in there trying to get it to flush. It’s very anxiety-inducing.”

It gets worse: one junior, tired of the struggle, confessed that she had missed an entire class period on multiple occasions. “I just stood there, with my foot on the lever,” she said, “and it just kept swirling around and around and around, but it never went down. I went into a trance watching it swirl around, and the time just slid by. I didn’t want to just leave the toilet full, so I stayed, even though my leg was getting really tired. When it finally went down, I returned to class to find that there was only a minute left, even though I had gone to the bathroom at the beginning of class.” This horrifying scenario is not a lone incident; many others have reported the same. “I’m failing three of my classes because I’ve been in the bathroom trying to flush the toilet,” a freshman said, clearly stressed. “It’s ruining my life. I’m having nightmares about disgusting toilets that just keep swirling and swirling and never go down. I wake up with tears in my eyes.”

When will it end? Will this culminate in an outbreak of urinary tract infections as a result of students becoming less inclined to use the bathroom? Or will we see a large number of students fail to graduate this year for flunking multiple classes as a result of having been in the bathroom with one foot on the lever, trying to flush the toilet, for entire class periods?