Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pooping at Work

I, like many Americans, spend most of my waking hours at work. I spend my days in a closed off cubicle, surrounded by dozens of other closed off cubicles, on the second of many floors of a white-collar urban office building. All those industrious adults, drinking their coffee, bowels churning. They all have to poop sometime, right? I know of few people who can hold their breakfast all day, every day. The tragedy is those vacuous, sterilized, ten-stall hallways they call restrooms. The stuff of nightmares! I've scoured the building for a single-stall latrine, even asked a custodian, and there's not one. To be sure, the president of the company has his own office suite with an adjoining bath, swathed in marble with a claw-foot tub and a Rhesus monkey to wipe his butt. What about us plebeians? You know, the ones with IBS? WHAT! ABOUT! US!

After my petitions to the board went ignored, I have accepted this daily burden and developed a few tactics to avoid uncomfortable pooping-at-work predicaments. Allow me to share with you...

(Because getting paid to poop feels oh-so-sweet)

1. Choose your stall wisely. Many choose the last stall of the row to reduce the risk of someone occupying next to you. Typically, the last stall is the handicap-accessible one. I have nervous flashes of a blind, armless midget veteran coming in, mid-movement, bumping her way to the last stall and knocking her shoulders into the door, confused as to why it's locked because she is the only legitimately handicapped person on this floor. I sheepishly call out "Just a second!" then have to fake a limp when I come out five minutes later, the fiery glares of my coworkers washing their hands reflecting in the wall-to-wall mirror. That's just a scenario I'd personally rather avoid, so I go for the last able-bodied stall.

*Fun Fact: Because people tend to assume the first stall is the one that's used the most, it's usually the stall used the least often, and therefore contains the least amount of bacteria.

2. The Warning Flush. My momma taught me this one. Flush the toilet if you feel a noise coming on to mask the sound. Timing is key for this one. Improper use can result in further embarrassment, like clearing your throat in the middle of a crowded room and THEN farting.

3. Wait for the next cycle. If you've already blown your cover and everyone knows you're pooping, just wait until they organically rotate out and a fresh batch of innocents comes in. None will be the wiser. Of course, this is where it gets risky. Read on, my friends.

4. The Standoff. Sometimes you just gotta wait it out, especially if there's only one other person in the bathroom. But be careful, because this strategy can backfire in two ways: First, the other person might have to poop, too. This will result in a painfully awkward war of wills to see who will give up and leave first. Both parties pooping at the same time in a harmonious, judgment-free duet is simply unrealistic. But kudos to you if this ever happens to you, it's truly a gift. Second, by waiting for the other party to leave, you're opening yourself up to the risk of more people coming in, and more, and more, for the rest of the day. What would your boss think? Your jacket and purse and cellphone (well, maybe not your cellphone--see Tip #8) are still at your desk. Have you been abducted? Did you up and quit? You would surely get reprimanded for spending the entire day in the john.

5. Use the available props to create an illusion. This is practical if you are faced with a standoff. If it's not an em-URGE-ency and opting out of the whole operation is still a viable option, but you still feel you've spent a significant amount of time waiting for the other person to give in first, you can pull out the period card to make your exit less shameful. Sometimes I open and close the tampon box lid loudly, so the other person thinks, "Ohh, that's it. Just period stuff," therefore depressurizing the entire situation.
Side note: I find standoffs quite rude. I firmly believe that if the standoff is obvious, and both parties are sitting in uncomfortable silence for several moments, the second party should surrender first and leave the first party to finish what they've undoubtedly started. But that's just me.

6. Indulge in vanity for a moment. If there are people in the bathroom when you first enter, you can pretend to fix your hair or makeup in the mirror (because you probably don't actually care that much) until they leave. I steer clear of this one because your coworkers coming out of the stalls might try to strike up a conversation. I don't like opening my mouth in public bathrooms, so I prefer to leave food and speaking outside.

7. Know your rush hours. The prime time for workplace pooping is while everyone else is at lunch. This is a large part of the reason I eat at my desk. The bathrooms are usually quietest between noon and 1:15, so use that time wisely. I also factor in digestive times: A lot of people drink pop with their lunch, and that tends to run its course (rather, your course) by about 2:15. You get the gassiest lot around 3:30. Beware, the traffic tends to spike again shortly before five, because people don't want to be stuck in their cars in tortuous urban gridlock with a full bladder. Not with all that Pepsi they had at lunch.

8. Bring your phone. Duh. The New York Daily News says that about 75% of Americans use their phone to text, surf the web, play games, or make phone calls while in the bathroom. Obviously, never make a phone call in the restroom at work. If this isn't a given, then you should re-evaluate your standards for professionalism and general grossness. That said, I value having my phone in the bathroom simply as a distraction. For an anxious person, it's always a challenge to go #1 OR #2 in a public latrine, so it helps pass the time to play a round or two of Words With Friends. (Challengers, now you know the truth.) Hygiene is still a factor, so you should be mindful of what you're touching and where you set your phone. And never stick your phone in your back pocket, because there is a very high chance that it will fall into the toilet. I've learned that one the hard way several times.

9. Go incognito. If it's recognition you're concerned about, consider stashing a different pair of shoes at your desk. That way your coworkers won't recognize you from under the stall door and you can poop without worry of negative social consequences.

10. Just don't give a shit. This comes from a friend (happy birthday, anonymous friend!) who is much braver than I. She recommends walking in with your head held high, brazenly choosing a stall at random, putting in your headphone with some loud-ish music, and just not giving a shit. So to speak.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Green Goblin

I had an experience today that prompted me to unshelf a book I received for Christmas this year, a sort of fecal encyclopedia. Check out this terrifying chapter from the book "What's Your Poo Telling You?" by Josh Richman and Anish Sheth, M.D.:

The Green Goblin, thought thankfully rare, is an explosion of foul-smelling diarrhea that is characterized by its viridian hue. Although various foods can lend normal poo a greenish tint, this bowel movement's deep-set, blackish green appearance makes it seem as if you are viewing it through night-vision goggles. Also distinguishing this poo from more benign green poos is its liquid form and associated symptoms of fever and abdominal pain. More often than not, this poo transformation occurs following a course of antibiotics for a tooth abscess or sinus infection.

Dr. Stool Says: This diarrheal illness is caused by the overgrowth of a specific bacterium in the colon called Clostridium difficile. The use of the antibiotics upsets the natural balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria in our intestines and allows the proliferation of this particularly harmful organism, which, in turn, results in inflammation of the colonic lining and causes profuse diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Medical treatment is with a different type of antibiotic that specifically attacks Clostridium difficile.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Fremont, Des Moines

This little gem is just a short bike ride from Des Moines's East Village. At East 9th and Fremont, it's a favorite hangout in a blue collar neighborhood. Naked women and retro album covers grace the black walls. With sporadic live music, it draws a late night crowd and is seldom busy before ten. Also, they have a good bathroom.

His and hers on the west end of the building, the ladies room features a sturdy hook and eye lock system, giving me the confidence to pee freely knowing that no one's going to barge in. It felt like being wrapped in the embrace of a burly pirate. A bare bulb hangs garishly over a wood grain toilet seat, a memento from your grandparents' cabin. The flusher is a little soft, so be sure to depress it for a good couple seconds. But if your pee is as clear as mine by the time you break the seal, it doesn't really matter.
That's what I like to see
The sink is modern, sunken into the counter with a hygienic stack of tri-fold paper towels to the side. I suspect the unnaturally blue hand soap itself is some Amway brand, but it's in a fancy-looking bottle. Points for the effort. A mirror above the sink reflects back to a smaller mirror hanging above the toilet, if you need to see the back of your head to comb out the sex hair, or whatever the case may be.

Overall, the single stall is clean and female-friendly, the hand soap seems to work, and there's always toilet paper. For a sausage-fest bar with pinup girls all over the walls, the women's room is happily hospitable.
See their website here.
Rating: 7.4/10

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Grasshopper Cafe

While visiting family and friends for the holidays in historic Charlestown, MA, we happened upon a neighborhood restaurant called The Grasshopper Cafe. This charming establishment has all of the things I love about a small town restaurant:

-Upper middle aged wait staff with thick Boston accents who instantly make you feel like a regular
-All day breakfast menu (Yessss)
-Local produce/dairy suppliers
-Good Frickin' Food

Their large menu offers a little something for everyone, and practically everything can be ordered vegetarian (if you're into that sort of thing...) I myself had a veggie burger that was delicious, and their fries are home made. Duh.

After consuming my sizable lunch I felt that all too familiar pressure down south, indicating a need to use the lavatory. I don't know about you guys, but my digestive tract responds almost instantly upon eating a meal, making way for the new food to make the miracle journey from mouth, to stomach, to bowl. (obviously I glossed over some important steps in the middle there, but you get the point.)

I needed to ask where the restroom was, as it was tucked away down a back hallway that also leads to the kitchen. Depending on my mood, this can either add or dock points. I love the idea of a secluded place to work, but I also know that when it's time to get the job done, it needs to be done right away. The precious moments spent searching for the rest room could result in a humiliating public passing of gas, or worse, so I like to find the bowl as soon as humanly possible.

I was greeted by a single unisex commode, which, again, is hit or miss. If done right, the single bathroom is my favorite. If neglected, it's a nightmare. This bathroom, fortunately, falls in the favorite category. Delightfully decorated for the Christmas season, stuffed woodland creatures in Santa hats hung from every hook and knob, making spirits bright. A strategically placed potpourri Christmas tree sat in the corner filling the room with the light cent of cinnamon, cloves, and children's laughter. Toilet paper was your basic one ply, but these docket points were quickly made up for in its proximity to the kitchen, where the clattering of pots and pans easily covers any incriminating sounds.

The toilet, tile floor, and sink were quite clean, but for the standard bits of toilet paper and towel here and there. Nothing offensive. Everything from the toilet paper, to the towels, to the soap was full to the brim as though a Christmas elf had JUST replaced it before I walked in. There is nothing worse than being trapped in a single stall without paper products - there is NO ONE around to assist you.

The sink had a large slanted mirror that could be used as a full length by simply stepping backward toward the door. This is always a plus, as I like to make absolutely sure I'm in tip top condition before exiting the restroom.

I will most certainly return the next time I am in Boston!

Rating: 8/10

Reconnecting to the Poopiverse

Wow, guys. It's really been a while since we chatted. I wanted to send you an update and let you know that I have NOT abandoned you, forgotten you, or neglected to shit over the past few weeks. In all honesty, my shitting has likely been at an all time high this holiday season.

With Christmas and the New Year come and gone, I find myself back to the old routine. As we begin 2012 I solemnly vow to uphold my duty of producing dooty and letting you know how it all went.

Stay tuned, I'll be kicking it off with a review of a restaurant in Boston, MA, and the world's most bizarre poop facts!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Toilet Paper Crafts!

On a tight budget this Holiday season? Let The Poop Spot help you out with "Toilet Paper Crafts"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Toilet Tips

Happy Thanksgiving, poopers! On this special day, when food is the focus, the toilet is everyone's final destination. If you're hosting, this means that your bathroom needs as much attention as your dining room. Here are some tips for keeping this oft-overlooked room as tasteful as the rest of your home:

Keep the door lightly closed. Not all the way, of course, so people know that it isn't in use. But no one likes walking past the bathroom and catching a waft of Grandma's movement, especially if you'd like to retain your appetite.

Stock extra rolls of T.P. You wouldn't want to be stuck at your boyfriend's step-sister's uncle's house, screaming for another roll of tissue to any random relative walking past. Limited embarrassment is the name of the game here.

Don't spray it. Aerosol spray cans are not only tacky, but bad for the environment. They also rarely smell good to everyone. It's also painfully obvious that you've just dropped a deuce when the whole bathroom smells like baby powder and springtime mountains. Instead, a decorative bowl of some pungent potpourri will do the trick. Lemon has been rated as the most attractive scent - put one cup of straight lemon juice in a bowl and leave it on the counter for a pleasing fragrance. Cedar chips also do wonders. If you have the counter space, a fresh floral arrangement can often be all you need.

Don't neglect the linens. A soggy hand towel is offensive. There, I said it. If you have the means, a small stack of tri-fold paper towels are the safest bet.

Keep a plunger in the room. Dads and uncles frequently require plungers, and it's just one more thing that would be extremely embarrassing to ask the host/ess for. Discreetly stash one in the latrine for such critical moments.

Predict human behavior. People snoop - it's human nature. Hiding your condoms and crazy pills in the mirror cabinet above the sink is not a good plan.

Lighting, lighting, lighting. Nothing says classy like a well-lit bathroom. Something as simple as tea lights can cast a lovely glow even when no one's using the bathroom. Added bonus: An open flame neutralizes unwanted odors.

Follow our advice and you will have happy house guests for the holidays. Best of luck!