Friday, June 22, 2007

Keep an eye out for my new book called "Shit or get off the pot" where I delve deeper into public bathroom scenarios.

There are few things in the world less awkward than a bathroom at a large corporation. There you are butt cheek to butt cheek with your supervisors, managers, and fellow co-workers with whom you’re racing up that corporate ladder and it creates some interesting issues.

First of all the bathroom is deathly silent, no keyboards clicking, no hum of distant chatter, no piped in “white noise” just dead silence in which even the smallest fart reverberates like the aftershocks of an A-bomb explosion. Secondly you must deal with the following bathroom personalities:

The Self Assured: This person throws caution (and flatulence) to the wind and has no qualms about doing their business in the bathroom whether there are other people in there or not.

The Shy Shitter: This is the person that absolutely refuses to take a crap if anyone else is in the bathroom. They’ll just sit in the stall and clench until the room is empty.

The Synchronizer: This is a combination of the Self Assured and the Shy Shitter. They’re not quite confident enough to let it all hang out, and not quite so demure that they’re willing to wait to crap. The Synchronizer’s technique involves waiting for neighboring flushes to camouflage their gastric explosions.

The Talker: This person always seems to enter the bathroom with a companion and doesn’t skip a beat in the conversation during bladder or bowel emptying and only pauses slightly for flushing.

Now these four personalities are fine in and among themselves but when thrust together into corporate bathroom land – it’s not a pretty sight, or smell for that matter.

Imagine this scenario. A Shy Shitter (henceforth known as Shy Shitter 1) has just sat down, relieved in the fact that she can poop in peace when someone walks in. She clenches and waits. Person 2 pees and then there is silence; no rustling of toilet paper, no shifting of feet and it’s evident that this person is also a Shy Shitter. It’s a battle of the wills now. Does Shy Shitter 1 hold her ground and wait it out because she was there first? Does Shy Shitter 2 respect Shy Shitter 1’s seniority in this manner or does she think she can wait her out?? The tension can get pretty thick. Maybe 1 will tease 2 by tearing off some toilet paper, therefore giving 2 a false sense of hope that 1 has given up. Maybe 2 will give a little cough as if to say “I’m not going anywhere honey”.

Now imagine a Synchronizer enters the scene. What is she to do? If neither Shy Shitter is going to flush then she’s at an extreme disadvantage. Does she therefore become Shy Shitter 3 or Self Assured? The other option is to flush her own toilet. The bathroom has automatic flush sensors which will often go off while you’re still sitting on it, so the Synchronizer may feel confident enough to flush her own toilet under the guise of a malfunction and bear down at the same time. Witnessing this display of both courage and discretion may embolden one of the Shy Shitters to revert to Synchronizer traits or they may continue locked in their epic struggle.

Now nothing much bothers the Self Assured. They’re unaffected by the Shy Shitters and the Synchronizers. They’ve gone in to do a job and they’re going to do it. However, there are some things that can shake even the most Self Assured. First of all if they’ve been followed in by a Talker, they’re less likely to let loose because even for the self assured it’s too awkward to let one rip while someone is telling you about the sleeping habits of their 4 month old. This will force the Self Assured to be either a Shy Shitter or a Synchronizer or perhaps even to abandon her attempts all together and have to return after giving The Talker the slip.

Walking into the bathroom at the same time as a co-worker or manager can also quell the zeal of the Self Assured. They’re less likely to be completely indiscreet when they’ve been identified before entering the stall. Now if they manage to make it in the stall without being seen they are undeterred. They may time their exit so as not to be identified after the fact and they usually wear inconspicuous footwear so as not to be identified by their red and black polka dot heels.

You may wonder about my bathroom personality. I’m a Synchronizer. Teetering on the edge of “I don’t give a damn” and “I’d rather not have my co-worker know that I’m capable of blowing the enamel off the toilet bowl”. It’s a daily struggle I tell you. I can’t stand it when it’s just me and a Shy Shitter in there. I can’t count how many times I’ve just wanted to say “Okay honey, that Whopper Jr. I had for lunch is sending the contents of my lower intestines into the express lane. I know you’ve got to shit too so let’s just let it out on the count of 3. I won’t judge you and you won’t judge me and nobody will ever know.” I never pluck up the courage to say anything though.

One of my co-workers is an extreme Shy shitter. I mean this woman could spend an hour trying to go. She’ll go in and if she’s head to head with another shy shitter she’ll just leave and go back in later. I find that amazing. And if there’s a Talker in there she’s literally mortified, because if she can’t even squeeze out a turd while sitting next to someone, the thought of someone bold enough to pee and/or poop and talk at the same time is just unfathomable.

Obviously this gives great insight into people’s personalities as a whole. A Shy Shitter is timid about many more things besides waste excretion, and the Self Assured is obviously more confident in other arenas of life as well. I just thank god that we don’t have to stand next to each other and pee. Imagine how awkward that would be!

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