Everyone has had at least one awkward bathroom encounter at work, whether it's someone forgetting to lock their stall door or just having to watch a co-worker pick a piece of lettuce out of their teeth while you quietly wash your hands. Luckily there are some very simple rules we can all follow to make this whole public bathroom situation a little bit easier. Read on for the most important rules of workplace bathroom etiquette in this article originally featured on Thought Catalog.
You'd think it would be different when you're in some Norman Foster designed office building surrounded by educated, respectable people in suits. But, it's not. Office bathrooms too often look like Superdome toilets when the Monster Jam is in town.
This list has been compiled many times before. But trust me, it's worth saying it again:
- Don't wear shoes memorable enough to be recognized under a bathroom stall.
- Don't spend more time building the nest than you spend sitting on it.
- Find the safe haven toilets, usually located on the client meeting floor (nicer bathrooms) or near HR (where the men's room is a ghost town).
- Don't provide colleagues with any details of your experience. (i.e. "I just created a Pollock on porcelain masterpiece.")
- Don't wait for someone to open the door for you or bother using a hand towel on the knob. Grow up. If you shake hands, ride in cabs, or eat in restaurants, it won't make a difference.
- Don't take a newspaper. Guys are not exempt; this applies to all 56 genders. Smartphones are unsanitary for a reason.
- No long conversations at the urinal. A simple "Hey man" or nod is acceptable.
- Absolutely no talking between stalls.
- If someone playfully taps their foot at the adjoining stall border, it's okay to tap back ("as a joke") because we're all better off knowing their true intentions.
- Don't announce your trips beforehand. I can't help but time you, and I really don't want to.
- The only thing worse than seeing a legible ID badge at someone's ankles between stalls is watching it scrape against the putrid tiles below the bowl. It begs the question, "What other bad choices are you making?"
- Avoid the last stall; studies have shown it to be the most unsanitary because people incorrectly assume it to be the least trafficked. The same is true with the disabled toilets, but that's for other reasons (lonely nights working late).
- If there's a nice hotel nearby, take a walk. Then grab a coffee on your way back, just to let your stomach know who's boss.
- Don't talk on a cell phone. If I'm on the other end and I hear an echo, any weird noises, or even a sloppy attempt at muting, I'm hanging up.
- If you toss your tie over your shoulder at the urinal, either your tie is too long or your **** is too short.
- Don't flush with your foot. All you're doing is transferring urine and fecal matter from the floor to the handle. Just wash your f***ing hands.
- They're not movie theatre seats. I don't care how entertaining this timeline is, handle your business and get out. (Hiding interns get a pass on this.)
- No laughing at (or acknowledging) the strange noises. And, no jokes. We've all heard "How do blind people know when to stop wiping?" before.
- No pulling rank. In the bathroom, everyone is equal, including your boss's boss.
- Don't spit gum into the urinal. The guy who has to pick that out with his hands took two buses and a 5 a.m. train to get here.
John LeFevre is the creator of the @GSElevator Twitter feed and the author of the soon-to-be-released Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals.