Friday, November 16, 2007

Workplace bathroom habits

OK, I'll keep this as clean as possible.

Since I started working at my third "real" company after college, where I had to share a bathroom with many (I've had a nice, nearby, easily monitor-able, single-stall setup at two companies so far - and wow, I sound like George Costanza right now), I've noticed some odd fuckin' things in the bathroom. Here's a list of some of them.

1. Dorm room treatment: Why do people feel it necessary to treat the bathroom like it's the one in their dorm when they were 18 years old? Not only do you end up with toilet paper and water and/or piss everywhere, you end up with these morons coming into the bathroom with printouts, sitting on the toilet for something like an hour, and then throwing the printouts and/or newspapers everywhere instead of throwing them in the trash. I guess because their wives or mothers don't allow them to act like they're still potty-training, they have to let loose at work. Guys, it's a professional environment; I don't want any trace of your presence after you leave.

2. Fixing the hair: OK, I'm kinda-sorta losing my hair, but I still take pride in my appearance. Still, I think most men should try to keep their haircuts relatively clean and easily manageable - short if necessary (if you have hair like mine, you definitely need to keep it short - or it'll just look like hay), and without too much gunk. This is coming from someone who used to put so much crap in his hair, one of my friends used to say it looked like it had been soaking in roast beef juice for days. Now, I just keep it clean and short - I'm too old and too married to be worrying about what anyone thinks about my hairdo.

So of course, even though there are some younger, some older guys than me in the office, you get these guys who stand there in front of the mirror, fixing these tiny little strands of hair out of place, looking for nose-hairs, fixing their ties if they have them on...I mean, do they look at themselves in the mirror in the morning?? One guy at my last company was notorious for always being in the bathroom (actually, all of the inside sales guys were, it was like a carousel and all of them brought the newspaper with them - disgusting), never looking at anyone else, and then standing there for five minutes while he fixed his hair and tie. The gag was on him - he was an inside sales guy!!! For those of you who don't know, this means his job was to be on the telephone all day - he never met with clients! He was labeled "goon" from then on.

3. Guys who talk or mutter while on the toilet: This happens more often than one would think, which is very unfortunate for those of us that simply want to do our business in peace with no awkwardness, wash our hands, and leave the bathroom so we can go back to blogging about toilet behavior. I'm of the opinion that bathrooms, in particular men's, shared by many people during the day should have far better ventilation systems than they are given. When a new building is going up, doesn't anyone say "hey, while we're working on the frame, let's leave some space so that the exhaust from the HVAC can be connected to a fan to each bathroom, and make that ventilation force much greater than normal"? No one has thought of this yet?? Anyway, once, I go in there, I'm washing my hands, some guy had come in to use the 'real stall', and he actually mutters to himself - knowing there was only me and one other guy in there - "man, it stinks in here". He literally whispered it to himself but clearly wanted us to hear him. What the hell were we supposed to say?? "Yeah, dude...uh...that's cuz people SHIT IN HERE." Would that have appeased this guy? Would he have been pissed off if we had responded? My suggestion: Keep your mouth shut while in the bathroom, unless you're having a conversation with a coworker. Keeping the noise level up is fine in the bathroom, because it's real awkward when there's a few guys in there and everyone is silent. But for God's sake, only talk to people you know, excluding yourself.

4. Dirty People: There are still people who leave toilets unflushed, wet toilet paper hanging off god-knows-where, sinks that have crap in them, etc. I'm all for dental hygiene, for example, but if you're going to brush your teeth in a bathroom where the sinkhole is mesh and doesn't let much through, clean up after yourself so the rest of us don't have to see your toothpaste and mouthwash for the rest of the day.

5. People who use the Handicap-Accessible stall when there's no need to do so: I'm not the most politically correct person in the world. I understand that. But why does one need so much damn space to go to the bathroom? There are four stalls in our men's room here at work. Whenever I go in and there's no one in there except one guy, if that guy is taking up one of the stalls, he's invariably in the handicap-accessible one. I mean, what if a guy in a wheelchair actually came through the door? Or, more realistically, a guy on crutches who suffered an ankle injury? He would get pissed off if he saw that you took the handicap-accessible stall instead of one of the other three available stalls. Get it right, people.

6. People who continue conversation in the bathroom after their hands are dry: As I stated above, casual conversation between two co-workers who know each other is welcome in the men's room. It keeps the noise level up and the awkwardness down, if only temporarily. But when everyone who's talking is done washing their hands and drying them, leave the bathroom. This is not a place for social hour, it's a place to get in and get out. If you happen to have a short conversation while you're in there, hey, good for you. But overstay your welcome and you end up getting in people's way when they are entering or exiting. Leave in a timely fashion.

People suck.

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