Going to the Bathroom at Work

This Atlantic article about the design of public bathrooms (or lack thereof), pee-fear, and the guy whose patients call him Dr. Pee but he doesn’t want them to call him Dr. Poop is my everything.

Of course, like most shame-centered human drama, things really come to a head in the workplace. We all have our coping mechanisms — loud coughing, premature flushing, waiting it out. Maybe some of us just own it! Or hold it in forever and then die. One woman featured adopted the short-lived strategy of bringing her iPod into the bathroom with her and blaring music while she poops. Something to think about:

Now, in the workplace, she has new strategies.

“I walk in, I immediately scan every door,” she says. “I take in the situation and if there’s nobody in there, I start running. I sit down and am immediately yelling at myself ‘Go, go, go, you can do it, goooooo!”

But if someone comes in before she’s able to pee, it’s over.

“I call it my failure to launch,” she says. In that case she’ll either wait for the person to leave, or pretend that she’s already finished, flush, wash her hands, and leave.

Soifer has seen similar strategies among paruretics he’s worked with. “There’s all sorts of routines, we’ve all developed them,” he says. “One of the classics is, if you walk in after someone, you wash your hands until they leave.”

The article seems to paint peeing as the bigger issue here, if only because we do it more often (um, one hopes), but I think we all know the truth.

Also this is the lede of the piece:

When Oprah Winfrey served on a Chicago jury in 2004, she couldn’t go to the bathroom attached to the jury room unless her fellow jurors sang to drown out the noise. One of the songs they sang was Kumbaya.

Photo: booleansplit

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