If there's one thing that I'll never understand about an office space, it's the bathrooms. Well, the ladies' rooms in particular. (Yeah, I know, how random... let me explain...)
Over the years I've worked at many different sized companies; ranging from 5 people to 200. And at each place the bathrooms have always proved to be strange in terms of behavior. Someone once told me that guys just go to the bathroom without ever giving it a second thought... gotta pee but there's someone using one of the common area urinals? No problem, just whip out "your thing" and pee in the one next to him. Hey, even strike up a conversation! Gotta take a dump? Cool, bring your newspaper! Grunt, if you have to. Anything goes.
With girls? Oh no. For the last two years I had been at that teeny PR agency with a single stall bathroom. The only semi-awkward thing I encountered was one of my coworkers using a breast pump at the bathroom sink. "Oh, hi..." I said, a little caught off guard. That wasn't a particular state I ever expected-- or wanted-- to see my coworker in.
"Hey there!" she responded awkwardly, then blushed.
*click click whir, click click whir* went the breast pump while I tried to pee.
"So," I said after a few seconds of embarrassing silence went by. "How's that workin' out for ya...?"
Anyway, returning to mid-sized agency life was full of many experiences I'd forgotten about over time, but I was unprepared for the exciting return to the world of The Corporate Bathrooms. Oh yes. You ladies know what I'm talking about... everything in unspoken-but-we-know-it-exists restroom etiquette ranging from "To Dump or Not to Dump" to "Making Conversation."
For example, today I went to the bathroom, so sure my bladder would explode before I ever made it because my meeting was seemingly endless, to find two stalls occupied. I took the empty one in between the two and after a little time went by, I noticed that my bathroom companions were both silent. Not even the rustle of toilet paper. I finished my business several seconds later, flushed and went out to the sinks. Still silence.
So I slowly washed my hands and casually looked in the mirror to view the stalls behind me. Both pairs of feet were still firmly on the floor. I slowly dried my hands... still nothing. Then it hit me! Each was waiting for the other to finish so they could drop number 2 in privacy. Hahahaha!
Finally one of them choked because someone sighed and flushed the toilet. I quickly left the bathroom at that point since I had no interest in seeing who had been in there with me.
Another example... two weeks ago I went to the restroom and passed a coworker on her way out. We each said hello and then I went inside. Phew, did it stink in there! But that wasn't unusual, the bathroom doesn't exactly have the best venting system.
I returned to my desk a short while later, thinking nothing further about my little excursion, until I saw an e-mail waiting in my inbox. It was from the girl I had passed on the way in.
"hey... just wanted to let you know that shtinky shmell wasn't caused by me! :-)"
My final example: conversations. A few days ago I used the bathroom at the same time as a coworker that I am friendly with. As we washed our hands, we struck up light conversation regarding one of the publications we regularly pursue. During that time someone else had been using the restroom. I guess they didn't care about our presence because all of the sudden there was this grunt, sigh and little splash.
Yagh. Trying to maintain composure, my friend and I barely paused in our exchange, but both of us reflected how startled we were in our eyes. I guess this all goes back to the general psychology of women. And that is, women totally care what people think. No, scratch that, women totally care about what WOMEN think for every little thing.
So sad. Where in the course of human history did it become such that men have a devil-may-care attitude about anything, while women have to be seemingly conscious about everything?
Maybe I should start using the bathroom on the next floor. Then again, at my old teeny firm there was a woman who used to come down to our floor to use the little bathroom for Dropping Deuces; thus earning the name Unibomber. As our company grew from 5 to 15, 7 of which were women, someone even took the liberty of hanging a sign, "No Unibombers... Go Upstairs."
So yeah, not only do women think about and notice everything, they'll comment on it, too. (Hey, much like I'm doing in this post...)