The End of Quiet Bathroom Time
June 14, 2001 — -- There are two weeks a year when no one will bother you, two weeks a year when you're alone with your thoughts. Those are the two weeks a year you spend in the bathroom.
The average American spends about an hour a day in the commode, according to a survey by the National Association for Continence. What does that mean if you add up your loo time over the course of a year? It's scary.
If you're a typical American with a typical job with typical benefits, you're spending as much time in the bathroom as you are on vacation — 14 days. Is it time to renegotiate your benefits package?
At that rate, if you reach the ripe old age of 80, you will have spent nearly three full years in the bathroom.
But maybe that's not such a bad thing. In an increasingly complicated, demanding world, the bathroom represents one of the last bastions of unfettered solitude. The warm, misty embrace of a morning shower may just as well be listed in the Constitution as an inalienable right.
Still, bathroom time is something we exclude from polite conversation. And that's just what the National Association for Continence was after when it surveyed more than 1,000 people between the ages of 30 and 70. It wanted to get people talking.
"It's a tragedy. People just won't tell their doctors when they have a problem with incontinence. They're so hesitant to say anything related to the bathroom," says NAC spokeswoman Kim Kelly-Bishop.
"More than 17 million Americans suffer from overactive bladders — it's more common that diabetes — but so many people are never treated because they won't talk about it."
And so thanks to the NAC, we now know more about how people spend those hours in their porcelain temples. Some trends: 33 percent of Americans admit they retreat to the bathroom to talk on the phone. Better than half say that's where they do their reading. And 47 percent say it's where they contemplate the future.
Of course, men will want to know what women want from a toilet — the battleground for many lovers. No surprises here: They want the seat down, the sink clean, the toilet flushed and the door closed.