As a former middle school teacher, I think instructions are very important. If you want people to do something, you need to tell them, in very clear language, what to do. Naturally, I am very good at giving instructions. Or, as my husband would put it, I am bossy. Nonetheless, my classroom was a well-run machine.
Of course, the flip side is that I also respect instructions, and try to follow them whenever possible. I am a rule-follower, and proud of it.
I began to question my rule-following ways when I went to the bathroom at my husband’s office in western Kenya. Inside the bathroom stall was a full set of instructions, or “guidelines” as they put it, for how to use the washroom.
Step 1: Make sure you live the bathroom as clean as you found it.
I’m assuming “live” means “leave”. I can do this.
Step 2: Flash the toilet immediately after finished and make sure that all waste is gone.
Well this is awkward. Flash the toilet? Flash it? Like the way we say “flash” in the U.S.? Oh wait, they mean Flush the toilet. Got it.
Step 3: The toilet seat cover is meant for sitting but not stepping on.
I can only imagine that this is meant for people who are used to squat toilets. Why else would a person think to step on the toilet seat? I certainly won’t be stepping on it.
Step 4: Use the pusher pump to push the waste inside incase it cannot be flashed.
Uhh, I have no idea what any of this means. I just hope the toilet can be “flashed”.
Step 5: All the materials in the washroom e.g. the tap, mirror, urinal and the sink, to be handle carefully to avoid breakage.
Oh my God, does it really get so crazy here in that you have to tell people not to break the bathroom?
Next came a series of instructions related to the use of toilet paper.
Step 6: Make sure you use it while thinking of others.
Well, this is awkward. Who should I think of while using the toilet paper? My husband, who has gotten me into this mess in the first place? The people who chopped down the trees to make this toilet paper? My family at home, who can use toilet paper with reckless abandon?
Step 7: The tissue should not be rolled and dumped in the toilet or put on the floor, as this shows a waste of the company resources.
This feels like one of those warnings that comes from a real-life incident. Someone once put the toilet paper on the floor and now we all have to suffer the consequences.
Step 8: The tissues are meant to be used in the washrooms here at CRC not to be carried home.
Ohhh, I’m guilty of this one. Many of the bathrooms in Kenya don’t have toilet paper in them, so sometimes I take a little extra toilet paper from a well-stocked bathroom and put it in my pocket in case I need it later. They’re on to me though. Better stop doing that.
Step 9: Report any problem to one of the maintenance around for quick correction.
I see they have a strong appreciation of customer service here, very nice!
Note: Please this toilet is being maintained by human beings like you therefore, we require maximum discipline while using of this facility.
As any good teacher knows, sometimes you have to repeat your instructions. I’m glad they reiterated the need for maximum discipline, but I think they would really hammer it home if they put MAXIMUM DISCIPLINE in capital letters.
After all that, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to use the bathroom. Luckily, there was no room left on the page to list the consequences for misbehavior, otherwise I might have really been scared away.