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Courtesy Flush

At the news station where I work, there are only three stalls and one sink in the small womens restroom. I always try to strategize my visits to the loo, time these frequent trips, so that nobody else is there when I avail myself of the facilities. Sharing restroom time with a coworker is an awkward experience. There's sassy, fashionable Sandra, who you'd never think to look at her, but she lets out tiny farts behind the privacy of the half inch metal stall that doesn’t even go all the way to the ceiling. And diminutive Theresa, who surprisingly, pees like a race horse. Hearing my boss pee is like seeing my teacher at the grocery store when I was in third grade. A shock to realize she has a life outside the classroom, and she eats Raisin Bran. Either way, I find sitting side by side, half- naked, only a thin partition of metal separating me from another half-naked individual, not conducive to restroom productivity. Particulary when they try and carry on conversations with me.

These people who set up camp in the stalls, as if they're in in the bathroom at home, never cease to amaze me. If I am mid-poop, and somebody walks in, that's it for me. I am done. And not by choice either. Unless of course it's a bad case of diarrhea. Oh, it's horrible. Sweating and grimacing, trying to keep all manner of ungodly noises from echoing through the extra acoustic restroom for all to hear.

Sometimes the other restroom occupant is savvy. They sense a fellow restroomer in distress, so they do their business quickly and get the hell out. No lingering They know. I am also a restroomer In The Know. If I sense stall distress, I don't loiter. Nobody wants to meet up face to face after a particularly odorous and loud restroom session. Sometimes the poop splashes, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes an accidental fart escapes, but when it's mind control versus a bodily function, the body pretty much wins every time.

Then there are The Teethbrushers and The Primpers. Those bastards. These anal teethbrushing, flossing, make-up fixing, sink hogging bitches irk me no end. Take yesterday for example. I was enjoying private time in stall number three, which brings up an interesting side note. Do you have a favorite stall? Do you always use the same stall, if all are available? It's a personality thing. Some people are same stallers, others like a little variety. Personally, I like to mix it up.

So there I am in stall number three, when I hear someone come in the door and set up teethbrushing shop. This begins a strange set of circumstances that only I may be aware of. I never can tell if others feel the way I do, or if, like my mom says, it's just me with my odd set of quirks, pet peeves and annoyances.

I admit, there was a SLIGHT odor. A mild, old pumpkin smelling stench. That's not to say I don't flush. I flush all right, and I flush often. It's called a Courtesy Flush and I am all about the Courtesy Flush. My shit generally doesn't have a chance to stink. The minute it hits water, it's spiraling down the bowl, on its’ way out of town. This makes for a better bathroom experience for all. I don't understand these restroomers that actually seem to enjoy the smell. They hang out, let it linger..

Sometimes, for various physiological reasons, my timing can't be exact. Consequently, a little odor escapes - hence the pumpkin smell. But not much! Not like these set-up-campers who have god knows what for lunch then proceed to melt paint off the walls.

I am already embarrassed by the restroom stink, was in fact, praying to god I'd make my escape without a run in. Teethbrusher apparently doesn't mind. I can hear her flossing, disgusting floss against teeth noises. Probably flipping half her lunch across the mirror. Now I have a dilemma. I can leave the stall because I am finished, but Teethbrusher will be able to put a fact to the stink. Whenever we pass in the halls at work, she will give me that knowing look. Or she won't look at all, which is worse! I can stay in the stall, but she could really take a long time, she still has to brush for fuck sake! My abnormally long stall session will be conspicuous. She may think I'm sniffing cocaine, or worse, still pooping! But at least I wouldn't have to run into her and exchange embarrassed, office banter in the funky air we both know is my fault.

ME: Lunchtime bathroom break, he he he (awkward, nervous laughter)
TEETHBRUSHER: Yep, just brushing my teeth, spicy lunch (a little to perky)
ME: Where did you go for lunch? (not really caring)
TEETHBRUSHER: That Mexican restaurant on Broadway (floss floss gross gross)
ME: I've heard that's really good (god in heaven save me from meaningless exchanges)

Now actual minutes have stretched by. I have been in the stall for an obviously lengthy amount of time. She can hear that I'm not peeing. I try to shuffle around, make toilet paper noises, belt jingling sounds, as if to say, "Yep, all business in here." Although I flushed the toilet long before she came in, I give it a final flush for effect and step out of the stall. Teethbrusher is now in the actual teethbrushing phase. Why is she taking so long? Is she trying to teach me a lesson? Is there something to be learned here? Does she actually want to see who is responsible for the, er, aroma of the restroom? Could it be that she simply does not care, and just wants to brush her teeth?

She is, of course, occupying the entire sink, which presents yet another dilemma for me. I can stand there and wait for the sink, prolonging my shame at having a digestive tract, or I can leave the restroom and wash my hands in the break room. But she will think I'm stinky AND I don't wash my hands! I stand there awkwardly then say "Er, uh, I'll just wash my hands in the break room." Teethbrusher looks at me strangely, as if wondering why I, a virtual stranger, am informing her about my hand washing. I bolt from the bathroom at the same time, my coworker Jodi is headed in. I wrinkle my noise and raise my eyebrows as if to say "Eww. Whoever that is brushing her teeth sure stank up the place". She gives me a "I get you" grimace in return and feigns holding her breath as she continues inside. I scurry to the break room and vigorously wash my hands before heading back to the safety of my desk.

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Reader Comments (8)

Hilarious - love it. My husband is one of those fortunate people who can go when he wants, ie wait till he gets into the privacy of our own home (and we have separate bathrooms in which to relieve ourselves!) but me, I take after my mum - when I gotta go, I gotta go. I'm glad I'm not the only one who stresses about doing it at work - it isn't a choice for me - I have to. I try and find the most secluded bathroom to go in, I positively refuse to use the shared restroom where all my co-workers go - I never seem to be able to pull off the nonchalant "someone else made that horrific smell" shrug on the way out. So I dash about the building, trying to find another restroom where no-one else will see me and put face to the crime. Why is a such natural bodily function so shameful???
September 20, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAli

This is the funniest post that I've ever read! It is all so true! there are at least 6 stalls on my floor, and I am usually one of those ppl who will walk to another floor to use one when I have to do something other than pee.

It's too awkward when others come in--I can't thing of anything else that is more awkward and they always choose the stall that is right next to you when there are many other empty stalls around. Why?

P.S. Thanks for the shoutout on my blog, fellow Brooklynite! I am loving yours.
September 20, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNichole
Monica, hysterical!!! LMAO!! I share your dilema, our bathroom at work only has two stalls and we share it with another company next to us!! Plus the plumbing is as old as Moses and every now and then likes to add to our digestive mishaps by perfuming it;s own pungent sewer oder into the tiniest bathroom I have ever had the misfortune of being stuck with. The vent doesn't work and there are hardley any courtesey flushers, more of the garden variety "I don't have to flush my shit or piss, you dig!" kind of people. Urgh! But hey like Ali said... if ya gotta go, ya gotta go!
September 21, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulia
Sitting here laughing our asses off!! Monica you continue to amaze us, bringing up things that we all think about, but don't talk about - we love it! I (Natty) have to admit that I prefer to be one of those poop when I want kind of girls; however when I can't escape it I try to find the farthest bathroom from anyone who might notice me, flush with each splash, and even run the water if I can... Thanks for a good laugh.
September 30, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKimmie and Nat
Hahaha Hysterical!!!! I bet so many people, co-workers, whoever, think about that a million times a day. There are those lucky people who can contain themselves until home, but for those other 75% who can't, they are sharing our thoughts. Can totally relate. Great one!!
October 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMel
you are the same old forward ass girl i remember....but now it all seems so funny....your stories are very entertaining....this one takes the cake....see ya in the restroom..dumpie
October 29, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSpencer N

Gah, no. I can't bring myself to poo in public toilets. In fairness I can't bring myself to do it in other peoples houses unless I'm really comfortable with them. I'm just a bit neurotic.

March 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLola Cherry Cola

hmmm....very interesting!
thanks google

January 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterirredymn

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