Male workplace restroom etiquette leads to scientific breakthrough

August 2, 2006

In an exciting scientific breakthrough, I believe I figured out how to slow down the passage of time at my office on Monday.  It’s complicated to replicate the conditions, so pay attention: for whatever reason, yesterday as I’m headed to the Men’s room at work, I notice that this co-worker who I don’t really know all that well is headed in at the same time as me, and purely aribtrarily, I end up walking into one of the stalls, instead of standing at the urinal, which is where he ends up. 

As I’m in the stall peeing, I think, “I wonder if he thinks it’s weird that I didn’t stand next to him.  I wonder if he’s taking it personally?”  As we both finish up and head to the sinks to wash up, I decide maybe I’ll tell him it’s nothing personal, and that I just randomly decided to pee in a stall for an exciting change of pace, but then I re-think that idea, because telling another guy your pee location strategy provides too much insight into the inner workings of your mind, at least, according to Sun-Tzu. 

So I don’t say anything, but then it’s really weighing on my mind, that he’s probably sitting over at his desk, thinking, “Jonathan’s a creepy urinater,” or he’s probably calling his friends and telling them.  Or maybe he’s prepping an email to the whole company, and then going in and unselecting my address, to let them know that I’m pee-shy and have to hide in a stall when others are present (which is totally not true, I can pee anywhere, anytime!). 

So in the end, I feel like the only thing to do is send him an email; but I realize that doing so will just be extremely queer, so I decide to go way over the top with it, and maybe, just maybe it’ll be so bizarre that he forgets the original incident that necessitated the email.  So I write “Hey, I hope you didn’t think it was weird that I went into a stall just now instead of using a urinal; the thing is, I have a really unusually shaped penis & I didn’t want any of my co-workers to find out.  So, now that you know… just don’t tell anyone.”

And I hit send.  And then I wait… and wait… and eventually, after 90 minutes with no response, I realize he’s probably prepping a lawsuit, or maybe he’s already in with the HR lady.  So I get up and go over to his desk, and he looks up at me, and as I’m waiting for him to speak, I realize he’s wondering what I’m doing there, like, maybe I’m there to show him my penis or something.  So I blurt out “hey, just so you know, I don’t really have an abnormally shaped penis“. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you slow down time.  What felt like three minutes passed over the next few seconds before he stammered out, “I have no idea what you’re talking about”.  Apparently, he hadn’t even read the email, because he’d been in a meeting & gone straight to lunch afterwards.  I explained, which I’m sure made everything 100% better.  Later on, we all looked back on it and had a good laugh, or rather, one of us wrote about the incident in his blog while the other one filed a report with Human Resources.


  1. I think I just woke up the babies I’m laughing so friggin’ hard! Please tell me you just made this up for your blog.

  2. Nope. I’ll forward you the email.

  3. That is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time.

  4. […] Though extreme, jonson’s tortured thinking about how to handle an awkward bathroom situation reveals much of this delicate balancing act. Article printed from Amber of the Moment: http://amberofthemoment.com URL to article: http://amberofthemoment.com/?p=48 Tags […]

  5. Jonson talking about his johnson. Classic!

  6. Funny really.. Some homophobic tendencies maybe?

  7. that was hilarious! 🙂 thanks for sharing

  8. A little paranoide but hilarious. Thanks for sharing

  9. A similar situation arises when entering a stall to do the deed for which men’s room stalls are intended. I am referring to the “wait-out”. This is when you wait to release what maybe loud or noxious bowel content until the other patrons, who saw who you were when you entered the stall, leave.
    A showdown style wait-out takes place when you and another stall occupant see who can hold out the longest before exiting the stall. This is usually due to 1.) the traditional bowel shyness or 2.) the fact that you really want to get back to your novel without anyone knowing that you have a book by crinkling the pages, but also want to avoid an overlong stay because your butt falls asleep.

  10. Brilliant! I wonder how long it will take me to clear the coffee from my sinuses after snarfing it out a couple times. Thank you for that!

  11. wow, it sounds like something I would think, then stress about, then bring it up, look awkward about, and then feel totally dumb about. You’re like me with a penis!

    you also forgot to throw into the mix that maybe he just thought you had to poop. I mean, that’s what the stalls are for in a guy’s bathroom right? So what if he thought of that!

  12. But that couldn’t have been it, Kristen, because he & I both finished up immediately and washed our hands at the sink next to each other, which is where it was awkward initially.

  13. Reading this was the best thing that has happened to me so far today. It’ll be tough to top. I love it when people share things like this!

  14. Oh, my god. flawless. i am hanging up my keyboard for good.

  15. funny! how is the guy who filed a complaint doing now? has he avoided you? lolx.

  16. AMAZING post.

    My Best of the Day Award goes to you. Cherish it.


  17. you are a straight up nut. since this is my first time reading the blog, where do you work again, cause obviously you have too much time on your mind. LMAO

  18. i applaud how you handled the situation. excellent move (and i say that without sarcasm). i made the mistake of standing next to the guy at the urinal and got to hear all about his prostate issues. i’m only an intern and he a manager so i had to smile and nod the entire time. do you know how difficult the battle was between my “eyes on the road” bathroom policy and the peon’s compulsion to acknowledge a superior by making eye-contact? awkward

  19. I ALWAYS go into a stall if someone else is using the urinal. If there are, maybe, 4 urinals and someone is on the 1st one, I will go to the 4th one. If there are fewer than 4 or if the other person is in a middle urinal, I will use a stall.

    Why on earth would I want to pee with someone else near me and no barriers in between?

    It does get awkward when you’re peeing in the stall and it is so loud because you’re peeing into water. If for some odd reason you begin to slow down before you are finished, then you’ve been outed as someone who can’t piss in front of someone else.

  20. *sniff* I’m proud of ya’ son. *sniff*

  21. Wonder how much blog space restroom etiquette takes up? Check this one out. http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~takamari/2005/03/how-to-urinate.html Thought we all learned that one around 3 years old.

    I had a roomate who thought guys could *only* pee standing up! Obviously, she had no brothers. Oddly, she was engaged to a guy who would *never* take a dump in a public restroom. Not surprisingly, he had constipation problems.

    It amazes me how hung up we are about bodily functions. Is it too much of a reminder that we ‘higher beings’ are really just animals? Or because we’re told we shouldn’t be so interested them by the time we’re 4?

  22. Truly hilarious! Your story made my day. Strange things happen to people all the time, and when they survive to tell about them, it sure is entertaining for the rest of us.

  23. *lmao*…tooo funny. Thanks for sharing!!!


  24. It started off amusing and a creeping horror came over one as it phased into embarrassing. I recognise much of myself in citizen johnson. What a damn shame it is that we are not all the same, then nobody would have to explain or apologise. Who are these guys that have no hang-ups? They bug me unbearably. All honour to you pal for sharing. cyquick.wordpress.com

  25. found this one randomly. without a doubt, the guy who received your email is blogging about it as we speak, probably from a stall on the opposite side of the blogosphere.

    this post was perfect, though. thank you.

  26. Dunno why my trackback hasn’t shown up here, but you’re BOTH of my quotes o’ the day:

    Did you ever read The Mezzanine, by Nicholson Baker? There’s a similar scene in there, similarly funny. Ever considered writing for the New Yorker? Although I’m not sure they ran the men’s room bit…

  27. Great post! I’m so glad that I’m not the only one that over analyzes his bathroom visits.

  28. I do the same thing. It’s just easier to pee when you are alone 🙂 When a friend asked once asked why, I said the urinals are too high, and my dick keeps hitting the bottom. hehe, that shut him up.

  29. Not funny and not interesting. Sadly this reveals that you have serious psychological problems, if not for the story, then for posting the story.

    Some people will do anything to get hits.

  30. And some, consumed by jealousy, will say anything to get their self-esteem back.

  31. OK, so the lights in our company bathroom are on a motion sensitive timer and if you are in the crapper too long, they go off. Then the next guy comes into the bathroom, the lights come on and then he realizes you have been crapping in the dark. That’s a pretty awkward situation, I can tell you!

  32. My chest is tight with embarrassment for you. What in the hell ever came over you and caused you to put any of it in writing???

    Though I’m so very thankful you did.

  33. Jonson, your cover for going into the stall could have been that you needed to blow your nose. You really don’t need an excuse though. I always go into the stall if someone is at a urinal. I have trouble initiating the stream if someone is urinating right next to me and the urinals don’t have separators.

    And what a shitty design the bathroom with separator-less urinals is! I’ve been observing mens behavior in the bathroom for several years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that most men don’t like urinating next to another guy without a separator.

    I used to be ashamed about being pee-shy, as you put it, but I’ve gotten over it. Yes, I’m PEE-SHY!! And I’m pretty sure 90% of other guys out there are, too, to some extent. I don’t think it’s because they’re worried about the shape or size of their penis, but just because you’re more vulnerable while you’re urinating.

  34. Good thing abnormally shaped penises don’t run in the family. 🙂

  35. You are pathetic, you need a life!

  36. Duuuuude… I finally found my male counterpart. I’ve expounded at great length on this very subject and I see absolutely nothing wrong with your comportment. I would have sent the very same email although as I don’t have a penis it would have probably been related to the fact that someone stunk up the bathroom before me – then I went it – and on my way out ran into a co-worker who mistakenly thought I was responsible.. I would stew at my desk for hours before emailing her “you know, it wasn’t me that stunk (stank?) up the bathroom earlier.” Yes.. That’s how I roll, yo.

  37. Great entry. So… Seinfeldish.
    For me it is easy; I just have to figure out whether to empty my bag in public or go behind a tree. 🙂

  38. Wow! I’m still deciding whether this is hilarious or a bizarre display of extreme paranoia.

    Perhaps it is a bit of both.

    In either case, it made me laugh out loud! 😆

  39. I think that was possibly the funniest thing that I have read all day. I was literally laughing out loud!

  40. […] Speaking of themes, here’s one of the odder little things that might happen in the workplace, according to Jonathan Jonson of Jonson Blog. […]

  41. That was one of the best things I have read on wordpress lately.

  42. I’m supposed to be studying Systems Analysis and Design (COIS20025) at the moment…however after wandering into this blog by accident and reading the various posts I now realize that for all of our differences we are not so different from each other after all…human nature being what it is!

    I laughed so hard when I read “TheGirlWho’s” post that I almost choked on my coffee. What is it about base bodily functions that continually amazes and amuses seemingly grown adults?

    Whatever it is, it has done wonders for my mood but has proved catastrophic for my studies…I’m finding it a tad hard to concentrate at the moment!

  43. Ahhh, male urinating protocol. I’ve researched this topic myself – you should have stayed in the stall until after the other guy had gone. It was all downhill from when you made that mistake.

  44. hmm… how is that installing cameras in mens room not invasion of privacy but in female washroom is a serious offence?

  45. you might over analyze your bathroom visits, but you’re a good writer and you made me laugh out loud. i would love to work in the same place as you.

  46. Well according to The Smoking Gun, installing a camera in the ceiling of the “donation” room of a sperm bank IS a crime.

  47. Excellent!

  48. This made me smile on a wet Monday morning,very funny.

  49. because telling another guy your pee location strategy provides too much insight into the inner workings of your mind, at least, according to Sun-Tzu.

    Gold. You’ve made my day, thanks!

  50. isn’t it funny how something as basic and commonplace as peeing can generate so much sympathy and amusement?

    and who knew that a simple trip to the john (and its subsequent outcome) could be this interesting?

    well! keep it up. and may your future restroom trips be as colorful, but er… less embarrassing?

  51. Keep up going to the bathroom? Oh, I plan to, all right!

  52. It’s one Seinfeld moment after the other when it comes to public restroom hilarity. Each of us has our own public restroom anxieties and neuroses. I am pee-shy, however, some men are polar opposite to pee-shy, which can lead to moments like these. I am a pharmaceutical sales rep, I need to give presentations to doctors. One doctor not too long ago encouraged me to follow him into the bathroom as I was presenting to him. I told him I could wait and catch him next time, but he said no, come on in, and me feeling that if I said no would be considered homophobic, said ok, and I walked on in with him. So, the doc pulls up to the urinal, shoulder-high, knee-low, unzips, holds with one-hand, and tells me to start in again with the presentation. My words come out, his urine does not. When there is no sound of pee hitting wall of urinal, it’s obvious to both that someone is pee-shy. I talk louder and faster and finally dude breaks the seal. It was awkward for sure. I’m just glad dude didn’t have to take a sh*t. That’s the line I draw in the sand, or, the litter box.

  53. You are my new hero. Thank you.

  54. Thank you for sharing the awkwardness that is urinals. I probably wouldn’t have gone as far as the email or the confrontation, but I would have worn away a good layer of my stomach lining worrying about it. You’re not alone! I like the idea of pretending to blow your nose. That sounds like me.

  55. laughing hard.

  56. […] Male workplace restroom etiquette leads to scientific breakthrough […]

  57. You know, as small children we would go outside and run around without a stitch of clothes on if our parents let us (I had a neighbor that actually let her son do this until the kid was about four years old, fortunately for them we lived in a rural area), but usually our parents immediately and forcefully train us that we are not supposed to expose ourselves to others, particularly the “private parts.” Some guys just never can get over that – I feel very self conscious about using a urinal. But also, there is the splash factor – many urinals are constructed in such a way that you just know that if you aren’t really careful, you’re liable to get a little bit of some other guy’s urine splashed back on you (some guys don’t have particularly good aim, you know).

    Personally I always use a stall. I just figure if anyone gives me any grief about it, I’ll tell them I have a really disgusting infection at the moment that I don’t think anyone else would want to see. After all, it’s a pretty safe bet they’re not going to ask to see the evidence. 🙂

  58. Funny thing, he probably didn’t even think anything of it. Until you said something. :shrug:

  59. […] A disturbing, and hilarious, insight into the male mind. And the men’s room. Permalink […]

  60. The other day, somebody was bitching about the design of the stalls in our restrooms. As my companions consisted of an ex-coworker, his friend and his sister (the complainant), I ventured the query: ‘how tall are you?’ Said was met with the typical glare of indecision that plagues the vaguely naive and ill-concerned, so I stated: ‘the few times I hit that bathroom, I measure the space between my knees and the door, and think: anybody with long legs or a husky basketball player in this stall is gonna have some privacy issues.’

    she kept saying: ‘that bathroom was designed by a man! (the fact that it’s done in barfy pink doesn’t help), invoking the lack of foresight upon 50’s era designers that women would top 6’3″ within a generation…………

    I responded with: ‘when you’re all: this bathroom’s nasty! blah, blah, blah… there’s always some guy who counters: you actually had a DOOR?’ poor guys: the splash factor, the assumption that you are expected to pee within full view of others into urinals, almost makes up for what dogs y’all’s are………..

  61. Gee whiz! How long is this thing going on? I have a PS:. It is about the modern type of urinal which is a little bowl thing screwed half way up the wall. As a previous comment said, they are placed too high. If there is a lower one for little boys I like to use that. It is catastrophic to your self-esteem when you accidently touch the china or steel with your penis. I find seats at bus shelters too high also, and street benches. The workmen are too lazy to dig deep foundations. As to going for a poo-poo, I like to flush immendiately to get rid of most of the origin of pong. Sadly, some cisterns recharge too slowly with stinky consequences. As to the adolescent nature of this post and we who comment (aside from one chap above who mentioned psycholoigcla problems) we are indeed a pitiable crew, buit admirable too (for different aspects). I will say that I hate fiction or comedy on TV or in moview which mentions loos, WCs, bathrooms, toilets, lavatories, kazies, the choo, or whatever. But I maintain that it is a legitimate subject in a blog. cyquick.wordpress.com

  62. […] This is just to hilarious. Someone’s extremely paranoid view on how to handle an awkward bathroom situation. I laughed so hard I almost pooped my pants. Link Posted by Giglz | 1 Views | […]

  63. This has made my day! Thanks so much!

  64. I’ve got a coworker who loves to give his urinal neighbor a hard time:

    ‘Don’t look down! What’s your problem? You know what’s there and where it’s pointed. DON’T LOOK DOWN!’

    My shy bladder and I have recommended early retirement for this gentleman.

  65. hilarious, man.

  66. Ha ha what a crack up. I am sure most of us have been through this experience but not that far in sending an email. ha ha. oh well shit happens. 🙂

  67. […] In an exciting scientific breakthrough, I believe I figured out how to slow down the passage of time at my office on Monday. It’s complicated to replicate the conditions, so pay attention: for whatever reason, yesterday as I’m headed to the Men’s room at work, I notice that this co-worker who I don’t really know all that well is headed in at the same time as me, and purely aribtrarily, I end up walking into one of the stalls, instead of standing at the urinal, which is where he ends up. more….. […]

  68. Did he really file a report ?!

  69. […] On the perils of male restroom etiquette. […]

  70. Thanks so much for sharing! Very George Costanza!

  71. Hahaha, I JUST wrote something about this.


    Do we work in the same building?

  72. […] Male workplace restroom etiquette leads to scientific breakthrough – This is a stupid little story, but it made me laugh hard. […]

  73. Wow. Why do we all feel that damage control does anything but create much more damage. My parting words in a phone break-up once were “catch you later, man” (I am a nice jewish girl from NY. Even college educated). When I hung up I realized how utterly uncool my final words were so (I cringe even writing this) I called back. Reached his voicemail and said, “I did not mean for my last words to you to be ‘take it easy, man.’ What I meant to say was ‘you take care of yourself, ya hear. You are so special to me…” and it went on and on.
    Wow, this blogging thing is fun, except I am only talking about myself! Dude, I love your story.

  74. Actually, that story is pretty hilarious. Tragically hilarious, but still. If I were that guy, I would never erase that message, and possibly, in fact, post it to the web.

  75. If you have so much trouble with a #1, what do you do with a #2?

    Some advice here: http://mistupid.com/people/page051.htm

  76. […] Too fucking funny. Head over here to read it for yourself. […]

  77. Sometimes you can overthink a situation. I linked to your article from Blogging the Truth.

    I have an excellent urinal mural.

  78. Bahahahaha, thank you so much for such a wonderful laugh!

  79. […] here (because unintended harrassment as the result of a neurotic need to do the right thing is often hilarious) […]

  80. Haha, hilarious. I thought I was the only person who agonised over workplace bathroom etiquette. We only have two urinals in the bathroom on my floor, no separator, with walls on either side making it quite claustrophobic.

    I’ll always go into a stall if there’s someone using one of the urinals, but then I have to sit down, in case someone comes in and sees my feet pointing the wrong way.

    What if you want to do a number 2? The logistics can be horrific; especially trying to avoid making a loud noise. I often will wait until I hear other people exit, I like to go alone.

    The other day I thought my fly was undone, but I couldn’t check out in the open, so ducked into the bathroom. Someone followed me in so I thought it would look less weird if I stood at the urinal. Of course, he went to use the urinal and so then I had to, but of course I didn’t manage it because I never needed to go in the first place. After about 30 agonising seconds I “finished up”, splashed some water over my hands and made a sharp exit. Thankfully the other guy was a visitor so I won’t have to see him again.


  81. Awesome post. Communal office bathrooms are the work of the devil, though I cant say you helped matters by documenting things via email 😉

  82. […] You have to be careful about keeping up with online reading while away, otherwise you might miss a great story like this one. I think I have a new feed to start reading. […]

  83. […] Read this…you’ll laugh. […]

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