Archive for the ‘strategy’ Category

Restroom Strategery: Watch your six!

This isn’t so much a restroom story as the distilled wisdom of countless restroom battles.  And I see people making the same mistakes over and over.  I’m here to help.

First off, I should point out that I recognize ladies may have a different set of rules for restroom combat.  I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, that the less I know about what goes on in the ladies’ room, the better.  But there’s really no more important or primary rule for the no-holds-barred warfare that is the workplace men’s room than this:

NO WINGMAN!

Seriously guys.  We are an army of one.  A lone sniper or dive bomber.  Is this that hard to understand?  So, if I’m heading into the loo and you’re behind me, what do you do, hotshot?  What do you do?  That’s right.  You peel off and head back to the surface and see if you can get a few of those TIE fighters to follow you.  Er, I mean, just back off, man!  (When you can get more than one movie reference into a single paragraph, don’t you have to do that?  Oh, and that makes three, though this last one was obscure and oblique.  Obsblique, you might say.  Gene Hackman, BTW.)

Anyway, you have to step off.  Of course, I don’t trust you, so it’s not going to come to this.  In my building at work, we’re well equipped with fish-eye mirrors at most of the corners, and the area with the elevators and restrooms is especially well appointed.  I can tell if anybody’s within twenty yards of the restroom when I’m headed there.

Interestingly, the duty of the leading and trailing man here is the same:  Walk away.  If you’re the trailer and you’re within sight of the other guy hitting that door, you walk.  If you’re in the lead and can see someone’s on your tail, you bail.  It’s really not that difficult.

I know you’re going to object, "But Mr. Handwasher, I gotta go bad!!!"  And I respond in the bronzed words of my dearly departed fourth grade teacher, Mr. Hellenga: "Dolezal, turn around!!!"  Oh, I mean, "I never knew anyone who had to go good!"  (He just said the other one so often that it stuck in my memory.  Dolezal was my best friend, BTW.)

Of course, on my logic here, there’s a statistical chance that nobody gets to go to the bathroom.  Well that’s the breaks, kiddos.  Until we learn to space ourselves properly, we probably deserve a few prolapses.  So figure this out!

Now that I’ve given you the Bad Cop routine, let me soften the blow somewhat.

Just because you peel off and give the other guy some space doesn’t mean you have no options.  First, you’ve gotta ask yourself a question.  Do you feel lucky?  (Now you know I couldn’t resist that, right?)  No, seriously, the question is, did he see you?  And now I need to explain.

The main thing we’re trying to avoid here is what I like to call Mutually Aware Dumpage/Drainage.  It’s akin to Mutually Assured Destruction, except in a more worklife/social context.  So it’s fine for you to know who else is in the restroom with you.  It’s just not fine for him to know that you know.  And especially for you to know that he knows that you know.  And so on, world without end, amen.

I guess it’s worth pointing out now that this chiefly concerns the arena of the stall and not the stand-upper.  Yes, pee-shyness is a real problem, but it’s not as bad as the other nightmare scenario.

The bottom line is this: You don’t want to put a face with what’s going on in that other stall.  And you don’t want your face attached to what’s going on in yours.  Trust me on this.  Because while you may be the world’s worst at remembering names or placing faces, there are things you cannot un-experience, and you remember the people who put you through them.

Now you may think it doesn’t really matter, but just remember to think of this next time you’re giving a presentation at work.  While you’re up there talking about Eliminating Time-Wasters at work, do you want someone in that room who’s intimately familiar with just how much waste you’ve eliminated lately?  Didn’t think so.  You haven’t considered this before.  I know.  You regret your past misdeeds.  Go and sin no more.

As Dumbledore said to Hermione in The Prisoner of Azkaban, "You must not be seen."

So if you don’t think you were made, you can hit that door and assess the situation, trying to keep yourself anonymous, keeping in mind that someone may be trailing you without your knowing it.  Is it secret?  Is it safe?  But maybe that guy in front of you is at the stand-upper.  Maybe you’re taking a stall.  It’s all good.  (By the way, you must examine your own conscience to decide if taking a urinal next to another guy is allowable.  I can’t make that decision for you.)

And this leads me to the final, albeit quite obvious concluding question:

"Mr. Handwasher, I’ve failed and now I’m in the restroom and I’m followed closely by another, or I’ve just followed somebody else in."

These things happen, my friend.  They shouldn’t, but they do.  Just tell me you didn’t hold the door for him.  Because that’s just not cool.  It’s not cool in the downstairs lobby, and it’s especially not cool in the Smelly Confines.  Seriously men, we all come equipped with two perfectly good arms.  Let’s let each other use them!

Sorry, I digress.  There’s no choice here.  You came in to wash your hands.  These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.  Move along.

Get me?  Whatever urgent business brought you here is now on hold.  You step over, wash your hands like your momma taught you (be a good example even if it’s just for show), and walk.  There’s no other way. 

I hope I’ve helped someone.  May you be blessed with many anonymous evacuations.

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Ringers, and All The News That Is Poos

Pardon me while I bask in the glory of the subject line I just created.  It’s a thing of beauty.  It’s actually one of the things I enjoy most, coming up with great titles.  For instance, when my mother was thinking of hanging out her shingle as a lactation consultant, I told her she should try these taglines: “We bring out the breast in you!” and “You’ve tried the rest, now try the breast!”

Moving on.  I’ve decided to reveal another character name. After, that is, I report that I took one M.K.’s advice on dealing with a Ringer.  Hmm…I suppose this is a character name I’ve not previously revealed.  Oh well.  He’s not a major player.

So, the Ringer is a guy who talks on his phone in the bathroom.  This particular guy evidently carried a conversation into the Smelly Confines and took a Stand-Upper.  His technique was impressive, however, as he didn’t say a word for a full two minutes.  And then he started in at about 70dB.  I laughed out loud, then took my friend’s advice.

I flushed.  Repeatedly.  This was easy, as I was only in the stall to change clothes.  I also coughed really loudly as Mr. Ringer took to the sink for his requisite fake handwashing.  I hope he appreciated my efforts.

Anyway.  Have you ever been in the stall, changing clothes, when you realize that, after all, the throne is right there, and you haven’t gone in a while, and I mean, now’s as good a time as any…

Me neither.  But if it had happened, I’d have noticed a subtle shuffling of the Old Fishwrap in the stall next to me.  That’s right, I realized I was dealing with (and again I must ask you not to scream):

The Newspooper.

He’s a formidable enema enemy.  Because he ain’t goin’ nowhere.  He’s got him some serious perusing to do, and ain’t nobody gonna kick him out.  Now, maybe you’ll get lucky and he’s just got the Sports section.  But if it’s baseball season, he could decide to pore over every box score from yesterday’s games.  Face it:  he’ll be a while.  You have choices here.  You can:

1.) Bail.  There’s no shame in this.  He’s a toughie, and if you’re not prepared, he might make you cry.  Besides, if you’re worried about him popping out of his stall and catching you washing your hands (and putting a face to what he just heard you do), don’t be.  He has to fold that paper up.  It’s a thirty second job at the least.  Plenty of time to give your hands a thorough cleaning (if you’re into that).

2.) Destroy him.  Okay, so we’re actually talking about defeating him when he’s not really in the game.  Actually, he’s not really thinking about you in the other stall at all (like, say, Secret Agent Man is).  He doesn’t care that you’re there.  He’s reading, and will continue to read until such time as he stops, er, continuing to read.  Basically, he’s unpredictable.  So don’t do this unless you’re prepared.  And by prepared, I mean armed with a medium-length novel or similarly lengthy reading material.  A Kindle will do nicely, too.  You’re not guaranteed to win just because you’ve got more pages, but at least you’ve got a shot at it.

One aspect I just thought of is that Newspoopers are known to follow certain schedules.  Which means you can use him against Secret Agent Man if you want to.  And by that, I mean forcing SAM to stay longer than he perhaps wanted to, while allowing you to hand-off the domination of Mr. Agent Man.  If you can hold him in there until NP arrives, you can make Secret Agent Man’s life just that much more difficult.   And that’s always worth doing.  Maybe I’ll think about this angle a bit and blog more on it later.

Restroom Confessional: Double Dip and a Character Name Revealed!!!!

Yesterday I had an experience that highlights the need for my book. I encountered one of the most fearsome and loathsome creatures in the Restroom World. And in this post, I will reveal his name. I must ask you not to scream when I do. Although laughter would be wholly appropriate.

At some point yesterday, it occurred to me that it was time to hit the stall. Being a wise and prudent Workplace Restroom Patron, I first obtained reading material. This would be a major factor in what transpired.

I hit the restroom, noting that the far stall was taken (the spacious, handicapped-accessible stall with the broken latch).  Let’s call it Stall C.  Going with the standard Buffer Stall, I took Stall A (the one bordering the urinals and containing The Drain).  All was well.

And then the Great Silence descended.  Now, I’m a guy who likes some Cover Sound, and the Great Silence, as you might imagine, is somewhat lacking in Cover Sound.  Fortunately, a friendly-neighborhood Stand-Upper came to the rescue, flushing both before and after doing his bidness.  Cover Sound obtained.

So there I was, basically ready to leave, but I thought a bit more recon was in order.  The Great Silence descended again.  Then, another stall occupant appeared.  Took Stall B.  We were now at Full Capacity.  And within ten seconds, I knew we were dealing with Mr. IckBerry.  Good…you didn’t scream.  Because this isn’t even the guy I was telling you not to scream about.  This is the guy who feels that the restroom is the perfect place to catch up on some emails.  He’s the long-lost-brother of Phone-Guy (pronounced in a manner similar to “Fungi”), who talks on the phone.

(BTW, bonus strategery courtesy via my friend MK:  “Flush!”  Mr. Phongi can’t handle the flushing when he’s trying to carry on a conversation.  Now go kick his unclothed backside!)

So there’s IckBerry, pecking away on his stupid contraption, and still not a sound from Stall C.  It was then I realized who we were dealing with:

Please try not to faint.

It was Secret Agent Man!!!!!

Still okay?  These guys are tough, and you need to be prepared for them, even before my book comes out (which totally won’t happen until I write it).  You need to know a couple of things about Secret Agent Man:

  1. He makes no sound.
  2. He does not want to be seen.
  3. He’s a person, too.  I think.

Basically, this is the guy who won’t make a move (or movement) or a sound until the restroom is empty.  At least that’s his game.  Which means his major tactic is the Wait-Out.  He’ll just hang out there with his hemorrhoids until you bug out.

If you bug out.

Actually, in this case, I could’ve sworn Secret Agent Man took off.  And since I was there before IckBerry, I knew it was my duty to leave first.  So I did.  But Stall C was still occupied!!  Filled with a sense of righteous indignation, I waited until the new Stand-Upper was situated at the Vertical Relief Station, then took a peek under the stall.  Same shoes.  I knew I had just been defeated by Secret Agent Man.  Blast!!!  I left the restroom in abject defeat.

Then, inspiration struck.  No way was Secret Agent Man going to leave while IckBerry was still there.  So, I grabbed a drink of water and waited.  The flush I heard about a minute later was from the Stand-Upper (you, too, can train yourself to recognize flushes).  I listened for Mr. Urinal’s fake handwashing to conclude (which it did, and quickly), then for his exit.

And then I went back in.  The nightmare for Secret Agent Man is the Shift Change, where a stall empties out, only to be immediately reoccupied.  Leaving Secret Agent Man another five to twenty minutes of waiting for this guy to leave.

I’ll admit, I did have a slight bit of trepidation, that IckBerry might recognize my shoes and try to defeat me.  But I had everything going for me in terms of the prospects for Defeating Secret Agent Man:

  1. No pressing work-related distractions.
  2. Reading material.
  3. No need to actually use the toilet.
  4. Fast approach of the top of the hour.

Number 1 is nice, since it meant I didn’t have to blow off any actual work to vanquish my foe.  Although I’d be willing to sacrifice a little bit of work for this opportunity.  Number 2 (heh) is a must-have, because otherwise this gets boring really quick.  Number 3 is unnecessary but nice, and Number 4 is absolutely essential.  Odds are, Secret Agent Man might have something to do at the top of the hour.  Like a meeting, perhaps.  It’s pressure, and it works.

I’ll admit that my resolve wavered a bit when the five-minute mark passed on my second stay, with no sound but the pressing of Biohazard Blackberry Buttons.  Then ten minutes.  This is where the reading material comes it really handy.

Ultimately, I won.  And actually, I’ve got to hand it to IckBerry, because he hung in there, too.  And he even put some pressure on Secret Agent Man.  Once SAM started to stir, about three minutes till the top of the hour, IckBerry spotted him ten seconds or so and commenced his Exit Countdown.  Remember that Secret Agent Man doesn’t want to be seen.  It was amusing, watching him go into Turbo Mode at the sink.  (I’ll give him credit for proper handwashing, SAM though he be.)

Secret Agent Man got out without incident, followed closely by IckBerry.  And then by me.  There was somebody at the urinal at this point, so I flushed for propriety’s sake.  And I washed my unsoiled hands.  Urinal Guy didn’t have any such pretentions, and went for a record-breaking Fake Washing.  Of course, this was the guy whose BO emanates into the hallway from his office, so I can’t say I was shocked.

The really amusing thing I noticed while thoroughly washing my already clean hands was the new Stall Dweller.  He came in while I was washing, took a step into Stall A (which had recently been my hermitage), noted the moving water, and relocated to Stall B.  Clearly, he recognized Stall A was a Hot Zone.  I didn’t think other people knew about Hot Zones.  But I guess they do.

By the way, I didn’t mention that during the Standoff with Secret Agent Man and IckBerry, no less than three men came in and needed a walk all the way over to Stall C to realize we were at Full Capacity.  The closed stall doors weren’t enough for these geniuses.  Nonetheless, their lack of relief falls at the door of Secret Agent Man.  You can’t blame IckBerry for holding out for the proper Exit Order.  You can, perhaps, blame me for the Double Dip, and I’m willing to accept it.  This is a war, and you can’t make an omelet without causing some people severe abdominal distress.

So, there you have it.  I didn’t lay out the full Secret Agent Man profile or strategy, as I will in the book (actually, that chapter is already done).  But I couldn’t wait for publication.  This was too important.  And now you know, and knowing is half the battle.  The other half involves Preparation H.

Restroom Humor: Know Your Enemas

The book I’m working on is all about knowing your restroom enemies – and vanquishing them.  Of course, I’m not the first person to dwell on the various characters you’ll find in that most horrible place.

A friend forwarded a forwarded forward to me, noting that it was interesting that the guy who forwarded the forward to him had this in his signature: “Soli Deo Gloria” (all to the glory of God).  My friend seemed to find it ironic or even comical that this tagline should accompany a restroom-themed email.  But consider this:  there is a blessing that’s said by religious Jews after using the toilet.  It goes something like this:

Blessed are You Our God, King of the Universe,
Who fashioned man with wisdom
and created within him many openings
and many cavities.
It is obvious and known
before Your Throne of Glory
that if but one of them were to be ruptured
or if but one of them were to be blocked
it would be impossible to survive
and to stand before You
Blessed are You, HaShem,
Who heals all flesh
and acts wondrously.

(By the way, you can get posters of this written in Hebrew.  And my birthday is coming up in ten months or so…)

So discussion about what goes on in the restroom isn’t necessarily unholy.  Except when it takes this form (The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the staff and management of Handwasher.net. But there’s a high probability.):

***Warning*** Make sure you are in a place you can laugh out loud, or you will be crying for sure!

How to Poop at Work

We’ve all been there but don’t like to admit it. We’ve all kicked back in our cubicles and suddenly felt something brewing down below. As much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise, the WORK POOP is inevitable. For those who hate pooping at work, following is the Survival Guide for taking a dump at work.

*CROP DUSTING* When farting, you walk really fast around the office so the smell is not in your area and everyone else gets a whiff, but doesn’t know where it came from. Be careful when you do this. Do not stop until the full fart has been expelled. Walk an extra 30 feet to make sure the smell has left your pants.

*FLY BY* The act of scouting out a bathroom before pooping. Walk in and check for other poopers. If there are others in the bathroom, leave and come back again. Be careful not to become a FREQUENT FLYER. People may become suspicious if they catch you constantly going into the bathroom.

*ESCAPEE* A fart that slips out while taking a pee or forcing a poop in a stall. This is usually accompanied by a sudden wave of embarrassment. If you release an escapee, do not acknowledge it. Pretend it did not happen. If you are a man and are standing next to the farter in the urinal, pretend you did not hear it. No one likes an escapee. It is uncomfortable for all involved. Making a joke or laughing makes both parties feel uneasy.

*JAILBREAK* When forcing a poop, several farts slip out at a machine gun pace. This is usually a side effect of diarrhea or a hangover. If this should happen, do not panic. Remain in the stall until everyone has left the bathroom to spare everyone the awkwardness of what just occurred.

*COURTESY FLUSH* The act of flushing the toilet the instant the poop hits the water. This reduces the amount of air time the poop has to stink up the bathroom. This can help you avoid being caught doing the WALK OF SHAME.

*WALK OF SHAME* Walking from the stall, to the sink, to the door after you have just stunk up the bathroom. This can be a very uncomfortable moment if someone walks in and busts you. As with farts, it is best to pretend that the smell does not exist. Can be avoided with the use of the COURTESY FLUSH.

*OUT OF THE CLOSET POOPER* A colleague who poops at work and is Doggone proud of it. You will often see an Out Of The Closet Pooper enter the bathroom with a newspaper or magazine under their arm. Always look around the office for the Out Of The Closet Pooper before entering the bathroom.

*THE POOPING FRIENDS NETWORK (P.F.N)* A group of co-workers who band together to ensure emergency pooping goes off without incident. This group can help you to monitor the whereabouts of Out Of The Closet Poopers, and identify SAFE HAVENS.

*SAFE HAVENS* A seldom used bathroom somewhere in the building where you can least expect visitors. Try floors that are predominantly of the opposite sex. This will reduce the odds of a pooper of your sex entering the bathroom.

*TURD BURGLAR* Someone who does not realize that you are in the stall and tries to force the door open. This is one of the most shocking and vulnerable moments that can occur when taking a poop at work. If this occurs, remain in the stall until the Turd Burglar leaves. This way you will avoid all uncomfortable eye contact.

*CAMO-COUGH* A phony cough that alerts all new entrants into the bathroom that you are in a stall. This can be used to cover-up a WATERMELON, or to alert potential Turd Burglars. Very effective when used in conjunction with a SHIRLEY TEMPLE.

*SHIRLEY TEMPLE* A subtle toe-tapping that is used to alert potential Turd Burglars that you are occupying a stall. This will remove all doubt that the stall is occupied. If you hear a SHIRLEY TEMPLE, leave the bathroom immediately so the pooper can poop in peace.

*WATERMELON* A poop that creates a loud splash when hitting the toilet water. This is also an embarrassing incident. If you feel a Watermelon coming on, create a diversion. See CAMO-COUGH.

*HAVANA-OMELET* A case of diarrhea that creates a series of loud splashes in the toilet water. Often accompanied by an Escapee.. Try using a CAMO-COUGH with a SHIRLEY TEMPLE.

*AUNT BETTY* A bathroom user who seems to linger around forever…Could spend extended lengths of time in front of the mirror or sitting on the pot. An AUNT BETTY makes it difficult to relax while on the crapper, as you should always wait to poop when the bathroom is empty. This benefits you as well as the other bathroom attendees!

SOME VARIETIES OF POOP YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF~

The King Poop = This kind is the kind of poop that killed Elvis. It doesn’t come until you’re all sweaty, trembling and purple from straining so hard.

Bali Belly Poop = You poop so much you lose 5 pounds!

Cement Block = You wish you’d gotten a spinal block before you poop.

Cork Poop (Also Known as Floater Poop) = Even after the third flush, it’s still floating in there. How do I get rid of it? This poop usually happens at someone else’s house.

The Bungee Poop = The kind of poop that just hangs off your rear before it falls into the water.

The Crippler = The kind of poop where you have to sit on the toilet so long your legs go numb from the waist down.

The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang = The kind of poop that hits you when you’re trapped in your car in a traffic jam.

The Party Pooper = The giant poop you take at a party. And when you flush the toilet, you watch in horror as the water starts to rise..

NOW EVERYONE TRY TO GO POOP IN PEACE…

Oh, and in case someone forgot my story about this, I’ve been present when a BURGLAR did his thing, and the door latch failed. Yeah. Just don’t do it, man…

Restroom Humor: I 'Faugh!' in Your General Direction!!

Merry Christmas, all ye readers of my blog!

Once you’ve mastered the tactics necessary to overcome your restroom enemies (look for my book on said topic, due to be published some time after I finish it), you’ll realize that The Rules really only exist for the sake of exploitation. Get everyone to agree on The Rules, then dispense with them and freak people out! As here:

Of course I had to notice that the dude lost pitch on his rendition of the Cheers theme song. But maybe that was part of the technique.

Restroom Strategery: On Choosing a Stall

So far, I’ve posted a variety of humorous oddities, out-and-out abominations, and anecdotes of restroom offenders.  Now I’m going to lay on you some tips for effective restroom use.  And by effective, I mean getting out unscathed by all the yuckies.

This time, it’s about choosing a stall.  Is it possible to choose incorrectly?  Well, yes.  But I’m not convinced it’s possible to choose correctly. Maybe you can help me figure this out.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to go with a standard Corporate Restroom configuration, what I call a 3×3.  That means there are three urinals and three stalls, with the urinals being closest to the entrance.  Perhaps because of codes, or just out of a desire to be especially accessible, the restrooms I’m thinking of include a full-sized handicapped stall complete with hand bars, a second, normal-sized stall with hand bars, and one standard stall.

You might decide to go with the roomy handicapped stall.  I’ll admit…they are nice.  They’re usually bigger than the typical cubicle!  (They’re also really great for changing clothes before going out to pound the pavement.)  However, there’s a fundamental problem with all handicapped or accessible stalls.  What is it?  The swing.

See, in order to be accessible, the door has to swing out (tough to maneuver a wheelchair when the door’s in the way).  Which means, in the very likely event that the stall doors are even slightly out of alignment, you could be open to the public.  Of course, this objection applies to all accessible stalls.  If the door swings out, you could have a bit of trouble.

So, you’ll go for the in-swinger, right?  Well, I’ll just say that that’s my preference.  However, there’s nearly always a downside.  What is that?  Drainage.

See, the in-swinger is normally right next to the urinals.  Occasionally, urinals overflow.  Hence, there’s usually a floor drain right under the urinal-side-wall of the stall.  I don’t know how overflows happens, but the drain is always there, so I’ve got to assume it’s something north of never.  Do you really want to be in the stall with a drain if that happens?  Remember what flows downhill.  And let’s say things go really bad and it’s not a urinal overflowing.  Yeah.  You mightn’t want to be there.

However, I generally run the risk of wading through filth just because of the door.  Why?  Well, let’s just say I’ve been the victim of a wonky door latch, an out-swinging door, and a coworker who failed to divine my presence in the stall (inexcusable, that last part).  At least he didn’t ask me how I was enjoying the book…

With an in-swinger, it’s as simple as raising a foot to stop an uninvited guest.  There’s no dignified way to stop the out-swinger.

There’s another reason I like the near stall (nearest to the door).  Generally, it’s directly across from the near end of the bank of sinks.  Which means it’s in prime position to allow spying on the handwashers.  Or to get a look at who was doing that in the other stall? It’s also more difficult for the other stall denizens to spy on you when you emerge to properly cleanse your hands.  Though you might be proud of that part, you might not want your face attached to the other stuff you were doing.

In summary, it’s a choice between risking exposure and risking taking a dip in raw sewage.  I love it!!!

I say, go with the in-swinger and say you’re trying to leave the handicapped stall for those who need them.  Nobody has to know your true motives…

Anything you might add to this?  Any questions?  Comments?  Put-downs?