No one ever told me to be nervous about going to the bathroom at the office. That subject never made it into the company handbook or official contract. My first job was at a company that was 90 percent men, so I barely ever passed a female on the way to the restroom. The thought of being nervous never crossed my mind.
After graduating college, many of my friends started their first jobs and they filled me in on their work washroom woes and bathroom fears — a topic that never came up before. In college, we all were a bit too open about our washroom habits due to the cramped space of living in dorms and tiny off-campus apartments. There were no secrets; nothing was hidden or off limits to discuss. I even had a good friend who frequently brought in her laptop and my photo albums (she already viewed hers) for all the time she spent in the loo.
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My friends filled my newly created Gmail inbox with sordid toilet tales including waiting until they got home (is that even possible?), trekking to a different floor or even leaving the office to go to Starbucks or the closest location of their gym. They had secret tricks for hiding their bathroom “duties.” One friend’s trick was to create a complicated arrangement of toilet paper that hides even the largest of sounds. This was a trick that was passed onto her from her much older brother. I suppose the work bathroom scenario has been going on for decades and bound females along with males.
I recently had a meeting in an office where you needed to borrow the key from the receptionist’s desk. Where was I, Chipotle? Even Starbucks doesn’t use that archaic system. If I ever applied for a job there — the bathroom situation might have been a deal breaker. I don’t want the receptionist keeping a timetable of my schedule. Or worse, what if another employee needed to go but was banging on the door since I had the only key? This actually happened during that meeting. It was pretty mortifying. Five minutes later, I let her in and we shared knowing glances.
I’d love to be brave enough to create a call to action stopping this insane behavior, but I don’t think that will ever happen. I've grown accustomed to my TP tent and schedule. I realize we might all be human, but at the office there's a clear limit to how much we want to know and fully comprehend about our co-workers. Sure, we might know their family drama, apartment nightmares, menstrual schedule, or latest one night stands — but knowing they go to the bathroom? That's something we’d like to keep a mystery. To future interns and graduating seniors — let me leave you with this final piece of advice: Always use the private handicapped bathroom located two floors below you.
NEXT: Office Romances: Should They Be Totally Off Limits?
This post was authored by Jill Jacinto.