February 9, 2006

Stall Tactics

Through no breach of etiquette of my own, I've recently been reminded of the things that constitute proper bathroom behavior, especially in the workplace. Let's recap, shall we?

Rule 1. The floor is no place for your pants. I wouldn't eat off the floor. I wouldn't roll around on it. I wouldn't let my daughter roll around on it. Granted, I have completely different expectations of my daughter than I do my pants. I expect her to walk and talk someday. It would be disturbing if my pants evolved similarly. But still. Pants on the floor? There's a drain in most bathroom floors. What does the presence of a drain say about the state of a floor? Now, there are boundaries to this course of action. One shouldn't be encouraged to remove one's pants entirely to avoid the floor. One day I was washing my hands, when out of the stall came a pantless man. Sure, he did have on his shoes, socks, button-down business shirt, tie and tighty-whities, but pants? Not so much. I didn't ask. I left. Quickly.

Rule 2. Multitasking - impressive in the office, not in the bathroom. There's only so much you can do in a bathroom. Hearing people doing things with Palm Pilots scares me. Are they taking notes? If so, about what? Worse are the folks on their cell phones. I don't care who you are - if you're in there, we don't need to be talking. The scariest was an encounter with a guy who repeatedly brushed his teeth while taking a leak. There aren't words (only facial gestures which don't translate well to the blogging medium) to adequately capture the number of things that are wrong with those processes taking place simultaneously.

Rule 3. Bathrooms and food are mutually exclusive. Like matter and antimatter, Moe and Curly, Michael Moore and Ann Coulter, nothing good can come of their combination. The fabric of space and time may very well rip, forcing the universe to collapse into nothingness. But tell that to the guy I keep running into who takes breakfast into the stall with him. Granted, its a light meal - usually fruit and a cup of coffee - but still. There's nothing right about that.

Rule 4. Decorum - even in the midst of doing what you're doing and we all know what you're doing - is appreciated by all. Restroom users can be categorized into several different vocal groups, only one of which is truly acceptable.

Marathon Runners. These folks who don't hesitate to let you know exactly how hard they're trying to reach the, er, finish line, so to speak. They huff and puff and do everything but ask you for water and a towel. You may get the urge to string some toilet paper over the stall's entrance so they can break the tape upon completion. But don't. This only encourages them.

Crestfallen Lovers. Traits of this group include moaning and what might be taken for the quiet sobbing of the spurned and heartbroken. Don't be fooled - they don't need tissues or hugs. Offer neither.

Power Lifters. This group has many similarities to Marathon Runners, however Power Lifters punctuate their efforts with pained cries and gasps, often sounding as though they're in great pain. If you believe that the occupant of an adjacent stall is trying to pass a small color television or flush an alpaca from his or her system, you're probably sitting next to a Power Lifter.

The Strong Silent Type. Everyone should be so lucky to encounter these folks in the bathroom. They exemplify good bathroom behavior, uttering not one sound during the course of their lavatorial activities.

There you have it - your guide to making the world a better place, one bathroom at a time.

Posted by Chris at February 9, 2006 7:19 AM

When I was still in Corporate America, I would constantly get caught between, "power lifters" & guys who made so much more money than I did, that all they could talk about was: Yachting, Sailing and Jackson Hole.

It was very, very difficult to keep the gun from my mouth...hahaha.

Nice post and I agree with you on most counts!


Posted by: JackassJimmy at February 9, 2006 7:25 AM

LOL - what a great start to my day - a reminder of why it's great to be a SAHM!

Posted by: Marie at February 9, 2006 7:27 AM

Hear hear on the multitasking! It's just weird.

I like to observe a rule that supervisors and subordinates shouldn't use the bathroom at the same time. My husband once had a supervisor who would try to chat him up while he was using the urinal. Isn't it a generally observed men's room custom that there's no talking at the urinals?!

Posted by: Amanda at February 9, 2006 7:32 AM

Nope - no talking at the urinal - and no taking the middle one...that's just rude behavior. Unless, of course, there are dividers and then it's acceptable, but only if you either stare at the wall or keep an eye on your own business. Period.

Posted by: Mr. Big Dubya at February 9, 2006 8:10 AM

If only there were more silet types. Seems like an awful lot of power lifters and marathon runners for such a fat society.
Maybe they feel like it's their only "workout" of the day.

I'm the silent type. And I don't go until everyone's out.

Posted by: Jay Wilkins at February 9, 2006 8:15 AM

It is possible to encounter examples of each of these behaviors in a single visit to a public restroom in a busy airport.

Those places scare me.

Posted by: Allan at February 9, 2006 8:27 AM

Great post, I especially like the "Marathon Runner"

Posted by: Redune at February 9, 2006 8:32 AM

I have encountered each of your defined types but the type that freaks me out the most is the "masturbating in the cubicle" type. And if they are not actually masturbating, all I have to say is that they enjoy taking a dump far too much.

Posted by: doobyus at February 9, 2006 8:36 AM

It's bad enough listening to someone gab away on their cell phone but to me the worst is stall talkers. Those are the coworkers that try to carry on a conversation with me while we are both sitting there.

Posted by: wendy at February 9, 2006 8:36 AM

"If you believe that the occupant of an adjacent stall is trying to pass a small color television or flush an alpaca from his or her system..." I spewed my morning coffee...

Posted by: Theresa at February 9, 2006 8:40 AM

Funny that guy bathroom behavior is so different from girl bathroom behavior (as in teenage and college girls) who must migrate to the bathroom in groups to find a place where they can talk about boys. Even while completing "lavatorial activities" girls will talk across stalls like it ain't nuthin!

Posted by: Dolly at February 9, 2006 8:53 AM

Haha! I, fortunately, have not experienced any of these things in my workplace. Then again, I only go into the restroom when I am sure there is no one else in there, so that could be the reason. Plus, women tend to be a little more dainty about the whole, um, process.

Although, there was the time I was in a stall and the woman in the next stall over let out a huge long fart. I was trying not to laugh as I went to wash my hands, and when she emerged? It was my boyfriend's mother. I almost died right there on the spot from holding in laughter because she was about the most "proper" woman on the planet.

Posted by: Jessie at February 9, 2006 8:53 AM

Oh my god..... I can't stop laughing.

Please don't forget on your list of bathroom etiquette the Mercy Flush and also making sure that all evidence of the crime has been flushed away. People are so disgusting sometimes!

Posted by: donna at February 9, 2006 8:55 AM

"You may get the urge to string some toilet paper over the stall's entrance so they can break the tape upon completion. But don't. This only encourages them"

That's the last time I take a sip of water before reading anything you've written.

My screen was very wet.
My colleague was very surprised.

But he did offer me a towel.
- Good boy.

Posted by: Alice at February 9, 2006 8:57 AM

You should post this in your company's bathroom, Chris. The guy with the fruit and coffee ... you're right, there are no words. Oh wait, here's one: EW!

Posted by: Fraulein N at February 9, 2006 8:58 AM

I LOVE to read your daily wisdom. At least once a week I forward it off to friends. Brilliant. Bloody brilliant.
How about the folks who don't wash? You can see them through the cracks and I just want to say something! But, I enjoy being the silent type, and fear that this much noise isn't appropriate in the bathroom.

Posted by: J at February 9, 2006 8:59 AM

I love your bathroom stories. Earlier this week, my unhemmed and 2 inches two long maternity pants NEARLY touched the bathroom floor. It was a little difficult to keep them up, but I thought of you. ( I thought of you while I was going to the bathroom- flattered arent you?)

Posted by: alfredsmom at February 9, 2006 9:00 AM

it totally grosses me out when people bring their coffee cup in the restroom with them and leave it on the counter while they use the stall.

In microbiology lab in college, we had to take samples from the air - set a petri dish out and leave it for a few minutes to collect an air sample. My lab partner & I put ours in the restroom. You wouldn't believe the E-COLI that grew in that dish....just from THE AIR in the bathroom. GROSS.

Posted by: kalisah at February 9, 2006 9:15 AM

Here's one for you: Our shipping guy took the newspaper into the bathroom with him last week, and when he came out, proceeded to place the paper back where he got it from--on the break room table. Needless to say there was some serious disinfection of that table before we all sat down to eat lunch.

Posted by: Liz at February 9, 2006 9:29 AM

Seriously...almost had an accident over that one! But don't be fooled by the earlier comment about women being daintier in the bathroom. As much as I'd like to say it were true, it's not. You'll find women on all sides of the bathroom behavior spectrum. The marathon runner analogy was awesome. As far as the dude with the food and coffee. That's disgusting. He only has two hands so he must be putting something on the floor that he will later ingest. Even if there's room for both on the toilet paper roll cover, it's still wrong. To me, no surfaces in a public restroom are safe. You go in and get out as quickly and quietly as you can touching the fewest things as possible. I'm kind of a germaphobe, though, who gets the paper towel before washing hands so that it can be used to turn the water off and open the door. Must be an increasing trend since I now see trash cans placed near the doors of public restrooms.

Posted by: kim at February 9, 2006 9:30 AM

My ex would be the one with the Palm Pilot.

Posted by: Heather at February 9, 2006 9:42 AM

You ommited one type of silent sufferer..... The regular. We had one lady at my old job that, once a day, would do her business. She must have taken laxatives, because we could set our watch by it.... and the smell.... GOD the smell.......I ended up taking 2 flights of stairs after a while just to avoid that bathroom....

And to JackassJimmy... I couldn't sit through someone taking a slam and talking about Jackson Hole... I'd just die laughing right there....

Posted by: Corinne at February 9, 2006 9:45 AM

oh. my. god. i laughed out loud for the whole post. bodily functions crack me up (very mature, i know). i was next to a woman in the atlana airport last weekend and i thought she was engaged in some sort of sexual gratification... and then i realized she was just taking a crap. eww.

Posted by: kara at February 9, 2006 9:47 AM

I avoid the restroom all day at work. I know its bad for me, but I hold EVERYTHING for 9 hours until I get home. I just cant bring myself to walk into that bathroom and use it. If I have to go #2 really bad during the day, I drive home.

Posted by: Nik at February 9, 2006 10:18 AM

I once had a male friend explain the complicated (and undocumented btw) rules for choosing a stall based on how many there are and which ones are already occupied... It made me laugh to think about the inevitable socially clueless person who would witlessly enter the wrong stall, and the panic that would cause!!

Posted by: Deepblue at February 9, 2006 10:34 AM


I'm sorry that I never have anything witty to say but the moment I read your posts and I start laughing my brain just dies.

"Hearing people doing things with Palm Pilots scares me. Are they taking notes? If so, about what?"

Color and consistency? Memo to self: stop eating beans.

"If you believe that the occupant of an adjacent stall is trying to pass a small color television or flush an alpaca from his or her system, you're probably sitting next to a Power Lifter."

ALPACA! *rolls on the floor*

Posted by: nina at February 9, 2006 10:37 AM

Oh,WORD. I just don't understand these people who use the work restrooms as their own private fecal disposing showrooms. The grunting, the reading (!), cell-phone talking. Close the door to the stall, pinch a loaf, and the fuck out of there.


Posted by: melati at February 9, 2006 10:43 AM

When I was working out of the home, the bathroom was the only place I got to play minesweeper... so I'm not totally with you on #2. But I always (and I mean ALWAYS) turned off the sound so nobody knew what I was up to.

But I'm your cheerleader on the rest, yo. Post these bad boys in your office bathroom. It can only lead to appropriate shame and reformed behavior.

Posted by: Elaine at February 9, 2006 10:56 AM

This is HILARIOUS and should be posted in any & all mutli-stall bathrooms. I'm SO glad our new office has just have a single room so you don't have to deal with anybody else!!

Posted by: Cristina at February 9, 2006 10:57 AM

and darlin' you've not been in the women's restroom.


I cannot even begin to define the foul females and their characteristics in the john....
it's like lady manners are left at the door.

Posted by: the speckledpup at February 9, 2006 11:40 AM

I am so grossed out that I think I need to take a shower after reading this one. Ew. ;)

Posted by: Pammer at February 9, 2006 11:40 AM

The cell phone users KILL me every time. Women have CONVERSATIONS (entire conversations) while on the john. What is up with that?

Posted by: Bethany at February 9, 2006 11:46 AM

Number 3- seriously there are people in our building who take their coffee mugs into the bathroom with them....gads that is disgusting! And their starbucks...If it is that big of an emergency- just leave your item on the front desk before you go!!! Gross.

And I am glad to hear that you have different expectations for Mia than your pants! :D

Posted by: Amy at February 9, 2006 12:07 PM

I worked with a guy who..lets say made a habit of punking friends in the bathroom. He would often engage in things like groaning "oh yeah..that feels good...here it comes" when he was having his morning..um...poop. He would also comment on his friends socks, turn out the lights, read the sports section out loud, etc. Well one day, he was commenting on the "fancy-ass dress pants" of his friend in the next stall and making his usual about-to-birth-a-baby noises...he finished and there at the sink, with the "fancy pants", was the managing partner of the firm. He managed to wash his hands and run out of the bathroom - right into a crowd of people. The partner came out and said "you know - I think you need some fiber". The master had been punk'd.

Posted by: Sue R. at February 9, 2006 12:09 PM

ew ew ew ew ewewewewewew!

Posted by: Julie at February 9, 2006 12:35 PM

i have to endure my husband on his lunch break fouling our entire house.

i think he would be categorized as "the reviewer": b/c he always emerges 45 minutes later with a description of his bathroom experience. words like: "ghost poo. turtling, and crowning (as in giving birth)"

Posted by: jess at February 9, 2006 12:43 PM

Or the men that walk out of the restroom with a book and/or a magazine in their hands. TACKY!

(I am perplexed by etiquette, or lack of in this world...hence me blogging about it today also!)

Posted by: Isabel at February 9, 2006 1:37 PM

I'd have to agree with all of your points but one. Personally, I would LOVE to see what would happen if you mixed Michael Moore and Ann Coulter. Pass the popcorn.

Posted by: angela marie at February 9, 2006 1:43 PM

Wow. The pants thing really bothers you, eh? heh. You've brought it up several times. At least you don't have to try to manage "The Hover" is nasty women's bathrooms! I went on a road trip a couple weeks back...there were quite a few of those.

Posted by: Heather at February 9, 2006 1:44 PM

The funniest thing was the Palm Pilot. I have seen women do this too. My brother calls people from the bathroom. I think he finds it funny. I agree with other people here, women can be just as bad.

Posted by: Melissa at February 9, 2006 2:00 PM

There is someone here who pees on the seat. How is that possible if she's a woman? I mean, it's a BIG hole!

Posted by: Queen of Ass at February 9, 2006 2:59 PM

Hilarious! I am very particular about restroom etiquette (and have at least two icked out posts on my blog to attest to it.) I am so bothered by people who bring food into the room, even more than the chatters.

Posted by: MamaKaren at February 9, 2006 3:13 PM

And don't forget the "if you can keep an empty stall between you and another person, please do" rule. I think that one is important.

Posted by: bad penguin at February 9, 2006 3:35 PM

Too funny and all true. I hate the bathroom, I am quick in and out and will hold until turning blue lol. I don't bring anything with me and I don't delay the visit lol.

I don't know how people just sit there forever and bring stuff in - food or palm pilot, ewwwww. And the womens restroom is nasty, I just don't get it.

Posted by: Chrissie at February 9, 2006 3:56 PM

OMG... that was hysterical. I knew you had to live in or near DC. You're bathroom observations could rival the best of a Weingarten Chat.

Great site.

Posted by: Karen at February 9, 2006 4:22 PM

That post was so funny! It reminded me of when I worked for a large Engineering/architectural firm. Apparently, there were two guys who liked to go to the bathroom together. They'd sit in side-by-side stalls, talk, pass magazines and eat chicken wings and fruit cups. I've heard these stories from my hubby (who also worked there) as well as several men who would just happen to be in there at the same time. Creepy, yes?

I can't wait to show the hubby this post. He will get a huge kick out of it. :-) Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: Lisa B at February 9, 2006 5:18 PM

OMG! That's hilarious. I'm lucky if I can get the mister to wash his hands. Your toilet etiquette is beyond words.

Posted by: Dooneybug at February 9, 2006 5:19 PM

Bathrooms and breakfast? Eww. Talk about one stop shopping.

Posted by: Janet at February 9, 2006 7:09 PM

Very recently a sign appeared on the ladies room door at work, which read "Please do not store food and drink in this restroom." ???????????

Posted by: JuJu's Mom at February 9, 2006 8:23 PM

I don't know, there's a kind of "circle of life" thing about taking your food into the bathroom with you...

Then again, gross!

Posted by: Gavin at February 9, 2006 9:33 PM


Posted by: liz at February 9, 2006 10:25 PM

Ha! That is just great. I know see the workplace Bathroom in a whole new light!

Posted by: ohhmama! at February 9, 2006 11:25 PM

Dude. What is UP with the freakin' multi taskers? I mean, sure when I'm at home, I bring my laptop into the bathroom, but it's between magazine issues and I have nothing to read.

But at work?

Posted by: statia at February 9, 2006 11:54 PM

i totally agree.... Stall Tactics. but you know, there is just Bathroom Tactics in general. there are two sections to the office i work in (two Suites, actually) and there is a private, single, bathroom in each suite. which actually works out well because there is one girl bathroom and one boy bathroom. but anyway... there is still some level of decorum that should be involved with single bathrooms. like, seriously, please don't try to force me out of the office with your tear gas raids. *gagging* can't you, like, shut the door after you, or something??

Posted by: Judy at February 10, 2006 8:56 AM

HA HA HA! That's great. I used to work in an office where this woman would talk to me while taking a dump. Not only that, but she'd talk through her loud smelly farts. We all started to look under the stalls and if we saw her feet, we'd go find another bathroom somewhere in the building. Those rules should be posted on every office bathroom around America.

Posted by: Sabrina at February 10, 2006 2:47 PM

Damn, this had me rollin! Nice one.

Posted by: tod at February 10, 2006 6:30 PM

ha...good job :)

at work we recently discovered that there are two offices whose residents have the displeasure of hearing more than you should ever hear about your coworker's bathroom habits. I can hear enough to be thoroughly annoyed by the slamming down of the seat. Just use some tp and gently put the damn thing down!

Posted by: laura at February 12, 2006 7:15 PM

I am SOOOO with you on #3. I can't even pee and chew gum at the same time.

Also you forgot Rule 5. Unisex Bathrooms shall be treated with respect. This includes flushing, and more importantly mopping up the mess when you mis-fire at the toilet and hit the seat, the floor or anywhere else. All it takes is a few toilet paper squares and a little love.

Posted by: laura at February 13, 2006 4:01 PM