What is this, please, and why is it there? What it appears to be, and what it functions as, is an unnecessary gap in a public bathroom door. What it’s doing there is the mystery to me.
I’ve noticed these gaps turning up with alarming regularity in the restrooms of stores, eating places, airports and malls, but I am assured it does not occur in the boys’ equivalent. Which leaves me with several questions, outlined here in ascending order of importance:
1) Is it there to encourage a breeze to circulate? If so, is that a good idea in a public toilet?
2) Is it supposed to provide a view in case we get bored? If so, wouldn’t a nice painting or a puzzle book suffice?
3) Is this perhaps a method to keep women abreast of the length of the queue waiting to relieve itself?
4) Am I missing out on some sort of social phenomenon whereby women are meant to wave at one another on the way for a wee? Have I spent two years being unwittingly rude to my fellow bathroom-goers?
5) Alternatively, is it considered proper etiquette to avert your gaze as you pass each stall? If so, why is there opportunity to see inside in the first place?
6) What is the etiquette once you are ensconced in a stall? Should I be making eye contact with the people wandering by?
7) Most importantly, why just the women’s restrooms? Are we considered a liability to ourselves on the toilet, necessitating viewing holes to make sure we haven’t fallen in?
Perhaps Englishwomen are more shy when it comes to bathroom activities than our transatlantic cousins, or perhaps there’s a rogue builder out there who can’t measure his doors properly. Either way, I have taken to installing an optimistic yet ineffective privacy device to preserve my modesty until someone explains to me why that gap is there and what I’m to do with it: