The horrors of the office bathroom | Just Jaggin' | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The horrors of the office bathroom

Walking into the office bathroom is like happening upon a crime scene while the crime is taking place. The less you see, the safer you are. Coworker pulling pants up outside of stall? Avoid eye contact. Two people bad mouthing someone you know? Didn’t happen. An office veteran quips about some noises no polite person would talk about? Your response is “Haha, yeah,” at best. In the office bathroom, ignorance is bliss. It’s like Tyler Durden said, “The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk in the bathroom.” 

But no matter how many precautions you take to escape the communal toilet unscathed, you will inevitably experience some awkwardness. Your eyes are bound to drift to that seam between the door and the stall and make eye contact with a coworker, who, against all odds, is just trying to not have a horrifying bathroom experience. The chances are slim, but it does happen. It’s like winning whatever the opposite of the Powerball is.   

The worst thing about the office bathroom, and public bathrooms in general, is that the design hasn’t changed over the course of our 200-year history as a nation. The only things keeping us from holding hands while we go are reclaimed plastic, faulty hinges, and broken locks. We’d be better hidden with a Daddy Warbucks-like bathroom attendant shielding us by holding up a Taz beach towel. 

It’s 2019, we have wristwatch telephones, and we still call our pooping technology a “stall.” We file uncomfortably into tiny rooms to navigate the unknown, just to embarrass ourselves further with pungent aromas, noises, and erratic urine streams. We’re like cattle being herded to slaughter. And there’s no Toilet Temple Grandin to assuage our fears.

If I were president, my Day One task would be fixing American’s bathroom infrastructure. If I couldn’t simply make every bathroom a unisex, single-seater, which would solve all of our global and domestic problems, I would require stall doors to go all the way to the floor. Like I can’t tell it’s John from sales taking a hungover growler at 10 a.m. on Friday by spotting his signature white K-Swiss. Who still buys K-Swiss, John? At the least, I would mandate every bathroom offered shoe cozies to hide their identities. 

Then, I’d ban any extracurricular bathroom activities. I don’t know what type of person thinks they’re improving their hygiene by brushing their teeth in a communal bathroom filled with stranger danger, but that will be banned. Flossing? Same. Phone calls? No! Internet browsing? Mandatory. No sound, though. Unless you are playing Snake. I want to be aware of anyone playing Snake. Long, meeting-like conversations? Outlawed! Get a conference room. If you have to operate in a three-stall bathroom, choosing the middle stall when the other two are not in use means you lose door privileges for a year. You now use the toilet with your stall door open. Finally, every bathroom would have a moderate level of white noise, because your wiping rhythm is your own business.  

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