Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"Give Me Some Privacy": Things Not to Do in the Workplace Bathroom

Finally. The post you’ve all been waiting for.

But first. A warning for the sensitive reader. See below.*

And now.

Allow me to explain a few things. At home, some activities in the bathroom are completely acceptable. That’s why we put the toilet and the shower in the same room. My contention is that the rules at home don’t apply at work. Am I right, or am I right? If I'm right, then by all means, read on. If I'm not, by all means, stop reading.

So I’ve compiled a short list of things I’ve noticed happening that break the unwritten, social rules of public bathroom use:

1. Make-up application**

Now, I don’t wear make-up. Generally. There was a brief stint of insanity during my 18th year which extended to my 22nd year. But I grew out of it when I realized the futility of putting on base, blush, mascara, lipstick, eyeliner and etc. Every single day. Just wasn’t worth the time and effort. So I stopped. In my defense, the company I kept heavily influenced me. It was this boyfriend I had. Anyway. It was stupid.

Years after him I looked in the mirror and realized I’m beautiful without it. How valuable is that? To be able to say, “Hell, I don’t need it.” Not that my self-esteem is based on whether a man wants me or not, but I’m still desired by men and without any make-up EVER (see How Stoker Proposed). The point of this is that I don’t have it in me to empathize with the girls and their spread of make-up on the bathroom counter. Get up earlier to put it on, or just forget about it. OR, you could even take a mirror with you to your desk, so that I can eliminate my bowels in peace, and if not by myself, at least with other women who are also eliminating their bowels (and would most likely prefer to do it in peace, but simply don’t have the courage to post a blog entry about it. Or don't even know what a blog is).

2. Teeth brushing

Again, there are things we do at home, in our bathrooms, that we probably shouldn’t do in public bathrooms. Being the sole proprietor of your home equals the peace of mind knowing that your bathroom is clean. This means your toothbrush is also kept relatively clean (and even then, I’ve heard tell that you kick up a cloud of germs when you flush without putting the toilet lid down, which hovers over and coats the head of your toothbrush, standing there innocently in its little cup. True? Not true? I don’t know, but that’s what I heard).

That’s why it’s okay to brush your teeth in the (potentially) dirtiest part of your home. The bathroom at work is not clean. You don’t know if the last woman who took care of business and flushed got anything on her hand before she touched the handle of the toilet or sink faucet -- which you just touched to turn on the water, and then you touched your toothpaste to squeeze the tube, and then you put the toothbrush in your mouth and began brushing with the (potentially) dirty hand holding the toothbrush which is now in your mouth, and as you hold it, germs are multiplying by the thousands, crawling up your toothbrush, LOOK YOU CAN SEE THEM!!! AND NOW THEY’RE IN YOUR MOUTH!!!!! Disgusting. This story ends in the resolution that it’s the exact same thing as having licked the toilet seat.

You might as well do that and save me the embarrassment of having to poop while you’re out there brushing your teeth.

3. Cleaning your pet fish’s bowl out

Uh, I have no idea what this person was thinking when they brought a fish to work. But they did. And while it seems cute, what isn’t cute is me having to (again) poop while someone is just outside the stall, rinsing out a fish bowl, cleaning the little rocks and marbles, refilling the bowl, putting in some drops of water purifier, rinsing the cleaning tools and putting the fish back in. All while other women and I enter the bathroom, immediately uncomfortable with our intentions of using it for the bathroom’s sole purpose, defecation. Uh, should I leave? Should I stay and, to hell with it, stink up the air? Or is that rude? Maybe I should wait. I don’t know. I don’t know.

4. Reuniting with friends from other departments

So maybe you do happen to run into Barbara from downstairs (what are you doing up here? Ha ha, don’t you guys have a bathroom on your floor? Well, it’s so good to run into you!). I can empathize with running into old friends. But can you empathize with my performance anxiety? Can you? Because when you stand in front of the sink or by the paper towel dispenser and chat away, I can hear you and I can’t bear the thought of adding my symphony of body noises to your conversation. It’s psychologically impossible. I’ll be forced to sit, waiting, waiting until you take your delightful reunion outside.

That’s what halls and break rooms are for, conversations.

And also, break rooms are for cleaning out fish bowls and brushing your teeth. Same with eating or filling your water bottle.

In summation, anything that’s not directly related to urination and bowel movements should be taken to the break room or your desk. I didn’t make these rules up. They willed themselves into existence out of sheer propriety. The workplace bathroom is not your private sanctuary, powder room or vanity table. It’s dirty (but not visible-dirty like with towels strewn about and whatnot), it usually stinks, and your best bet is to take care of your business and get the hell out of there. For my sake as much as yours.

* Sensitive readers, be warned. This post will contain references to the bathroom and biological processes that occur there, namely urination and defecation (or, as some of my less sensitive readers like to call it, “pooping”). My attempt isn’t to achieve hilarity through "potty humor." It’s to point out the inappropriateness of some of the bathroom activities happening in my workplace, public bathroom.

** Not necessarily applicable to men’s bathrooms. Necessarily. But still possible.


Anonymous said...

Except for (at most) exceedingly rare occasions, Aries327 has never worn base AND lipstick AND eyeshadow AND eyeliner at the same time - much less for the purported 4 year period. Aries327's alleged makeup experiments were not, as she implies, the result of any request by the mentioned kept-company. I do, however, recall Sagittarius126 (right?) frequently encouraging the practice. Nicole, you've always been beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Right -- Question for you all -- At my workplace, Human resources sees fit to announce the latest "campaign" to get employess involved on the walls, and yes, inside the stalls of the ladies room. (mens room too, one might assume) It makes me screaming mad -- Mainly because, in the few personal moments I get in my busy day, whilst in the toilet especially so, I want to be left alone! Anybody but me find this form of "advertising" RUDE?

Aries327 said...

Rude, yes. You're a captive audience. It's unfair, much like commercials before a movie you paid $12 to see. What choice do you have but to walk out or stop patronizes theaters? We can't stop patronizing bathrooms now, can we? No. So yes, I've seen this practice elsewhere and I find it unseemly. Everything is about economics however, and so it doesn't really surprise me.

I've heard tell that the new advertising market is our minds. No joke.

Thanks for the comment! Come back any time.