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# Interpret Public Toilet Signs Almost Literally

Solve the public bathroom issue
 (+4) [vote for, against]

There are three standard toilet symbols as far as I know. One has a triangular bit with legs sticking out, one has arms and legs and looks like a human being and one is a person sitting on a circle. If these were to be interpreted entirely literally, only people who looked exactly like that would be allowed in, and this would be silly although I suppose we could all spend our time in three metre high envelopes with the symbols printed on them so we could look exactly like them, although that would obviate the need for toilets in the first place. Hence "almost literally".

My proposition is that anyone who more or less resembles the silhouette of the supposed symbol be allowed to use the appropriate toilet. Thus anyone who looks like the "gentleman" symbol may use the Gents. This would include anyone with entirely or mainly visible legwear and anyone naked. Well, I say anyone, but I'll come back to that. Similarly, anyone with a clearly triangular bit obscuring or perhaps concealing from only one side their upper legs, such as the cape of meme lore, an actual skirt, dress, kilt or trench coat, should be allowed to go through the door with that symbol on it. Lastly, the apparent wheelchair symbol should indicate that anyone on a wheelchair, space hopper or Pilates ball should be allowed to use that cubicle.

Ah, you say, but what about people who don't look like that because of their unusual number or configuration of limbs? I would answer that by including extra symbols with missing and additional limbs. There would be no need to distinguish between people with missing right or left legs because they could just turn round to fit the outline, although they must then go through the door in that direction. This gives us the following options (side view):

o<-<¦=

o<-<

oJO

o/-<

o\-\

o/-\

o<-/

o<-

o/-

o-

I suspect that the last three would be using the space hopper option on the whole. Incidentally, you would be allowed to hop through if you wanted to use a single-legged option and conceal an arm about your person for the single-armed version, since I suspect these cubicles would be empty most of the time otherwise.

In fact, the doors should just have the shapes in them and people should convey themselves through appropriately, touching in the appropriate places, which would automatically unlock the doors, cartoon defenestration style.

There should also be cubicles for people with tails, horns and/or wings, and also people with missing wings, horns and limbs.

 — nineteenthly, May 18 2016

There was a game show where the contestants had to configure their shape to conform to a cardboard hole. Perhaps this is a solution. Fold yourself to the pattern on the entrance.
 — po, May 18 2016

If there’s a sign saying “wet paint”, we should?
 — Ian Tindale, May 18 2016

 We once went into am establishment that had a freshly-varnshed counter.

 On it was a sign that read "WET PAINT".

 A quick odour check noted the distinctive fragrance of polyurethane.

 After a pause, we informed the young lady seated behind the counter "Your sign is wrong".

 "How ?" she enquired.

 We explained. "That's not paint, it's varnish; and it's polyurethane, so it doesn't 'dry' by solvent evaporation, but by polymerization mediated by opportunistic oxygen free radicals. To be correct, the sign should read, 'Non-polymerized transparent alkyd conformal coating"'.

 The other young lady, who had encountered us on numerous previous occasions, said (when she had recovered from an incapacitating ft of laughter) that she agreed with us, but only we would understand such a sign.

 We pointed out that we were the only ones there.

But they still wouldn't correct it.
 — 8th of 7, May 18 2016

 I think a far simpler solution is to use the words "MEN" and "WOMEN" on the respective signs. People in countries with different languages will just have to adapt and learn English, but that would of course be no bad thing.

 There is then, of course, the question of defining "MEN" and "WOMEN", but I suggest that the answer here is mob rule. If you find yourself being shouted at by the majority of the occupants of a particular toilet, that indicates that you might find it easier to use the other one, and vice versa. In this way, Bentham's objective of the greatest net happiness is assured.

 A yet further option, of course, is to have uni- (or poly-) sex loos in the first place. There would then, presumably, be arguments over whether dogs or okapis were allowed to use them, and precisely which attributes (bipedalism? opposable thumbs? debt?) were needed in order to qualify.

//an incapacitating ft of laughter// So, not the whole nine yards of laughter, then?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, May 18 2016

No, it wasn't THAT funny...
 — 8th of 7, May 18 2016

 //arguments over whether dogs or okapis were allowed to use them// For me, the best requirement for wanting to go into the toilet should be either that one needs a pee, or a number 2.

 That being said, sometimes, if one's feeling a bit under the weather, just having a place to a sit down somewhere quiet is actually quite handy too.

 Or a quick hand-wash after having eaten an ice-cream, or an over-ladened sandwich.

 Perhaps a quick duck-in to see if the hair hasn't been too ruffled by a gust or two.

The problem, as far as I understand it, is that people somehow associate toilets with activities outside of the utilisation of water, hand-drying facilities, and drains. If we could get everyone thinking back on track, we wouldn't need any of the dualist nonsense that we've inherited from the past.
 — zen_tom, May 18 2016

Some changes in culture are so dramatic that the generation that grew up before the change has to die before they can be entirely implemented. Strong taboos frequently are only abandoned in mortality.
 — WcW, May 18 2016

Wet Varnish
 — popbottle, May 19 2016

What, from here?
 — Ian Tindale, May 19 2016

 The trouble with entering a loo with the word on it is there would have to be at least three of you, each with a highly unusual body shape. On the other hand, both WOMEN and MEN would be able to use the same cubicles, with the exception of the W and O shaped members of the party.

[po], on reflection that may have been a subconscious influence.
 — nineteenthly, May 19 2016

We need something which fits with our new relativistic, individualistic age and sweeps aside the narrow absolute certainties of gender-identification of the past. Thus, I propose the door to the toilet area has a whiteboard on it upon which you can draw whatever symbol or text you feel describes yourself at this moment, before you enter and use the facilities. You might, in an amusingly retro and ironic way draw a traditional 'male' or 'female' symbol or you might write something which describes your beliefs, mood, hopes or dreams. When leaving you have to wipe off whatever you put on the board - so, the number of items on the board at any one time shows how many people are occupying the toilets, as well as the kinds of people they are.
 — hippo, May 20 2016

 Easy - Backlit LCD that picks up a URL by Bluetooth from the user's smartphone and displays a personalised* image or graphic.

*For those, such as Justin Bieber, who don't actually have a personality, some default standard clipart would do.
 — 8th of 7, May 20 2016

That's a good idea - it would be a solution that could adapt to those people whose self-image changes radically while they are on the loo.
 — hippo, May 20 2016

Given a choice, Justin Bieber would go in one direction.
 — Ian Tindale, May 20 2016

 Imagine a curvilinear university lecture hall designed in the '60s. Imagine that, around a curve, there is an arch with a sign above it that says 'WASHROOMS'. Entering the archway, you see to your left a bank of doors, (this is the important part) floor to ceiling, each with its own proper doorknob (classy!). To your right, you see a bank of sinks, soap between each, mirrors for checking your hair or getting out that bit of green stuff in your teeth, paper towel dispensers.

 No matter what your gender, sex, height, body parts or clothing selection, you choose a door, turn the knob (not THAT knob, wait 'til you're inside). If it's unlocked you enter, lock the door behind you, enjoying the privacy of this well-designed toilet space.

 Upon emerging, you wash your hands and leave through either the archway you arrived through, or the archway at the other end of the banks of toilet closets and sinks, which also has a sign over it which says 'WASHROOMS'.

No problems for over 50 years, far as I know. A bit mind-mending for some of the more conservative Canadians who end up at this university, perhaps.
 — Sgt Teacup, May 20 2016

Update for the 21st century: include SOME booths with [hippo]'s whiteboard or [8th of 7]'s Bluetooth pick-up, primarily for those who choose artistic expression in the washroom. There could be a second screen with e-pen inside the door, for graffiti artists. Write on the inside of the door, and the graffiti is displayed on the screen outside AFTER you've left the stall.
 — Sgt Teacup, May 20 2016

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