Monday, May 08, 2006

Crying in the Bathroom

Can anyone tell me how they handle this situation?

You go into the bathroom, do your business, and hear someone in another stall crying. Do you say something or leave the person alone? I've found myself in this situation a couple of times. Tonight being one of them. In the past, others have been in the bathroom and asked the upset person if she needed anything, and the upset person said no. I didn't bother asking as well because it sounded like she just wanted to be left alone, but what about when you're the only one in the bathroom with the weeper? The weeper is in a stall. Do you tap on the door and ask or leave the person alone? I think I would ask if the person were all right if she were crying at the sinks, but being in the stall seems like a pretty clear indication that she wants to left alone, but is it?

So tell me what you think. I'm pretty unsure on this. I'm not a touchy feely person, and definitely wouldn't want a stranger comforting me when I'm upset, but I don't know if that's the norm or just me, and I wonder if the reason I feel like I should be compelled to help is because it's happening in the library and thus my domain. Am I supposed to deal with it? I know there's no official policy but what about unofficially? How would you handle it? And I'm not talking about wailing and shirt rending, but you know quiet sobs.

Leave a comment and tell me what you think.


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Blogger Happy Villain said...

I think if it happened in a bathroom at work, I would feel compelled to ask if she was okay or if there was maybe someone or something I could get for her. As a staff member, I would feel it was my duty. If I was somewhere else and heard it, I would respect the woman's privacy and tell a staff member when I was finished, let that person decide.

This is kind of like the situation where I encountered a male toddler singing and pooping in the women's washroom one day, without a parent anywhere nearby. What do you do? It's pretty fuzzy. Probably whatever you're most comfortable doing.

12:40 AM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger Spike said...


Having dealt with a couple of loo howlers in our teaching building I start with "Are you physically injured or need the police?" then, the answer being no, go on to "Are your friends in the library? and/or "If you're a student you can see a counsellor" and after another no I silently pass over a clean hankie and leave them to it.

Fortunatley I've never stumbled across a hapy though abandoned sprog.

12:58 AM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger MadameBoffin said...

I'd probably ask if he/she were okay. That way, the person knows at least one person in the world cares enough to ask, even if they don't want to talk about what's bothering them. And then you'll know you've done all you can.

5:11 AM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger Julie said...

You could also ask if they need anything, rather than trying to find out what's wrong. This will assure you that they're not bleeding, throwing up, or anything like that.

7:12 PM, May 09, 2006  
Anonymous kristy said...

I guess maybe I'm like you, but I don't think I would say anything. Behind a locked bathroom stall is clearly as absolutely as private a place as can be found in a public building, and retreating there would be a very clear message that the person wants to be left alone. I would be horrified if someone tried to engage me in a verbal exchange in that situation. Just my two cents.

1:34 AM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Spike said...

Yers, but a librarian also has to protect herself legally by being able to say she hasn't left a dazed and assaulted person to their own devices on the other side of a locked door.

It's a fine line between respecting the howler's privacy and fulfilling one's obligations as a human and librarian. It would also help if Library X had the nouse to write some clear fucking policy on such issues.

6:58 PM, May 11, 2006  
Blogger ebbye said...

I have gone to a public toilet to cry, because I felt devastated and helpless and seriously wanted to be left alone! But if there is someone crying in a bathroom, I would say are you okay? Just to acknowledge they are there and that you are there if they need something. But frankly it is the most private setting in a public place and with the door locked it means please just let me cry!

9:57 PM, May 11, 2006  
Blogger Master Peebody said...

I'd go and ask if they were ok no matter where they are. Some people don't know how to ask for help untill it's offered. If they want to just be alone, then i'll leave, at least i've asked and thats all i can do for them, but if they need some help, then you've taken that first step to help them.

1:46 AM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think u should bite her neck and suck her blood to put her out of her misery:) Thats the only logical solution for a vampire.

12:04 AM, May 31, 2006  

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