I was listening to the radio and I heard the DJ having a conversation with another person about her son. Her son is in university and once in a while she visited him at his place. Apparently he lives off campus with some other guys, I think.
One time, when she visited him, she took a look at his washroom and it was very dirty, like it hasn’t been cleaned in months. At this point in the conversation, she said that’s a typical guy thing. Right? That’s normal, right?
At this point, I cringed and was a bit offended that she thought that was a “normal guy thing”. I couldn’t, in my good conscious, accept that as a normal guy thing. At the very least, it is an abnormal thing that has been normalized. But then again, I couldn’t blame her because I had a similar experience of my own.
Being a public speaker, I travel a lot and mainly to universities. There was this one university in Malaysia that I went to (not going to say which one in particular), I arrived early for my talk so the organizer asked me to chill at the male hostel.
Okay, cool. I don’t mind the male hostel. I have lived in one for a few years back when I was a student. This male hostel was pretty cool because it’s not a dorm-style place, it’s more like a 4-room apartment. It was spacious enough for 4 guys, but not too big. Just nice.
I came in and wanted to freshen up before the program begins. So I put my things down and I asked the guy who brought me to the apartment (he’s one of the guys who lived there) where the toilet was. He pointed me the way and I went in.
My initial intention was to relieve myself and to get a quick shower. It was a rather long journey and I want to feel fresh when giving the talk later on. But when I went in, it didn’t take long for my intention to be crushed into pieces.
The toilet was beyond dirty.
Words cannot describe the reality of how bad the condition of the toilet was. I thought public toilet was the worst, but then I met its match when I went inside that toilet. I had to snap a few photos with my phone in order for me to remember that moment; the moment when I have found the worst.
But it was not all doom and gloom. That toilet has motivated me. It has given me a glance into what it would look like if I don’t take care of the toilet in my own house. It has also given me a glance as to how far a human being can tolerate dirtiness. I was a bit shocked that the guys are okay with living in that condition.
A typical Malaysian toilet has a shower in it too, so you go in to relieve yourself and to take a shower. But how can I take a shower in that condition? I was in a philosophical dilemma: if I take a shower in this toilet, would I be cleaner or dirtier?
I couldn’t tolerate it. So I did the bare minimum and went straight out, with no intention of going in there ever again. Not until they have the sense knocked back into them to look after the place they use everyday. You can't clean yourself in a dirty place like that. No way.
When I went back to the guy’s room, I began to observe how he was. Surprisingly, he was a rather tidy person, when it comes to himself. Before he went out, he cleaned himself well, dressed well, and even put on perfume.
You can just imagine my confusion; what I saw in the guy was the exact opposite to what I saw in that toilet. If I saw this guy outside, I wouldn’t have thought that he would leave his toilet that dirty. That experience has led me to a rough conclusion: if you want to know the character of a man, look at how he is inside his home.
I went around universities talking about love and marriage. I went around talking highly about cultivating good characters before marriage. Up to that point, I kept talking about sophisticated things like knowing the rights and responsibilities in marriage, having emotional control, and creating a concrete plan about where you want the marriage to go.
This experience has taken me back a few steps. How can I talk about what I considered to be advance topics, if the basics is not settled yet? I can’t ask a person to run if he can’t even walk. If something as basic as cleanliness and personal hygiene don’t even pass the minimum level that our mothers would be proud of, how can we even begin to talk about marriage?
So from that point onwards, I will put more emphasis on this point: You want to get married? First, clean your toilet. How can a guy dream of taking care of a household, if he can’t even take care of a small toilet?
Seriously guys. We can’t allow ourselves to become the butt of a joke on the radio anymore.