A Battle-Tested Guide To Office Bathroom Etiquette

You’d think it would be different in some Norman Foster designed office building surrounded by educated, respectable people in suits or Patagonia vests. But, it’s not. Office bathrooms too often look like the Superdome toilets after Monster Jam.

  1. Don’t spend more time building the nest than you spend sitting on it. WASPs get a pass.
  2. Find the safe haven toilets, usually located on the client meeting floor (nicer bathrooms) or near HR (where the men’s room is a ghost town).
  3. Don’t wear shoes memorable enough to be recognized under a bathroom stall. Or socks for that matter.
  4. Don’t provide colleagues with any details of your experience. (“Ooof. That was Pollock on porcelain masterpiece.”)
  5. For God’s sake, no JUULing unless you’re alone. Do you have any idea what you’re inhaling? Hint: fecal particles.
  6. Don’t wait for someone else to open the exit door or bother using a hand towel on the knob. Grow up. If you shake hands, ride in cabs, or eat in restaurants, it won’t make a difference.
  7. Don’t take a newspaper or book with you. Smartphones are unsanitary for a reason — which is also why you probably need a sanitizing charger.
  8. No long conversations at the urinal. A simple “Hey man” or nod is acceptable.
  9. Absolutely no talking between stalls.
  10. If the person in the adjoining stall taps their foot deliberately at the border, tap back… just to see what happens. You might just get a nice financial settlement out of it.
  11. It’s not a movie theatre. I don’t care how entertaining your Instagram feed is, handle your business and get out. (Hiding interns get a pass on this.)
  12. Don’t announce your trips beforehand. I can’t help but time you, and I really don’t want to.
  13. The only thing worse than seeing an ID badge at someone’s ankles, is watching it scrape against the putrid tiles around the bowl. It begs the question, “What other bad choices are you making?”
  14. Avoid the last stall; studies have shown it’s the most unsanitary because people incorrectly assume it to be the least trafficked.
  15. If there’s a nice hotel nearby, walk to their facilities instead. Then grab a coffee on your way back, just to let your stomach know who’s boss.
  16. Don’t talk on a cell phone. If I’m on the other end and I hear an echo or any weird noises, I’m hanging up.
  17. If you toss your tie over your shoulder at the urinal, either your tie is too long or your **** is too short.
  18. Don’t flush with your foot. All you’re doing is transferring urine and fecal matter from the floor to the handle. Just wash your damn hands.
  19. No laughing at (or acknowledging) the strange noises. And, no jokes. We’ve all heard “How do blind people know when to stop wiping?” before.
  20. No pulling rank. In the bathroom, everyone is equal, including your boss’s boss.
  21. Don’t spit gum into the urinal. The guy who has to pick that out with his hands took two buses and a 5am train to get here.

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John LeFevre is the creator of @GSElevator, the founder of a fashion line, a podcast host, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, And Billion-Dollar Deals, currently in development as a major motion picture.

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