• Michael T. Christensen

An Open Letter to the Guy That Always Texts at Airport Urinals

I wrote this on October 11, 2013:

Dear That Guy I See Texting At Every Airport Urinal,

You don’t know me, but I’ve been seeing quite a lot of you lately. I just got back from a vacation to Ireland last weekend, and as I type I am waiting to board my flight to Seattle for my cousin’s wedding. So, needless to say, I’ve been in quite a few airports over the past few weeks. And at every one of them, at some point, I’ve used the restroom, and I’ve seen you there, standing at the urinal with your Johnson in one hand and your blackberry in the other, typing away like you’re not obviously peeing in public.

I suppose, on one level, I shouldn’t be too surprised – we live in a world of unprecedented interconnectivity, and it’s easier than ever to use your phone to stay in touch with your loved ones and colleagues from anywhere in the world. And as someone whose job regularly requires me to check my email from home at 10pm at night, I can relate to feeling like you just can’t stop looking at your messages, for the fear that something important and possibly catastrophic might happen in that one moment you’re not looking.

However, there is both a time and a place to check your messages, and – regardless of the context – the moment you are urinating is never that moment. I’m also surprised at just how many traits, hopefully present in every human being, you seem to lack. Such as:

Patience – The most important thing you need to understand is that, whatever it is you’re doing on your phone can wait. I appreciate that everything we do on our phones seems urgent – I myself have found myself standing before the porcelain altar and felt my phone buzz, and began speculating wildly as to who could be trying to reach me. Is it my boss, calling to fire me? My mother, calling from the hospital? A lawyer, calling to tell me that a great-uncle I never knew has passed away and left me an indecent amount of money and a mansion with a live-in butler who will change his name to Jarvis if I ask him to, simply because that’s how much he is paid to serve me? My mind is racing, and I simply have got to know, and I have to look at my phone, and why is this taking so long, what was I thinking, why did I drink all that apple juice during that ‘Dead Zone’ marathon? But it’s important to understand that anything the phone has to say will still be there once you have finished relieving yourself.

Humility – I can tell from your clothes, hair, and the fact that you are constantly using your phone at inappropriate moments, that you are a successful businessperson. You wouldn’t be using your phone at airports otherwise, right? However, you are clearly keenly aware of this as well, and to be frank, I think you think that’s a bigger deal than we do. You are in an airport. At any point, you could be side-by-side with a surgeon, or a detective, or a Pope. Heck, the odds are at least a few of them are airline pilots or air traffic control personnel. And they are all much more important than you, yet they all resist the urge to look at their phones when they’re draining the lizard. If they can wait, you can wait.

Hygiene – I feel like this one speaks for itself. Wait until after you’ve washed your hands before you touch your screen. It’s just so gross.

I am, however, impressed that you somehow are able to appear in every airport bathroom in the world. This suggests some sort of teleportation ability, or at the very least the ability to move at superhuman speeds. With this sort of power at your fingertips, I’m surprised you don’t have time to take a leak without sending a tweet.

So, please, for everyone’s sake, put the phone down and focus on what you’re doing.

Sent from my iPhone

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