Thursday, June 07, 2007

Coworkers Who Keep Tabs on Your Bathroom Habits

I just almost died laughing. And the fact that it was to Dear Prudence disturbs me to no end. I will post the letter and response for educational purposes.

Apparently this letter is not an unusual issue because a friend told me the exact same story. Yes, it must be The Body Week here at Surviving the Workday, eh? But imagine the shame of the person monitored! And the lack of compassion from the onlookers!

Dear Prudence,

I am one of five women at my office. Roughly three out of five mornings, the one man we work with spends the first 10 to 15 minutes of the day in the (single, shared) bathroom. We work in a small office where we need to be available to any current or potential clients who call or drop in, so it does affect the rest of us if someone disappears mysteriously since, obviously, he doesn't announce that he's heading off to the can. I feel that if something is happening on such a regular basis, he should be able to take care of it at home before he comes to work. (He has only a half-hour commute.) My two-part question for you is: Is it worth saying something to him about it? And, presumably this would be a job for our manager, but what would be the best way of going about this? She usually hasn't arrived by that point in the morning, and so is not aware of this tendency.

—Waiting for the Can

Dear Waiting,

How would you approach this with your manager? "Sue, I believe Dick starts his day with a bowel movement at the office. Could you please tell him to coordinate his bodily functions better so we don't have to cover for him for the first 10 minutes of work?" Maybe you could talk to Dick and tell him that if he's going to be doing something beside No. 1, he should announce it so the rest of you can plan your morning accordingly. Or maybe Dick is in the bathroom checking his insulin, maybe he has irritable bowel syndrome, or maybe it's hard to imagine that there is anything more inappropriate for you to say anything to anyone about.

—Prudie