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The bathroom is supposed to be my happy place, not your spittoon/shower/fartatorium
July 28, 2011 12:28 PM   Subscribe

There are three things going on in the men's room at work that irk me. Fellow men, am I right to be annoyed at the spoliation of the safe haven that is the gentlemen's convenience, or am I being unreasonable?

At the office where I work, I routinely see three behaviors in the men's room that get my goat, and I really prefer my goat not be gotten in the bathroom. A bathroom is no place for gotten goats.

First: Mr. X routinely barges into the bathroom, proceeds to hock a loogie for 20 seconds, noisily spits said loogie into the urinal, and then pisses all over it.

Second: Mr. Y sidles up to the urinal and proceeds to serenade everyone with a shivaree of flatulence for the duration of his micturation.

Third: Mr. Z, who is bald, washes his head in the sink for--literally--5 minutes at a time (though, in fairness, the amount of time is a function of the IR-controlled faucets that run for 8 seconds then stop, so he has to trigger the sensor dozens of times to fully wash his pate). He both uses water straight from the tap, as well as a succession of sodden paper towels.

I think each of these is a breach of bathroom etiquette. But at the same time, where else but in the bathroom do I want my colleagues spitting and farting, and where else but the bathroom can Mr. Z wash his head? Thankfully, Mr. Z has never attempted to wash his head in the kitchenette; shouldn't he be lauded for keeping this activity in the bathroom?

I realize that life is too short to take people to task for how they use the bathroom, and I wouldn't dream of being "that guy" who asked someone not to fart at the urinal (particularly given that both Mr. X and Mr. Y are my superiors). I'm not going to send an anonymous note either; I just want to hate them silently.

Are Mssrs X, Y, and Z out of bounds here, from a standpoint of office decorum, or should I just go back to happily playing Angry Birds on the toilet and not pay any attention? I think I've lost all perspective here.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Human Relations (98 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
X, Y, and Z are all in bounds. X needed to hock his loogie, Y needed to rip a fart, and Z needed to wash his head. The bathroom is the only appropriate to do these things, as well as other things, like shitting. Go back to Angry Birds.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:30 PM on July 28, 2011 [74 favorites]


People have weird bathroom behavior. The only cure for it is for everybody to have the own bathroom time, I guess. Otherwise, we just have to put up with others expectorating, flatullating, and washing themselves in ways that we find unnerving.

But this is the sort of things people do in bathrooms, and bathrooms are where they should do it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:30 PM on July 28, 2011


Where else would you have people do these things?
posted by hermitosis at 12:30 PM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Those would all annoy me as well, but I think they're pretty much within their rights to do it. Better there than at their desks, right?
posted by codacorolla at 12:32 PM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know you won't change their behaviour. You want to know if they are out of bounds so you can be more indignant?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:32 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, return to your toilet-based Angry Birds game. These men pose no threat to you or to civilization. Further, I commend Mr. Z for having the gumption to WASH HIS ENTIRE MAZZARD in the workplace, which is raw as hell.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:33 PM on July 28, 2011 [31 favorites]


I like your descriptions, however. You could probably make a bundle if you wrote a washroom book.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:34 PM on July 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


The head-washing I can tolerate MUCH more readily than the other two. I agree with you that it's disgusting. Unfortunately, I know of no way to make it stop. My only defense is that I always use a stall whenever possible, to provide even a little bit of insulation.
posted by The Deej at 12:34 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The restroom is the place for all of those things. Perhaps the others thing you're gross for playing video games whilst shitting.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:36 PM on July 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I give you full permission to silently hate them. Silent hatred is one of my hobbies. I would also probably silently hate you for getting bathroom filth on your smartphone.

(I'm still giggling about the whole question.)
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 12:39 PM on July 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


They are obviously in their rights, but are they acting undecorously? Without a doubt they are.

Just because a man is in the bathroom doesn't mean he should lord his bodily functions over his reports. There are more courteous ways to spit and fart, and even bald men presumably have showers at home.

I would hate these guys, and I think you should too. So cower in your stall, curse them, and silently drop your polite little turds.
posted by swift at 12:40 PM on July 28, 2011 [25 favorites]


Disclaimer: not a man. If you're spending long enough in the bathroom to notice these things regularly, you might wish to incorporate more fibre and fluid into your diet.
posted by altolinguistic at 12:41 PM on July 28, 2011 [26 favorites]


Perhaps you could try to time your bathroom visits or keep them short so as not to be in there when these three men are.
posted by orange swan at 12:41 PM on July 28, 2011


X is in bounds and indeed is to be commended for hawking into the already-icky urinal instead of the DMZ that is the sink.

Y is in bounds, but his actions are deprecated. A gentleman who is aware that fartation is imminent should choose a stall if one is available. The enhanced social anonymity of the stall helps attain the consensual delusion that an anonymous someone is farting instead of a specific, identified person that you're going to have to talk to in the office in a minute.

I think Z may be out of bounds, but I am not bald and so this may just be my ignorance of the grooming requirements of a bald head. Otherwise, I would think that the proper place to wash one's head is at home, and that a gentleman should govern his own behavior in the workplace such that his head does not become unacceptably dirty.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:41 PM on July 28, 2011 [22 favorites]


Wait, why not fart in the bathroom? Isn't it a room specifically for such bodily functions?

If he only needed to fart, went into a stall, dropped trou, and then farted... that would be ok? I don't see much of a difference as I assume you are not standing behind him during, or forced to wear his pants after.


re: loogie spitting... again, it needs to be done. The alternative is basically waiting around until he gets a moment alone in there, and depending on the place that might be very rare.

and the head washing... this is really strange. I don't quite understand why you would need to wash your head and only your head, but a guy's gotta do what he's gotta do I suppose. I have a coworkers who basically gives himself a clothed sponge bath at the sink, and another who does his ablutions in there.

Odd? Perhaps, but that's what bathrooms are for. All within etiquette bounds assuming you clean up after yourself if there's any mess.
posted by utsutsu at 12:41 PM on July 28, 2011


I once had a coworker attempt to include me in a conversation ("Right, griphus?") he was having with someone else.

While I was in a stall.

That is a breach of bathroom etiquette. So is peeing in a sink. The stuff they are doing is just gross bathroom stuff and the pitfall of a shared bathroom.
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think that these are all in bounds behavior, the things that should get your goat in the bathroom are (I have experienced all of these):

1- Mr X is standing at the urinal or sitting in a stall have loud conversation on his cell phone.

2- Mr Y is standing at the urinal responding to emails, with both hands, on his Blackberry.

3- Colleagues, who are presumed to be professional (we're talking 30 guys that make good money in a corporate environment), have such disgusting bathroom habits, that the bathroom needs to be cleaned twice a day.

4- Mr Z exits the stall and then exits the bathroom without washing hands.

5- Mr A using a paper towel to open the door to exit the bathroom and either leaves it on the door handle or drops it on the floor.

And, a former employee of mine who did each of the following:
-Sat in a stall on the toilet for an hour every day, between 11 and 12.
-On more than one occasion, fell asleep on said toilet.
-On more than one occasion, would take his lunch in there and eat it.
posted by Jacob G at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, the maintenence dude would regularly walk directly into the stall I was sitting at -- fucking salloon-style doors -- without knocking or checking in any way that someone was in there. Again, that is an example of a breach of etiquette.
posted by griphus at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2011


First: I was most of the way through typing this when I realized you said "fellow men." This response should not be taken as an indication that I am or am not a man - these are bathroom truths I believe to be universal. So -

If you can't fart in the bathroom then you can't fart anywhere.

The business of hawking lung butter is kind of gross but I'm led to understand that it's very common for dudes at urinals to - and I have no idea why anyone would do this, since it is welcome to no one - leave boogers on the wall, so honestly if he's just spitting lungers then at least he's only doing that.

If the guy's washing his head every day, I don't know, I think that's weird, but here is the important thing: The threshold for unacceptable bathroom behavior is kind of high, since it's the place where you take a steaming dump sitting five feet away from another adult.

Hither, the answer to your question. If we measure bathroom behavior by the appropriate reaction to it - on a scale beginning with absolute nonchalance and ending at, oh I don't know, calling the police - here is where each of these things falls. Feel free to measure your usual reaction against them. It is a strange answer but this is a strange question:

Mr. X: A pained face, invisible to anyone who's not in the stall with you, and no more.

Mr. Y: An incredulous glance in the general direction of where he's standing in the room, through the walls of the stalls. A sour face is appropriate if it is a fart which somehow manages to be notable in a room full of piss and shit and farts; the sourness of the face may scale with the notability of the fart. It is also entirely appropriate to stifle laughter, since farts are kind of hilarious. But that's all.

Mr. Z: A roll of the eyes as you leave the gents'.

Your question seems to be whether or not you are bothered too much by these things. You made a post to AskMetafilter to inquire as to whether or not these things bother you too much, so my answer is yes.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:44 PM on July 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


The only person breaking restroom etiquette is you by discussing the things other people do in the bathroom in front of you. Restrooms are safe areas to do the things that you wouldn't do elsewhere in public.
posted by Loto at 12:44 PM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


The trouble is, you're playing Angry Birds. This means that you end up spending long enough in the stall for all 3 of these dudes to go through their routines. Find a bathroom game that is not quite as compelling, so that you get off the pot as soon as you're done.
posted by IanMorr at 12:44 PM on July 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


PS, seconding that hanging out extra long to play video games in a public toilet is just as off-putting as anyone else. No matter how innocuous someone's bathroom activities are, they are ALWAYS wishing they were in there alone.
posted by hermitosis at 12:45 PM on July 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


Fellow men, am I right to be annoyed at the spoliation of the safe haven that is the gentlemen's convenience, or am I being unreasonable?

These are not mutually exclusive propositions, good sir. You're right to be annoyed -- no decent man can possibly avoid being irritated by other people. However, your position is also unreasonable, simply because these men are entirely within their rights to do any and all of the disgusting acts you describe.

We all know that other people are disgusting; but our civilization and civilized state demands that we tolerate the consequences of the human body with mature good cheer. That's what this fellow man believes, anyhow.
posted by clockzero at 12:51 PM on July 28, 2011


re: loogie spitting... again, it needs to be done. The alternative is basically waiting around until he gets a moment alone in there, and depending on the place that might be very rare.

Wait. What?
posted by The World Famous at 12:53 PM on July 28, 2011


Yeah, you can't do anything but complain. What they're doing is nasty and unnecessary, but unavoidable. My favorite are pisstalkers, who talk on the phone while urinating. You know, you can HEAR that on the other end of the phone.
posted by cnc at 12:53 PM on July 28, 2011


My suggestion: Use a bathroom on another floor or in another part of the building.
posted by cnc at 12:54 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where else would you have people do these things?

Farting could be done in a stall, rather than having other bathroom users walk through a cloud of flatulence. My point is not that bathrooms smell--that's their nature--but one doesn't have have to fart in the bathroom thoroughfare. In the stall with you!

Spitting could be done into a tissue and discarded. I certainly don't think he should be doing it in the sink, for the avoidance of doubt. Spitting into the toilet seems more discreet, but it seems a bit unnecessary.

WASHING ONE'S SKULL CAN BE DONE AT HOME. Since Mr. Z has to bend over to put his head as close to the faucet as possible, there's little room to walk around him.

I definitely want Mr. X spitting in the bathroom and not my office. But's it's pretty weird when there's three urinals, the two on the outside are taken, and someone walks up and starts spitting or farting right in the middle.

Also, NB: don't focus on the Angry Birds bit; that's a joke. It's Nethack, obviously. (Another joke.)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:56 PM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I agree with you. Well, with the exception of the head-washing, I've never seen that. I do use the bathroom to clean up after riding my bike to work, so maybe I should be excoriated for that.

The problem I have with loogie-hocking is that the act is so disgusting to me that I literally retch when I hear that noise. And I cannot think of a good reason anybody would have for spitting, really.

The people at work here seem to try to fart as loudly and often as possible in the bathroom, sort of a mark of masculinity. "Where should I fart?" You should fart outside, away from other people, maybe while walking to your car. That way you don't create an environment that requires respirators to enter.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:56 PM on July 28, 2011


Wait. What?

What I mean to say, is dude needs to get rid of what is in his throat. He can't do it in the public areas of the office, he needs to do it in the bathroom.

If that's not ok, then he needs to wait until he's alone in there so he doesn't offend anyone... in a big office that might be impossible. So, the throat loogie needs come up.
posted by utsutsu at 12:57 PM on July 28, 2011


All I thought of was all this lost fodder for an Ally McBeal comeback episode.
posted by meinvt at 12:59 PM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I realize now after reading the follow up, I assumed the objection was to the loogie noises, not the receptacle chosen.
posted by utsutsu at 12:59 PM on July 28, 2011


We've discussed the spitting in the urinal thing before -- I understood that it's a learned behaviour carried down from Roman times (and of course my googlefu is failing me).

Yeah, these behaviours are perhaps stretching the limits of social acceptability, but if not in the washroom, where else is this to be done?

Some dude gave me the stinkeye last week for farting in the washroom. Whtvr, pal -- what you were doing in the stall was way worse.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:59 PM on July 28, 2011


Count your blessings. My coworker, as I type right now, is farting loudly and wafting his gas over his cubicle toward me.
posted by empath at 12:59 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


To some extent these actions are vestigial male bonding rituals. They push the boundaries so as to find the guy who will cover your back in the next war.
It's not you. You'll be working in psyops.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:00 PM on July 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oops -- forgot the spitting link.

Enjoy.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:00 PM on July 28, 2011


These all seem pretty mainstream to me, particularly the first two, which I encounter all the time. (I mean, people have flatulence while in stalls all the time, so really what's the big difference - that you can see who it is?)

You'd be even crazier with the noodly-random whistlers, the half-hour-long stall sitters, and the flosser-brushers I also encounter in our rest room. The serious annoyances are the ones who piss randomly on the lowered toilet seat (come on!) or who leave behind some minor disaster involving giant boluses of t.p. in the bowl which anyone who's ever used a toilet understands will obviously not flush down but cause an overflow for the next person.
posted by aught at 1:02 PM on July 28, 2011


I think all of these behaviors are annoying but acceptable. And as a balding dude, I'm compelled to wonder if regular pate-polishing is something other bald guys regularly do and I've just missed the memo. Towel the sweat off with a hankie? Sure? Wash my head in the sink? Never happened.

I would also like to commend the poster for his hilarious and excellent use of the word "shivaree".
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:05 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


My office is filled with people who see nothing wrong with doing all the aforementioned activities right out in the open for all to enjoy.

The restrooms of both sexes are wastelands of despair.
posted by elizardbits at 1:05 PM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fellow men, am I right to be annoyed at the spoliation of the safe haven that is the gentlemen's convenience, or am I being unreasonable?

You are a nattering nabob of needlessly nosy negativity.

GOOD DAY SIR.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:05 PM on July 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


Farting could be done in a stall

No it can't, stalls are at a premium 'cos of all the Angry Birds players taking half an hour to do a 5 minute dump. If the farters start using them as well, then all of a sudden you've got a queue, which is the worst thing that can ever happen in a work restroom.
posted by IanMorr at 1:06 PM on July 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


You could always suggest that they keep their rude bodily functions private until they have demonstrated merit by signing with a Major League Baseball team.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:06 PM on July 28, 2011


The only odd behavior here seems to be the washing of the head. However, that makes sense to me, somewhat. I'm going to assume the man is prone to sweating and is self-conscious of his bald head either feeling or looking greasy after he's been sweating. Those of us with hair have, well, hair to disguise the normal greasiness accrued throughout the day.

I doubt he's neglecting his shower. He's just self-conscious of his baldness and is taking care of real or imagined greasiness.
posted by gilrain at 1:06 PM on July 28, 2011


even bald men presumably have showers at home.

Some men -- my father was one, as he got older, and he wasn't entirely bald -- have skin that gets really oily and needs to be washed mid-day, otherwise it smells terrible and can be very offensive. So be glad he's doing this as a consideration to his coworkers. If he's in your way, say "excuse me" so he can stand up and let you by.

and yes, if you are in the bathroom so often and for so long that this is an issue, you should definitely be paying more attention to your diet, and that isn't snark.

it's pretty weird when there's three urinals, the two on the outside are taken, and someone walks up and starts spitting or farting right in the middle.

I would argue that it would be more weird if he stood there, not taking the middle urinal, until you'd both left.
posted by davejay at 1:11 PM on July 28, 2011


clarification: have skin on their scalp that gets really oily...
posted by davejay at 1:12 PM on July 28, 2011


I am not a man, but I'd think X and Y would at least have the decency to use a stall for bodily functions other than just straight-up peeing. I don't really have a problem with Z, other than the oddity of choosing to do this at work. But maybe his wife has thrown him out and he has to bathe at work. Or maybe birds use his bald head for target practice. Or possibly he is even under the misapprehension that bathroom sink head-washing has amazing hair-restoring recuperative properties. So I'm kinda sympathetic to Z and would let him slide.

Also, as a woman, I am tickled pink by griphus's obvious horror with the audacity of the two men speaking to him while he was in the stall. This happens in women's bathrooms all the time! I've been in a stall between two women who were talking back and forth, loudly, right across me, as it were.

But then, also as a woman, I am constantly amazed that you guys put up with a place that demands you stand up and pee into a trough like horses.

I was halfway to a little crush on Admiral Haddock for even bringing all this up, but the Angry Birds stuff brought me to my senses. Using electronics in the bathroom is a breech of etiquette, too.
posted by misha at 1:14 PM on July 28, 2011


This is silly. The only thing that's out of bounds in the mens' room is to attempt starting a conversation. Every other disgusting act is happening precisely where it oughta happen. Go back to Angry Birds - I hear it's fun.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:14 PM on July 28, 2011


Since it would probably be impractical for your office to have a separate farting room, spitting room, and head washing room, those behaviors are consolidated to just one room. Humans are gross. Deal with it. if you can't, I would suggest going home to take care of your business.
posted by Beardsley Klamm at 1:15 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not a fellow male, but rather a shy female who is still conflicted about using a public restroom when Mr. Bowel Voice comes a-calling. Mr. Adams has no such hesitation and has chastised me more than once: "What do you think a bathroom is for??!" Yet I'm still haunted by the time we stopped at a small combination convenience store/rest stop in Tennessee en route home from Georgia. Apparently something I'd had for breakfast (or maybe last night's dinner) wasn't agreeing with me, and I informed him that we MUST STOP NOW. Unfortunately, the public restroom was small, with only two stalls, and for some reason the outer door leading to it was propped open. So there I was, taking care of business and experiencing that rush of relief that one has after clenching every sphincter muscle known to mankind for 20 minutes, when two young girls ventured in to (from what I could overhear) stand at the sink and fix their make-up. One girl suddenly vocalized a very loud "EEEEEEEWWWWWW, gross!!!!! It smells like that time in the cafeteria - " "Oh, gross, don't say it, you're making me sick, eww, let's get out of here," her friend replied. I stayed hidden in the stall until I was sure they were miles away, but Mr. Adams, who'd been nearby the open restroom door (like I said, it was a small store) heard the entire exchange. He had a good ol' belly-laugh over it for the next 30 miles or so. "But I thought you said that's what a bathroom is FOR!" I pleaded my case. "Yeah, but it's still funny when you stink it up enough to knock a skunk off a garbage truck," he replied.

So I join in the chorus of those who ask - if you can't attend to matters most personal in a rest room, then just where are you supposed to take care of such things?! For heaven's sake, are we now supposed to feel guilty for blowing our noses loudly in the office can, or loudly crumpling the wrapper from our maxi-pads?? Tell us, O Lord of Acceptable Public Restroom Behavior, what is the dividing line?
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:16 PM on July 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Gobbing is generally disgusting, and should net be done in front of others. Anyone who really needs to hoick up should have the decency to go into a cubicle. Farting at the urinals is fucking disgusting and thoroughly inconsiderate towards fellow-urinal users. People who proudly fart in front of others are boors.

The head-washing thing is just weird.
posted by Decani at 1:17 PM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love farting at the urinal. The feeling, the sound, the smell, the transgression of bogus proprieties.

But I do not use the restroom nearest to my work group; it's always one floor up or one floor down. cnc has the solution to your problem.
posted by bukvich at 1:23 PM on July 28, 2011


Thanks for the viewpoints. I should add, as well, that we, of course, have our share of no-hand washers, and the dude who just throw paper towels on the ground when leaving the bathroom, etc.

I've also seen a senior lawyer mark up a document on the wall above the urinal while pissing so that he could give it to an underling (associate or secretary) to rewrite when he finished, and also an assistant do a load (!) of photocopying, take the documents into the toilet stall, put them on the floor, do his business, and THEN proceed to distribute the copies (mine went right in the trash), and then I proceeded to burn my hands off.

And the guy who randomly SHAT ON THE FLOOR that time; that seemed rude.

At essence, I think of the bathroom as a discrete public place; all the males at work share it. I know it's the bathroom, but I don't really want to be standing next to some dude who's ripping them for 20 continuous seconds.

Tell us, O Lord of Acceptable Public Restroom Behavior, what is the dividing line?

That was the question--what is the dividing line? Though I'd also hasten to remind you that all of these activities in question are in the "corridor" of the men's room--and I'd assume you're crumpling your maxi-pads in a stall. Although I have been told that the ladies room at my office has a couch in it, for some reason.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:23 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a bald man, I've never washed my head in a public bathroom. But posters above are correct - we lack the grease-absorbing mops that the rest of you folks are walking around with. My head doesn't accumulate much grease during the day, but I wouldn't leave the house in the morning without a shower or a head wipe-down (or a hat, I guess). My guess is that Mr. Z happens to generate more head-grease than I do, and is thankfully aware of it and takes pains to keep himself appropriately groomed.

Would you fault someone for combing their hair in the bathroom? Or applying a mid-day round of deodorant? They seem equivalent to me.

(I personally find spitting and/or farting a little off-putting, but I fall into the "what happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom" camp.)
posted by flipper at 1:26 PM on July 28, 2011


Oh, and lemme add: I'm a bald guy. I rinse off the head grease in the bathroom sink from time to time. I'll also do it to cool off on a hot day (feels amazing - y'all folks with hair are missing out) - this is a normal thing. All the things you describe are normal things in a bathroom. The only thing that's weird here is someone getting bent outta shape about what goes on in a room designed for people to shit in.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:31 PM on July 28, 2011


Pretty considerate for them to save the farting and loogieing for the bathroom, I say.

The first two are in the "gross, but whatcha gonna do" category. The third is just weird. I'd suggest trying to reframe Mr. Z's headwashing as amusing rather than annoying. Mentally refer to him as "Ol' Headwashy Z" and draw cartoons of him walking through the carwash and massaging his scalp with a floor buffer. Don't tell your coworkers, though.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:44 PM on July 28, 2011


Flipper, ETW (et al.)--I did not know that about oily bald heads! That is an interesting twist, and I'm not unsympathetic to it (I'm heading down that road myself!). But it's the hunching over and putting his head in the sink and blocking the way out of the bathroom that's a problem, I think. It seems less weird to use a wet paper towel to clean your head while you're standing up.

By contrast, we do have people who brush their teeth at the bathroom sink; that still strikes me as weird, but to each their own. It doesn't seem rude, just a little gross (to me, anyway).

For those who seem to think anything goes in the bathroom: Clearly, there is nowhere else at work one can cut one's toenails. Does that mean one can do that at the men's room sink? I don't think so; and I think the same goes for the activities I'm asking about.

Just because the men's room is the best place at work to give yourself an enema doesn't mean it's not stepping over the line of acceptable bathroom behavior.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:44 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yes, there was also the series of distressing incidences wherein someone with gray hair was apparently washing their junk in the sink, judging by the number of 2-inch long gray pubes clogging the drain.
posted by elizardbits at 1:44 PM on July 28, 2011


Though I'd also hasten to remind you that all of these activities in question are in the "corridor" of the men's room--and I'd assume you're crumpling your maxi-pads in a stall. Although I have been told that the ladies room at my office has a couch in it, for some reason.

Some women, when they're in a hurry, might start unwrapping and crinkling immediately after purchasing a hygiene product from the machine en route to the stall to employ it.

I fell very ill at work once, and had to stretch out on the couch in the ladies' room (it was the only surface other than the floor available). Mr. Adams drove over to pick me up and take me to the doctor, and after clearing it with an egressing lady ("Is there anybody else there besides the lady on the couch?") he entered what I surmise was his first public ladies restroom. He looked at the padded couch, the nearby chairs and said with surprise "This is the womens' bathroom? No wonder you girls take so long...you could live in here!" Anyway, I presume the traditional presence of a couch/sofa/flat surface in office building ladies' rooms is for the benefit of "that time of the month" when we fragile females might need to lie down.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:49 PM on July 28, 2011


All those things sound horrific, but as a chick I have to say that just peeing in front of other people also sounds horrific.

As long as we're here...is praying audibly, loudly, to Jesus while you poop a thing? I have heard it here at work twice now, and it kind of freaked me out. Like I wasn't sure if she was having a heart attack, but didn't want to bust into the stall...
posted by JoanArkham at 2:01 PM on July 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


I don't really want to be standing next to some dude who's ripping them for 20 continuous seconds.

I know a few dudes for whom peeing without farting appears to be impossible. I assume it is some sort of plumbing impairment that I know nothing about, more than a social impairment.
posted by jessamyn at 2:02 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here at work there are a couple of "gentlemen" who drop trou to use the urinal. And a couple who completely remove their trousers before using the stall. Reminds me of George Costanza.

But the one that takes the cake is the guy who eats candy bars in the stall and then leaves the wrappers behind. It's usually been something with chocolate but today he left a Twizzlers wrapper on the floor.
posted by tommasz at 2:10 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


what would you do in the bathroom if you were allergic to synthetic fragrance?

carry my own hand soap as god intended
posted by elizardbits at 2:27 PM on July 28, 2011


It seems less weird to use a wet paper towel to clean your head while you're standing up.

This is good in theory, but does not work well in practice. I, being a fantastic partner, shave Mr. Zophi's head on a regular basis. I learned early on that the parts that still have hair will cling to anything that touches his head once they get 5 o'clock head shadow. I would never attempt a de-oiling with a paper towel.
posted by Zophi at 2:29 PM on July 28, 2011


Since Mr. Z has to bend over to put his head as close to the faucet as possible, there's little room to walk around him.

bathroom users walk through a cloud of flatulence... in the bathroom thoroughfare


Your bathroom sounds too small, if not also poorly ventilated and sound-baffled. Some workplaces even have showers, which would help not just Mr. Z but also the cycle commuters and lunchtime joggers. The least you could expect is room to pass by. Your real problem is a cramped thoroughfare, for which you should blame management, the architect, the developer -- perhaps even capitalism itself! Were stall walls lacking, would you blame the poopers? No? Well then why blame the farters and benders for aisles so narrow that you can't avoid their rear end (or smells therefrom)? Don't fight your fellow toileters; work together for change!
posted by salvia at 2:33 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing you have already read it, but if you haven't, please peruse The Mezzanine for lengthy discussions of bathroom etiquette, poopoos and other wonders.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:45 PM on July 28, 2011


And I am still haunted to this day by the sight of a lone spork atop a cistern in a corporate washroom.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:47 PM on July 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wait, why not fart in the bathroom? Isn't it a room specifically for such bodily functions?


Maybe, but it's way better to discreetly exit to the stairwell, and let 'er rip. The acoustics are much better.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 2:50 PM on July 28, 2011


I draw the line at masturbation in the stalls, with its unmistakable sounds. Hocking a loogie or farting seems tame in comparison.
posted by jasper411 at 2:53 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, from both the title and content of your question, it seems like you view the bathroom as a refuge from work. Maybe you could find a different refuge? I'm not suggesting you take up smoking, but smokers have one benefit of getting 15 minutes away from their desk and their job. If this small break is being used to play Angry Birds on the crapper, then maybe you could find some other way to get a brief reprieve from the work day, and spend as little time in the bathroom (with its accompanying sounds and behaviors) as possible.
posted by codacorolla at 2:58 PM on July 28, 2011


Consider yourself lucky.
posted by 5Q7 at 3:33 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've learned SO MUCH from this thread - funniest thing ever.

And I thought the girl who talked on her phone while sitting in the stall - flushes and all going on around her - was bad.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:12 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sometimes find it difficult to pee without farting - it can be hard to relax enough to pee without letting it slip.

Some idiot where I work keeps leaving half-full plastic cups of water in the stalls, so they spill all over your feet when you open the door to go in.
posted by doop at 4:38 PM on July 28, 2011


First: Mr. X routinely barges into the bathroom, proceeds to hock a loogie for 20 seconds, noisily spits said loogie into the urinal, and then pisses all over it.

Pissing stuff down a urinal drain is amazing fun, and this man is getting what he can out of life but what he doesn't realise is that his wife is planning to leave him.

Second: Mr. Y sidles up to the urinal and proceeds to serenade everyone with a shivaree of flatulence for the duration of his micturation.

I'd have to let this one slide. A bathroom is a good place for farting.

Third: Mr. Z, who is bald, washes his head in the sink for--literally--5 minutes at a time (though, in fairness, the amount of time is a function of the IR-controlled faucets that run for 8 seconds then stop, so he has to trigger the sensor dozens of times to fully wash his pate). He both uses water straight from the tap, as well as a succession of sodden paper towels.

My guy was a combo of all three. I used to work at a place where there was a guy who hid in the bathroom almost as much as I did - and that was a lot - and every time he was in there he would brush and floss his teeth, and then spend literally five minutes going "AH-HA! AH-HA! HOOOORGH! HAH-HAH! HUUUURKCH! AH-HARGH!" to clear his throat, and then that would go in the piss trough and he would (presumably) shatter it with his urine blasts, while farting non-stop for like forty seconds. Then he would go back to the sinks and comb what little hair he had left on his dumb fucking head, with one of those little plastic combs, and he had really coarse hair so it would make this *scrape scrape scrape* sound like he was sandpapering his beard. In the end I stabbed him.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:53 PM on July 28, 2011 [24 favorites]


Would you fault someone for combing their hair in the bathroom?

Yes I would -- being a guy with a bashful bladder, who can't actually go until the little room's empty, waiting for you younger guys to finish primping is extremely annoying.

amazed that you guys put up with a place that demands you stand up and pee into a trough like horses

The place doesn't demand it, rather some aspect of the macho code a lot of us disregard. Sit down, and relax!

Also -- I'm a bald guy who never knew about this oily skin problem some of my brethren have. However, I've never seen a man washing his head at a sink, as described here.
posted by Rash at 4:54 PM on July 28, 2011


And the guy who randomly SHAT ON THE FLOOR that time; that seemed rude.

THIS ONE IS OKAY TO BE UPSET ABOUT. Good lord.
posted by davejay at 5:06 PM on July 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think I know how you can put an end to this. You have your phone with you? As triggerfinger mentions, this is happening in women's restrooms and I recommend you pick up this habit. In the midst of all the loogie hocking, farting, and head washing, you simply saddle up next to them at the urinals and make a call.

(Please call your voicemail and pretend to have a conversation. Don't force another person to listen to all this.)
posted by Houstonian at 5:07 PM on July 28, 2011


You're playing games in there, dude!

This is essentially what bathrooms are designed for - encasing all the vile/stupid/weird/procrastinating things people do in one place so that *everyone* else doesn't have to be privy to it.

Also, please write a book of some kind.
posted by mleigh at 6:04 PM on July 28, 2011


The one I don't understand is the loogie. Why do people need to do this at all, period (in a restroom or otherwise)? Maybe it's because I'm female, but I've never in my life needed to spit.

I think the farter should go in a stall, and the spitter shouldn't do it, period. The head-washer seems ok.

I'm happy to be female after reading this :-)
posted by whitelily at 6:23 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


In order of most appropriate to least appropriate:

1. Mr. Y farting while pissing. It's just a bad smell. And really, if someone hides in a toilet stall you don't think that the fart cloud can escape?

2. Mr. X spitting in the urinal. Seems unnecessary, as there are alternatives. But not inherently grosser than pissing.

3. Mr. Z washing his head in the sink. Washing significant parts of your body is one of the primary reasons why you have a home. Homeless people wash their bodies in a public bathroom sink. If you have a home, you should not be doing this.

4. You using your phone while taking a dump. Really, you can't wait? And after washing your hands, next time you use your phone they're almost back to being as germ-covered as they were before you washed your hands. Maybe you should warn people before lending them your phone. The other guys are harmless; you are a menace to society.
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:57 PM on July 28, 2011


Your first two goats actually annoy me more than the third. I've got chronic sinus problems, and sure, the occasional discreet post-nasal-related noise may, on a rare occasion, be unavoidable, but I refrain from a general policy of noisy snot-movement around other people because it's FUCKING DISGUSTING.

On the same principle, the bathroom is the appropriate place to fart, and it's not always deliberate, but if you know that you can't pee without emitting a stream of gas, maybe grab a stall. And examine your diet.

Give the head-washer a break, he's obviously trying to minimize some sort of perceived head-grease problem, I'm sure he's not enjoying this.

By contrast, we do have people who brush their teeth at the bathroom sink; that still strikes me as weird, but to each their own. It doesn't seem rude, just a little gross (to me, anyway).

Oh, come on, you've gotta brush your teeth before a post-lunch meeting -- where else would you brush your teeth while at work? Don't you brush your teeth in the bathroom at home?

Are Mssrs X, Y, and Z out of bounds here, from a standpoint of office decorum, or should I just go back to happily playing Angry Birds on the toilet and not pay any attention?

Oh my god, toilet-texters, with those plasticky little clicking noises. That's up there with people who retire to the bathroom to conduct a personal conversation on their cell phone...who are nearly always loud talkers.
posted by desuetude at 7:09 PM on July 28, 2011


I think you're absolutely spot on to be appalled by this behaviour. Whatever can be going through the head of the gentleman who is spitting? Can't one swallow? And making flatulence a performance for all to enjoy is highly uncivilised, absolutely, and ought to be discouraged with the aid of of a withering glance and perhaps a slight disdainful cough. Surely anyone can learn to be quiet and discreet about such things? As for pate-cleansing, bending one's head over into the basin is only appropriate when searching for a lost contact lens. A tactful pat-pat with a moistened handkerchief is completely inoffensive when performed within the confines of a lavatory stall or stairwell.

To drop the haughty attitude for a moment, I would say that working with other bipeds presents hazards of etiquette as a matter of course. I worked in an office where one fellow made a daily morning practice of taking the office newspaper into a stall for 20 to 30 minutes. He was also a compulsive non-handwasher. A lot of us didn't get around to reading that paper. *shudder*

If you can find a way to work from your home, this may be a solution. Worked for me! Otherwise, you might want to seek another bathroom. These behaviours will grate on your nerves and poison the workplace for you.
posted by fish tick at 7:17 PM on July 28, 2011


(I live and work in northern California, just to set my context:)

1. Spitting in the urinal (or the sink, which also happens at my workplace) is totally disgusting and makes me dry heave. I never spit, and I don't understand why guys feel the urge to do it... go out of the building and spit in a bush if you really must.

2. Farting in the bathroom - okay, you have to relax everything to ... use the bathroom, and farting occurs. Yes it's gross, but small amounts are in-bounds. If you're really letting 'em rip in the bathroom, you are totally rude or just clueless. You are supposed to cropdust an empty hallway or conference room, not save them up for the tiny bathroom where you know many guys visit often.

3. The public sink - you can wash your hands, and you can splash water on your face. That's it. The sink is not your personal mini-bathtub. I see guys scrubbing their heads and hair and necks and splashing water all over the place... it's just gross. Brushing your teeth is tolerable.

4. (Bonus) - you MUST wash your hands after you've touched your junk. At my workplace there's a 50% chance a guy will go #1, zip up, and right out the door! Hey how are ya! Just touched my privates and didn't wash my hands! Hey! Which room is the meeting in?
posted by blahtsk at 7:54 PM on July 28, 2011


If I worked with you, I'd fart in your general direction. It's a bathroom. This is the only place where we have to drop all pretenses of civility and face the fact that we are animals and we can't help but shit, piss, fart, sweat, and some how dispose of our boogers.

Just be thankful that you don't overproduce muccus, your head doesn't sweat, and through diet, genetics or superior sphincter control, you either don't fart or fart quietly.
posted by fzx101 at 8:09 PM on July 28, 2011


Of course if you need to fart and if you really, really, really need to spit (and I think that this is a classic case of the distinction between need and want - dude wants to spit, doesn't need to) then it's best to fart and spit in the bathroom. But please, wait for the room to empty out. Go hide in a stall and wait til you know everyone's left.

All this reminds me of the sign I saw once which read, "Please do not throw cigarette butts in the urinal." Someone added, "It makes them soggy and hard to light."

And for what it's worth, your rage is completely justified. Just remember you want to murder them but you don't need to.
posted by firstdrop at 8:16 PM on July 28, 2011


I forgot: head washing is fine. Here the distinction between want and need is too fuzzy for anyone to pass judgement. (It might be the only way the guy gets to cope with the farter and the spitter and the creep in the stall whistling, screeching, chuckling and cheering.)
posted by firstdrop at 8:24 PM on July 28, 2011


No, their behaviors are not out of bounds. Grow up. Bodies do what they do, and the bathroom is the place for all those things mentioned in your original question.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:25 PM on July 28, 2011


Oh my god this thread is so disgusting, and so hilarious. It also makes me glad I stay at home with a small boss instead of having to share a bathroom with who-knows-who. At least your bathroom full of farters, head-washers, and spitters isn't also full of passive aggressive notes, like the ladies' room at my last job was. Yes, it had a couch, but lying on a couch in a public bathroom is like the worst best option if you need to lie down somewhere. Yeck.

Do you work in a building with more than one floor? Are there any secret bathrooms you can play Angry Birds in, instead? During my many years of office work, I always worked in buildings that had at least one restroom that was so far out of the way that no one used it. Those bathrooms were so much more peaceful (and I didn't have to stand in line (!) to use my own office bathroom in between classes. Oh the indignity.)
posted by pinky at 8:53 PM on July 28, 2011


If only my former coworkers shared Admiral Haddock's sense of decorum!

My verdict:

Captain Spittoon - Really could learn to use a handkerchief. The bathroom isn't a great place to unload, but at least he didn't use his trashcan. That said, WHY MUST SPITTERS MAKE THE HORKING SOUND? It's worse than my cat.

Farty McTrumpetpants - OY. See, he knows he gets kind of a pass because of course we'd rather he pollute the bathroom than the office. But making everyone else walk directly through his green cloud is just exploiting the situation. HATE. Stalls exist for a reason.

Finally, I just can't with the head washing. What's next, lunchtime footbath in the communal sink? You wouldn't expect someone to wash their hair in the sink at work - his damn skull is no different.

Your goats, they are justified.

Thank you for a very entertaining read.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:55 PM on July 28, 2011


1. Alas here in Japan, gargling is big business, to the point where the company pays for the gargle liquid to be in all toilets. So they go in, and pretty much snort and harking up a lung every time. Horrendous sounds. I'd rather they didn't, but it is exactly what the toilets are for (in this culture).

2. Toilets are for farting, end of story. You can't always control the volume either. Using a stall could be classier, if one is available, but they are often full of people sleeping, or playing angry birds (seriously). Generally, 1 or 2 people queuing for stalls too.

3. Odd, but I've seen that here. Including general face washing.

What I don't like are the people brushing teeth in the toilet sinks. Just feels so unhygienic. Some even brush their teeth whilst using urinals. Brrr.

We also seem to have booger wipers too. I assume it is the younger folk, still living with mum.

But worst of all, and the shitters who leave splatters of blood in the bowl, and sometimes, SOMEHOW (seriously, the physics involved are mind boggling) UNDER the toilet seat. Yeah, blood. In a men's toilet. I don't even...
posted by lundman at 10:51 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You should simply unmute the volume on Angry Birds. You won't be able to hear them, and pretty soon they'll learn to run when they see you enter the restroom.

The sound of, um, vigorous throat clearing makes me heave, too, but at least if they're doing it in the bathroom you have somewhere TO heave. Please don't suggest that they go outside, I have this horrible lingering anxiety that one day I actually will throw up in the bushes.
posted by anaelith at 10:57 PM on July 28, 2011


Thank you for a very entertaining read, sir and ladies and gentlemen. This thread is living proof that people can still write. On the basic questions, I go with the apparent majority that 1 and 2 are gross but rather there than elsewhere, and 3 is odd but acceptable.
SpaceKitty mentions foot-washing in the handbasin. I have actually seen this done. However:
In the Middle East, therefore Muslim country
European style bathroom, therefore no washing facility for before prayers
Impeccably dressed gentleman (spotless white dishdash etc) who I know has a PhD in economics.
You get used to it pretty quickly.
posted by Logophiliac at 11:21 PM on July 28, 2011


Re playing video games in the bathroom: I have irritable bowel syndrome. When things are really backed up, I take in a book or a videogame. It distracts me from the pain and generally helps me get out of there faster than if I went in without something to do. As a kid I'd just rock back and forth on the toilet seat repeating "this too shall pass" until I could get up.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:09 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rash: ...being a guy with a bashful bladder, who can't actually go until the little room's empty, waiting for you younger guys to finish primping is extremely annoying.

Try the breath-holding technique: Take your position either in the stall or urinal, breathe normally, and then exhale about 75% of your breath ... After about 45 seconds you should experience the pelvic floor "drop" and your stream will start.

misha: But then, also as a woman, I am constantly amazed that you guys put up with a place that demands you stand up and pee into a trough like horses.

I think the ability to stand while peeing is advantageous; it saves time and effort. There is no need to remove clothing from the body if the body can be removed from the clothing. Besides, there is something manly about the grim business of mutely urinating shoulder to shoulder with your peckers in hand and eyes to the distance, mightily contributing to the chorus of streams - that singular acoustic din of liquids on metal in a tiled bathroom. So yeah, kind of like horses. Man-like horses engaged in an organically aural bonding experience. Call us centaurs is you must.

Admiral Haddock: Fellow men, am I right to be annoyed at the spoliation of the safe haven that is the gentlemen's convenience, or am I being unreasonable?

Sir Admiral, if you cannot inhale the fart of your fellow man with relish and rejoin him with a blusterous wind and a gentleman's grin, surrender your bowler hat and cane at once.
posted by troll at 3:33 AM on July 29, 2011


All, I am delighted and enlightened by your thoughts. I think it's always hard to ask the internet about "decorum" since it's inherently localized in a place (and a space, if you're theoretically inclined). Doubly so when it's decorum about unseemly topics, which can be so little talked about that everyone's personal view becomes the entire universe of their experience.

Ultimately, I found the diverging answers helpful, as they reminded me that my colleagues may have different notions of what's acceptable (and brought the bald man's oily head issue to my attention, which, as I mentioned above, I'm not unsympathetic to).

And, of course, there were enough right-minded people who found the behaviors in question horrifying that I feel justified in my indignation. I feel almost middle of the road, given Tumid Dahlia's tale of stabbing over restroom matters.

And now, some 16 hours after posting my question, I feel it's finally safe to emerge from my favorite stall, legs cramped and feet numb from the extended sojourn here with you--wiser, but perhaps a little worse for wear. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Fartor refartus, I ascend to the firmament and mark this thread resolved.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:29 AM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the thread's resolved, perhaps you could fill us in on why you don't just use the disabled bathroom like a sensible person, where you won't be subjected to these kinds of behaviours.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:37 AM on July 29, 2011


My commute is sometimes over 2 hours long, and it's possible for me to get quite sweaty during it. Sorry, dude, but if I'm going to bathe at the end of my commute, it's gonna be in a bathroom. I'll try to be discreet, but cooling my dome is usually the fastest way to cool the rest of me down without a full-on whore's bath.
posted by Eideteker at 7:50 AM on July 29, 2011


Ah, thanks Logophiliac - a perfectly cromulent reason for bathroom footwashing. My mistake!
posted by Space Kitty at 1:53 PM on July 29, 2011


The problem I have with loogie-hocking is that the act is so disgusting to me that I literally retch when I hear that noise. And I cannot think of a good reason anybody would have for spitting, really.

Pro-tip, don't move to China. Been here a year and still not used to the hawking due to a lung infection that seems to plague all males here.
posted by arcticseal at 1:30 AM on July 30, 2011


cooling my dome is usually the fastest way to cool the rest of me down without a full-on whore's bath.

Speaking as a fat man with a shaved head - unless you are one, you probably have no idea how much (and how fast!) your head sweats. It's incredible. As such, a quick dunk in the sink and toweling off in incredibly refreshing and does wonders for one's sense of cleanliness/well-being.

So unless Mr. Z crawled bodily up onto the counter and shoved his head under the faucet all while moaning like a bull moose in rut, I suspect that his actions were within the bounds of decorum.


for the record: I have never done more than wiped my head with a damp paper towel in the office bathroom, but I wouldn't think twice if I really felt it necessary.
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:56 AM on August 4, 2011


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