I would hereby like to add another footnote to the ongoing annals of the differences between men and women (and this one truly astounds and befuddles me). Why is it that men are so incredibly comfortable letting everyone in the office know that they are heading into the bathroom to take a crap? This issue seems particularly salient to me right this minute because my office is on the path to the men’s room on the 29th floor. Which means that every single day, I am treated to the charming spectacle of an endless parade of men armed with what should be embarrassingly copious amounts of reading material marching proudly into the shitter.
Women, on the other hand, exhibit appropriate levels of modesty and discretion when it comes to such things. So much so, in fact, that I’ve coined a term to describe a frequently-encountered phenomenon in the women’s restroom at my office—Silent Poopers.
Allow me to describe. At least once or twice a week, I walk into the women’s restroom on my floor and observe the following:
(i) eerie, almost forced silence; (ii) the smell of pooping in progress; and (iii) a pair of immobile feet on the floor of the spacious handicapped stall in the far corner of the office. Using my well-honed powers of deductive reasoning, I immediately conclude that the pair of feet in the handicapped stall belong to a woman who is in the middle of voiding her bowels. And yet, during the time it takes me to empty my bladder and wash and dry my hands, the Silent Pooper remains completely still and soundless. No flushing, no rustling of toilet paper, no throat clearing. Instead, the Silent Pooper sits catatonically, like a deer in headlights, waiting until she is alone again to finish up her yucky business. Oh, and there isn’t just one Silent Pooper. Using sophisticated shoe identification techniques, I have concluded with certainty that there are many.
As strange as it may sound, I truly appreciate the extremely polite—albeit somewhat bizarre—efforts of the Silent Poopers. In fact, if I’m being honest—and there’s no reason not to be, given the delightful freedom bestowed upon me by the veil of anonymity—I might as well just admit that I was unable to ever utilize the women’s restroom on my floor at the office for bathroom visits involving more than one flush during my first year as an associate. I don’t really know what latent childhood trauma contributed to my neurosis (I suppose I should discuss that with my therapist). But during that year, I wasted hundreds of dollars and many otherwise billable hours taking taxis to and from my apartment if and when I was hit with a need to go “number two” and couldn’t wait until the end of the day.
I know that is completely weird, shameful even, but I couldn’t overcome the fear of being discovered in flagrante delicto by a co-worker on my floor. The good news, however, is that I was ultimately able to drop the costly taxi habit after my first year. Thanks to my discovery of the desolate restroom on the 28th floor (my firm only occupies half of that floor, and the only firm employees down there work in HR and Accounts Receivable and thus are complete strangers to me), where I’m actually able to relax and use the toilet like a (semi) normal person. Clearly, I haven’t completely conquered my fear, but I’ve at least been able to tone down the crazy a bit.
Who knows—maybe after a few years of therapy, I might actually be able to use the restroom on my own floor at the firm. But no matter what, I will never, ever understand the in-your-face comfort level that men are capable of in this arena. I guess I just need to accept that WSJ-toting poopers are from Mars, and silent poopers are from Venus.
(Photo modified from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/4nitsirk/6225887076)