My current temp assignment has seen me plunged into the worst work toilets situation I’ve encountered in years. One open plan office with the gents and ladies located 30 metres apart. Both exposed to the rest of the floor. There are no blind spots. Everyone can see who’s going in, who’s coming out. Everyone knows where you’ve been.
Now, if I oversaw floor layouts at work, only men would sit near the gents and only women would be parked up near the ladies. Architects should call me to advise them on where to station the lavatories because I find my current situation quite unacceptable.
I’d be paid an obscene fee for just a day’s work and I’d give architects two possible options. Option 1: The loos are located behind a high wall, like the one Rapunzel’s dad had to scale to get his wife lettuce from the enchantress’ garden.
Option 2: And this one admittedly is a little more ambitious. We hide the loos, bury them in the basement, deep like a time capsule, and below two completely empty floors. Access is only via a goods lift. Lights are dimmed. A fog machine emits a dense vapour that makes it hard for you to see more than five metres in front of you. Early New Order – the Peel sessions - is piped through speakers. This is a bleak and desolate landscape. It’s the early eighties. Staff are given night vision goggles to help them locate the loos. Gimp masks are mandatory. No one recognises you. No one is permitted to talk. No one will stop you right outside the loos and make small talk as you desperately try to answer the call of nature. Everyone knows why they’re there.
The stark reality however is that nothing is going to change. I remain sat right by the ladies. I wish I could stop time so that when these women re-emerge from the loo 20 minutes later, I would be convinced they’d only been in there for a minute. THIS IS KILLING ME.
"Option 1: The loos are located behind a high wall, like the one Rapunzel’s dad had to scale to get his wife lettuce from the enchantress’ garden."
If the loo layout of every workplace was set up like what I’ve found at my current job, the mysterious quality of the opposite sex would be shattered. Courting would stop and the human race would die out within 50 years.
One female boss keeps going to the loo, which puts me on edge. Our conversations keep breaking off abruptly. I’m never sure what to do upon her return. Do I just pick up from where I left off? I mean, she comes back like nothing’s happened. I’m thinking, “I saw you. I know what you did.”
Do I enquire about her stomach? Do I make light of the number of loo visits she’s already made that day? I just wish she wouldn’t return to talk to me when I’m still trying to forget how long she’s been gone. When I can guess what she’s been doing. What’s she doing in there anyway as she’s sat down? Is she thinking specifically of what else she needs to tell me? That just troubles me even more and to me, her frequent toilet trips have somehow undermined her authority.
If I see a woman using the loo so frequently, I think, “Does she have a medical condition?” If I hook up with her, how much is she going to cost me in medical bills?
Today, one girl went in there (talking on the phone – what’s that all about?), emerging a full twelve minutes late. I told myself there had to be only one cubicle in there, one cubicle serving forty women. They go in there, pick up a ticket, sit down and wait their turn. Fights, I convince myself, are commonplace, as frustration that they must wait for the cubicle to become free grows. There can be no other explanation.
All the girls do that looking into the distance thing as they approach the ladies, as if they’ve spotted someone they know twenty yards away.
"Option 2: We hide the loos, bury them in the basement. Staff are given night vision goggles to help them locate the loos. Gimp masks are mandatory. No one recognises you."
I shouldn’t look. I do my best not to. I don’t want to know how long they take, but sometimes, I’m just drawn to the whole appalling spectacle.
When I arrive in the mornings, the same girl goes to the loo soon as she arrives. I have to leave the building. I don’t want to see her come out some time later. I think, “You didn’t have time to do that at your house? Get up earlier.” I wish I could summon the balls to confront her and demand her number so from then on I would give her a daily early morning alarm call to spare me that sorry sight every morning.
I’ve even tried raising my monitor, but every now and then, I still catch sight of the top of a girl’s hairstyle that I’ve come to recognise. I convince myself they’re not doing what I fear they’re doing. They come out with their tops tucked in slightly differently to how they were when they went in, and I tell myself that they have to sit down anyway.
In the absence of building high walls inspired by a fairytale, or sticking the loos in a basement, I think perhaps my female colleagues should be collected by a mini bus with blacked out windows, which turns up four times a day during work hours. They would then be driven to some wasteland at least 10 miles away where they do what they need to do before being returned to the workplace (obviously this is going to necessitate a flexi-time system). It’s really going to need at least that for me to stick this job.
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