The Art of Peeing Sitting Down

It all starts in Germany

A few years ago I spent a few weeks working in Berlin. The work was through the consultancy owned by my friends Marion and Andrea. To keep costs low and to help make my stay in Berlin more enjoyable,  they offered me a room in their lovely apartment.

Marion is a beautiful human being and absolutely WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get – and she also speaks her mind. From the get go she declared that there shall be no peeing standing up. This applied to me and the other visiting consultants.

Her reasons were perfectly logical – you sprinkle when you tinkle and the wipe up can be a little hit and miss, so be a sweetie and sit down when you pee! It almost entirely eliminates the mess. Also reasonable because she has a cleaning lady come in a couple of times a week to clean the apartment and no one really needs to be wiping up other peoples’ pee.

A few jokes were made, but we all knew that she made sense and even if her directness was a little grazing, we would still be more mindful of her request. Now I don’t know how the other guests complied with her request or the need behind it – leave the bathroom clean and dry after your visit, but I actually tried to do what she suggested. I tried to sitting down to pee.

A history of being upright

For a guy who has spent 39 years peeing upright, this was  a fairly unnatural stance. I would guess I’m not alone in that sense. I’ve never been in a men’s bathroom that had the urinal area that was anything other than gross. Granted there are different degrees of gross, but gross nonetheless. There is always bits of hair, occasional dandruff and chewing gum in the urinal, legacy wee on the flow and the ever present danger of you peeing on your own shoes. And don’t forget the awkward avoidance of looking down when you are shoulder to shoulder with other men draining the camel.

Typically, going for a pee is a super fast job – in and out. There is no lingering by the urinals – unless there are other agendas afoot. You wouldn’t anyway – the stink is fairly overpowering.

Even peeing upright in the privacy of your own bathroom is fraught with risk – so much could go wrong. Toilet seats dampened and left up, lids not put down and the potential for puddles all make this a risky venture. Many a loving relationship has been strained by this recurring risk.

You might think that with so much opportunity to practice that there would be no problem. I have a theory about this – You only get good at what you deliberately try to get good at.

If I pee on average twice a day everyday for 39 years – that is 14244 days or  28,488 opportunities to practice. You would think that I would be an expert at peeing. But no,  I still get seats wet, the occasional drip on my shoes and certainly leave the seat/lid in the wrong configuration many many times. So if it’s not the lack of practice, then it must be about the lack of deliberate focus.

Time for something different

So with this in mind, I was determined to explore something different – to deliberately get better at peeing. I tried sitting down and over time the sense of weirdness disappeared. Not only that, but I also found there was no spillage and no puddle. It was all tinkle with no sprinkle. The toilet seat is left down and it is clean and dry for the next occupant. The residual hair dropping was also greatly reduced. I never had a dandruff problem so no view on that.

What amazed me more was the opportunity to take a break. Sit down, take a load off and enjoy the experience. At least twice a day, you get a moment to yourself. It takes marginally longer than an upright pee but you get so much more. Peeing upright does not really afford you that opportunity, you’re on your feet, you got places to go and people to see. You might wash your hands or not and often if you do, do you really wash them well enough?

I found myself consistently more relaxed and remembering to wash my hands more often and more deeply than when I was an upright urinator. (ok that is not a real word).
For all the benefits I mentioned, there is still one bit that I am not yet entirely consistent at doing – putting the lid down. But with time and deliberate focus, I expect that will happen to0.


I have to say a huge thank you to Marion for that suggestion two years ago – I know we joked about it, but it really worked for me! Olaf, my male German friend says that men peeing sitting down is far more common in Germany that anywhere else he had been. I don’t have experience of that either way.

So fellas if you are looking for something that will help you be more hygienic, delight the ladies you share your lavatories with,  give you back a few serene minutes of your day and leave you with dry shoes then consider peeing sitting down. You might thank me!

Featured Image By: Tony AlterCC BY 2.0

July 8 – Working hard, differently



My last post was about 2 weeks ago and you might have wondered where I disappeared to. Well, I’ll tell you.

I was feeling very disheartened about the lack of traction with ServiceChat. So I took some time away from ServiceChat – maintaining focus when you are down is hard, but it is precisely when you need it the most.  This time was to try and get some perspective.

This time off  was mostly spent building this and exploring alliances with leading customer service evangelists like Ian Golding and Flavio Martins (both of whom are graciously offered to write about bizbuzz and ServiceChat).

So here is my check in:

  • Glad I took some time out to think about whether ServiceChat is still what I should be doing. Right now, it is.
  • Glad I built Twumps as outlet for my disheartenment, it was fun and completely different.
  • Glad that I am discovering passionate people in the customer services/experience space.
  • Glad that my spanish one-to-one conversations are getting better and I am also being useful to my partner in his journey to learn english.
  • Glad an option to replenish my funding is getting stronger by the day.
  • Mad I have such a reaction to insect bites that has laid me low for today.
  • I’m grateful for the universe that conspires to help me be successful.

I’m  in.

Improve On…

Keeping carbs out of my diet – especially the ones covered in sugar.


Write this blog.

Start an insights blog post

Do some duolingo -I’m getting pretty consistent with this.


The Trello board…(more or less unchanged)



Giving up is the last thing you want to do.

June 20 – Mikey's back!

The last 13 days

Q: Does a daily blog have to be done every day?
A: Not when it’s @mhsutton’s blog – obviously.

So much has happened in the last 13 days, I don’t really know where to start. I’ve been away because I’ve been a little discouraged with the progress of ServiceChat (no, I haven’t been in rehab – just nose down trying to move it forward!) – So I took a break from writing and the routine, to focus 100% of my time on completing my customer discovery experiments. It was an ineffective move, what may have been more useful might have been to talk to my @saintsal sooner and continue with my routine but with differently prioritised work.  Most things suffered in this hiatus – I ended up being able to do less pushups for example!

So here is my check in:

  • Glad that I spoke with @saintsal – who very kindly listened to my challenges and offered his honest appraisal based on what I communicated. Sal was gracious but honest – I have been coding an awful lot with real focus on business building and validation. I knew this, but it was hard to accept from myself.
  • Glad that my funding strategy is sorted. I’m taking a consulting gig in August that will help me fund the next 7 months from 6 weeks work. Ha, the joys of living a lean life.
  • Sad that whilst I’m doing the language study, the practical experience is not really happening. I feel less capable of speaking Spanish now than I did in January!
  • Glad that my intercambio is starting on Monday – an hour talking in Spanish, hopefully twice a week.
  • Sad to hear of the sudden death of James Gandolfini – who played Tony Soprano on the Sopranos. That show was a large part of my rehabilitation during my divorce.
  • Sad/mad that my collaboration with FounderSync fizzled out after one blog, it was actually none existent. A thoroughly poor set up. Chalk it up to experience, I guess.
  • Glad I got to talk with @scottcrowther about ServiceChat and he was lovely and kind enough to share more than 20 ideas for improvement and growth with me (including moving back to the midlands!)
  • Glad I feel more engaged and more present.
  • I’m grateful for saints who pop up with truth and grace.

I’m good and getting better. The future is less dark and almost entirely my own making. I’m  in.

Improve On…

Blogging consistently – this and other non-coding things are the highest priority items I have to do now. I basically need to drum up interest in what ServiceChat does. BizBuzz was part of that effort and now that I have gifted it to the public to search , I would like to see more interest in how businesses engage their customers on Twitter.


Start my ‘insights’ series on the ServiceChat blog – where I share what the data from bizbuzz is telling me (and has told me).  The first is a summary description of the types of support behaviours I have observed and I’ll try and evangelise with best groups for the topic on LinkedIn.
Reach out to Huffington post and explore how to become a huffblogger.
Reach out to my top 5 ideal customers and get a dialogue going about using ServiceChat
Blog, blog, blog.


The Trello board…



Seek beyond what you know. It is dangerous. Most things worth anything are.

People Are Mostly Good (or How I lost My Keys, Shat a Brick and Was Saved By The Kindness of a Stranger)

I recently had an experience that reminded me that people are mostly good. In fact, good people (i.e. people who do good things, often instinctively)  are everywhere.

I hope this helps remind you too.

Warning: This account involves mild to moderate panic, spontaneous anger, latent aggression and scheming that would put Wile. E. Coyote to shame.  Enjoy.

Life is Not a Walk in the Park

It was a lovely West of Ireland day (which basically means ‘sunny with an ever-present threat of lashing winds and rain’) and my family and I decided to take a walk on the Salthill promenade, via a little play park  – so we could exhaust the boys on the kids play things.

Somewhere on this walk, the seeds of my frustrating night were sown. I must admit, I was a grumpy old man on this walk – as though I knew of the impending doom!

After about 90 minutes of hanging out with my family and with the weather turning unfriendly, we headed back to the car park to head home for some dinner.

The Keys! The KEYS! Where the hell are the Keys?

I reached into my jacket for the familiar feel of my car keys, but alas, there was nothing but pocket liner and a used tissue! ‘Don’t panic Michael’ – wailed my inner voice (full of panic).
The future unfolded in my mind  like a horror movie that I was forced to watch.

As everyone does in this situation, I searched every pocket and even ones I thought I had – NOTHING!  I searched again and again, as though the keys were playing an impromptu game of hide and seek with me.  Not a trace, nada!

My facilitator mind kicked in.  I grumped to the lovely Katharine that I lost the keys and that I needed to retrace my steps. She needed to look after the boys so I didn’t have to worry about them.

Katharine: ‘Are you sure, have you checked your pockets’
Me: [Angry, very angry] ‘Of course I’m sure, I’m not some kind of nincompoop’ (aside from losing keys, of course).  

I set off retracing our steps (which thankfully were not many and the light was still good). No sign of the bloody keys.

What started out as mild panic turned into a potential diplomatic incident (I am a Brit in Ireland after all).  We called the Garda (the cops, the fuzz, the old bill) to let know them that we had lost keys and please could they call us if anyone handed them in. Then we headed off to a café to contemplate the consequences and figure out our options over a latte and a panini (must we starve as well as panic?).

The Bogeyman Has The Keys and Will Soon Have Your Car and your Life.

People are mostly good, I believe that almost wholeheartedly – I have experienced enough of the goodness of people to know.
I say ‘almost wholeheartedly’ because when faced with this situation, I chose to believe that some nameless, faceless mastermind criminal had found the keys, knew that my car was parked in this specific car park and clearly intended to come back later to steal it.

Katharine and I went over the options.
This was a rental – so the most I would lose would be the insurance excess – aside from the bloody inconvenience of making claims , revoking cards (Katharine’s handbag was in the car also) and the like, this was acceptable. I could get replacement keys on Monday (today was Saturday), so the singular issue was how to secure the car and prevent the evil Criminal Mastermind from pinching it.

Forget the limited financial loss, I was shitting a brick that the Criminal Mastermind would win the day. I visualised how he would vandalise my car, violating my space. Whatever options I had, I had to stop this from happening.

Good People Make Your Problem Their Problem

One of the first things I did was call the rental company (Avis in Shannon). A very nice guy – Patrick –  answered and I explained the situation to him. He thought about it and , I’ll remember this for a long time, he said “Our options for this problem are…”.  The inclusiveness of himself in my problem was heartwarming. He immediately made me feel less alone.  He could have given me the company policy of “You are liable [blah blah blah]”. But he didn’t.

Patrick was magnificent. He called locksmiths on my behalf, spoke with the car recovery company and basically sprung to action on my behalf.

Good People Think About You and With You

Of course, my house keys were also unavailable (I had locked them in the car too!), so the challenge of how might we get back into the house was a real one.  We called our landlady to get her parents’ number – so we could get a spare from them (because she lives in a different town to us).  We explained the situation and she was so empathetic.  As it turned out, she was in town and offered to come pick us up with the spare key . We agreed to be picked up 45 minutes later (it was during this time we had our light , hasty supper).

Our lovely landlady – Emer, newly wedded ( no kids,  very hip chick) – shows up in a family sized car with 2 child seats!!   In the time it took to come into town, she had somehow commandeered a car with child seats so that my children could travel home safely.  I was lost for words, Katharine was speechless (a rare treat!). Our love for Ireland just got upgraded!

Good People Don’t Seek Recognition

I’ll save you the detail but here is what I tried/considered to secure the car in the car park…

  • Hire a clamp and clamp a wheel till Monday
    Didn’t happen, couldn’t figure out where to rent a clamp (might be a business opportunity to explore though)
  • Hire a tow truck and tow the car home (spent a good deal of time on this with a tow truck guy)
    Didn’t work because the car park has a height barrier that prevented the tow truck from coming into the park.
  • Sleep in the car park overnight and keep watch over my car
    Are you kidding me!?
  • Immobilise the car by letting the air out of two of the tyres – late breaking idea from my neighbour!

Finally, as I was about to leave home to let the air out of the two of the tyres, the phone rang.  It was the Gardai.

Garda: Mike Sutton?  I have some good news for you.

Me: Oh wonderful, someone found the keys?

Garda: Yes, Fella just walked in and handed them in.

Me: Fantastic, what was his name, I would love to thank him, maybe buy him a pint.

Garda: Oh, he didn’t leave his name. Just walked in.


All’s Well Ends Well

I have never really understood what this actually means. All wasn’t well , even if it did end well!

However, this experience led me to reflect on how I came to not expect that people would be good, by default.
How did I conjure up this Bogeyman (aka Criminal Mastermind)?  Why did I choose to indulge in the fantasy that , despite my experience to the contrary, he would triumph and had to be stopped.

It also got my inventive juices flowing. I imagined a device that you could put on a keyring and never had to again suffer the indignity of not finding lost keys. These guys beat me to it.