There are three things that are fundamental to human nature that are relevant to the Urinator’s Dilemma, and so I will discuss them briefly here:

1. We have an attraction to the number three. (The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost)(Lary, Curly, and Moe)(Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Bread)(Planes, Trains, and Automobiles)(Every Trilogy Ever).

2. We are attracted to symmetry. For example, facial symmetry is often considered one of the most important aspects of attractiveness. The Taj Mahal, considered one of the most beautiful structures ever made, has four-fold bilateral symmetry.

3. We have a need for privacy when we eliminate bodily waste. Now here I will conceed that not all cultures on earth feel the same amount of pressure to seek privacy when doing so, but in the West, it is customary to, when urinating, seek to be as far away as possible from others who are also urinating.
So above I have made three claims about human nature that, by themselves, seem perfectly agreeable, when applied generally. But tension between humans often arises in situations where they are forced to betray their nature. The Urinator’s Dilemma is one such situation.

Commonly, the allure of the number three calls to architects, plumbers, and designers when they are faced with the question: “How many urinals should we put in the mens’ restroom?”
Most of the time, in offices or schools, the answer is three.

So imagine a man, who is by himself, decides he needs to use a urinal. He walks into an empty bathroom, and is faced with three choices: left, middle, or right.

Seemingly without fail, his attraction to symmetry draws him to the middle urinal. The left one might be closer to the door, so he has to take a few extra steps to get to the middle one. The one on the right is further from the door, and affords more privacy. Both are more rational choices, but, alas, he chooses the middle one.

So before the first man is done doing what it is he came there to do, a second man enters the bathroom. He finds two unoccupied urinals, each one right next to a urinating stranger. The first man has robbed the second man of potential privacy, and in the name of symmetry, has lost some privacy himself.

One of the most profoundly arrogant things you can do is rob another, equal, human being of the freedom of choice and privacy. So when you walk into an empty bathroom and have the choice of three urinals, don’t be an arrogant dick. Choose the one to the left or to the right.

Never take the middle one.

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