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Lessons from A Toilet!

I was making my way home from work yesterday. As it so often happens,  an hour earlier, I had forgotten that I was planning to leave early to avoid Olympics disruption and therefore needed to cut down on my water intake. As I arrived at Cannon Street Station I was keen to use a refreshing room. Looked for the appropriate signs and preceded.

Inside the toilets room it was deserted aside from a what appeared to be a man dressed in Olympics ushering gear. They are at every station now as under shepherds of Mayor Boris Johnson. My first impression of the toilet was it was strangely designed. No usual "standing only" areas, if you catch my drift. All toilets were cubicles. I proceeded to use one and being in a rush, my train was leaving in 7 minutes, was out within a minute. I headed for the sink - that proved tricky. The automatic taps were not automatic after all. Anyway, I finally managed to figure out how they work. I washed my hands.

But just as I was just washing, another cubicle opened, and there pops a woman! Dazed, I thought to myself what is wrong with this woman? What is she doing here? In a man's toilet! And she looked at me with a mixture of puzzle and fright! And then popped another woman from another cubicle. I then thought, could it be? Am I in the wrong toilet? I embarrassingly run out, and indeed as I looked outside, I was in the wrong bathroom!

Two lessons, I learnt.

Lesson 1:  The evidence is only as good as the observer.  The man I saw was not using the bathroom. He was inspecting. It turns out his presence was not actually helpful to my analysis. It falsely validated my prior wrong assumptions that I was on the right place.  I saw what I was expecting to see not what really was. But even when I saw what I was not expect (all cubicles) I could not pose because the man had already validated my prior assumptions.

Lesson 2: I have a tendency to always minimise my potential for error and maximise potential errors of others. My first reaction to seeing the woman there was that she was in the wrong and I was in the right! Until the evidence became overwhelming! It is human nature. We are all inherently poor judges of ourselves. That is why we need a Saviour!

Well, there's a third - the Olympic ushers need help! Surely it should have been a man checking the ladies toilets?! Or more worrying, perhaps he was just as lost as me?


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