1/20/05

Public Service Announcement

I am going to be deadly serious for a second. Restrooms are no laughing matter.

OK, on with the fun.

Have you all seen the movie Trainspotting? Good. That gives you a frame of reference for the restrooms at my last place of employment.

Let's start with a little background.

We had been around a while, but the software industry wasn't what it used to be, and things started going downhill, at least as far as personal space is concerned. The cubes got smaller, the many floors of people were consolidated into 2, and generally the belt started tightening all around. The rugs were vacuumed less often, the trash emptied less often, and -- here's the one I want to speak to you about -- the bathrooms were cleaned less often.

Combine this with having way too many men on this floor for one bathroom to support, and you can see this train wreck happening in slow motion.

First, it smelled like a pet store in there. And not a PetSmart, either. We're talking an independent pet store in a low-rent strip mall. A quick glance around while you're visiting the bathroom in question will tell you why -- for some reason, and this is based purely on anecdotal evidence I have gathered over the last 5 years - a large number of the men in this building piss using no hands at all. I can name two that I have personally witnessed doing this. I simply don't understand it. Here you have something in front of you that is squirting a liquid most people would rather not be covered in, and yet you choose to ignore it, and say, oh, I don't know, put your hands on your hips like you are the Master of All That You Survey. I mean, you're going to have to get it out and put it back, so why the hell do you let go of it in between? It makes no sense.

Secondly, I've never worked any place where you had to wait to take a piss. All the stalls and both urinals were full from 12:30 to 2 pm everyday. You felt like you were at a rock club between sets. If there were some cigarette butts and empty beer bottles on the counter, you'd be looking around for the condom machine. (An interesting aside: In PA, it seems like every bar has a vending machine that sells condoms in one slot, and aspirin in the other. No headache for you tonight, missy.)

Walk with me.

You see that rather large pool of pee in front of the both urinals? Yes, the one you're standing in. That's there because most of the male population of this building are not, shall we say, "in shape." In fact, most of them have probably not seen their junk without a mirror in 10 years. Combine this with their affinity for going with the questionable "look Ma, no-hands" technique, and it's really not surprising that it smells like a monkey house.

Here's something else. There's two urinals, right next to each other, and no "privacy wall" between them. That means a couple of things:

1) If you are shy, forget about it. These things are CLOSE. Put it this way: There is the definite potential for arm-hair contact. If the other guy's cell phone rang, you might actually answer it by mistake. Suffer from stage fright? Just know you will not be peeing in this building in this lifetime, unless you piss in a coffee cup at your cube and surreptitiously transfer it to a toilet or a potted plant at a later date. (That's a story for another time.)

2) Secondly - and this is by far the more serious of the two issues - If you get next to Mr. Manboobs Nohands, you have a pretty good shot at getting pissed on.

Here's a little quiz:

You are standing at a urinal, minding your own business. The guy standing next to you finishes pissing, then shakes his dick like it's a bottle of italian salad dressing. You look down just in time to see some pee splatter on your shoe. Is the correct response to:

(a) Do nothing. Pretend you didn't just get pissed on, turn, wash your hands, and leave.
(b) Turn and politely say, "You might want to work on that shake. It's a little exuberant*."
(c) Yell "Jesus Christ! You just shook PISS on me!" What the FUCK?"


Well, it turns out that choice (c), the only one I personally have any experience with, is probably not the correct answer. If there is ever a next time, and I'm hoping like hell there won't be, I'll try one of the other answers and get back to you.

And here's some little bathroom tips for all y'all:

1. Wash your hands. People notice. If you don't, don't act all surprised when suddenly nobody will shake your hand. And use soap for christsakes. Don't do one of those wave-the-hand-in-the- general-direction-of-the-water type moves and call it a day.

2. Don't talk to me when I'm pissing.

3. Don't talk to me from a stall just because you recognized me through that little door crack.

4. Basically, don't talk to me at all - until and unless we are both at least 25 feet from any bathroom door.

Note to the cleaning lady: Stop following me around. I'm tired of yelling, "Yes, someone's in here!"

*ex·u·ber·ant ( P ) (g-zbr-nt) adj.
1. Full of unrestrained enthusiasm or joy.
2. Lavish; extravagant.
3. Extreme in degree, size, or extent.

12 comments:

  1. Oh my God this is the funniest thing I have read since...well, your last post. Never stop blogging. I might stop because mine is pure monkey dung compared to yours, but you-you can't ever stop.

    In college, Renee and I took a philosophy class (yawn) and there was this really annoying girl in there who acted like she knew everything and bragged about marching band all the time and was really mean to us. Before class one time we saw her leave the bathroom without washing her hands so we made a sign that said "Doesn't wash hands" with an arrow and we sat it next to her so the people across the room could see it. Yes, this was college and not second grade though I could see how you could make that mistake.

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  2. Wow. This was a fantastic piece of writing. I agree with Sara, it almost makes me want to just stop blogging because my sucks! :) I can relate to your bathroom disgust. I work in a restaurant during the night shift, on the weekends. I'll bet you've never seen so much variety of bodily fluids in one place...

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  3. Classic - I agree that you must keep posting. When I left that place, Scott asked me how the restrooms in the new place stacked up. I hate to rub it in bud, but let's just say no lines, no waiting, no runaway fire hose action and very little conversation, none if you are in a stall.
    The kicker is they have an automatic air freshener that goes off every 5 minutes, needed or not, so it's always April fresh in there.
    And, the part you forgot, no deviant sexual antics after hours. I refused to go into those washrooms late or on weekends after THAT all came to light.

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  4. Oh I didn't forget...it's burned into my brain. That is a rich fodder for another post. I will be working that one in (so to speak) - trust me.

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  5. Okay, I made the mistake of reading this post whilst drinking an adult beverage. I now have beer/saliva splatter all over my monitor.

    (Don't worry, It's an e-machine.)

    You should know that most men can successfully open their zipper, grab their undergarments without ever touching their penis. They simply take the elastic part of their undergarments and put it under their scrotum which has the effect of pushing their penis forward to a position appropriate for proper urination.

    I'm sure you're wondering why men would develop this genital-handling agility? Pure and simple: most reason that if they can pull this off, they have no need to wash their hands before exiting the piss palace. "If my hand never touched my penis, why do I need to wash my hands." No judgement here, just telling it the way it is.

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  8. Clearly, you've put some serious thought into this. On one hand I can see your point -- in this particular case, I can see where the average user would consider his genitals to be the cleanest thing in the room. In my mind, the handwashing logic breaks down at a particular point. What about the shake? Or do these same no-hands artists subscribe to the theory that the number one purpose of underwear is to soak up excess moisture? In one particular instance, I've seen a person-who-shall-not-be-named actually go from the urinal directly to the paper towel rack, with nary a sink visit in between. I ask you, why would you need to dry your hands if you've successfully completed the elastic lift and tuck manuever? The only obvious answer is that the technique was not yet mastered, and this particular person didn't have the merit badge yet, so to speak. Also, you have to remember that even if you DO successfully complete said gymnastics, you still have to handle the doorknob on the way out....and I'm sure that it you brought a team of lab technicians in to examine the doorknob at the doorknob cellular level, they would find it covered in Manboob Nohands urine.

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  9. Two words my friend. Shop Dungarees. Never leave your desk again.

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  10. Anonymous2:21 PM

    TRUE STORY: I once worked in the "bowels" of the J. Edgar Hoover building. There are large restrooms (~8 urinals, ~8 stalls) in the building that are adjacent to the elevator banks on every floor.

    Once, I was washing my hands and heard a stall toilet flush from behind me. I could see the person exit the stall since there was a mirror over the sink.

    Since I knew the person, I siad "hi". He replied "hi" and left the Men's room, WITHOUT WASHING HIS HANDS!!!

    I never again touched anything on or around this individual and suggested to my friends there that they likewise avoid "contact".

    The worst part is that when I was relaying this story to some co-workers, one told me a story of a different person that did the same thing with a twist... After the person left the stall, they went to the sink, turned on the water, cupped their hands under the stream and DRANK THE WATER DIRECTLEY FROM THEIR FETID HANDS!!! Then, turned off the water, dried thier hands, and left. No Soap ever crossed their path. I wonder if that person's love interest is aware...

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  11. I had a customer who - even in meetings - used to check every fifteen or twenty minutes the status of his crown jewels. He did so by putting his hands into his pants and setting everything into order inside.
    And yes, we had to shake his hand when he left because he was a customer!

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  12. Anonymous10:05 AM

    I work in a fairly nice office with respectable restrooms. The HR/mtg planner/potluck-organizer-setter-upper chick for the building doesn't wash her hands. She exits the stall, stands in front of the sink, fluffs her curly, curly hair, brushes off her hands and leaves the restroom. Maybe she uses Purell back in her office but...ew. Pee, touch hair, set up food. Gross.

    Back when I worked in a wholesale club, there were no separate employee restrooms. The public restrooms were for everyone. While I've never cared for bathroom chit-chat anyway, that place made me haaaaaate it thanks to a mentally unstable co-worker. Picture a chain-discount-retailer's restroom packed with shoppers, many with young kids, all waiting to pee. Now imagine sitting in a stall and hearing your neighbour holler, "Hey P, is that you?! Is it? I THOUGHT I recognized your shoes! Thanks for putting on register X today, I really have to be on that one 'cuz it's real close to the bathrooms and I have real bad IBS...you know what that is, right?" And so on.

    (Since those days I've had three sons, all of whom have loudly commented on sounds from other stalls, my "bewwy bewwy big butt!", the odor of their poop and my lack of penis, all while in busy public restrooms. Oddly, none of that phased me ;) )

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