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The Office Bathroom

Danika Brysha

(Originally published: October 28, 2010)

I have to bring to the surface something that is having a large and critical effect on my everyday life.  You may deal with this too in many situations.

Maybe it’s a silent hallway while visiting your therapist.  Maybe you’re visiting the in-laws and they made you share a bedroom with great Uncle Chad.  Maybe you met a nice chap at Drais’ Hollywood last night, proceeded to eat mashed potatoes covered in teriyaki when you were drunk, and woke up to a quaint studio apartment with one of those glass bathroom doors that show an elegant tan-ish silhouette of any bodily gesture you may make while in there…. Or maybe you work in my office.

Which brings me to the point.

The women’s restroom at my work is located down a long hall, just far enough from the quiet open-doored offices to wonder if they can hear what I had for lunch.  There are only two stalls, one sink, and usually about 3-7 cockroaches at a time.

Every time I exit, I look around to see if anyone is staring at me.  If not… all good.  I’ve always wondered what the people in the office right across from the bathrooms know about each co-worker’s bowels.  It’s almost as powerful as the woman who sits across from the office kitchen door and sees how many times you enter and exit, and the exact amount of time you spend in there “stocking the fridge”.

Regardless, I found that there are a few common trends amongst people and their office bathroom habits.  Now, keep in mind that the office bathroom is not extremely different from your average roommate bathroom, sorority bathroom, or Costco bathroom;  but I have found that it really takes the cake on evoking strategic basic human behaviors.

Here are a few of my favorite things about the office john...

-       Everyone loves a good cup-o-joe in the A.M. but not everyone plans for the office bathroom Coffee Rush.  It is that moment of the day, around 10:50am that everyone has finished their coffee and takes a little more notice of the amount of people at their desks and tries to put together a ratio of how many people could possibly be in the bathroom at that given time.  If it looks like a lot of people are present at their desks that gives you the go ahead to make your moves.  Best of luck this morning.  (Round 2 tends to happen around 1:35pm after lunch has digested)

-       Another favorite is when you walk into the bathroom and your boss follows right behind.  It is this weird hierarchy where you want to let her have the handicapped stall or something a little more significant but you also realize that you happen to be a human being of the same, if not better caliber.  It also is an opportunity to have one of the longest conversations you will ever be allowed to have with your boss and you’ll usually talk about what you ate that got you into this “unfamiliar” bathroom circumstance.  “What?  My boss goes to the bathroom too?  We’re not so different after all.”

-       One of the best office bathroom quotes I got last week while quietly sitting was a voice from the right stall:  “Are those Danika’s shoes?”…

Well yes, yes they are.  Was it the size 11 that gave it away?  This was followed by some information on why your bladder gets smaller after giving birth.  I don’t have kids.  I don’t even have a sex life.

- Now, my favorite thing is when you’ve come in, checked both stalls (you’re on your own, awesome) and just as you sit down, you hear the creak of the door.  Here’s where the quick thinking comes in.   You have one of two choices…

  1. Pretend you already went and fiddle with the toilet paper dispenser a little bit.  Pull up your pants, flush the toilet dramatically, and unlock the door with vigor.  Do a small “Heyyyyy” when you cross paths and be sure to wash your hands long enough to believe you used soap.  You don’t want to be that guy who doesn’t wash their hands, even if in reality that is precisely you.
  2. Dance your feet around a bit so that they are aware you are in there, kinda like a “heads up, don’t fully let loose cause I’m in here and will be the whole time you are”.  Follow this with sitting in absolute silence until they are finished.  DO NOT give away any tips as to who the mystery woman behind door A is.  (It also helps not to wear green converse or gold sequin stilettos that can be easily identified later while making copies)

-       And last but certainly not least:  The default/forced hand wash...

  • Scenario:  You clench your legs together and waddle to the bathroom after eating a little too much sour cream on that Chipotle Burrito Bowl.  You know things are about to get messy so you pretend you are in the American speed-walking championships.  You make it to the bano and low and behold… the god damn accountant from Suite 15C is lingering like she’s in a Jacuzzi tub.  You have no choice.   You further clench and head to the sink.  Pump the soap like a dry keg.  Splash around some water and check your teeth.  Pull out an environmentally unconscious amount of paper towels and be on your way.  You just needed to wash your hands anyways.

P.S.  We’re having Indian food for lunch today.  My Choice.