It’s a Friday morning and you’ve woken up at 7:30AM to catch the 7:58 uptown for work. You scuttle out of bed, the nape of your neck damp and warm because the air-conditioning costs too much to run all night, your ex-boyfriends gym shorts sliding down your ass because the elastic is worn, but why buy new pajamas? You have 28 minutes to get your shit together: teeth – brushed, hair – coiffed, makeup – applied, heels – tightened, dress – zipped. As you slip on your self-titled “Megan Draper Dress” (you’re so clever!) it hits you – the lumpy, heavy sensation that you absolutely need to shit out the 4 margaritas, two quesadillas and vat of guacamole you consumed last night at the neighborhood bar. Your dress won’t zip+clip because your belly’s so bloated and as you check the time on your iPhone you realize the subway leaves in 6 minutes and per usual, your post-Mexi shit will probably take about ten. At least.
This is the start of a very frustrating morning, the kind of morning where the poop you need to release is incongruent with the imminent place of pooping: the work bathroom.
You arrive at your desk on time, hurriedly scatter your belongings on the table and chirp a tense “hello” to your boss. After conjuring up some cracked-out obligation like “Um…Jenny asked me to…review the bi-weekly budget status report for her team before 8:30 so…I gotta head over, BRB it shouldn’t be long! Budget status beckons!” you haul ass and make a clean break for the bathroom. Margarita-Guac-Poop – it’s TOILET TIME.
As you approach the bathroom door, familiar anxieties flood your brain: “Will someone be in there already?” “Will someone walk in when I’m mid-squeeze?” “What if it smells, and someone walks into my stall right after?” “Is THIS the day my boss realizes there IS no employee named Jenny?”
Then BAM. You’re in. You see the daunting row of beige, sterile stalls staring you down. You count: First one – empty. Second one – empty. Third one – empty. Your brain begins to unwind – nobody is here. You can poop in peace. Fourth one – empty. Fifth one – SHIT. Fuck. OCCUPIED. There’s someone in the fifth stall, the stall sandwiched right in between your two favorite toilets. You decide to stand in front of the mirror and pretend to fix your hair, counting the seconds it takes Miss. Fifth- Stall-Fucker to evacuate the bathroom so you can make a move. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13…
Margarita-Guac-Poop is relentless and eager. You have to go in and just hope she finishes and leaves before you do. You have to pray you can shit in silence. You have to ask God that she not recognize the pair of shoes you wear almost every single day. Deep breathes. Here we go.
You slowly approach Stall 2 and pull down your dress. Your bathroom guest has not yet left, so you brilliantly flush the toilet as you release your first wind to cover up any ghastly toots or squeeks. After five seconds, you feel ready to push once more, but you fear your prayers have done nothing to silence Mr. Margarita-Guac.
Then the worst waiting game of all begins. Worse than waiting for the season 3 premier of Scandal. Worse than waiting for a job offer, a text back from a crush, an STD test result. A game of stalemate that rivals the Coldest of Wars, the most nuclear of bombs, the most unnecessarily aggressive and unfriendly game of pool chicken.
You know this game too well – everybody does: the one where you sit in utter silence on your toilet while Anonymous Pooper X sits in utter silence on hers. THE GAME OF BATTLESHITS. Who shits first? Who flushes first? Who leaves first? It’s a fucking showdown, a butthole staring contest, the kind you can’t lose because then your coworker knows (and can possibly share) that you, YES YOU, took a gigantic, fat dump this morning.
As you silently hold your ground, you begin to wonder: “Why the hell can’t we all just shit with confidence and not care about the Anonymous Stall Mate?” “Why is this always so damned stressful when we’re all human?! We ALL eat and excrete!” “Why don’t I have a private bathroom like my boss? Are executive poops superior to mine?” As you begin to map out an answer to this burning question, Miss. Fifth-Stall-Fucker flushes, and her stall creaks open. THERE IS A GOD!
You wait patiently for her to wash her hands, and plan to leave as soon as she’s out the door. The worst possible option is leaving your stall and seeing her face to face, sharing the mutual recognition that you shat, I shat. We shat. You hold in your last push until you know she’s gone, thanking the lord that you’ve won this round. As the door slides closed, you let out your final bite of guac, smiling at the thought of leaving an empty, person-less bathroom. You smile, you smile, but then…
You hear the clank of heels pop on the bathroom floor before the door can fully close. She has heard you shit. You’re no longer alone. And sadly, as life will have it, the game starts right. over. again.
A few testimonials from employees all around New York City:
“I just pooped at work. It was a process. You realize it has to happen, and the plan takes shape. There is one specific place I can poop. It’s not a one person because then if someone’s waiting – they know. So it has to be a multi-person stall. The whole time you poop here, you must calculate and gauge, ‘If I stopped now, would it be enough? Would anyone know?’”
“The other day at work, I was waiting for a one-person. I just had to pee. Then a guy I’m friendly with came out. He’s pretty cocky and attractive. He rushed out, eyes down, but we shared a small moment of eye contact. A knowing moment. He knew, I knew, we just knew what had happened. Things haven’t been the same since.”
“My office has two toilets on my floor, and they are right next to each other and I had to diarrhea like pretty grossly. So I wanted to spare the guy next to me/ spare myself the embarrassment, but he straight up just sat there forever, like not moving, no splashes, no rustling of toilet paper. It’s like he had the same problem and we just sat there. So I just started slowly pooping a little bit at a time, which was really weird cuz like, normally diarrhea is a 3 second thing for me. I pooped little bits every three seconds and that lasted about 4 minutes. It was pretty cray. Sorry that was so gross, love you gtg <3.”
“Well this one time I went in to pee and change my tampon, and as soon as I walked in a girl flushed the toilet but then didn’t leave. And so I was peeing and she kept repeatedly flushing the toilet to cover the sounds of like, I guess maybe farts or turds dropping. Anyway by the time I washed my hands and left the bathroom she was still in the stall, still periodically flushing. over. and over again. I wonder if she ever left, ya know?”
“K so this wasn’t AT work but it was with new colleagues. One summer in high school I spent in Boston doing an internship. After my first day of work, I decided to consume three packs of Sugar-free Mentos. About an hour later we were at dinner and I had to rush to the bathroom. Diarrhea. Fifteen minutes later, I have to leave again. Same thing. I was mortified that everyone knew, but I played it cool. ‘I had something in my eye.’ On our walk back to our dorm I forced everyone to stop in this magnificent hotel so I could take a quick leak. I ended up in the bathroom for about 45 minutes, legitimately peeing out of my butthole. At one point a hotel employee, requested by one of the many patrons who had been in and out of the bathroom during my stay, came in to spray Febreeze. It was that bad. I was literally being Febreezed while shitting in this hotel. My coworkers knew. There are just some odors…you can’t eliminate.”
“There’s this bitch in my office who always fucks around with the toilet paper to pretend she’s almost done, like she wants to lure you to a place where you think you’re going to finally shit alone. But then she just stays. It’s a poop blue balls and it’s NOT cool.”