It's a sad inevitability. No matter how hard you try, how accurately you plan, how much you control what you eat, it's going to happen at some point: you will have to poop at work. It's where the biological meets the professional and it's always, pardon the expression, a shit show. Let's try to make it easier, shall we?
As the children's book tells us, everyone poops, and everyone has to work, but while we have to work together it doesn't mean we have to poop together, or at least acknowledge that we are all pooping in the same place. It's the great unspoken occurrence of the workplace (unless your office has some crazy rogue nasty pooper or something). So, here are some easy rules to follow so you can drop the deuce without ruining your professional reputation.
Know the Topography
Every office is different in how the toilets are set up, so you have to know the positives and negatives of each set up. If your office has one-man units that's good in terms of privacy but it's hard to escape any blame for noxious fumes. If your bathroom has multiple stalls it's easy to blame the stink on a coworker, but you have to deal with everyone seeing your business. If you work in a restaurant or somewhere the employees use the same facilities as the customers, you have to go without anyone seeing you entering or exiting and possibly ruining your tip. The more you know about the lay of the land, the easier it will be to plan a thorough strategy.
Know the Shitting Toilet
Every bathroom has one, the one bowl that is reserved for dumps. Whether that's the stall in the corner, the bathroom farthest from the desks or what have you, it is the unspoken shitting toilet. Use it. Always. It's like "goal" in a game of tag. No one can judge you if you're in the right place.
Double Check the Door
Make sure it is locked. Twice! If it's not, you are headed for a career-destroying disaster.
Get Out of Dodge
A few years ago I had the luxury of living only two blocks from my office, so when the need arose I could escape to my apartment. While this is rare, there might be a Starbucks or McDonald's or hotel lobby (always the fanciest toilets around) where you can escape. Sure, the throne is probably totally nasty and filled with a million cooties, but at least you'll have some anonymity. If a third-party toilet is unavailable, perhaps go to another floor of the building or another department and sully their restroom. Crop dust that asshole Bob in accounting on your way. That guy is a dick.
Drop the Book
If someone sees you walking around your workplace carrying a book or a magazine and you don't work at Barnes & Noble, then they know where you're going and your cover is blown, you dirty office shitter. No reading material in the bathroom. And if you're dumb enough to disobey this rule, certainly don't leave your newspaper lying all over the stall. People will just resent having to clean up your mess. And certainly don't leave a half-done crossword lying around. Then people will think you're stupid on top of gross. Everyone these days has a phone, so look at that and put it back in your pocket. Hell, you can even send some emails so if a bomb goes off you have a time-stamped alibi.
I decided to put this in business terms to make it more euphemistic. What I really mean is don't sit your ass in there for like 30 minutes. You may be one of those people who likes to take your sweet time at home chilling your ass over the bowl for as long as you want, but this is work. Not only do you have shit to do (pun definitely intended) but the longer you linger, the longer the chance that you're going to get caught and embarrassed. So get in, get out, and get back to your desk and leave the leisurely loaves for Saturdays.
Know What to Expect
I don't want to be crude, but you have to know when your shit is going to stink. Everyone's does. Fact of life, fact of nature. Get over it. But sometimes it's just vaguely unpleasant and sometimes it's a nose-pinching, face-contorting, hand-waving Stink-O-Rama. Based on your digestive situation and what you've been eating for the past 24 hours (pistachios, amirite), you should know which one it's going to be. If it's the former, go to the usual washroom. If it's one of the latter, maybe you should see about finding somewhere else (see above) to spill that toxic waste.
They're free just about everywhere, easily slipped into a purse or pocket for emergencies, and completely effective for disguising what smells like an elephant's corpse rotting in the gutter. Sure, people are still going to know you unleashed a turd, but they'd rather smell that vaguely ashy and sulfuric aftersmell than the stench of your Second-Day Curry.
If you get into a stall, there is no talking to anyone on the outside, unless you have an Elaine-esque toilet paper emergency. It doesn't matter if you enter the space with a coworker in the midst of conversation, as soon as you cross that threshold you need to shut the fuck up. If it's that important, pause before the bathroom door and finish up before heading in. No talking in the group toilet. Period. And this includes grunting while you take a crap. That's just fucking disgusting.
Time the Traffic
If you're in a communal bathroom, try your best to get some alone time. This might be impossible based on the size of your office and the busyness of your bathroom. Make sure there is no one around for the noisiest and most evident part of your business. That's just common courtesy. That might mean holding it back for a bit if someone else interrupts. That's fine. They may know why you're in there, but proving them right is unsavory at best. If you enter the bathroom and realize someone is mid-turd, head to the sink, wash your hands, and leave. Let them finish in peace. You'd be thankful if someone did that for you.
Destroy the Evidence
With some matches and a bit of subterfuge, you can make it appear like you haven't used the toilet at all. That's what everyone wants, to be able to completely ignore the fact that we all have to shit in a communal space. However, that becomes impossible if you leave things behind that destroy that delusion. That includes a streaky bowl. You know what I'm talking about. In the immortal words of Aunt Sassy on The Comeback, "I don't need to see that!" Flush the toilet a few times and get the water to erase away your mark of Cain before exiting.
If you run into someone going into the bathroom while you're leaving it and you just did something foul in there, you have to warn them—especially if it's a one man unit. However, you can not tell the truth. Ever. Use the old, "There's no toilet paper in there," ruse. That's a good one. Or the, "The guy before me clogged it." Everyone knows it's a lie, but that's OK. This is all about keeping up pretenses and maintaining the truth. When it comes to office pooping, conscientious denial is the name of the game.
Wash Your Hands
What are you, a fucking animal?
[Image via Shutterstock]