Rest Rooms in the UK

Last night, I was attending a gig at one of my favourite Manchester venues. One of the people from the venue was standing near the stage, which put him right in front of the passage to the venue’s comfort facilities. I usually use my best British English, but I slipped and said, “Excuse me, I just need to get to the rest room . . . toilet. I need the toilet signtoilet.”

I wasn’t fast enough; he immediately said, “You Americans always seem to need a rest. I have a sofa if you need a quick lie down.” He followed with, “Americans don’t like to say ‘toilet,’ do they? Why is that?” I said, “Well, I think some Americans think it sounds a little crude.” (Note: I come from a family that was reticent about mentioning this process at all. The word “facilities” seemed too direct for us.)

He then said, “For Americans, ‘toilet’ refers to the actual device, doesn’t it?” “Yes,” I said, “If you ask Americans where the toilet is, they are likely to tell you it is in the bathroom.”

“Ah, yes,” he said, “When Americans ask to use my bathroom, I tell them ‘Sure, but don’t soak too long. Tea will be ready soon.’”

Goodness, how long does it take to make a cup of tea?*

*Yes, I do know the answer to this, but that is for another post.

About ethicsbeyondcompliance

I hold a PhD in medical humanities with an major emphasis in ethics. I began teaching college-level ethics in 2000.
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