Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pooping in Public Restrooms

"Hey, can we talk?"

Pooping is meant to be a relaxing activity. Yet oftentimes it can be stressful.

It is often most stressful when you are in a stall and someone is in the other stall right next to you. As you're sitting there, there is this tension in the air, where you are both waiting for the first person to make that *tinkle tinkle* or *plop*! noise. Once that initial tension is broken, it is still awkward because you are both sitting there in this silence (or sometimes the punching of blackberry keys can be heard or the not-so-subtle grunts of struggling men) as the stinky smell of defecation slowly begins to cross over along the floor into the other's stall.

I usually try to time my poops (or at least sit on the toilet for 20 seconds after I'm done) so that I don't have to actually see the person when we're both washing our hands. Otherwise, if we leave the stall at the same time (or if there's any overlap at the sink), we will both stare into the mirror and pretend not to notice each other and there will be that "yeah I'm the guy who just produced that nasty smell and made all those pooping noises" awkwardness.

Sometimes in smaller environments, like floors of small offices or in high schools, you can recognize the person next to you by his shoes and/or pants. Needless to say, initiating any sort of conversation across stalls while performing private acts would be quite imprudent. But there's still the awkwardness in the air that you're both 5 feet away from each other, doing nothing much other than sitting there, but not speaking to one another because it's too uncomfortable.

I often get anxious because if I can recognize them (by their bottom-ware) perhaps they can recognize me. And if they can recognize me, that means they will be judging my poop. And I should be the only person who judges my own poop. So often, in smaller environments where there's a chance the person next to me will know it's me (even if I myself don't recognize them), I will hold in my poop until they are done, so they don't judge the smell and the sound of the plopping (aka old faithful).

I worked in a small office once where practically everyone knew each other and there was only one men's room in the entire company's floor. One bathroom. Two stalls. One time I ended up saddled up beside someone and desperately wanted to avoid exiting the stall at the same time as him and possibly having to make eye contact and/or friendly small talk at the sink. We both sat in silence for about a minute, listening to the sounds of our urine tinkling and our poops plopping (and sometimes even farts flatulating). And of course smelling the wonderful scents that often accompany such events.

Of course, despite my best efforts, we ended up exiting the stalls at the same time. It was my boss. We ended up making conversation as we washed the filth off our hands vigorously with soap, but to be honest, I wasn't listening to a word he said. All I could think about, as I nodded at his story and laughed at the parts that sounded like they were supposed to be funny, was how much his shit smelled.

I never looked at him the same again.

At this point, we might as well poop with the door open.