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I work on a floor with approximately 120 people sharing one set of bathrooms (one men's and one women's with approx 6 stalls each). There are a couple of people on the floor who feel absolutely no compunction about bringing their cell phones into the bathroom with them while loudly talking to unknown third parties.

Today, we reached a new low in social etiquette when someone walked in and proceeded to change the call to speakerphone while doing their business. I sat in the next stall with absolutely no clue how to deal with the situation.

I'd like to be able to use the toilets in peace and know that my potentially embarrassing sounds will stay as private as possible. How do I address this? I don't know who all the people are who do this but phone calls in the bathroom definitely happen on a regular basis.

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    Why would be embarrassed bc a person over the phone heard a toot, whereas you would not be embarrassed if the person next to you hear it? What would the difference be? At least you dont need to make awkward eye contact through the mirror as you both wash your hands. – jesse May 29 at 19:25
  • What would you do if the other 5 stalls were occupied while you were using the toilet? – sf02 May 29 at 19:26
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    Maybe it's more of the unknown third party angle that bothers me? It just seems so rude to drag someone else into the bathroom with you. – saritonin May 29 at 20:05
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Personally, I'd have no embarassment whatsoever, and may even consider it a challenge to make interesting noises. I would think the person on the phone would be more embarrassed than you. Not sure you can really do anything about people that are willing to talk in that sort of space.

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    And flush twice! – thursdaysgeek May 29 at 20:07
  • Thanks for challenging my reactions -- you've got a good point that there is no reason to feel embarrassed. I'm going to try to follow the eternal advice of Elsa and just let it go. – saritonin May 30 at 18:20
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Today, we reached a new low in social etiquette when someone walked in and proceeded to change the call to speakerphone while doing their business. I sat in the next stall with absolutely no clue how to deal with the situation.

Make as many noises as possible, fake or otherwise, embarrassing the person in the process. In addition, feel free to loudly ask him if he'd kindly pipe down as you're trying to poop in peace.

However, I get that some may be a little more self-conscious than I. If you want some practical ideas from that standpoint, and you're prepared to go out of your way a bit to not feel as self-conscious:

  • There's probably various times of day when the toilets are busier than others. If you can figure out when that is, you can hold it a bit through the busy times, and go when there's likely to be fewer people in the bathroom. This is especially the case if it's only a couple of people as you describe.
  • Not all floors may be like this - it certainly seems like unusual behaviour to me en-masse. Try a bathroom on another floor. Bit more out your way, sure, but if it were me I wouldn't mind the extra leg-stretching every so often.
  • Simply wait for them to finish their phone call and leave before you do your business.

I wouldn't really complain to anyone unless there's no other option - it's a bit of a bizarre thing to complain about, and you may receive a somewhat mixed reaction.

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I'd like to be able to use the toilets in peace...

This is a legitimate gripe. What's to be done?

  1. Ask the person to take it off speaker or talk softer
  2. Bring headphones into the stall and listen to music/podcast
  3. Do your business as quickly as possible so you aren't subjected to the conversation
  4. Find somewhere else to go to the bathroom
  5. Find another time to go to the bathroom
  6. Accept that you get to listen to your coworkers' private communications -- maybe even enjoy it!

Note that all of these—except the first one—are completely under your control. This is where you have the greatest chance of success.

You have no control over other people, so you can ask politely, but you have no way of ensuring a desired outcome. As with most things in life, the trick is figuring out how you can learn to live with an uncomfortable situation by taking care of yourself.

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