I just finished my first day of work at The Evil Empire. I had been in training all day long, my brain thoroughly numbed by talk of core values and vision statements.
Upon being released from my afternoon session, I escaped into the anonymous, comforting confines of the female bathroom. Being back in such a tight-ass corporate environment brought back memories of the requisite female poop etiquette. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. Female poop etiquette — the unspoken rules of all female bathrooms. These rules do not apply to male bathrooms, for I have been told by my husband that if the kids need to be dropped off at the pool, men see no need to circle the block to wait for the perfect parking spot, so to speak. But for us women, things are different. We are polite. We are considerate. And we do not poop in the presence of other women.
The only exception to this rule is reserved for the traumatic and unfortunate explosive poop. It’s the kind that sends you to the bathroom in a clenched-cheek sprint, praying that you will make it there before your sphincter gives way and unleashes its unholy spray. In the instance of said condition, all bets are off. Poop etiquette be damned.
I actually experienced one of the aforementioned explosive poops as I was driving home from work a few years ago. The emergency was so great, I had to pull into a McDonald’s (a ghetto McD’s no less) to use the bathroom. I BARELY got there in time. I pulled my pants down and exploded before my hinder could hit the seat. You’d think that since I was within inches of the seat, that things would’ve landed properly. But no. The force was so great, the spray so powerful, that I ended up creating what looked like a Jackson Pollack on the seat, the floor and the bathroom tiles. I had seen such accidents in public bathrooms before and wondered what poor handicapped person or 100-year old had not been able to make it to the toilet. Even then, I thought, “who on this earth cannot physically hit the toilet?” Well, consider me enlightened. Horrified at my own filth, I proceeded to clean up my masterpiece with toilet paper.
But I digress. Back to etiquette. On any given day, a birdseye view of a women’s restroom would show stalls 1-4 being used by women taking their mid-morning pee. Perhaps one would be pumping breast milk. But in that 5th stall would be a red-faced woman, patiently holding it in until she is 100% sure that she is the only one left in the bathroom. You might find her peeking through the strategically placed observation slits (the gaps between the stall door and frame), gathering recon, looking for any signs of handwashing, or life, for that matter. She would put her ear to the air, listening for occupation (ruffling of toilet paper in far away stalls, the cadence of heels against the tile floor, etc.). If she were particularly anal, she might nonchalantly look under the stall for any shoes (especially ones she would recognize). Upon getting the all-clear, she would wait the appropriate amount of time, usually about one minute — giving any other occupants sufficient time to announce their presence. If no one harkens, then and only then will she will proceed. She then goes about the business at hand, executing a mercy flush if the function takes more time than expected.
The most awkward of all situations is when, after patiently waiting for solitude, a woman is barged in on during mid-poop, the offending lunker splashing down in unison with the interloper entering the rest room. The horror! Without the ability to retract the half-ejected mass, the pooper must continue. Her only defense at this point is to lift up her shoes, as to avoid identification.
On this particular day, the finer points of poop etiquette were running through my mind. I was at the bathroom sink, patting down my oil slick of a forehead with absorbant blotting paper, when a woman walked in, smiled, and entered a stall. She then sat on the toilet and went all Hiroshima on my ass, breaking every poop etiquette rule in the book. She was not in distress — cheeks were not clenched, and she was smiling. And it wasn’t a proper poop — it was a rumbler. I finished up my business as fast as possible, only to be chased out the door by her stink. I thought back to all the times I held it in, out of respect for others. Sometimes it hurt. Sometimes I had to bite my lip to keep focused. I went back to orientation the next day and filled out my class review survey. For a moment, I considered asking for the implementation of Poop 101. Obviously, some people needed a refresher course.