Achoo

If one is in a public or shared restroom at a urinal or in a stall and the person at the adjacent urinal or in the adjacent stall sneezes, is it appropriate to say "bless you" or "gesundheit" or another culturally appropriate post-sneeze statement? Is it appropriate to say nothing at all?

It’s cold season at the lab and the fact that I do not know the answers to these questions is becoming a source of stress.

14 thoughts on “Achoo”

  1. To everyone who has said no: why not? Does it hurt to say “bless you”?

    Well, it has religious overtones. I don’t particularly want to be blessed by you or anyone else, though it’s  bit vague.  Here in europe, land of the godless commies ;-), it borders on offensive to some people.

    The vagueness (guess you could be blessing me in the name of something I agree with, like tasty snacks) makes it less annoying than when people “Oh, that’s terrible, I’ll pray for you” in response to something, say you have a nasty cold – that’s even more annoying when a few days later, they say “ah, you got better, I see my prayers worked”. Well, they better have been praying to my kick-ass immune system and not their zombie vampire lord!

  2. > Well, it has religious overtones. I don’t particularly want to be blessed by you or anyone else, though it’s  bit vague.  Here in europe, land of the godless commies ;-), it borders on offensive to some people.

    Well I use it in the UK, although that is not really in Europe at all. But “bless you” can be substituted for a “culturally appropriate alternative”. Like, “ewwwwwwww”

  3. Although I don’t think it answers this specific question, the short film “yOORinal” would provide some guidance here.

  4. Guys don’t talk in the bathroom… unless you’re both at the sink. That’s a simple rule and particularly true at the urinal.

  5. Matt, that’s not a universal. Or so I understand from a male friend who specifically avoids entering any toilet facility which may contain a certain male colleague of his, because that certain colleague talks across stalls. And worse, he talks about work.

  6. I would have to say no and yes. If it is someone you know or have some acquaintance, then when you both know each other and both recognize who is in the next stall. Then it is appropriate. There are so many variables that this is not very likely common unless you both entered the room at the same time.

  7. Women have different norms, so this isn’t perhaps as useful, but no I don’t think you do this, or in any way acknowledge you can hear anything they’re doing unless you were having a conversation anyway. This last applies only to the subset of people who hold conversations between stalls: I don’t know exactly how one identifies these people.

    Women faced with urinals have enough worries without needing to add etiquette questions, so I can’t tell you in that situation.

  8. Emphatically yes! I always say bless you to people who sneeze, although the reaction varies: sometimes people on the train in the morning smile gratefully, othertimes they look surprised, othertimes they simply laugh in my face.

    I guess the answer is, would you like people to do the same to you, or be embarassed?

    It’s also important to develop a sarcastic “bless you” when people sneeze in your face and don’t put their hand over their mouths.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>