January 12, 2008

Potty Talk

Erica’s disgusting but funny post on bathrooms at work reminded me of a story.

Unlike Erica, who says she works in an older building, a dump, I work in a brand new building, three stories. I don’t know who designed it, but they were obviously the least competent… they had to be. In the hallways, it is warm. In the big office, it is warm. Walk into the office I share with nine engineers and it is frickin’ frigid. I have a space heater and I wear a sweater.

All year long.

Someone botched up the air conditioning and how it flows. We’ve had people in to look at it, and now we just deal. Mr. Magoo’s space heater puts out so much heat, we call it ‘The Pizza Oven.” When I bought my space heater, I hit a two for one sale, so I put one in my Tech Lead’s cube. He needs it every now and then, but mostly, he breaks it out when we’re in conference in his cube and there is fear I might freeze to death.

Keeping an office space at 65 degrees is absolutely ridiculous.

And you know… that is absolute freezing to death weather. Absolutely. Not that I’ve ever been dramatic about it in our office… not me. Heh.

And the plumbing in the restrooms is... complete crap, if you'll excuse the pun. If the commodes in my home are deemed 'low flush', these must be 'nearly no flush'.

As in Erica's office, there are signs posted all over the women's restrooms as to what you can and cannot flush. We've NEVER had a problem, but I think that's because there are so few women and 50% are post menopausal. I think there are only... 3 of us that use the restroom that are pre menopausal... and we're all engineers.

Then again, it may have NOTHING to do with our understanding of systems and more along the lines of... if any of the three of us clog up the restroom, its pretty damn obvious who did it, since of the three it could be, two of us don't work on the same day.

Our small office space is also next to the restrooms. Over the past year, one of the bookends behind me, Joe, has been disturbed by an unknown man working on the first floor of our building, dubbed, “Napkin Boy”.

It seems Napkin Boy takes the paper towels that one would dry their hands with and keeps them on top of the urinal. I’ve not been in a men’s restroom, but from what I’ve seen in movies, some urinals, the top comes out from the wall a couple inches. That's where these paper towels are set.

This has made my co-worker NUTS. I mean, near insane. There have been rants of all sorts and even speculation of the identity of Napkin Boy. I always feel bad for someone who MIGHT be Napkin Boy that week, because they’re not treated as nice as every other man in the office… until there seems to be some assurance, that this poor person is in fact NOT Napkin Boy.

It is a guilty until proven innocent case. And I do believe… nearly every man we know has been accused. I’m not sure how they’ve been proven innocent. Perhaps “Joe” has had some clandestine excursion into the men’s room to spy… I don’t ask. I already know more about men’s bathroom habits from my co-workers than I truly cared to know. And as hard as it is to make me blush, it is not so hard to make my jaw drop or to get the proverbial *blink*. There have been many bathroom *blink* conversations… that leave me speechless.

One day I came in, and one of the guys I work with, put some of the paper towels on Joe’s desk as a joke. I think it may have had a yellow sticky on it that said, “Love Napkin Boy”. That didn’t go over big.

Napkin Boy and his antics went on for a better part of a year. Every day. I’m not kidding. Most of us would laugh at it, but it would seriously rile Joe up.

And then this summer, when I was furloughed, I came in to change my computer passwords and as I approached our hallway, there was a hideous stench. There were fans in the hall and parts of the carpet were marked off so nobody would walk over it.

I made my way to our office, badged in, looked at Mr. Magoo with raised eyebrows and without my having to say anything he said, ‘Napkin Boy. Some of those paper towels fell in the urinal and someone flushed… and the entire system backed into the hallway.”

The men’s bathroom was closed for two weeks as they tore out the drywall and repaired the bathrooms. The carpet was cleaned and the stench went away with time.

And Napkin Boy has disappeared. I thought there was going to be a lynching. Everyone at that point was on a rampage for Napkin Boy. The paper towel on the urinal habit has stopped… but that was a tough way for someone to learn a lesson.

He could have died. Really!

And my lesson? I’ve never seen a urinal up close. I had no idea they flushed… I guess I’d never given it much thought.

And now I know…

But what I don't get is... they are not deep like toilets. Why didn't someone stop those papertowels before they went down??? There is a logistics issue that keeps sticking in my head. I can't imagine the hole in a urinal is that big. And I don't think men have toilet paper next to a urinal so the hole surely was not made big enough to accomodate anything but "liquid".

I'm not getting why someone 'let' this happen. I'm not.

Posted by Boudicca at January 12, 2008 09:36 PM | TrackBack

I’ve never seen a urinal up close. I had no idea they flushed… I guess I’d never given it much thought.

Alas. I have had a couple of jobs where cleaning the men's room was part of the job description. People put all kinds of weird crap where it shouldn't go. Pulling a piece of pizza out of a urinal is not fun. Tongs are our friends.

Posted by: Peggy U at January 12, 2008 11:51 PM

Thank you for that much-needed laugh. For the record, we've had MANY a flood and out-of-order restroom, so that I'm forced to use the bar up the block....AND, we also have a known Mystery Masturbator.

We actually recognize the subterranean engineers, and known them on a first-name basis, but on the day the whole place smelled like atomic scheisse, it only lasted for one day. Two weeks.....I would have sent out my resume.

Posted by: Erica at January 12, 2008 11:59 PM

Clean paper towels on the urinals? THAT IS TOTALLY FRICKING GROSS!!!! That, and bringing food or drink OF ANY KIND into a restroom.

Seriously, if this crap took place at my work I'd complain LOUDLY to management. Failing that, me and some of my coworkers would probably have a parking-lot "party" with the offender...

Posted by: diamond dave at January 13, 2008 08:37 AM

Peggy- Oddly enough, my jobs never included cleaning a bathroom. Thank God. Blech.

Erica- Gah! A mystery man? Holy crap. That tops everything. That leaves me speechless. Also, when I read your story, I was completely stunned by the fact that my office replaced all the dry wall... and yours never does! I'm kind of skeeved... Heh.

Diamond Dave- Oh if they knew who it was, there would have been a parking lot party. Let me tell you... they spent a year trying to figure out who it was. Obviously management is very well aware of the situation, but they spent a YEAR trying to find this guy. Everyone was grossed out.

Posted by: Bou at January 13, 2008 09:12 AM

Did anyone ever discover Napkin Boy's identity? That would drive me insane...

Posted by: pam at January 13, 2008 10:42 AM

We have self flushers at work. I just love (wink, wink) going into a stall and finding an offending object left behind because the flusher failed to engage and the offender didn't know how to do it manually. Good times.

Posted by: Sugar Britches at January 13, 2008 02:07 PM

Pam- We never figured it out. Although, I must admit, I wasn't exactly persuing the issue. That fell into the men's department since they were the ones who could actually 'watch' for the offense! Blech.

Sugar Britches- Oh thank God we don't have those. That sounds like just one more thing that can go wrong. Ick.

Posted by: Bou at January 13, 2008 04:46 PM

I think Napkin Boy is more than one person; it's a conspiracy. (Can't have a problem without some sort of conspiracy rumor to go with it!)

I think Erica should contact the "Dirty Jobs" people. They're always looking for new material.

Posted by: Peggy U at January 13, 2008 06:22 PM

I can't comprehend how paper towels could flush down a urinal. The holes are way to small. At least on all of the urinals I've seen they are.

Posted by: Denny at January 14, 2008 02:08 PM

it never ceases to amaze me how many people can't seem to figure out the basic combination of "flush" and "wash hands", it feels like walking into a public restroom is always an unpleasant adventure, not to mention the mental image of how many people are walking around spreading disease because they can't be bothered to wash their hands.

Posted by: me at January 14, 2008 07:19 PM