I work at a relatively large office, in a relatively large corporation. In my corner of the building alone there’s probably around a hundred people. A hundred people that are allowed the luxury of three separate toilets. Three. They are *always* busy, which forces me on a regular basis to reflect on office etiquette and human nature.
It’s easy math, really. If we’re on average a hundred people that spend seven hours in the office during the span of nine hours, peeing or pooping say for five minutes a time, in average 3 times a day – the three toilets will be occupied for 95% of the time. Pure math: there will be trouble. Add to this that human toiletry routines are very predictable, bound to be extra urgent after morning coffee, lunch, afternoon snacks – or before the start of meetings on every hour. And so on. Queues, I tell you.
Now let me say this, I work with decent people. There are no floater issues in this post, though the occasional skidmark or explosion scene is encountered. Neither is there obscene behaviour – like in one of my earlier workplaces, where the joyful remains of male auto-eroticism was deposited neatly, like cake decorations, on the rim of the seat of the women’s toilet (I’m glad to report that I was not the woman who sat in it).
Perhaps the queuing is the reason for this decency – you’re bound to meet a line of dancing colleagues when exiting, and generations of cultural shaming obliges you to do the little whinge of shame, the apologetic smile, perhaps an actual cry of it wasn’t me! complete with hands thrown up if the stink is too bad. That akward nod of recognition: hello colleague, I see you’re there, but I really wish you weren’t. Now you know that I am human and process my food in this unappealing manner.
Combined with this cultural denial of what’s actually happening, I must admit to a practically feral behaviour when on my way in to do my business.
When I’m allowed into a newly used toilet I can’t help but to willingly catch a big gulp of not so fresh air, inhaling and enjoying the essence of my dear colleagues, sniffing out their secrets. It is, after all, like turning someone inside out, so it’s a pretty organic experience. I have no idea why I do this, as it’s frequently followed by me faking pukety faces to myself in the mirror and miming at myself with an astonishing look, like I had no idea what they were doing in there – or that I’m about to repeat the number. Too much essential information, so to speak.
It’s like I’m a dog taking the opportunity to sniff another dog’s ass, and proudly taking the opportunity to spray the toilet with my signature smell to own the toilet until someone else comes along.
This must be the explanation for men refusing to hit the toilet bowl or to put down the seat – and women refusing to SIT DOWN when peeing (urinating in the manner of a lawn sprinkler and, if possible, less precisely than men).
Closing that toilet door we return to our animal beings, far from office protocol and only matched by the desperation over a printer breakdown closing in on a deadline.