Men's room organization

Ladies, you don't have to deal with this, and it isn't really a big deal anyway, but all men are familiar with the men's room problem: there will be three urinals in a row without dividers, and when you go in some schmuck is standing in the middle.* No matter which way you go, you're almost rubbing elbows while you pee. There's a variant: there are three in a row, but on one of the ends is the lower urinal. Once a guy thinks about avoiding the low one he'll often go all the way to the other side, leaving you, the second guy to enter, to choose between having somebody right next to you or going in the kids' urinal.

I don't know why I've never seen the solution to this that I saw today: there were three urinals in a row, but the one in the middle was lowered. If you walk into men's room and it's empty, you still take a side.

*To be fair, if you have reason to believe that no one else is going to come in it's nice to have the room, and sometimes you calculate wrong.

Technical appendix

The order of preference—which only holds when choices are available—is:

  1. having wide open space on either side of you, and having a grown-up urinal (only-man-in-room scenario)
  2. having one side wide open (other side wall) with grown-up urinal
  3. it depends on the person: kid-size urinal, one side open, one side wall OR grown-up urinal, guy on one side, open space on the other
  4. the option not chosen in 3

Grown-up urinal is always preferable to kid-size urinal in the same position, and if there's only one open you just take it. Some guys will head for a stall if they can, but we're ignoring that here.  You'll notice there's no option for two sides open, kid-size urinal, because it almost never happens. As I said, today was the first time I've seen that option. As I said above, most men would take a side.

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Public restrooms are an

Public restrooms are an example of the Tragedy of the Commons. Avoid them.

Public restrooms are an

Public restrooms are an example of the Tragedy of the Commons

Oh, so you steal the toilet paper too?

Two kinds of public

Movie theater restrooms have a row of urinals hence relevant to current blog entry but are privately owned and, often, reasonably well kept. Restrooms that are owned by a city government are, often, very poorly kept and quite disgusting. The latter are "public" in a sense different from movie theater bathrooms.

Another thing that recently

Another thing that recently occured to me: most urinals have these small screens between them. But i dont get what it is about another guys shoes that people would want obscured. I mean, you can see those anywhere: is a shoe in a restroom any different than one outside of it?

Youd say your sense of privacy would be much better served by having, say, eachothers private parts somewhat less in eachother faces. All it would take is attaching those screens a feet or so higher, but this heretical thought never seems to have entered the mind of any interior designer, or whomever makes those decisions. Guess what, if you really have a lot of money to burn, you could even slap on two feet more of plywood so that i do not even need to see the face of the guy next to me. But im probably going too fast here, one thing at a time...

Splash guards

Sure, the dividers are probably there to avoid comparative studies, but another possible reason for the barrier is as a splash guard. This might dictate different dimensions from a peep guard, and the actual barrier might be some cross between the two.

All the answers are on You Tube

The ultimate source on male bathroom etiquette is here: (largely safe for work)

Another approach

At one shopping plaza that I've visited, this problem was addressed by having stone barriers between the urinals. Instead of the flimsy half-inch-thick metal dividers that don't reach to the floor, these dividers were about eight inches thick, went all the way to the floor, and extended out an extra foot or so from the wall. It was like having a semi-private bathroom.
At the opposite end, I once visited a restroom where the stall doors had circular holes in them, about four inches in diameter, placed around chest height.