Workplace Bathroom Etiquette

I haven’t gone to the bathroom alone in approximately 3 years.

I’ve gone to the bathroom wearing a baby in a carrier, with children trying to hug me, with dogs sniffing around and *gasp* even in front of my husband. I have zero shame, sometimes you just have to go. I’ve come to terms with this lack of privacy at home.

So imagine my excitement when I started back to work and found out I got to pee alone again. Starbucks before work? Check! High Heels & Lunch Errands? Check! Peeing without sticky toddler fingers on your knees? HELL YES.

You want my life right now, don’t you?

Except here’s the thing. I don’t go to the bathroom alone here.

It’s a big company with a big bathroom with a lot stalls. There are very few times when I’m in the bathroom alone & this has led to me to seriously think about the rules of bathroom etiquette.

Like what happens if someone catches you mid-poop when you are the only one in the bathroom? Do you tuck your feet in a little closer and wait it out? What if they have to poop too? Oh God, even worse… what if they have to poop too and are waiting you out but you aren’t finishing because you are waiting them out and then the two of you are in some sort of silent poop stand off and I’m not even sure how you determine the loser in that scenario.

Seriously, they should put things like this in the employee handbook.

Or how about this one.  One day you are minding your business and out of nowhere the girl in the stall next to you starts PUKING HER BRAINS out.  What do you do?

I sat there for a minute and debated about what to say. Would I embarrass her? Would I ever be able to look her in the eye again if she finished and came out of the stall?

“Are you okay?”  

Clearly, I went with the most obvious &  ridiculous question ever to someone who is currently puking at work in a public bathroom in front of an audience.


Well okay… she didn’t give me much to work with, let me try again.

“Can I get you anything? Glass of water? Wet paper towel?”


And then she proceeded to moan and continue to vomit. At this point, I had no idea what to do so I walked out. I honestly don’t know who it was. I figure it is best this way. At least I won’t feel awkward when I unknowingly pass her in the breakroom.

So how about you guys? What sort of awkward public bathroom conundrums have you gotten yourself into?

Joanna Osborne is the author of Growing Up in OZ, a digital love letter to her family. By day she works in Marketing and Digital Media for a manufacturing firm.  When she isn’t busy with a demanding  full time job, a toddler, a preschooler, a doting husband and 2 crazy dogs, she can be found tweeting about wine as @RaisingMadison.


Photo Credit quinn.anna via Flickr


  • Jessie says:

    Two words that solve most all bathroom etiquette dilemmas: courtesy flush
    A courtesy flush can hind most all bathroom indiscretions.
    Twitter: jessieyeager

    • Joanna says:

      See- I’ve tried but our toilet flushes SO quickly. And then goes silent. And then you are still left there to duel it out or let someone hear the shit hit the water. literally. LOL
      Twitter: RaisingMadison

    • Joanna says:

      See, I’ve tried that. But our toilet flushes SO quickly. And hten it is silent so you are then faced with the silent duel again or having someone hear the shit hit the water… literally. LOL
      Twitter: RaisingMadison

  • mrshiggison says:

    I suffer the opposite problem as you, just as humiliating.
    Our office is small…like, there’s two ladies in here, one of them is me. If I poop in the one bathroom we have? There is no more obvious culprit when I see my poor, unsuspecting coworker head into the room of doom.
    And well, we all know how I like to Occupy the men’s room on occasion.

    Awkward public bathroom etiquette FOR THE WIN!
    mrshiggison recently posted..We Parent Up To Our CircumstancesMy Profile
    Twitter: mrshiggison

  • Katherine says:

    BWAHAHA!! I love this. At my current office, it isn’t an issue because we have single restrooms…nothing awkward. BUT, before we moved to this office, there were 5 of us working in a barn (literally) that had one bathroom smack-dab in the CENTER of our office space. If you farted in there? The ENTIRE office heard it. If I had to poop? I’d be all “I’m gonna run down to the store and buy some gum” or something equally lame. The worst? Once there was this dude temping out there for us and on the day we were about to let him go he went into the bathroom and didn’t come out for a good 15-20 minutes. After that he left. I went in a few minutes later to pee and HE HAD CLOGGED THE TOILET! I had to plunge the shit of a dude who didn’t work for us anymore. BARF.

    I’m so thankful for our new offices! :)
    Katherine recently posted..Then vs. Now – The Toyota FJMy Profile
    Twitter: lilmissrysmama

  • Terri says:

    Terri recently posted..6 Reasons to Practice Yoga while on Business TravelMy Profile
    Twitter: findingdrishti

  • Mary Beth says:

    How has nobody addressed *talking* to each other while in the bathroom stall? Do you? Don’t you? When to, and when not to? What if your boss starts the conversation? ha ha ha ha ha ha…. glad we have a small bathroom!!!!
    Mary Beth recently posted..Yes it’s me dancing to Lady Gaga.My Profile
    Twitter: bloombing

    • Joanna says:

      OMG I HATE when people talk to me. I have no interest in having a conversation while I’m doing my business. I think a smile or nod if you pass someone in the bathroom is appropriate.

      Also hate when people go in there to have phone conversations or chatting sessions. GO OUTSIDE.
      Twitter: RaisingMadison

  • Beth says:

    You know what bothers me most, if there are several open stalls and someone takes the stall next to you. Courtesy gap please.

    And please don’t talk on the cell phone in the bathroom. I find that odd too.
    Twitter: Beth_ismyname

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