Friday, October 7, 2011

What October 6th-7th Means To Me: The Battleground That Is The Public Work Men's Room

Yes, a battleground.  Thunderdome.  It's a place where all bets are off and we're all exposed. 

Don't worry, this is not a post about fart/shit humor or anything like that.  But because of those things, and the shame many feel behind them (even though every single human engages in this activity), the public work men's room is much more than a space with sinks, mirrors, and toilets.  It also is a room that exposes odd insecurities and features bizarre, often embarrassing encounters that only manifest themselves in the tiled room of running water. 

The men's bathroom at my place of business has an unintended feature that always makes for an uncomfortable situation.  The urinals are separated from the entrance by a large partition that completely obscures the view...meaning that you cannot see if anyone is using the urinal upon entering the bathroom.  Now if you're engaging the urinal, it's not uncommon to have someone unknowingly creep behind you while undoing their pants, as if they were a frustrated prisoner. 


Just kidding.  With their fly already down, they quickly cower in embarrassment while the urinal user fumbles over his words in an effort to make the already embarrassing situation disappear.  Then we NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN!  Sadly, this happens all too often.

Which leads me to the subject of shame in the bathroom.  I think the lengths that people go to hide what they are doing in the stall borders on absurd.  Hey, I may not be the brighest star in the sky, but if you're sitting on the toilet, I have a pretty good idea of what you're up to.  I mean, you might be deer hunting, but I doubt it.  So, why do you wait for me to flush the urinal before you do your business? Do you think the sound of the flush really covers up your audible activity?  Do you think I'm gonna look at your shoes, hunt you down later in the day, and give you a number for a good gastroenterologist? Trust me, I don't care. Maybe I'll even throw a fist pump in your honor and scream "oh! good push!"  Listen, I've been on this Earth for 32 years, I'm a veteran in there.  I know what you're up to.  Don't worry about what I think and have fun.

And though I've had much experience in the public men's room, I'm still not sure how to properly handle washing my hands next to someone I know.  When they start a conversation, do I turn to look at them, or do I just view them through the mirror?  A little of both?  I'm cognizant of this every single time it happens.  If I turn my head to look directly at them, and they look at me through the mirror, isn't that a bit odd?  And what is it about the public bathroom sink that brings out the worst in idle chatter.  Seriously, every conversation goes as follows:

Brett: How's it goin?
Sink user:  Not bad for a Monday.
Brett: Yeah, I know right. I'm so tired.  How was your weekend?
Sink user: It was good, you?
Brett: It was good. 
Sink user: 4 more days till Friday!
Brett: Can't wait!
(uncomfortable laughter)

And, of course, it's close cousin:

Brett: how's it goin?
Sink user: Eh, I'm a little tired. Long week.  At least it's friday!
Brett: I know, Thank God right? Sink user: Yeah, seriously!
<fake smile and laugh from both of us>

(I feel like I've discussed this before...well if I did, its worthy of repeat)

The only deviation from those conversations are either ones about work or the weather.  But since the weather in LA is basically the same every day, that subject is especially boring.  But if it occurs on a day where it's actually raining...the excitement is almost too much to handle.

So yeah, I think there needs to be some public discourse about the bathroom so we can all feel more comfortable in there and less embarrassed.  Perhaps the government can create some sort of holiday where we discuss it, so we can officially put this shame behind us and enter the bathroom with confidence. 


  1. You should stand immediately outside the door of the work bathroom, so that when each person comes out you can give them a congratulatory high five, and when they question why you're doing that, just say something like "I just thought you did a really nice job in there."

  2. HAHA thats a fine idea

  3. I thought it was an unspoken rule that guys don't talk in the bathroom period.