File this under the category of strange but true. In September 2011, a fight over the use of porta potties at Candlestick Park led to a man being beaten unconscious at a football game between the University of California, Berkeley, and Fresno State University.
Sadly, that beating happened two weeks after a man was assaulted inside a stadium restroom at a preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. At the same game, two men were shot in the Candlestick parking lot. The 49ers-Raiders fracas prompted elevated security at Candlestick, including uniformed and plainclothes police officers patrolling stadium restrooms.
Those crimes have put the restrooms at The Stick in a harsh spotlight. Fortunately, the vast majority of trips to porta potties and restrooms at the stadium happen without incident. Still, there are things you can do to make the experience more pleasant for you as well as other tailgaters and fans.
The International Center for Bathroom Etiquette – yes, there is such an organization – recommends refraining from talking on your cellphone in a porta potty or public restroom. The center offers two reasons:
- “You aren’t going to be taking very long anyways, so there is absolutely no need to be talking on the phone.”
- “You are going to be taking a long time, and if that’s the case, whatever you are doing is gross enough that you really should not be talking on the phone to somebody while you are doing it.”
Here’s another piece of advice from the International Center for Bathroom Etiquette: Leave the seat down when you think a woman might use the toilet. That, of course, includes seats in porta potties. And for the guys, etiquette “also dictates you should not pee all over the seat,” the center says.
“Anything that effectively helps keep the seat clean may well be appreciated by women,” the center says, “and is probably fine to do.”
You might want to bring toilet paper, paper towels or baby wipes with you to clean up after you’ve done your business at a porta potty. And speaking of cleanliness, consider putting a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket to kill germs. Or use soap and water to wash your hands if you have access to a sink.
Some good news on the germ-fighting front at public restrooms: A 2010 study by the American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute found 89 percent of adults observed in public restrooms at San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market washed their hands. San Francisco tied with Chicago for the best hand-washing record; those two cities were ahead of Atlanta and New York City.
In the four-city study, researchers saw 85 percent of adults wash their hands in public restrooms, compared with 77 percent in 2007.
By the way, the 2010 observation in Atlanta occurred at Turner Field, home of baseball’s Atlanta Braves. There, just 65 percent of men were observed washing their hands in public restrooms. By contrast, 98 percent of women at Turner Field were seen washing their hands.
“Washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or more is a simple way to stay healthy,” Nancy Bock, senior vice president of the American Cleaning Institute said when the 2010 study was released. “And if you’re out and about, hand sanitizers or hand wipes are good alternatives for keeping your hands clean.”
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John Egan is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on Examiner.com.