After a couple weeks working at The Company, I still hadn’t been able to get it down. I tried dietary supplements, eating at different times, Wiccan chants… and none of it worked. I couldn’t regulate my schedule. I was going to have to become a workplace pooper. Hell is real, and it exists within the small tiled room at the end of a brightly colored hallway in the very middle of my floor of 200 employees.
The worst part of working on a floor of 200 people is not the shit hanging on the walls, or the shit people are making in the kitchen, or the inane shit people say to each other like, “Happy Friday!” The worst part is the shit. The real shit; the shit going down inside the three cramped stalls of the men’s bathroom.
Bear with me here – I have an issue with this topic too. I have never been one of those guys who can fart and then laugh about it. Instead I’m more the kind of person who, because of a lack of an acceptable facility, will remain uncomfortable for hours on end waiting for the right private space in which to do my business. Keeping that in mind, my navigation of the treacherous world of corporate pooping was simultaneously eye-opening and nose-plugging.
A typical instance of this sensory torture happens as follows:
- I am alone in the handicapped stall, staring intently at the grout between the tiles on the floor, going about my business.
- I hear the tell-tale squeak of the bathroom door. The shuffling of loafer-clad feet. I hear a throat being cleared and then… the worst happens. The shuffling heads towards a neighboring stall.
- The shuffler, instead of taking the stall farthest from the handicapped stall, sits in the stall immediately next to mine. I hear the sharp crackling of a toilet seat cover being removed. I see half of a pair of shiny dress shoes go from facing the toilet to facing the stall door. I hear a final rustling as my neighbor gets seated, and then the symphony begins.
- All office pooping seems to begin with a very deep, guttural sigh. As if to signify to all those within earshot that this is going to be a tough one. There is a mountain to be climbed; a battle to be fought. It’s a war-sigh.
- The plopping begins. This varies greatly depending on (I’m assuming) the age and diet of the neighboring pooper. However, no matter what, I will invariably hear every tiny sound made. The bathrooms are completely covered with tile – seemingly designed by someone who wanted to make sure that any turd dropped has as much of an audience as possible.
- I am by this point breathing strictly through my mouth. With laser focus I finish doing what I have to do and prepare to leave. All that is left is to stand up and casually walk to the sink to wash my hands. I’m about to stand up and trigger the toilet’s automatic flush when… the door squeaks again.
- My new bathroom buddy heads for a stall, of course. We are now involved in a scenario I call a “full house” – all three stalls occupied at once. Three adult males in a tiny, windowless place, all engaged in a weirdly intimate, smelly activity.
- The new pooper gets off to an aggressive start, and he’s a grunter. In addition to the prerequisite, “I will begin to poop now” sigh, there are a select few that punctuate each step in their pooping process with an Unnnf, frequently followed by a sharp intake of breath through the nose. There is no way to know if that’s something they also do when alone at home, or if the grunting is for public pooping only. A way to let everyone else in earshot aware that they are totally winning against their shit, and are filling their lungs with its odor as a sign of victory.
- Now paralyzed by the sounds and energies of two people pooping within five feet of me, I wait in terror for it all to be over. Surely one of them will leave soon. Why didn’t I bring the newspaper in with me? Because it’s gross, that’s why. Using the toilet isn’t meant to be an element of a multi-task.
- The first guy flushes and leaves the bathroom. Now all that’s left is me and the guy battling his poop. I hear the door squeak again, and the guy leaves.
- Did I not hear the sink running? Did that guy actually just take a dump right next to me and then get up and leave the bathroom without washing his hands? Am I imagining this? Is this a fever dream?
- I have had enough. I stand up defiantly – I will go to the sink and I will wash my hands and I will go back to work! My menial desk job is not going to half-ass itself!
- In five large steps I’m out of the stall and at the sink. The guy is still battling his poop, and now that I’m clear of the stall area I’m safe. If anyone else comes in, they will just assume that any lingering smell is coming from the gladiator grunting away in the stall against the wall. I can give them a look that says, “Gross!”
- No one else comes in. I finish washing my hands and leave, brain now full of sounds and the idea of smells that will follow me around like a piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe.
Second to home, my office is where I spent the largest amount of my time. In fact, according to a calculation I once did and then immediately regretting doing, I spend more time there than I do in the space where I say I live. I was warned about many things when I started work in the corporate world, but not a single person bothered to mention the awfulness of the bathroom. It’s some Fight Club-like secret that everyone takes to their grave. A quick scan around the office would reveal nothing more than some mild mannered people hunched over their computers, staring wide-eyed at the content streaming by. Some are wearing blue-jeans, some are wearing khakis. Some are in button-up shirts and ties; others are in t-shirts that say Armani Exchange in pink lettering across the back. No matter what they’re wearing, all of them share a deep dark secret. All of them have, at least once, been a part of The Company’s bathroom grotesquerie.