The office bathroom is a curious place to me. It’s an extremely private place, which means it’s excellent for getting to know your coworkers better than you really want. There are several different types of bathroom personas, and when one works for a company 40+ hours every week, one gets to know pretty quickly which coworkers are which.
1. The Chatter: the person who will talk to you while you’re both peeing
2. The Bashful Bladder: the person who occupies a stall and then waits for you to exit the bathroom before performing any sort of bodily function
3. The Diffuser: the person you happen to see in the bathroom all the time who always makes uncomfortable jokes about being “on the same schedule”
4. The Germaphobe: the person who uses those paper toilet seat covers
5. The Reason You Open The Bathroom Door With A Paper Towel: the person who doesn’t wash her hands (or worse, only runs her hands under water for a few seconds) (I can say “her” here without being exclusionary because I have yet to venture into a men’s bathroom.)
6. The Down-To-Businesser: the person who ignores you completely
7. The John Cage: the person who always flushes the toilet before using it
After almost a year at this job, I know exactly which coworkers are which. I also know the intricacies of the physical plant as well as any other facet of my job. Below are my findings.
Figure 1 is a rough blueprint of our bathroom at work (drawn by me, who has zero spatial reasoning, so bear with me, here).
Stall A: Everyone’s preferred stall due to proximity to the door. Because of this, the toilet seat has become loose in recent weeks. When you sit down on this trick seat, it slides off to either side of the bowl, adding an element of surprise to even the most routine bodily function. However, this is also the preferred stall of the office bulimic, so one must avoid this stall after lunch at all costs, unless one is fond of being smacked in the face with the scent of one’s coworker’s stomach acid as well as occasional choice remains on the toilet seat.
Stall B: Second most preferred stall because of proximity to first stall and also lack of coworker’s stomach acid/remains. This stall is ALWAYS occupied.
Stall C: The stall no one cares about, which means it is probably the preferred stall of savvy Germaphobes (see above).
Stall D: The handicap stall. This is the stall farthest away from the door, which makes this the choice stall for doing dirty deeds. Accordingly, the toilet in this stall is always clogged and disgusting. Also: a worse kind of smell than Stall A. Avoid.
The main stall conundrum I deal with is when I enter the bathroom and Stall B is occupied, leaving me with the choice of either Stall A or Stall C. Neither of these is acceptable, as everyone knows that bathroom etiquette demands a buffer stall between bathroom goers. Which leaves Stall D, right? However, since I could probably be categorized as more of an anxious bathroom type who also has an extremely sensitive gag reflex, I don’t want to risk a clogged toilet and/or other unsightly things that might be lurking in Stall D, so I usually make a rash decision and head right for Stall A due to proximity. Therefore, I often end up having to squat while holding my breath and peeing all at the same time, which any girl who has frequented a bar before will know is no small feat. The obvious correct choice is Stall C, but I have yet to make the correct decision in this situation.
Sink 1: The sink everyone uses due to its proximity to the paper towel holder, and is, therefore, always out of soap.
Sink 2: The sink I use when I remember that Sink 1 is out of soap. Otherwise, I start the water at Sink 1 and reach over and steal the soap at Sink 2.
Sink 3: I have never seen anyone use this sink in my year at this company.
A common sink conundrum I face is whether to reach over and steal the soap at Sink 2 when Sink 2 is occupied. My choices are to either a. stand there stupidly with my hands under running water until coworker finishes or b. ask coworker for permission to steal soap, which is awkward, since it gives the coworker the opportunity to say “no,” and then what would I do? Also, it implies ownership of the soap, and no one really wants to take ownership of such a thing. Awkward possibilities aside, I usually opt for b., as it gives me the opportunity to smile at coworkers, which is a good thing, since I want them to like me.
Readers of this blog are also acquainted with the mirror in the bathroom, as it is where I took the picture of my reddish hair in the previous post. It is my studio for all of my self-picture-taking needs during the workday, bad lighting that makes me look like I have deep shadows under my eyes notwithstanding.
I have yet to be caught taking pictures of myself in the bathroom at work, but I know that I’m living on borrowed time here. It took me a while to get the right picture of my hair last week, and I heard a coworker’s footsteps just in time to lower the phone and pretend I was just hanging out in the bathroom texting. Which is bad, but not nearly as bad as taking pictures of myself in the bathroom.
In all, the bathroom at work is weird, and I’ve spent way too much time on this post and now must do actual work. The end.