We have seen how the ladies loos in the workplace can quickly become a complicated arena. Men’s toilets, on the other hand, are simple in their Division and Sub-Division, and have an easy to use set of rules which should be innately understood and strictly adhered to by any professional male.
First of all comes the Division - those who come to work to sit, work, drink the occasional water and leave. And those who come to work to poop. No man should aspire to be in this latter category. Hello? That’s what your home is for. The daily routine should be straightforward enough - get up, go to work, come home, go immediately to the toilet with some suitable reading materials, and stay there until you’re damn well ready to come out and face the world again. You’ve earned it.
The toilet at work should be purely functional, urinals being the standard, and bowls being reserved only for special emergencies. There is, of course, the Shy Guy, who, upon seeing other men already positioned in full flow at a urinal, or sensing any male toilet needs within the office in the next five to ten minutes, will always defer silently to the privacy of a cubicle to urinate. He accepts he has a small penis and wants no part in the battle. This is fully acceptable and wholly pragmatic.
Those who come to the office to poop, on the other hand (let’s call them Tarzan) are rarely so abashed about their toilet behaviour. Squeaks, grunts, sighs, banging and scratching on the cubicle door are all common sounds in the men’s toilet, but are nothing when compared to the accompanying smells. Tarzan distinguishes himself from his female counterpart in that not only does he choose to do this at work, he is usually proud of his toilet accomplishments, frequently still tucking in and looking quite smug when leaving the cubicle. He will make a special effort to grin and gurn at anyone he passes before perfunctorily turning on and off the tap, and leaving innocent urinal dwellers the choice to suck in his stench or retreat to their desks on a full tank clutching their throats and gasping for air.
The Sub-Division can be observed at the urinal. Ideally each man, if he is not already, becomes an island upon opening the toilet door, and resumes regular social skills, habits and privileges only once he departs. Correct observation of this little 'time-out' piece of theatre requires only adherence to the following four rules:
- Focus on your destination only. You already know where the urinals are.
- Where possible, always select a urinal away from one currently in use.
- Stare silently straight ahead from unzipping to shaking and re-zipping.
- Properly wash hands and leave.
Rule Breaker 1: The Talker
On my first day of work as a trainee lawyer in the City, part of my induction included an afternoon workshop in communication skills from a guy, let’s call him Stupid Bob, who had been hovering around the professional world long enough to know better. With only two urinals, and one being used by Stupid Bob, Rule 2 became redundant. Proceeding to Rule 3, I unzipped, stared directly and silently ahead, when...boll*cks, this guy, someone who gets paid to pass on his communications acumen, asks where I’m from, which university I went to, if I’m happy I joined the firm. He might as well have brought me to the front of the class and asked me to produce my chap while speaking for five minutes about the vagaries of contract law. Talking and peeing is illegal. It might not be enshrined in statute (yet), but, like our constitution, is as much a part of accepted convention as not suddenly grabbing another guys penis from him while he’s innocently mid-stream.
Rule Breaker 2: The Peeper
Probably the most frequent rule infraction comes in the form of the cheeky comparative sideways glance. We’ve all done it. Ooh, I wonder what that guy’s penis looks like? Boom! And before you know it, it’s too late, and your eyes have already flicked in the wrong direction. Ahh, like a little acorn, I thought so. Wowzer, lucky guy, no wonder he stoops forward when he walks and always wears a slight smile. So long as you do this infrequently, and without realizing, it is acceptable behaviour. Borderline, but acceptable.
Frequent peepers, however, who engage not only in occasional cheeky sideways peeping, but also prolonged, uncomfortable, blatant head-turning and watching-style peeping, should clearly be singled out and subjected to compulsory peeing in a glass box at the front of the office building.
Rule Breaker 3: Shake, Rattle and Role
Let’s call this guy Elvis. I never see Elvis. It is as though he doesn’t exist. In fact, I wouldn’t believe that he did except for the evidence he leaves behind every day, at every available urinal. Let’s be clear: Shy Guy has the benefit of available toilet paper, should he elect to make use of it, but for the rest of us, a few subtle yet well-placed shakes (more than a few and you can’t pass it off as drying buddy…) and we’re good to go. Elvis, meanwhile, surely comes equipped with a handful of carefully pre-collected and unnecessarily long pubic hairs to each visit, sprinkles them in and around the urinal area, pees, then shakes any excess pee all around the floor as some kind of unholy tribal territorial marking ceremony. No doubt additional shaking (and possibly some wiping) is also responsible for leaving the tap handles consistently wet. For good measure, Elvis most probably completes his penis drying routine with a crafty wipe over the next hand towel, explaining why that is also usually wet.
For any professional male, surely the worst toilet issue of all comes not at the hands of colleagues and strangers, but from within.
You enjoyed your water. The tea wasn’t bad either. Now it’s time to pay the urinal a quick visit. Except when you get there, observing the rules in full, and fully exposed to a colleague, your bladder suddenly develops a nasty personality and decides “You know what Dave, no. Thanks for taking me for a walk, but I think I’ll just go later. Thanks, bye!”
What to do? You’ve already pulled it out, and no doubt the guy, or worse, guys next to you have already engaged in cheeky sideways peeping. While they compete for a new world record in urination duration, all you can do is stand there, penis in hand, and nowhere to go. It is excruciating. And the more you wait, the more your chances of a successful toilet visit dry up. At that point, you have a choice to make: either you can stay there, pretending that you haven’t noticed you’ve been there a full minute or two and it’s starting to get chilly, or you can put it away, eyes firmly to the floor, and back away from the urinal clutching onto the last of your dignity.
Ah, the perils of workplace toilet necessities. Come to think of it, Shy Guy may just be onto a winner...