Allan Ishac
  • Author of New York's 50 Best Places to Find Peace and Quiet (6th Edition) and New York's 50 Best Places to Take Children (4th Edition)
  • Creator of the TranquiliCity app, the instant locator for relaxation in NYC
  • Creator of New York's 50 Best book series (Rizzoli)
  • Creator of the Hard Hat Harry children's video series
  • Two-time Telly Award winner for Best Children's Video
 

How To Tell Who’s In The Toilet Stall Next To You Without Peeking At Their Shoes

A brief tutorial on the art of “clandestine commode snooping”

Stall In Grad

They’re so close, yet so far away. (Credit: sciencelife.uchospitals.edu)

No, I’m not a creep. Not totally anyway. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has strained themselves trying to identify a person in the next stall. 

It has happened to you, right? You’re minding your own business (doing your own business), when someone comes in, occupies the enclosure next to you, and proceeds to make a series of horrid noises that instantly bind you up. 

And you wonder, what orifice is producing those sounds? Do they not know that I’m sitting right here, not a foot away? Are those reverberations normal? Are they ill? WHO IS THAT?!

Snoop or get off the pot

Effective stall snooping requires a smartphone with a decent camera. (Credit: testyturnip.com)

I don’t know why I have to know the answer to this, but I do. Maybe it’s a desire to snicker while sharing the peculiar bathroom behavior with fellow workers and friends. Or a protective measure to keep me from ever squatting next to that person again. Perhaps a perverse impulse to feel superior (I don’t make those strange sounds!). Whatever the reason, I find I simply cannot leave the premises without identifying my unknown bathroom buddy. 

And this is where my dilemma comes in: how do I secure the information I require without being seen? If I look under the stall, the offender might be leaning over, too, looking right back at me. 

If I peer over the partition, he (or she if I’m in Europe) could suddenly glance up…and I’m caught! And if I talk, maybe to ask an innocent question of my commode companion, then I will have violated one of the cardinal rules of toilet stall etiquette — no conversation!

Phone in the bowl

There is one of the pitfalls to avoid. (Credit: youtube.com)

Luckily, I have come up with the answer to “clandestine stall snooping,” and it is incredibly simple. 

We all have a smartphone today, and we all carry our phones into public bathroom stalls — as the people at Words With Friends can verify — whether to play games, review our messages, or visit porn sites.  

What you probably haven’t realized is that every smartphone is a camera-ready restroom spy tool. 

Here, then, are my six-step process for revealing the identity of any person with you in a public privy:

  1. Open the camera function on your phone. 
  2. Flip the lens direction so you see yourself on the screen.
  3. With one hand, make some distracting noises with the toilet roll dispenser. At the same time, drop your phone to the floor, so it falls flat and crosses the line of the partition, landing slightly into the next stall. Curse as if this was an accident.
  4. Quickly reach down to retrieve the phone. As you do, tilt it slightly so it is aimed up at your bathroom buddy. 
  5. Now depress the shutter. 
  6. Presto! You have taken a surreptitious photo of your next-stall neighbor without them being aware of it or having to say “Cheese!”

I do believe this is a brilliant technique. 

Please let me know if it works. I’m dying to try it.