Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallows Month

Original Post Date: October 27, 2010

When I was a kid, Halloween was on October 31st. We figured out what our costume was going to be sometime between October 25th and the 30th, and we dressed up for one night and set out on a mission for candy with our pillowcase in hand to hold the loot. Our costumes were simple, and consisted of clothes or cardboard and duct tape that we already had at home. The houses in the neighborhood were decorated with a single jack-o-lantern and a porch light that was turned off.

These days, Halloween is still on the 31st, but it has turned into a month-long event. We purchase our kid’s costumes at giant seasonal Halloween warehouse stores, and we do it in September. The kids wear their costumes to school, birthday parties, church functions, and around the house throughout the month of October. By the time Halloween night finally rolls around, the kids are putting the costume back on for the 200th time. Families begin preparing their houses for the big night promptly on October 1st. There is no time to spare. The house must be decorated from sidewalk to roof.

To be honest, I’m not even sure why we have Halloween anymore. In my day, we trick-or-treated to get candy. Plain and simple. We never had candy the rest of the year. At least, we didn’t at my house.

If you do not currently have small children, you may not be aware of a disturbing trend in birthday parties and get-togethers known as “The Gift Bag.” These days when kids attend a birthday party, the guests all go home with a “thanks-for-coming” goody bag full of little toys and candy. That strange new development, combined with the fact that almost every party has a piñata, has my children bringing home more candy from one birthday party than I saw all year as a kid.

And, let’s talk about pumpkins for a minute. I don’t really remember where my parents purchased our pumpkins when I was growing up. We may have gone to a pumpkin patch, or maybe they just picked them up at the store. One thing is for sure, we did not buy them at an amusement park like my kids do. Somewhere between my youth and my becoming a parent, the pumpkin patch turned into Disneyland for Vine Fruit. There are parking fees, parking attendants, gate fees, gate attendants, food pavilions with $8 hot dogs, train rides, petting zoos, side shows, giant play structures, face painting, cotton candy, stroller parking, support staff, hay rides, pig races, haunted barns, and… oh, yeah… pumpkins.

And how about the change in decorating for this “holiday?” Gone is the simple one jack-o-lantern porch. My wife has no less than three huge plastic storage tubs on our garage shelves dedicated to Halloween decorations. She chooses to mix genres when it comes to the outdoor decorations. We have the cutesy country décor hay bale and scarecrow on the front porch, combined with the spooky giant spider web and grotesquely large furry black spiders guarding the front door. We have eight small ghosts flying around underneath our tree on the front lawn, and they have been vigilantly guarding the place for three weeks now.

You will notice I said “outdoor” decorations. One very big change since my youth is the addition of indoor decorations for this all-important month-long holiday. We have Frankenstein on our sliding glass door. We have ghosts on our microwave. The boys have ghost and goblin pillow cases. We have a four-foot-tall witch on our staircase landing. We have a wood carving of the word “Boo.” We have scary napkins. There is something Halloweeny in every room in our house. Yes, every room. We actually have fuzzy jack-o-lantern floor mat/toilet seat cover combos for the bathrooms.  Our toilets have been reminding us of the impending All Hallows Eve since October 3rd. That’s different.

I think the biggest change I’ve seen over the years, however, has been the change in the point of Halloween. The reason for the season, if you will. In my grandpa’s day, Halloween was a night of mischief. He and his friends used to roam around on October 31st performing one simple, yet effective prank on as many homes as they could hit in one night. They would sneak into the backyard and move the outhouse. Apparently, most outhouses just sat over the hole without much foundation, and they would slide them backward, just one outhouse width, so the hole was open to the world in front of the door. They were hoping for the inevitable outcome if the homeowner didn’t notice the outhouse had been moved in the dark. (I’ll let you take it from there.) And if you happened to get a backside full of birdshot while relocating someone’s commode, well, that was simply the price you paid for having so much fun.

In my day, we went out on Halloween to make sure our neighbors were following the rules. We felt we were owed candy, much like a mob boss is owed protection money. We said, “trick or treat,” and we meant it. If there was no treat, there was going to be a trick. The older kids had eggs or soap for the windows. Fair was fair. We wore costumes for the same reason armed robbers wear ski masks - anonymity. People had candy by the front door out of self defense more than anything else. When someone decorated their house above and beyond the single jack-o-lantern, they were actually trying to scare the kids away, not entertain them. Halloween was a night run by the kids and tolerated by the adults.

Today, in the suburban neighborhoods across this land, Halloween has been hijacked by the adults. We adorn our front lawns and living rooms for our own amusement, often competing with our neighbors in a game of decoration one-upsmanship that used to be reserved only for Christmas lights. We buy our kids expensive costumes so they can look just like a Star Wars storm trooper or Hannah Montana as we escort them from house to house and congratulate each other on how cool the front lawn graveyard looks with this year’s addition of the fog machine. If people don’t have candy, or no one’s home, we just say, “Oh, well,” and move on to the next house.

What is that all about? We’ve managed to get way off point here. How will our kids ever know what Halloween is really all about?

Come to think of it, what is Halloween really all about? It’s been a weird deal since its inception. Moving outhouses? Defacing your neighbor’s property as part of a sucrose extortion racket? That’s just plain strange.

The more I think about it, the more I think this new trend is a good thing. I mean, there’s always a truckload of candy at the end of the night that I get to commandeer for my own consumption, my outhouse hardly ever gets moved anymore, and I never have to try to get soap off my windows. Plus, my boys get into enough mischief the other 364 days of the year as it is. I guess it’s OK if we’ve moved away from the annual night of mandated mayhem toward a kinder, gentler Halloween.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go turn on the hydraulics for the automatic creaky coffin lid and fill the water tank on the new fog machine. I am really going to outdo my neighbors this year!

See you soon,

Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No More Tears

I have a new theory on my role as a husband and father. I think my main job, when it all gets boiled down, is to keep my wife from crying.

Let me back up a little… I don’t like irrigation. That probably goes back to high school, when I worked for a summer on my uncle’s farm in Oregon. My buddy Scott and I went and spent an entire summer “moving pipe” in the potato fields of the fertile Willamette Valley. (Pronounced will-LAMB-et, not WILL-ah-met, for all of you non-Oregonians.)

Moving pipe involves grabbing the middle of a 30-foot long, 4-inch diameter aluminum pipe, picking it up and shaking it loose from its attachment point to the next pipe, curling it up to chest height like a tightrope walker’s balance pole, high-stepping over fifteen rows of waist-high potato plants, and setting it back down. Repeat the process for eight to ten hours a day for two months.

I won’t tell you I hated it, but “liked it” isn’t the right term either. Scott and I ended up having a good time overall, and we were in great shape at the end of the summer. While the experience may not have done much to illuminate our future career aspirations, it certainly did serve to give both of us a really good idea of what we did not want to do for a living, and a strong desire to go to college.

During college, I ended up having to take a few engineering-related classes on irrigation and irrigation theory. I had had enough irrigation practice up in Oregon to outweigh any irrigation theory that some professor who never moved a pipe in his life wanted to tell me about, so I wasn’t really very interested in hearing what he had to say. There are some things that text books just can’t teach you, like how to get a whole bullfrog out of a 1/8-inch diameter sprinkler hole at high pressure. I suffered through the classes and moved on.

Fast-forward to today, and you likely know my stance on home irrigation. I simply do not like to spend my time or money operating and maintaining a sprinkler system. Especially for something that is not a crop, and has no possibility of paying me back for my investment. Only the social convention of suburban houses having year-round short, green lawns keeps me from shutting off my sprinkler system entirely and letting the grass go native. I would do it in a heartbeat if the neighbors would cooperate.

I am willing to bend to social pressures when it comes to the lawns, but the very first thing I did when we bought our house was to shut off the drip irrigation system that was responsible for the trees and bushes. I was not about to waste time and money maintaining a system of tiny plastic hoses meant to water things that, in my opinion, should be able to fend for themselves. That was all fine and dandy until a week ago.

We had a long, hot summer here in Northern California, and a few of the leafier plants in our backyard ended up a lot more brown than green. My wife had made a few comments to me about them that went in one ear and out the other, but last week at lunch, she sat me down and said flatly, “I want a drip system for the backyard plants.”

When I said, “No way,” she cried.

Now, she claimed it was not my refusal to irrigate that started her tears. She claimed that my rebuff was simply the last straw on a large pile from a frustrating week, but I know better.

Apparently the appearance of the plants around the back fence of our yard is tied directly to her self worth, and it embarrasses her to have dead ones. I, on the other hand, could not honestly care less about them. When people come over to our house, I am not the least bit ashamed of the dead yellow bush in the corner. In my mind, it is the bush’s fault that it could not survive a summer in this climate, not mine. That bush is the one that should be ashamed for being weak.

She doesn’t see it like I do.

I was very taken aback by her tears. While she does have a long track record of tricking me into doing home improvement projects using deception and false naiveté, my wife is not one for employing emotional blackmail just to get her way. It was obvious that her desire for green shrubbery not only outweighed mine considerably, but was a much more serious concern to her than I had realized. Or not realized.

I don’t like it when my wife cries. I especially don’t like it when I’m the one who made her cry. So, guess what I did last weekend?

When I flipped the switch on the electronic sprinkler timer in the garage, and the drip line valve came on, our backyard looked like the grand finale of the fountain show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Water was shooting straight up into the air from under almost every bush and tree. I hate drip line systems.

I ended up spending $64 at Home Depot for the supplies to patch the 18 geysers and replace the 16 feet of main line that I had torn out during a fencing project last year, thinking foolishly that I would never use it again. Shows you what I know.

It seems to have made her happy that she can now have green plants all year long. But, I didn’t do it to make her happy. I did it to keep her from crying. I will attempt to make my wife happy as often as I possibly can, but if I can keep her from crying, I think I’m really doing my husbandly job.

It’s a subtle difference, but an important one that I think extends to all my roles as a husband and father, and will help me keep my eye on the ball, long term-wise. For instance, if I’m great at my job and make a ton of money, my wife will be happy. But also, if I’m marginal at my job and make a marginal amount of money, she’ll still be happy. However, if I’m bad at my job and get fired, or let my emotions get the better of me and quit one day, we’ll have no money. If we have no money, she and I will have to stop eating so the kids don’t starve to death, and that will make her cry, because she gets very cranky if she doesn’t eat. So, I need to maintain a marginal or better rating at work, and keep my job.

Another good example is our kids. If I do my job with the boys, and all three of them grow up to be something awesome, like astronauts, or doctors, or beer brewers, then my wife will be happy. But even if I do just an OK job with them, and they turn out to be just accountants, or managers, or computer programmers, she will still be happy. However, if I totally neglect them, and they grow up to be jobless ne’er-do-wells, she will cry. So, I need to make sure I do my part to make sure they grow up to be fine young men.

The way I see it, I need to focus on maintaining a level of operation as a husband and a father that strives to reduce spousal crying to a minimum, or in a perfect world, eliminate it altogether. If I can do that, I think I’m doing my job. If that job has to involve drip irrigation from time to time, then so be it.

Home improvement and career issues aside, I will be concentrating most heavily on the boys. I need to keep a sharp eye on them and make sure they’re heading in the right direction, because, as I said, if they grow up to be unemployed lazy bums, she’ll cry. But if they really take a wrong turn and grow up to be lawyers or, worse yet, politicians, we’ll both cry, and I do NOT want that!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to today and get your copy of My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Bad Call at First Base

A few years back, when I was coaching Son Number One’s T-ball team, we had an incident with a phone. We were in the middle of practice, and the kids were goofing off just a little too much, so we sent them on a run to the fence and back to dissipate some of the excess energy. One of the boys fell way behind the group, due to the fact that he was “running” at a pace that barely qualified as a brisk walk. I jogged up to him and said, “Let’s go, dude. Pick up the pace!”

The six-year-old stopped and looked me in the eye and announced, “I can’t go any faster than this, because my phone is really heavy and it’s banging around when I run.”

“Your what?”

He reached into the front pocket of his windbreaker and produced a BlackBerry smartphone. With a big wide grin, he declared, “It has BrickBreaker on it!”

Since he was not my own son, I was forced to resist my natural urge to snatch the phone from his hand and hurl it as far as I could. Instead, I simply told him to put the phone away and move his little patooty, or he would be running to the fence and back for the rest of the school year. He picked up the pace to a moderate jog.

I left the conversation dumbfounded. Why would his parents have given him their old phone? And more to the point, why would he be allowed to bring it to practice? And what the heck is BrickBreaker?

About ten minutes later, we were running a hitting and fielding drill, and the aforementioned T-baller was playing first base. When the batter hit the ball, the infielders were supposed to scoop it up and throw him out at first. Simple. Except for the fact that on the third or fourth batter, the shortstop fielded the ball and rifled it right over the head of our young BlackBerry owner. He had lost interest in the drill and was standing with both feet on first base, his glove on the ground at his feet, his head down, and you guessed it… playing with his phone.

When we saw the ball heading toward him and realized he wasn’t looking, three coaches and ten parents all shouted, “HEYOOW HEY AHHH LOOK OOOUT!” at the same time. He never even looked up. Complete oblivion.

Needless to say, he was removed from first base, and the phone was removed from his possession, at least for the time being. One of the moms later joked that he was probably updating his Facebook status. “Playing first base.” “Coaches seem mad.” “What’s up with these guys?”

Fast forward to today, and I am once again dumbfounded. This time by my own actions. I just gave Son Number One and Two our old BlackBerry phones.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Wait a second, Smidge, you’re the guy who said your kids couldn’t have a phone until they were 35. I know I said that, but allow me to explain. I am just trying to save money.

This all started when my wife mentioned that she wanted to get MP3 players for the boys. For those of you over 60 years old, an MP3 player is the modern equivalent of a Walkman. For those of you over 80 years old, a Walkman is a portable music player with headphones. (And a BlackBerry is a mobile telephone, or “cell phone.”)

Anyway, she mentioned that she would like to get them MP3 players, which, with my wife means she had been shopping for MP3 players for about three weeks and was minutes away from buying them. I had to act fast. My initial response of, “I don’t think the kids need those,” only held her off for a day, then she was right back at it, listing all the reasons why music was important and why I was wrong and stubborn and wrong.

I could almost hear the Visa card being swiped at a Best Buy checkout stand, so I had to react quickly. “Why don’t you just give them our old phones?” I said, not believing the words had come from my mouth, even as I uttered them.

“Really?” she asked. “That would work?”

“Yes. They would be able to play music, plus they could take pictures and video.” Who is talking right now? This can’t be me saying this. “They could even record voice notes and type messages.” What am I doing? I’m breaking my own “no technology for kids” rules.

Or am I?

Yes, I am, but here’s how I can sleep at night: There is no cell service for the phones, and I disabled the Wi-Fi, so they have no connectivity to the internet, which is my main concern about children and technology. Also, I saved a bunch of money on MP3 players. (I know, I know. That’s weak. I don’t want to hear it.)

After going this long owning nothing more advanced than an Etch A Sketch, the boys are beyond thrilled. They actually like the voice recorder and the ring tones more than the music, but the camera is their favorite part. All in all, it is working out well, but here are two handy tips if you decide to follow my lead and recycle your phones to your kids:

Tip # 1: They still dial 911, so be careful! All cell phones, no matter if they are active or not, can still call 911. I know this because the nice 911 operator that I ended up talking to on my old BlackBerry told me so.

Tip # 2: Perform what is called a “security wipe” before you hand them over. This function removes all your contacts and email accounts from the phone’s memory. This ensures that even if your kid does figure out the Wi-Fi password, they can’t send an email to your best client or your pastor calling them a butt munch.

Other than those two things, there’s not much trouble they can get into with them, so I’m OK with it. But I swear, if one of those phones ever shows up at baseball practice, the next thing that comes in contact with the bat is not going to be a ball.

I will personally be seeing how much of an old BlackBerry I can hit over the fence.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to today and get your copy of My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Mortgage Jokers

Did you know that the word mortgage means “death pledge?” That should tell you almost everything you need to know about borrowing money to buy a house.

We recently refinanced our mortgage down to a significantly lower interest rate, and since we re-upped the loan for another 30-year stint, our monthly payment is a lot less. To compensate for adding additional years back onto the loan, we are making larger-than-required principal payments to reduce the length of the loan, and minimize the amount of interest we’ll pay.

At least, we tried to do that. The bank looked at our first larger payment and immediately chose the most inane way imaginable to allocate the funds. I won’t tell you the name of this whiz-bang financial institution, but it rhymes with Wells Fargo.

Here’s what happened: (I have chosen round amounts for simplicity, but not because I think you, the loyal reader, couldn’t follow along. I am attempting to make this as simple as possible in case anyone from the bank reads this, so they might have a fighting chance of understanding it.)

Let’s say our total loan amount is $100,000, and our monthly scheduled payment is $500. We sent them an October payment of $1100.

If we were to pay the scheduled $500/month for the next 30 years, we would pay a grand total of $180,000 to the unnamed bank. We would have paid them the $100,000 principal back, plus $80,000 in interest. We don’t want to pay them $80,000 in interest, so if we pay them $1100/month, paying an additional $600/month toward the principal, it only takes 9 years to pay them the $100,000 back, and we only pay $22,000 in interest.

Simple, right. We thought so.

Not to them, I guess. They took our October payment of $1100, looked at it carefully, and decided that we must have wanted to pay our standard October bill of $500, pre-pay our November bill of $500 -- $400 of which is interest -- and put the remaining $100 toward the principal. They sent us back a statement telling us that’s what they did with the money, and the good news was that our next payment wasn’t due until December!

An open letter to our mortgage lender:

What the hell are you guys smoking over there? You geniuses actually looked at my more-than-double-sized mortgage payment and concluded that I wanted to pre-pay next month? Really?

Has anyone in the history of the mortgage ever pre-paid a month? That is some serious outside the box type thinking right there, fellas!

You guys seriously thought that I am sending you extra money so that I can get a jump on paying you the entire $80,000 in interest as scheduled in the 30-year payoff plan? It didn’t even cross your minds that I might be trying to pay down the principal faster? Really!?!

So, by that same superior banker’s logic of yours, if I came into a bunch of money and wanted to pay off my mortgage tomorrow, and I sent you the entire $100,000 principal amount, you would naturally assume that I wished to pre-pay the next 200 months’ payments, so that I wouldn’t have a care in the world until the year 2028, at which time I would happily resume paying off the remaining $60,000 loan balance with interest over the next 160 months?

That makes perfect sense.

Now, I understand that I just sent the large payment in without any specific instructions. I can kind of see where you might have thought twice about what to do with the money if I had sent it in as a check, with no instructions, and the amount had been exactly two payments. Maybe you might have thought to yourselves, “This man will obviously be out of the country next month, and unable to send his November mortgage check to us on time, so he is obviously sending us that money now, so as not to disturb our fragile cash flow situation here at the nation’s fourth largest bank.”

I mean, if I squint really hard, I can almost see that scenario playing out at that think tank you guys are running over there. But, fellas, seriously… This payment came in electronically from my bank. Do you brainiacs think that I was smart enough to set up an online bill payment account with my bank, but I wasn’t smart enough to find the “recurring monthly payment” button?

This isn’t looking good, boys. You guys are facing the same conundrum that most of this country’s politicians are in right now. You can’t be even remotely mediocre at your job and screw it up this badly, so you are left with two unpleasant choices: Either you have to admit that you are about as smart as a box of hair, and unfit to run your own life, let alone a bank, or you have to admit that you are a crooked cheat. It’s either one or the other, because nobody with an IQ over room temperature would make that kind of mistake in earnest.

Thanks for giving me the loan in the first place. I really do appreciate it. But, play fair, or I swear, I will go through the long and painful process of refinancing my “death pledge” again, just to make sure you never get another penny of my money.

Sincerely yours,

Watch your bankers closely, folks. As with our politicians, something tells me I already know the answer as to why the “mistake” was made.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to today and get your copy of My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Phone on the Toilet

The other day I walked into the men's room, straight into a dilemma. When I entered the restroom, there was a guy in one of the stalls, sitting on the throne, talking. We were the only two people in the room, so for a moment I got very worried, because men, as a rule, do not talk to each other in the restroom.

The only time it is acceptable to have a conversation in the men's room is when you are with a friend, and located two or more urinals away from each other, or at the sinks. It is not acceptable to carry on a conversation with a friend from adjacent urinals, or from two or more urinals away if there is a stranger at one of the urinals between you, and it is never acceptable to carry on a conversation from a stall.

A perfunctory "howdy," or "hey," or the preferred silent upward head nod can be extended to a stranger at the bank of urinals, but only if accidental eye contact has been made. Any deliberate or excess stranger-to-stranger eye contact at the urinals is strictly forbidden. No talking or eye contact of any kind is allowed if circumstances require you to be at adjacent urinals.

Speaking of adjacent urinals, the only time you should be right next to another guy at the bank of urinals is when there are only two of them, or there are a lot but the rest of them were full and it was unavoidable. Walking up to the adjacent urinal if there is another one available further away is considered very, very bad form. You are even required to use the super-low-to-the-ground children’s urinal before resorting to side by side.

Basically, we try very hard not to talk to each other or get too close to each other when in the restroom. Even the friend-to-friend urinal conversations should be kept to an absolute minimum. The sinks are really the only acceptable location for restroom communications, but again, only the amount of perfunctory chit chat required to maintain a civilized environment, and nothing more.

Now, back to the stalls. Speaking to other people in the bathroom from inside the stalls is strictly off-limits. This is a hard-and-fast rule. If the toilet backs up on you, or you run out of toilet paper, you’re on your own. A man following proper restroom etiquette will sacrifice his own socks before he would ask for some toilet paper from inside the stall.

We are so serious about the stall rules, that if you happen to be occupying the only stall in a particular restroom, you will clear your throat or shake the newspaper every time you hear the restroom door open, in order to signal that the stall is in use. This is a universal notification of stall occupancy, meant to avoid the awkward moment when the newcomer attempts to open the locked stall door, forcing the stall occupant to say, “occupied,” and making both men feel uncomfortable.

So, back to my dilemma from a few days ago, I walked into a restroom situation where three very strict rules were being broken. There was a lot of talking going on by him, we were strangers, and he was in a stall. I would have turned right around and left, but I realized a second or two later that he was on the phone.

In the stall. Sitting on the toilet. On the phone.

On the timeline of the modern flush toilet, cell phones are a relatively new phenomenon, and it is very obvious that we, as men who use public restrooms, need to get our arms around this problem. Cell phones have made it possible to talk with someone outside the restroom, while you are inside doing your business. Just because it is possible, however, does not make it OK. Like nuclear weapons, just because you have them, doesn’t automatically mean you should use them.

Since I realized he was not talking to me, I stayed in the restroom. I had gone in only to wash my hands, so I took care of that, and it was as I finished up at the sink that my dilemma came. This particular bathroom was brand new, and had no paper towels of any kind. The only means of drying your hands was the air blower mounted to the wall next to the sinks. I had been using this bathroom all week, and I knew all about the air blower. It was called the “XLERATOR,” and it sounded and felt a lot like a jet engine. It was so loud, I was actually a little worried about potential hearing loss from its use.

Here was my quandary. If I stuck my hands under the jet engine nozzle, the XLERATOR would fire up, and any type of phone conversation inside the room would be immediately impossible. That thing was so loud, it would even be hard to text near it.

Do I wait for him to get off the phone before I dry my hands?

That would be the polite thing to do. He would still be able to hear the person on the other end of the line, and I wouldn’t be forcing him to have the awkward conversation about what that noise was, or where he was. He could try to lie and say he’s at the airport out on the airfield, but most likely he would have to fess up.

On the other dripping wet hand, he should NOT be on the phone. I was well within my rights to go about my business, and firing up the 6000 decibel hand dryer and drowning out his conversation would ultimately teach him a lesson. The hopeful end result of the lesson would be one less guy in America who thinks it’s OK to talk on his cell phone in the bathroom.

His conversation ended as I was still standing at the sink, drip-drying my hands and contemplating what to do, so ultimately, no lesson was learned and no forward progress was made. He will probably go on to do it again.

While phone-stall talking is less uncomfortable for the other bathroom occupants than talking directly to them, it is still a serious no-no. The person on the phone is still talking to someone from the stall. It is a once-removed, long distance violation of the no talking in the stalls rule, but a violation nonetheless.

I’m not sure what all you cell phone stall talkers out there are thinking, but you need to knock it off. You are breaking the guy code by ignoring the men’s room rules, and you need to take it outside.

As for you ladies, I have no idea what your bathroom code of ethics looks like, but I would imagine, like most other things, it’s 180 degrees from the men’s. You probably chat with strangers from stall to stall, and share toilet paper under the walls. It’s unthinkable.

You will have to decide on your own what to do about cell phones in the ladies’ restroom. I’m not getting in the middle of it. Just please don’t call us from the stall. And don’t answer our calls, either. That’s a twice-removed, long distance violation of the men’s no talking in the stalls rule, but a violation nonetheless.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to today and get your copy of My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!