Please Wait Until Restroom Is Unoccupied To Use Microwave. Don't Ask…

With this homespun sign, Shapiro Hardware in SoHo New York politely asks that you please wait until the restroom is unoccupied before using the microwave. Huh? A commenter on the Copyranter blog where we found this notes that he used to work in a jewelry store where the electrical box was installed in the bathroom. “we got shocked when we washed our hands.” says Anonymous, “25 year old owner’s son didn’t care. I hope his balls fry some day. There are many small businesses like this I bet.”


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  1. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:


  2. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    Actually, Microwaves scare me, in general. I do not own one, and try not to use them whenever possible…

  3. theblackdog says:

    What if it’s one of the rude clerks in the bathroom, are all bets off then? ;-)

  4. shocker says:

    Could be that the microwave and bathroom light/exhaust fan are on the same circuit breaker, and running them all at the same time overloads it.

    Don’t ask me how this explanation seems easy to me.

  5. catnapped says:

    One has to wonder how they arrived at this discovery. Did a shopper or employee have to leave the store via body bag?

  6. coan_net says:

    Hum…… I think I might post a similar sign at my company break room microwave – should be funny as people try to figure out why it is there.

  7. Traveshamockery says:

    @Dooley: My grandmother says that microwaved food hurts her teeth. She can tell when she sends something back to the kitchen to be warmed up at a restaurant, and they stick it in the microwave.

    Of course, she also claims the different colored M+Ms are different flavored…

  8. The Porkchop Express says:

    The “Don’t ask” part looks added.

    The possibility of overused breakers is very possible. It could also be some weird sign that one of the clerks thought would be funny to make.

  9. NightSteel says:

    If they get shocked when washing their hands, I’d guess that the microwave is somehow grounded to the plumbing.

  10. satoru says:

    Probably what’s happening is that the wiring for the microwave is somehow shorting out onto the piping to the washroom.

  11. BugMeNot2 says:


    Scary thing is, that was my first thought. I’ve worked places where the setup was similar.

    And growing up, for some reason the circuit for the bathroom and the circuit for my bedroom were on the same breaker, so I couldn’t use electronics in my room if someone was in the bathroom with the light and exhaust fan on, and definitely not if mom was using a hair dryer.

    Of course, we also had baseboard heaters, and the control in my bedroom controlled the baseboard in the bathroom. Brother and I used to fight because he’d turn it way up to get the bathroom toasty during the winter, which of course got my room unbearable.

  12. smitty1123 says:

    @Lo-Pan: It is. The bigger picture in the source link [] clearly looks like it was written with a different marker. Still a weird sign though.

  13. weakdome says:

    The ominous skull-and-crossbones seems to indicate that one of the willing (or unwilling) participants in such an event would actually DIE from the process. I can only imagine.

  14. Bay State Darren says:

    And this is in a hardware store, huh? Where a person or persons employed there or owners are supposed know about fixing things related to plumbing and wiring…

    I don’t think it helps them look good.

  15. The Porkchop Express says:

    @InfiniTrent: You love your grandmother don’t you. I love older people when they make odd claims.

    My question is, does she ever send something back that doesn’t end up in the microwave? and: Have you tested this by giving her microwaved food secretly? it’s ok to answer, we won’t judge. Well, I won’t.

  16. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    no no, it does seem easy. If its an old building. My house if 50 years old. The whole kitchen is on one low amp circuit. If you run the microwave, toaster oven and washing machine at the same time it kills it. Or microwave, toaster oven dish washer and then fridge kicks on… same thing.

    My bros house is ~50 years old also. Just completely re-wired a few years ago. They cut a wire in the living room… knocked out the garage, kitchen, hall and bathroom. He has a 3 bedroom house that had about 4 circuits total. Now each room is on its on cuircuit. .

  17. Traveshamockery says:

    @Lo-Pan: I’m afraid to test her – we think she’s a mob boss.

  18. The Porkchop Express says:

    @InfiniTrent: Now I love your granny!!

  19. trujunglist says:

    To those that believe it’s just an overloaded circuit breaker problem:

    Why is there a skull and crossbones on the sign?

  20. ColdBloodedBMC says:

    @Dooley: I am just getting to the point where I forgo the microwave as much as possible. At work I have no choice but to use one, so I try to eat cold food as much as possible.

  21. BugMeNot2 says:


    Apparently, you’ve not been in the bathroom after some of the people I have. There should ba skull and crossbones even if the exhaust fan is working in some cases, but definitely if it’s not (such as due to a blown breaker.)

    In all seriousness, it was probably added after the fact by someone who thought the sign was humorously ominous and could use some sprucing up.

  22. snoop-blog says:

    the microwave really re-circulates air from the shitter, so it’s really in your best interest if it’s your lunch in there.

  23. bohemian says:

    We used to rent and older house. You would get a shock if you washed your hands in the bathroom sink about half the time. We never figured out what was turned on or off to cause it. Who knows, the place also had a problem of rain water running into the electrical box during storms.

  24. AD8BC says:

    Don’t whiz on the electric fence…

  25. esthermofet says:

    @NightSteel: Or that the plumbing isn’t grounded properly (if at all).

  26. trotskysghost says:

    Well first off, if the electrical panel for the building is located in the bathroom, that is a violation of section 240.24.E of the 2005 National Electrical Code that forbids the location of primary overcurrent devices from being located in bathrooms. Now this may have been done before this provision was added to the code, but if any substantial remodeling were done, you’d have to relocate the panel.

    Second, as an electrical engineer for construction projects, I’d hazard a guess that if one runs the microwave at the same time as the combination bathroom light/ fan is running, it trips the breaker, making for a very dark bathroom. If I were left in a pitch black bathroom on the toilet, I too would be angry enough at who ever tripped the breaker to warrant a skull and cross bones as a warning icon.

    On a total side note, with the increasing frequency of occupancy sensors being used for commercial facility bathrooms, be sure that the sensors can detect motion in the stalls or that the timer is set to at least half an hour. I knew someone who fell asleep drunk on the toilet in a quiet bar that had a sensor on the light and when they woke up they momentarily thought they were blind until their motion turned the lights back on.

  27. lincolnparadox says:

    First, tell the boss that it’s a hazard. Let him/her know about the sign and the fact that their son shocked somebody in the bathroom, despite the sign. See if they fix it. Granted, fixing it might mean removal of the microwave, but safe is safe.

    If the boss doesn’t do anything after 7 days, write OSHA:


  28. B says:

    @trotskysghost: Heh, that used to happen to my dad when he was reading the paper while sitting on the john at his work place. Hmmm, that’s kind of an embarrassing story for him.

  29. JustinAche says:

    At my old office, the circuit for the kitchen (and copier!) were all tied together…if I was making lunch, and someone had a large print job, bam…because it’s not like we can unplug the fridge every time someone gets an important email…

    The best thing? The circuit box was in my bosses office…which he locked…often. That was always fun

  30. Ragman says:

    The fact that it’s shorting to the plumbing in the bathroom is the problem, not someone ignoring the sign. Sounds like the microwave is shorting to the safety ground, which is probably wired to the plumbing, and the plumbing isn’t grounded. Otherwise, you’d have a breaker trip.

    Two parts to the solution: get a new microwave and have a competent electrician inspect the wiring.

  31. girly says:

    Wow, if a building inspector needs a sign of trouble this would be it!

  32. azntg says:

    @girly: The Building Inspector would have to close down at least a third of NYC. Lots of old buildings with old electrical wirings here. Heck, I’m not too sure of some of the newer buildings either for that matter.

  33. jarchie219 says:

    Could this be caused by replacing a piece of metal pipe with modern plastic?

  34. pfeng says:

    @InfiniTrent: I think we have the same crazy grandmas XD

  35. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @Dooley: “Actually, Microwaves scare me, in general. I do not own one, and try not to use them whenever possible… “

    And I bet you have a nice wireless router in your house, don’t you?

  36. KogeLiz says:

    @Dooley: and no wireless internet or a cellphone, i imagine. and never an ultrasound or x-ray.

  37. FLConsumer says:

    @aaron8301: Don’t forget about the nice, steady 60Hz radiation from all of the power lines in your house as well. And radiation from the cordless phone, and cell phone, the cell towers around you, the 100kW-316kW+ radio/TV transmitters in the area as well… oh yeah, and let’s not forget the largest source of RF/Light radiation — the sun. Hope you never use/see/are exposed to that.

  38. sam1am says:

    Whatever the problem is, wouldn’t they fail to pass an inspection?? Like, if they are endangering the health of their customers maybe someone should – I don’t know – call the city?

  39. yesteryear says:

    i’m just impressed that the sign bears no spelling errors.

  40. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    son of 25 year old owner?
    or owner’s 25 year old son?

  41. almk says:

    Microwaves draw a good bit of current. Our last apartment was similar to what socalrob described. The ENTIRE apartment was on two circuits, one for the kitchen and bathroom, and one for the living room, office, and bedroom. My geeky husband and I moved in with our 4 computers, TV, microwave, vacuum cleaner, and window unit and eventually had the breaker going off 4 times a day. We decided to move out when the circuit breakers started *melting*.