Rules of the Office Bathroom

I work in an office that is as unlike an office as you can imagine: It’s the opposite of the Office Space stereotype. There are no cubicles. No (well, few) terminally annoying people. No mission statements. No dress code, at least not one we feel bound to respect in any way. Bosses who, on the whole, are pretty decent people.

But right next to us in the building is an office that … Well, did you see Working Girl?

Remember the big hair, the t ri-color eyeshadow, the Jersey accents and camel-toed jeans? All still in action in this place, people. It’s like the last 20 years never happened, and we’re all still humming a Madonna song.

This would be an amusing time-warp exercise, except that we share a bathroom, this office and mine. And since many, many people in that office seem to have missed not only the Smashing Pumpkins’ entire career but also the crucial developmental stage of Understanding Appropriate Behavior in Public Places, I’ve put together a guide for them. Come Monday I’m going to tape it inside every stall and then staple it to their foreheads.

Rules of the Modern Office Bathroom

Shut up.

For the love of God, the place is covered in linoleum and tile. It echoes. When you’re squealing to your girlfriends about your latest Friday Night Fuck, imitating an orgasm in a voice that sounds like an owl being electrocuted, not only can I hear it in the next stall, but somewhere in the next suburb is a woman covering her ears and wishing you a slow and painful death. Shut up.

Do not, under any circumstances, comment on other people’s eliminations. The other day a crazy lady approached my friend Kay in the bathroom after she finished her business and said jovially, “Gosh, you really must have been holding that for a while.” Jesus. It’s not a performance. Nobody needs a review.

Camp out in the handicapped stall talking on your cell phone while an actual girl who needs that stall is waiting for you to finish up your time-share in there one more time, and I’ll break your kneecaps, because she can’t.

Wait a minute. Get off your cell phone. If you need to make a private call, just SAY you’re going to the bathroom and then go the hell outside if you have a Nazi boss who’s that on your case. Don’t sit in the stall yapping away, especially while you’re doing your bathroom thing. What’s the other person hearing? “So, Becky, like I said, Troy and I were at the basketball game, and we saw Sarah and Susie, and … hang on a sec, okay? (PLOP! Trickle trickle trickle. FLOOSH!) So anyway, like I was saying …” Ew.

If you don’t shut up I’m going to stuff a roll of toliet paper in the mouth that’s currently going on and on about the sale at JC Penney’s this weekend and the price of corduroys. I mean it. Shut up.

There’s no need to smoke in there. I’ve had the occasional cigarette, and I’m not immune to the fact that workplaces were a lot happier when everyone could indulge their vice of choice (scotch, stogies, pin-up girls) right at their desks. But when smoking was outlawed in the building, management set up a smoking lounge for smokers, plus it’s like 70 degrees and sunny out, go the hell outside. Don’t light up in the stall next to me, ash all over the toilet seat and forget to flush your butt down the john. Oh, and if you leave your lighter in the stall and I find it, I keep it. After disinfecting it twice, of course.

Okay, so you’re rushed at home, and getting Biff Jr. off to school wasn’t easy today. But the office bathroom is really not the place for you to spread out your entire 35-piece make-up kit, plug in your curling iron, do your nails, spend 25 minutes fluffing your hair with your hair pick, then coat the entire counter, floor, mirror, stalls, and half the support staff in line for the sink behind you with Aqua Net. Do your makeup in the car like the rest of the people on the road.

The bathroom is not the place to make new friends. I don’t know who you are, scary lady with big eyelashes and bigger teeth, so don’t come right up next to me (hello, claustrophobia, how I’ve missed you) and start telling me about your cousin’s bypass surgery. It’s not a social club. Please move. I need to wash my hands. Oh, and crazy woman who sings to herself? Badly? Loudly? The bathroom isn’t the Eagles Ballroom, either, not that you could get a gig there. I find my downstairs neighbor’s cat’s yowling more appealing than listening to you singing “Sugar, Sugar” while you pee.

For the love of God, please, I’ll do anything for a moment of peace and quiet. Just shut up.