If you work for a small business inside a relatively quiet commercial building, then this situation has likely occurred to you in the past.
Sitting in the bathroom stall, you recognize the shoes or heels of the person next to you. The two of you are squatting and doing your thing, sniffing or breathing loudly at first to make sure your presence is known, or perhaps to cloud any embarrassing fart noises that come about. The question here is: Is it acceptable to start a conversation with the person in the stall next to you, or should you wait until you’re both in front of the sink and mirror?
We can immediately refute the latter solution because it assumes the two of you will finish wiping in the same time frame. In reality, no two poopers are alike. One person may take five minutes, while the other could take 45 seconds. Just last week I saw a guy enter the bathroom and only leave 15 minutes later; some people can have lunch in that time.
In your gut you’re probably thinking that being in the bathroom is a private time and it’s not proper to talk to the person in the stall next to you. But there are advantages to starting a conversation with your fellow “staller”:
Whether they talk to you or not, at least you’ll find out if that person is worth befriending once you exit the bathroom. This doesn’t mean you should just spark up a conversation every single time you recognize a colleague’s shoes. You should NOT talk to the person whose shoes you recognize if they are:
What did I do in this situation? At the time I was working at a blogging farm. My colleagues and I were a bunch of underpaid writers. Like every other company, the people doing the most work make the least amount of money, and the blowhards up top who did nothing for a living made the most.
Everyday each writer was responsible for writing an average of 4,000 words a day, split between 20 articles. Anything below that figure and you could be fired. For those of you who don’t know, 4,000 words is the equivalent to a college term paper. Needless to say, us writers couldn’t do much horsing at our desks. It wasn’t like those movies where Chevy Chase the writer could kick back at his desk and hit on every other administrative assistant that walked by. The only time I could really talk with anybody was during quick, five-minute smoke and bathroom breaks.
In the bathroom I was on the stool when I spotted the shoes of one of my coworkers. He wore faded, tan Dockers. Even though he sat in the cubicle next to me, I hadn’t talked to him all day.
I was relatively new to the company, and didn’t have close ties with anyone as of yet. But the guy in the stool next to me was one of my favorite people so far. So I thought, why not break the ice and see where this work relationship goes?…
“Jake!” I said “You in there?”
“Rel?” he asked with an awkward chuckle, likely because he was shocked someone started a conversation with him at the moment.
“That’s right, baby! What are you doing after work today? I need a drink or two.”
“HAHA! Are we really gonna talk about this now?” Jake replied.
From this brief interaction I could tell that Jake was stronger than most. He wasn’t quite an alpha male because he seemed to want to back out of the conversation, but not to the point where he completely rejected my approach. I concluded he was a strong beta male.
It turns out we had an amazing finish to the conversation. Jake invited me to have a few beers after work, one block down at a bar called Foley’s. But just imagine: Had I left the stall, washed my hands, went back to my desk, and not started that conversation in the bathroom right there, would I have been invited to the bar after all…?
I don’t like to ponder such theoretical questions. Rather, I look at the reward to my risk of talking to a fellow staller. It broke the ice and made us better friends from there forth.
(Side note: If you’re a man and see a lady’s heels, then you’re probably in the wrong bathroom because women never make the mistake of going into the men’s room)
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