Workplace Bathroom: The most awkward room in the corporate world

The Office bathroom has got to be the single most uncomfortable place to ever have to deal with your colleagues within “Normal” Circumstances.

Probably the greatest down fall at the company I work for is the bathroom. It’s tiny. With two tiny cubicles and a space with a hand basin which is just wide enough for one person to slip past you while you wash your hands (Provided they’re skinny).

So you walk into the bathroom, and someone else is in there. You have to shuffle past each other and you both make polite noises but the point is neither of wants to think about what the other is doing there and both are embarrassed about what they are doing themselves.

Once in your cubicle you can hear everything going on in the cubicle next to you. These are your colleagues, your team, people you are accustomed to seeing in a tie or heels – peeing and pooping! But worse yet – they can hear you! For many of us just knowing that someone else can hear what you are doing is enough to put you right off “going”. It becomes an embarrassing impossibility. And so you sit and clench – hoping that they will bugger off quickly – all the while aware that you are taking more and more time in the loo, not making any sound and they are starting to wonder what you are doing In there for so long.

Then you come out and there they are. Standing at the wash basin. There is no way to avoid it. You have to wash your hands, they have to wash theirs. The awkwardness is almost tangible.

I never know what’s worse – slipping past each other as if nothing happened, or being overly friendly and humours about the whole thing – either way both happen a lot.

If you do go down the “humour to cover your shame” route there is always the fact that all of the people on the level are able to hear you laughing – but not what you are saying. So when you come out of the bathroom after a chortle everyone looks at you as if to say “What are you two doing in the bathroom together?”

Then there is the smell aspect.

Everyone working on the middle level can smell any strong smells issuing from the bathroom. We know this because they complain about it in the abstract. They never say “I could smell your poop for two hours after you left” but they do make general, sweeping statements.

The result? You don’t poop at the office – ever! Great for the system.

Ironically it doesn’t worry me too much what everyone else is doing. It’s a relief to know that they are human too! But the idea of anyone even being able to hear me pee is almost painful. Funny that.


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