An Open Letter to the (White) Men in Airport Restrooms Who Refuse to Wash Their Hands

Illustration for article titled An Open Letter to the (White) Men in Airport Restrooms Who Refuse to Wash Their Hands
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Hey Thad. It is Thad, right? How did I know that was your name? Lucky guess, I guess. Anyway, I know you’re in a rush. We’re in Gate A and your flight to Austin boards in 22 minutes from Gate E, and Charlotte Douglas International Airport is arbitrarily and unnecessarily massive, so I’ll keep this short.


Also, that bag you have is pretty damn fly. It’s a TUMI, right? I’ve been thinking about getting one of those, but that thought always comes while I’m already in the airport, and buying an empty bag just to lug it with the rest of your bags feels reductive. Plus I’ve been trying to pack as lightly as possible. It’s almost like a game to me now, to see how... Shit, my bad; I forgot you were in a rush.

Anyway, Thad, my man. I know that the whole “artificial kamikaze” thing is an essential aspect of white American maleness. Life itself doesn’t give you enough thrills, so you have to fabricate them to feel alive. This is why you invented things like “cliff diving,” and “flying Spirit,” and I get it! The problem is that I don’t share that sensibility—which usually isn’t a problem at all. You get your jollies while bungee jumping and I get mine when applying for bank loans.

But it becomes an issue when your affinity for carelessness affects my life, which is why I need you to start washing your fucking hands in the restroom. I don’t care if you don’t care about the germ Mardi Gras happening in every airport and on your hands right now, but when you take a 10-minute dump and just leave without as much as a splash of soap grazing a thumb, we have a shared problem. And that problem is you.

Thad, you know I hate to make this a race thing. I really do! I’ll even allow that most white men do at least a bare-minimum handwashing. It’s just that the men who don’t wash at all, with no exceptions, are always white. Always. And I know that we (black men) aren’t perfect. I mean Tupac’s been dead for 25 years, and we’re still pretending to enjoy Hennessy. (Someone, make us stop!) Also, you’re apparently supposed to wash your hands long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. And, well, sometimes the most you get out of me is the chorus to “Marvins Room.” We’re all in that same big room! What room, you ask? The room for improvement.

Anyway, I know you gotta run, so I’ll let you go. But just promise me that you’ll consider some soap, some water, and some friction. Not asking you to vote for it or take it home with you. Just consider it. For me.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



Also women: use the toilet seat covers and stop trying to squat. You get pee EVERYWHERE! You do not have the thigh strength of Beyonce! And even if Bey found herself in an average airport bathroom like the rest of us she would use a fucking seat cover because she’s not nasty!