Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tales from the Crapt Crypt

I have all kinds of long blog posts planned in my head - but no time to write them! So instead I will share a short but disturbing tale of horror from my office. Specifically, the dreaded unisex office bathroom*.

Now, on a good day I actually like my nearest loos. Those of us on even-numbered floors get two of the single room, self-contained type, with everything including the the sink hidden safely behind a lockable door. People on the odd numbered floors get the inferior, but at least gender-segregated, multi-stall bathrooms. (They often prefer to use ours instead, causing some long waits at times). I don't really mind sharing with my male colleagues. I just wish they would remember to a) flush and b) lock the door; I've walked in on three different guys in the last year, including two different guys on one particularly memorable day.

So. My story. I entered one of the bathrooms yesterday to find that someone had lovingly draped a long piece of loo paper over the wall-mounted handrail. And I do mean long - almost touching the floor at both ends. It looked perfectly clean and dry. I can only assume that some environmentally conscious person had taken too much paper from the roll and, rather than waste it by flushing it away like a normal person, left the unused portion for the next visitor.

Am I just being squeamish and untrusting, or is this an example of horrible unisex office bathroom etiquette? Or just horrible bathroom etiquette in general? (I definitely wouldn't do this at home, even though I only share with my husband).

I obviously didn't touch the paper. But it was gone a few hours later. I don't think the cleaners had been in, because there were no new rolls of paper and the bin was still full of paper towels. I really, really hope that the person who took it was the same person who left it there in the first place...


*I did my postdoc on a different floor of the same building. We kept trying to segregate the bathrooms by sex - a logical step, you'd think, especially as one of the two rooms on each even-numbered floor has features required only by women - but some unknown person kept ripping the "Men" and "Women" signs down and putting them in the trash. Apparently this was a building-wide phenomenon. People on all floors have now given up and accepted their unisex betoileted state.


  1. It is comforting to know that bathroom issues are common. I have to say, at my present state, the bathrooms are the most disgusting I have ever the point where sometimes I will buy a coffee next door just because the PUBLIC UNISEX restroom is cleaner. Ick!

    As for the loo paper, I agree that it is odd. I appreciate the attempt to be environmentally friendly, but I don't know who would use 'pre-touched' paper.

  2. Eewwwww, ick!

    I'm surprised that anything in that building would be that bad. Did they change the cleaning company or something? I suppose you could access the one in the changing room on the ground floor - that one was never that bad.

    I remember once in that building going into a stall just after someone from our department came out of it. We both smiled and said hi - and then I looked down and saw a disgusting brown murk in the bowl. I couldn't believe it because this girl didn't seem like a slob in any way, and I was shocked that she would leave something that nasty. So I came out, went into another stall (a bit embarrassing as she was still in the room, washing her hands) - and saw the exact same thing!

    It turned out to be the very start of that 2 week stretch when we couldn't drink the water because of the land slide pouring mud into the reservoir. Colleague and I had a good laugh about it - she'd realised what I must have thought at first!

  3. It's not the cleaning company. It always starts out nice and clean in the morning! I hate even thinking about it. A coworker and I used to prefer the change-room, but the Messy Mabel(s) have discovered a new enviroment to contaminate and ruined that one too.

  4. I have to say single sex bathrooms are hardly any better. There have been too many times where I've pranced into the bathroom to squish God's Gift to Women on the bottom of my shoes. Or see an unflushed God's Gift to Women in hanging out in the toilet bowl. I've seen cleaner Frat bathrooms.

  5. Ewwwwwww

    Maybe a unisex bathroom is actually better then, because neither sex wants to be the one that gets a bad rep for being gross? I've actually found the same thing with room mates - mixed houses/flats seem to be tidier than all girl or all boy accommodation.

  6. Oh, man...the memories. LargeU bathrooms were NASTY! I always thought scientists would be cleaner since we all actually KNOW the germs involved.


    Luckily, my current place of work has pristine bathrooms.

  7. Unfortunately, a lot of scientists also believe in the hygiene hypothesis, and take its implications to extremes...

  8. I think this is the only perk of women being a tiny minority in my field: with the bathrooms being gender separated, it means that there is at most a couple of women using a bathroom per floor (and we have 4 stalls, so everyone can pick their own!). Somehow I doubt this outweighs all the negative stuff though (absence of maternity leave, always being the "weird" one in the group, etc.).

  9. ooh, luxury!

    I can put up with a little bit of mess in exchange for more female colleagues though ;)

  10. My old department was in an old office building for a male dominated company. There were at least twice the number of male bathrooms and they were huge. In my hallway it was 2 female stalls to 6 male stalls plus urinals.

    The unused paper is just gross.


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