Whenever I use public restrooms I notice my anxiety is heightened and not for the reasons you might think. I'm not a germaphobe and I don't care how many tushies have touched the seat, rather my issue is with other people hearing me while I go. I think we all feel this way to some degree and it can make the ladies room take a lot longer than originally intended. There are a few scenarios, the first being just pee. Two women are in separate stalls and both have to pee, yet for some reason neither one wants to be the first to start the stream. You both sit there waiting for the trickling to start from the adjacent stall and it is silent. It's not like pee is embarrassing, but somehow that silence is paralyzing and it makes it impossible to go. The best trick is to wait for someone to wash their hands, then start to pee as the water runs. This can be tricky because you need to have the ability to stop mid pee when the water shuts off (although I hear that is a good exercise to keep your bladder muscles strong). I can't speak for everyone else, but my reasoning is that I'm always afraid one of those trapped air farts is going to slip out once I start.
Farting in a public restroom for others to hear makes you a prisoner to the stall. You can't leave until everyone who heard the fart has washed up and left, so nobody can ever match a face to the noise. Even worse is when you are feeling gassy after your lunch burrito and you know you're going to have a lot stored up, so you have to sit there strategically releasing them one at a time as people leave the bathroom. This can go on and on.
Then there is diarrhea; the noises that that will create are not at all matched to the smell it creates. Once you are guilty of stinking up a public restroom there is no easy way out. I have often pulled a "Wow, smells bad in here... woof, I'm glad I only had to pee so I can get out of here fast", which is the equivalent of blaming a pet for your farts, everyone knows it was you. I will even admit publicly that I have skipped washing my hands in an emergency so I could make my escape and hide.
I don't understand though why this all plagues me so much, there are stalls for a reason; so people can't see you. But why then don't the stalls go all the way to the floor? The mere fact that others can distinguish me by my shoes is enough to make this whole experience intimidating. Maybe what I should do is bring a spare pair of shoes in my purse and change before I leave so I can not be identified... or maybe I'm over thinking this.
Several people I know claim that they avoid all this by never going number two in a public place. Well that's all well and good, but I am not lucky enough to be able to choose when I have to go. You're not better than me.