is it okay to apply makeup in the bathroom at work?

by Ask a Manager on March 26, 2013

A reader writes:

I work at a large university in a building of about 300 people. There are two floors and I know almost everyone on my floor by face, if not by name.

After a long winter, I’ve recently started biking to work. I bring my makeup with me and put it on in the women’s bathroom about 10 minutes before official working hours start. It only takes me 2 or 3 minutes; this is not a fashion level routine, just some foundation, mascara, and eyeliner. Is that weird? Should I get a makeup mirror for my cube? So far no one’s said anything and all my coworkers in my office know I’m biking to work (and are encouraging and positive about it).

It would be weirder to apply it in your cube, so don’t do that. Your cube is more of an open space than the bathroom is.

I don’t think what you’re doing is any big deal, particularly since people know you bike to work. It’s not ideal — foundation, mascara, and eyeliner is a bigger production than a quick swipe of lipstick, and it’s more grooming than you usually expect to see in an office bathroom — but it’s not a big deal. Certainly not a big enough deal for you to stop biking to work.

As a side note, years ago, I worked with someone who carried a full makeup case to work — one of those big metal boxes with shelves and compartments on the inside — and every afternoon after lunch, she’d stand in front of the bathroom mirror and do a full makeup reapplication with foundation, powder, eye makeup, lip liner, different brushes, etc. That’s something I’d say not to do, because it made her look so preoccupied with her appearance at work that it was hard to take her seriously; her priorities seemed off-kilter.

But that’s very different than what you’re doing, so I think you’re fine.

Anyone want to disagree? Or share their own workplace grooming habits?

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{ 215 comments… read them below or add one }

Gene March 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I don’t wear makeup, so no comment on that part, but when I bike to work I start the day with a shower. Then again, I don’t work at a university, but at a wastewater treatment plant.

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Michelle March 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I also work on a university campus and after lunch there are lots of people brushing their teeth and flossing in the bathroom or doing makeup touch-ups. No one seems to mind. I think it would only be bad if you were disrupting the environment for others, like spraying perfume or hairspray around.

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AnotherAlison March 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I wouldn’t have a problem with seeing someone do a quick make-up routine in the bathroom before work.

What I would have a problem with is someone who is sweaty & smelly all day. I used to have a female coworker who ran at lunch. We didn’t have showers & she didn’t go home or use a gym shower. I’m not sure a baby wipe shower in the office bathroom is 1.) appropriate, or 2.) adequate, so I’d want to know that the OP is talking about a short bike ride on cool days, not 20 miles in 80 degree weather with humidity.

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Megan March 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm

OP here. The ride is 2 miles and I live in Chicago. I rode to work in when I was a student too in the summers and it was fine. The mornings are pretty cool even on the hottest days. Your coworker sounds gross!

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AnotherAlison March 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm

You have my approval then : )

My coworker was a little different.

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Natalie March 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I’ve had the same experience in Minneapolis, which is a very similar climate to Chicago. Except during a few freakish heat waves (i.e. heat index over 110) it’s usually in the 60s-70s in the morning and a very cool and pleasant ride. I’ve actually needed to wear a jacket in the morning before.

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fposte March 26, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I’d also say that riding in on the subway will leave you just as sweaty if not more on a hot summer day.

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Lucy March 26, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Yup, subway in the summer is sweatier than a bike ride here!

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danr March 26, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I used to watch women applying makeup on the train and on the subway. I always wondered how no one ever put an eye out with the eyeliner pencil in a swaying subway car.

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Kelly O March 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I’m one of the “after lunch teeth brushers” and I also touch up my makeup after lunch too.

Whole thing takes less than five minutes, and I don’t know that it bothers anyone (except a couple of people who tell me it makes them feel like they need to brush their teeth, to which I kind of want to respond “then do” but whatever.)

I’m with Michelle, so long as you’re not stinking up the place with perfume or some aerosol hairspray, I think you’re okay, especially first thing in the morning.

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Heather March 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Ha! I would totally say that.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I do this and I don’t even have the excuse of biking to work.

Definitely don’t take this to your cube – if I saw this in the open that I would find weird – but like in my case it’s an individual bathroom and I get here a good 1.5 hours before any other woman so since no one can see me and I’m not tying up the ladies room I don’t see the problem.

In a public bathroom it’s it’s a couple of minutes and you make sure you tidy up (seriously – I get so pissed if I get someone else’s powder on my sweater as I’m washing up) I don’t see why it would be an issue. Then again I never understood why brushing one’s teeth in a public bathroom is an issue since it has to be one of the least gross things that can happen in there – so I may be off on this.

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Diane March 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I apply makeup in my office every morning and have done so for several years. I always make sure to do it in the bathroom/before I leave if we have guests or if I’m likely to be interrupted first thing in the morning. As far as I know, no one has a problem with it. I see my boss putting on nail polish at work sometimes, so I figure we’re even.

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Nail polish?! Unless it’s touching up a chipped nail, that seems inappropriate to me.

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AdAgencyChick March 26, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I once had a boss who had her pedicurist come in and give her a full-on pedicure in the office. She would call me in and want to talk to me while her foot was propped up on the desk, the pedicurist working away and the office reeking of acetone.

She was the business owner, so I guess she could do whatever she damn well pleased, but I’m SO GLAD I don’t have to deal with THAT any more.

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I once followed a boss to his haircut appointment because his schedule was packed and I desperately needed 20 minutes with him to go over some time-sensitive stuff. We basically had a meeting while his hair was being cut, but at least it was outside the office.

(To be clear, this was with his permission — I didn’t follow him there as some sneaky plan and then blindside him while he was in the chair.)

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Christine March 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I was just gonna say….!!

I give your former boss kudos for having the flexibility to give you his attention while taking care of his own personal needs (although why on earth would he schedule a hair appointment in the middle of a busy workday, unless that was the only slot he could get?)

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 1:59 pm

He traveled a bunch, and it was the only slot he could get before having to jump on another plane, if I remember correctly. I was pretty entertained by it.

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Oh and he suggested it. I would never have asked that on my own, although I was glad to take him up on it.

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Wilton Businessman March 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I had a boss that had to leave the office at a specific time to catch a train. He would often say “Walk with me to the train”. No problem, except that was a 15 minute walk and I still had to walk back just to turn around an hour later and walk back to the train so I could get home!

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Elizabeth March 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Actually, I’d love to have a boss-sanctioned walk in the middle of the afternoon, including 15 minutes to just think to myself as I walked!

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Rana March 26, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I think there was an article in the New York Times or such about this growing trend of “walking meetings” in which people do just that. I don’t think it would work for all meetings – imagine trying to manage a design process, for example – but one-on-one conversations seem well-suited to it, health and weather permitting.

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Mike C. March 26, 2013 at 3:04 pm

There are some pretty crazy stories about staffers and where they had to follow LBJ back in the day…

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Yes! TO THE BATHROOM, for anyone who doesn’t know this.

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fposte March 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Oh, God, was lifting up his beagle by the ears actually a colorful euphemism?

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Dana March 26, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I once had an auditon at a health club to teach fitness classes. I was offered the job and in the locker room taking a shower when my new boss came in and asked me several follow up questions. I had to peek my head around shower curtain while covering up my nakedness and ask if we could continue the conversation once I was dressed. That was just really wrong on a lot of levels.

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Natalie March 26, 2013 at 7:27 pm

At least there was a shower curtain at all! Imagine how much more awkward that would have been in one of those open room showers.

V March 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Now I’m imagining George Costanza following Mr. Willhelm into the bathroom at yankee stadium :)

“He pulled an LBJ on ya!”

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TheSnarkyB March 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Oh god I’m gonna show my age here…
When you said “follow LBJ back in the day” my thought was – Is this a blog that’s no longer active? Did people’s staffers have to follow it?
I’m embarassed to admit how long it took me to figure out that you were talking about a person, let alone a president!

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class factotum March 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Did she not offer a pedicure to you? Because I wouldn’t mind that at all.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm

This. I’d take a serious pay cut for a gig with on-site pedicures. I love them but hate having to carve out the time on the weekend. If I can get my eyebrows waxed during webinars during the work day and I’d be saving time all over the place!

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KC March 26, 2013 at 4:12 pm

At my last gig, they had a woman come in to do eyebrow threading every 3 weeks. It was $7 and really convenient. Sometimes, it’s the little things.

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AdAgencyChick March 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm

No way. Pedicures for pooh-bahs, not for peons!

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Ally March 26, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I put clear polish on a chipped nail ONE time, super quick. I had 4+ people walk by my desk and comment on the smell so I will never do that again!

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Cath@VWXYNot? March 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I once saw someone doing it on a plane, mid-flight. AND she got all upset when the flight attendants ran over and told her she had to stop. Unbelievable!

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Heather March 26, 2013 at 4:03 pm

The receptionist at my job has touched up her nails at work. During the day. At her desk. Really

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class factotum March 26, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Wasn’t Miss Tudball always doing that when she worked for Mr Wiggins? I know she had to use a pencil to dial her phone because her nails were so long.

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jubileejones March 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm

+1 for the Carol Burnett Show reference.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm

God help me for knowing this…it was Mr. Tudball and Mrs. H-Whiggins (Wiggins in his Scandinavian accent.)

I am officially several hundred years old.

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Amanda J March 26, 2013 at 7:27 pm

In the world of re-runs, you aren’t that old at all. I’m 38. I grew up watching re-runs of Carol Burnett. I could also throw down some Laugh-In references, or quote some Leadbelly lyrics. Shakespeare, too. Doesn’t make me old.

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class factotum March 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

:)

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Valerie March 26, 2013 at 11:56 pm

I’m a nurse and walked into a patient room at a medical office to find a patient who had just completed painting a full set of nails while she was waiting. Waaaay too many fumes for one small exam room – couldn’t wait to get out of there!

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clobbered March 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Dang! I need to take up painting my nails – that will give me something to do during those interminable conference calls!

Seriously,I don’t do makeup either, but that is exactly what the bathroom is there for – to do stuff that it’s not appropriate to do in a public space. Put your make up on, change clothes, whatever.

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Anon March 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I *wish* I could apply nail polish at my desk at work b/c it’s one of the only times where I can sit still and let them dry. However, I know it’s not appropriate and I’m sure the smell of the polish would be annoying to others.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I love the smell – is that weird? But yes, definitely unprofessional unless just repairing a chipped nail and even then I’d take it to the bathroom.

I am on day 10 of chip proof polish and still not a chip. I need to go in to get them redone due to growth but it’s the first time something declaring itself chipless actually delivered.

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karenb March 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Off topic Jamie, but care to share the brand? Mine ALWAYS chips at the tips of my nails.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I’ll find out when I go back Thursday. I usually do gels but I was trying a new nail place (fabulous!) who talked me into doing the no -chip and skipping the gels. She talked me into it by giving me the weirdest compliment of my life – she said I had beautiful nail beds (perfectly spherical) and it would be a shame to hide them. I can honestly say I’ve never had anyone say that to me before and I am a sucker for shallow flattery.

And I have great cuticles because that’s what I do while on calls…I lotion like a madwoman.

I’ll find out the name and post it…first of the month is coming up so maybe we’ll get an open thread for April? The holiday weekend would be perfect for that! / end shameless lobbying.

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Parfait March 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

…spherical? I cannot picture this, but I guess if I had spherical nail beds I would want to show them off too!

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fposte March 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

There’s a hilarious old Molly Ivins column about her going to a spa and being told that she had a fabulous space between her eyes.

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 8:34 pm

I’ll do an open thread Friday :)

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Jubilance March 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I’m not Jamie, but I’ve gone 10 days without chipped nails, and without a gel manicure. My secret is no base coat + 2 coats of polish + 1 coat of quick dry UV topcoat. I always buff my nails before I polish so the base coat actually makes it more likely to chip than to adhere. The UV topcoat doesn’t require a special light and it dries quick. I get it from Sally’s Beauty Supply but I’m sure you can find one at most places that sells nail supplies.

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm

As an avid nail polisher, I have to agree with the base coat + 2 colour coats + topcoat, and then reapplying topcoat as needed.

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Emily March 27, 2013 at 11:09 am

I’m a nail polish enthusiast (and known around the office for my industry-themed nail art #bragging!) and I do not not like the smell. ;)

I’ll cop to applying makeup regularly at my desk in my office, out of sight. (On the days I don’t do it in my office, it’s because I’ve done it on the subway on the way to work—a hotly contested practice.) It takes about three minutes on any given day; my computer takes longer to boot up in the morning. I also keep a travel-sized flatiron in my desk, which my coworkers borrow more frequently than I use it myself. And I’ve painted a nail or two (or five) when everyone else is out at lunch. Some bottles smell more strongly than others, and I always open a window.

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Esra March 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I know some people have issues with the brushing teeth/flossing/makeup application/nail-trimming in the bathroom, but I’m cool with all of that. It has zero impact on someone’s work, and if what they need to feel comfortable and presentable is to show up early or spend a break fancying up in the bathroom, go to town.

Clipping your nails at your desk on the other hand? My eye starts to twitch just thinking about it.

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businesslady March 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

yes, I share that pet peeve. the sound of a nailclipper carries FAR FURTHER than people seem to think it does.

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maisie March 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Agreed, it really does. I used to work at the reception of a spa, and the girls would stand all the way in the break room and clip their nails (massage therapists, facialists, etc.) and I could hear it allllll the way in the waiting area. I had to awkwardly smile at the clients before sprinting to the back to shush them.

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Anonymous March 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I keep a small nail kit at my desk so I can do a quick file or clip a hangnail, but I would never do a full on manicure!

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Rana March 26, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Agreed. If I get a snag or a hangnail I must deal with it RIGHT NOW but I cannot imagine settling in for a long clipping session. Ew.

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TheSnarkyB March 27, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Last time I did laundry, there was a guy clipping his nails in the tiny laundromat (one of the ones with just an aisle of machines, no chairs, no tables..) and his fingernails were VISIBLY leaping through the air upon achieving freedom. They could easily have fallen into my basket of clothes and I had to go “Um, excuse me please don’t..” but he just went “Oh yeah ok” and moved 10 feet away to keep going. It was HORRIBLE.

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Oxford Comma March 26, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Unless you’re making a mess and not cleaning up after yourself, this seems like a non-issue to me. Women do this kind of thing in restaurant ladies’ rooms anyhow. Go for it!

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Anon March 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I carpool with my husband and he has to be at work at 7 AM sharp. I don’t wake up early enough to do my makeup before we leave the house, so I bring my makeup and do it in the car while listening to the radio.

I feel self conscious doing my makeup in the bathroom at work, but I don’t have a problem with anyone else doing that.

Once I didn’t have time to do my hair, so I brought my flat iron and did my hair in the bathroom – but this was done in a bathroom on a floor that was empty so there was very little chance of seeing a co-worker.

I’ll do a quick swipe of lip gloss at my desk to touch up during the day.

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Chinook March 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

As long as you aren’t the one driving while doing your makeup, I like your compromise. How do you do the eye,inertia, though. Are your roads that smooth?

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Ally March 26, 2013 at 1:44 pm

I brush my teeth and floss in the office bathroom everyday. I do it very quick, but if someone had an issue, I don’t think I would stop. I’m not going the rest of the day with dirty teeth. And if I have to go to a business dinner directly after work, I will do some makeup touch-ups (more than just lipstick).
Having poor hygiene or looking disheveled is way worse than taking 5 minutes to spruce up in the bathroom.

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BW March 26, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Not weird at all. I see this all the time at work – people applying make-up, touching up their hair, brushing their teeth, all normal things that people do in bathrooms. Just tidy up after yourself, and be aware if anyone needs to step in and use the sink so you can shift out of the way.

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CW82 March 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm

My current pet peeve (and I seriously can’t believe that this is a thing) is when people talk on their cell phones while using the ladies room. I mean, I get needing to take a personal call, but come on – the person you’re talking to doesn’t want to hear that, and I certainly don’t want your contacts hearing me! I feel like office bathroom etiquette is based on pretending that no one hears anyone else – hard to do that if you have someone on the line with you! Plus, it is just gross.

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Jen in RO March 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I have coworkers who do that and ewwwww!

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CW82 March 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Or men’s room! No discrimination here. Gross in either case.

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Sydney Bristow March 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Yes! This is my biggest pet peeve as well. It always drives me nuts, especially when the person appears to be using the bathroom as a break room for the sole purpose of talking on the phone.

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Parfait March 26, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I do my best to make lots of bathroomy noises when I hear someone in another stall doing that. Because I’m 12.

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AdAgencyChick March 26, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Please tell me you do it Austin Powers-style.

“Who…does…Number 2…work for?!”

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Malissa March 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I will admit I have this peeve as well. It’s accompanied by the urge to repeatedly flush the toilet as well.

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Chris80 March 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm

+1

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KC March 26, 2013 at 4:14 pm

+10000

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tcookson March 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I hate that, too. I had a really great boss whose one thing I couldn’t stand was that, when I’d walk by the men’s bathroom, I’d often hear him in there talking (loudly) on the phone. I always thought to myself, “He better not ever call ME from in there!”

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Another Jamie March 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I always panic and think they’re talking to me at first. Which reminds me of another pet peeve: talking to your stall neighbor.

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Kelly O March 27, 2013 at 10:44 am

+ INFINITY TO THE BILLIONTH POWER!!!

Sorry to yell, but seriously. Please, do not talk to me while I am in a stall, or while you are in a stall. When that door closes, I expect Cone of Silence. Period. Pretend we do not exist.

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Sarah March 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I think its fine and way to be healthy and environmentally freindly by biking to work! If you feel awkward about applying makeup in a public bathroom is there anywhere where you could find a private bathroom? Maybe not on your floor, but in the same building or on your way to work, like a starbucks or something? I don’t think its necessary, but I personally don’t like others watch me apply makeup, so I could understand making an extra effort to avoid it.

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KellyK March 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I think it should be a complete and utter non-issue. If you’re not leaving a mess, monopolizing the sink (or the whole bathroom if it’s an individual set-up), or wasting a bunch of time, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

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Mike March 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm

At a former place of employment, we had an employee from another part of the organization using the bathroom every day for a full hair care routine. My favorite part, he would break out the scissors and give himself a trim. The trimmed hairs…he would just leave in the sink and on the counter for everyone to admire. Often, I didn’t actually see him in there, but the tell-tale hairs from his daily head trim were always there.

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Rana March 26, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Bizarre! I’ve never heard of anyone giving themselves a haircut in the public bathroom before!

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Anonymous March 26, 2013 at 9:41 pm

The only place I’ve seen this was older men at the public pool. Got to give them props though – not a care in the world what anyone though.

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km March 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Chiming in that I also do this. I go to the gym before work and it’s knives out to get a piece of mirror space in the locker room, so I put on makeup in the bathroom when I get to work. OP, I saw in comments above that you work in Chicago? I also live in a big city, and I feel like this will always seem less weird in an urban area, where you see people do all manner of things in workplace bathrooms because you may have a loooooong and winding commute between your work and your home.

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Rachel B March 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I agree! When I worked in Boston, I saw women applying make-up in the work bathroom in the morning and late afternoon. Now that I work in a more remote area where most employees drive to work, I see less prepping in the bathroom.

I don’t see any issue with using applying make-up in the bathroom. Much better than at your desk! Plus, I’d rather free up a single bathroom for folks who may have more personal needs to take care of.

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Ash March 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

You could get a small magnetic mirror to use on the outside (or inside) of a stall in the bathroom or on the inside of a locker at the gym. That way you don’t have to fight for mirror space in the bathroom.

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Ann O'Nemity March 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm

My only recommendation would be to leave ample counter/sink space for others. The only time I’ve ever been annoyed to see someone doing their hair/makeup in the public restroom is when they monopolized the entire counter and made it difficult for others to access either sink.

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Jen in RO March 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Since you do this early in the morning and you’re not getting in anyone way… I can’t see any problem. (We have 2 toilets and 2 sinks for ~100 women, so someone putting on makeup during the day would be in the way… Ahh, private bathroom, I can’t even imagine how nice that would be.)

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Yes – weirdly enough my favorite perk at my job is the private (and to be clear private meaning one person occupancy – not private like no one uses it but me. That would be my idea of heaven but I’m not nearly fancy-pants enough to warrant that!) bathroom where each of us have our own drawer for toiletries. I have my little stash of deodorant, toothpaste/mouthwash/brush/floss, hairbrush, feminine stuff, even face wash, and Noxzema wipes and a curling iron for long days when you need to start from scratch.

It’s so trivial, but I’d think long and hard about a work place with stalls.

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Sascha March 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Jamie, come work with me! We have said private bathroom with a lovely cabinet where everyone has a special box for our stashes. Of course you’d have to take a big pay cut – welcome to higher education.

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AB March 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

“It’s so trivial, but I’d think long and hard about a work place with stalls.”

Jamie, if you stay in IT, and your floor only has IT people, most likely it would still not change a thing. My places of work for the past 10 years all had stalls, but I can’t remember once having to share the restroom with a colleague. And that’s saying something because I drink a lot of water throughout the day. The number of female employees in the IT departments I’ve worked for is so small that it would be very unusual for two of us to be in the restroom at the same time ;-).

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Brandy March 26, 2013 at 5:13 pm

true that. I work in biz dev for an IT company. There are about 200 people on my floor, 30 of them are female. We have at least 2 women’s bathrooms. I ALWAYS am turning on the light because NOBODY uses the ladies’ room.

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Aimee March 27, 2013 at 1:33 am

We have stalls and cleaning people who seem to think immediately after lunch is the perfect time to close the bathroom for cleaning!

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Christine March 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I honestly have no problem with people doing personal grooming in the public bathroom…I see it all the time, particularly in larger facilities, such as the university or active office buildings.

As an example: I rarely wear makeup except for job interviews or some other important meeting where first impressions count. I’ll admit that if my commute to said meeting is far (I rely on public transportation), I’ll hold off and apply my makeup at the first opportunity when I’m in the area I need to be and can get to a decent bathroom. (My makeup is very minimal–blush and lipstick, maybe some foundation powder.)

As long as you don’t take up the space for too long (to make room for others) and don’t get too messy or gross, I’m totally okay with it (hence why I never do my teeth in public bathroom–I’m not entirely graceful at it. lol.)

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class factotum March 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I put on my makeup when I get to work because I walk four blocks to the bus in the cold north wind and my watering eyes washes off any makeup I might have put on at home.

Nobody has ever batted an eye.

I have, however, given the stinkeye to the lady who applies her hairspray once she gets to work. It makes the bathroom stink and seriously, who uses hairspray any more?

(I like the work bathroom because there is a wall mirror and I can actually get close enough to it to see what I’m doing, which is hard to do at home.)

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A Bug! March 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Hey, I use hairspray! I have extremely fine hair and even in a tight bun or ponytail, over the course of the day I get a lot of flyaways and I look frazzled by the end of the day. I use a super-light-hold spray that’s basically useless for anything else. I tried those “anti-frizz” and smoothing treatments but everything I try makes my hair look greasy, and it’s rarely an option for me to leave my hair damp to allow me to use a mousse which also does the trick.

Still, I wouldn’t apply it in the office.

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class factotum March 26, 2013 at 4:17 pm

OK. I’ll give you a pass. Let me rephrase that: Who uses hairspray so much that they make the work ladies’ room stink?

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Parfait March 26, 2013 at 4:52 pm

one of my colleagues. Bleah. she also smokes. It’s always a trail of some scent or over when she walks through.

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Megg March 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm

I had a coworker who would plug her curling iron into the dash in her car and curl her hair while driving to work. I’d pass her on the road and she her going at it everyday. I can barely handle doing my hair alone in my bathroom in the morning, so she always made me nervous. In any case, I think you’re fine doing some small make-up application in your office bathroom.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Distracted driving is so dangerous – why doesn’t she just do it when she gets to work. Conair has a great butane curling iron so you don’t even need an outlet (the pink one – even has a case). No excuse for that.

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Just a Reader March 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I drive to work in Velcro rollers–they’re easy, no heat and I just put them in at home, and pull them out and brush my hair after I park at the office. Someone should turn her on to these!

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm

What kind of magic is this – no heat? Do you have to sleep in them? Brand please.

The OP mentioned a mirror in her cube as an option and it reminded me of a co-worker I once had who had a mirror in front of her monitor. It was a left over habit from when she did telephone sales and would look in the mirror when she made calls…but whenever I’d go to fix her computer I’d always be startled to see myself when I sat down. Like “OH, there I am!” and it was weird but I couldn’t look away…something about a mirror where you don’t normally see one was horribly distracting. I found it amusing – is this a common call center thing?

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AnotherAlison March 26, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I have coworkers who use it like a rearview mirror to keep an eye on people coming up behind them.

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Just a Reader March 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Conair makes good ones for around $13 for a set of different sizes, or you can get the coke can sized ones. Any drugstore should have them.

Just wash and dry hair with your usual products, pop the rollers in and hit them with any follow up product and some heat if you can (hair dryer, car heater, whatever)–helps but is not required. No need to sleep in them.

The big ones give lots of volume and the little ones give lots of curl. Life changing, I tell you!

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Kou March 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

You let your slightly damp hair dry on velcro rollers (or dampen in a little with a spray bottle) and it does loose waves or curls depending on the size of the roller. It takes some trying to figure out how to make it work though, there are about a million tutorials online.

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Just a Reader March 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

I should have added that it depends on your hair type. Mine is super straight so I put them in dry just to give a volume boost.

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Sandy March 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I work in a call center and most of our customer service reps have a mirror at their cube. They say the customer can ‘hear’ the smile over the phone, so they provide the mirrors so the reps can make sure they’re smiling.

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Joanne March 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I have to add – have you heard of the sock bun? If you google it, you can find videos on how to do it. You do have to sleep in it, but it is pretty amazing. You need only one sock that you dislike enough to cut the toe off, and it makes pretty heat free curls!

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Kou March 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I’ve done this sooo many times, only with the opposite– it’s flat velcro and I use it to smooth out any weird kinks or curls that happen when I sleep on my hair funny. Beats the hell out of waiting or a flat iron to heat up just to flatten that one piece.

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Just a Reader March 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I think what happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom. I’ve seen makeup application, brushing and flossing, rinsing out a breast pump, taking a conference call (NOT A FAN), full on outfit change, needle and thread repair, etc.

Sometimes it’s the only place available to take care of things at work. What can you do?

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Eric March 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Now I’m questioning my use of a neti pot in the office bathroom. Hey, it’s a bathroom!

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fposte March 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

No, now that we’re supposed to boil the water you need to do that in the kitchen :-).

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Eric March 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Ha!

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Ash March 26, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Wow, that is definitely disgusting. Sorry Eric, but you shouldn’t do that. I know if I walked in on someone pouring water in (and out of) their nose, it would make me retch. :/

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some1 March 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm

At my old company I worked with a guy who brought the newspaper into the bathroom with him. Not a newspaper he purchased for himself, but either the newspaper that was delivered for the entire office to read in the breakroom, or if he saw your magazine or newspaper on your desk he would grab that when you weren’t looking and bring that into the bathroom with him.

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Sascha March 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm

EW EW EW.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I worked with his cousin…who stole the receptionists Cosmo and took it into the ladies room with HIM.

When I think about it I still don’t feel clean.

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Sascha March 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Mind bleach!!! MIND BLEACH!!!!

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Mimi March 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm

LOL

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I wish I could say March 27, 2013 at 9:45 am

I worked with their uncle, who would take the Sunday NY Times in with him. Single, unisex bathroom, smaller than a Yugo- that was supposed to serve about twenty employees.
He’d exit many, many, MANY minutes later, smiling.
Disgusting.

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Rana March 26, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Gross! I think I’d end up booby-trapping my magazines or something.

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BeenThere March 26, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Superglue would be perfect :)

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JessE March 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Worked with a dr who took patient charts into the bathroom! Ick!

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Mimi March 26, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Yeah, I’ve applied makeup in my cube before; I’ve developed a stealth approach to it. It’s actually pretty comical: if I hear footsteps, or someone getting out of their chair, I quickly hide my makeup under some papers until the person passes by.

Of course, then when you emerge from your cubicle, people look at you like, “Have you been wearing mascara all day? Something looks different…..”

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Sascha March 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I see no problem with it, it’s like other bathroom things – don’t take up too much space or time, don’t leave a mess, be considerate of others.

I used to do my makeup in the bathroom during the days I wore makeup, because I got to work around 6am and I didn’t want to get up any earlier than I already was. No one was bothered, that told me outright.

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fposte March 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I used to see women doing their makeup on the commuter train. That to me was going too far, but it wasn’t a rare sight; it was one of those trains where people all had their regular seats, and some people apparently got extra comfy.

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I am totally one of these women :P…. I have no excuses other than I sleep in constantly. (I usually do it on the bus though where I’m not facing someone.)

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Esra March 26, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I see women doing that on the ttc all the time. Honestly, as long as someone is keeping to their space and not eating gross-smelling food, they can do whatever they like on the subway as long as it’s quiet.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I was watching some old Lucy and Bewitched over the weekend and I was struck by how much more comfy our whole society has gotten.

I remember my mom used to tell me how back in the day they’d dress to go shopping and a trip to the department store was heels and gloves. It wasn’t just on TV. Makes me feel pretty guilty about the times I’ve hit the grocery store in yoga pants and my husbands sweatshirt.

There used to be a hard line between public and private deportment …that line is really blurry sometimes now.

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm

It’s true. Honestly though, even comparing Europe to North America there’s a huge difference. (Note: born in europe, living in Canada.) In Europe, you get dressed up to go to the grocery store (nothing extravagant, but you wouldn’t be caught dead in sweat pants in public). I dress business casual most days when I go to university (obviously all the time at work), and people think it’s strange.

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Marmite March 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Plenty of people go out in sweat pants in the UK, traditionally it was considered a lower class thing to do (the equivalent of trailer trash wore tracksuits, as we call them), now it’s not an uncommon sight at all. We still draw the line at wearing pajamas in public though. When I was at college in the US I’d regularly see students in class wearing PJs, never once saw that at my university in the UK. Business casual for university (depending how casual) would probably have people thinking you’re going to work before or after class!

Of course, dress codes here have changed over the years too. When I was a kid my Dad wore a three-piece suit to work, these days he still wears a suit but the waistcoat is long gone (same employer, higher position). I had to wear a shirt, tie, and blazer as part of my school uniform until age 14 (when the blazer became optional, the shirt and tie stayed), these days a lot of schools just have polo shirts. My Gran still doesn’t own a pair of trousers, but plenty of older women do wear jeans these days!

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Yvi March 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Pajamas in class?

My (German) mind is blown.

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Sandy March 26, 2013 at 5:25 pm

When I was in college the majority of the girls wore pajamas to class, and UGG boots, and most of them looked like they didn’t brush their hair, but put it up in a sloppy bun. The guys would wear basketball shorts and t-shirt, and flip flops (I’m not a fan of men in flip flops).

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Esra March 26, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Swap the uggs for slippers or flip flops and that was me. I’m so not a morning person, and my dorm was steps from the polisci building.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 5:25 pm

My kids’ highschool had pajama day every year and even the teachers and deans would wear them.

Nothing sexy – just flannel pants and t-shirts…sometimes silly footie pajamas and slippers.

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Kelly O March 27, 2013 at 11:01 am

My daughter’s daycare has pajama day during break times – usually once during Christmas Break, once during Spring Break, and a couple of times in the summer. (It’s also usually a pizza/movie day.)

Most of the teachers look fine, although one of the teachers in Sarah’s room I looked at cross-ways because seriously… way too tight. (one of those onesie footed things, but if it had been any tighter, I could have made suggestions to her gynecologist for Topics to Discuss.)

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Lisa March 26, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Once I had a college exam at 8am…I believe I wore my PJs, bunny slippers (although I may have changed to sneakers…can’t remember), and I took my blanket – the exam room was freezing.

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Different part of Euorpe… My family has a heart attack if I try to go anywhere in sweatpants :P

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Yvi March 27, 2013 at 1:26 am

Yeah, I have done it and I sometimes take out the trash like that, but I usually feel bad while doing it. I change into jeans for things like that.

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Natalie March 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Personally, this American will never be caught dead in sweatpants in public. The furthest out of my house my yoga pants have gone is to the door, while sick, to get some delivery food.

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Rana March 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm

My husband is like this. All of his pants are “business casual” – he has only one pair of jeans, and those only acquired after we became involved – and all of his shirts, even the non-work ones, have collars (he hates t-shirts). He’s dressed this way since he was a teenager, so he finds it normal and comfortable. (And it has the nice side effect that when he travels in Spain, people don’t think he’s a tourist.)

Me, I’m mostly just looking to see if I’m decent and reasonably matching (one of the strange side-effects of working entirely from home is that you get odd ideas about what’s “presentable” – thank god for long coats, I must say). I’ll dress up when it’s called for, but that’s pretty rare these days.

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danr March 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm

He’s not so weird. I do have jeans, but they’re for yard work.

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Laura L March 27, 2013 at 8:36 pm

How do people in Europe feel about jeans?

Up until very recently, I always wore jeans when leaving the house partly because I thought they looked “nicer” than sweats or yoga pants.

I’m gotten lazier recently and I’ve started grocery shopping in my pajamas. With a coat, of course, because it’s still cold. :-)

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Yvi March 28, 2013 at 3:16 am

In Germany, at least, jeans are good for at home, school, going to non-fancy restaurants, and casual or business casual (black jeans) workplaces. I suppose it’s the same in the USA.

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Laura L March 28, 2013 at 10:17 am

Yes, that sounds pretty similar to the US. Although some of us like to push those boundaries a little bit. :-)

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Maggie March 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

And June Cleaver did her housework while all decked out in a dress, heels, and pearls!

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Ellie H. March 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Sometimes when I go out in the evening I will put on lipstick and earrings on the bus. The bus route that stops on my corner is really infrequent at night so if I’m going out I am usually rushing maniacally to catch the bus or face a long, cold and dark walk, and I run out of time to do the last minute things. I have a hand mirror for it. I try to avoid putting on anything more involved on the bus, though!

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I actually love watching other people do their makeup, so whenever I see someone doing theirs on public transportation, I have a great time watching it. I find it totally engrossing.

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Runon March 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I’m a little surprised that you don’t have a gym or showers on campus if you work at a university that you could use but it doesn’t sound like you need to change or shower so that isn’t as big of a deal. But it might be worth checking to see if there is some of that space in case you ever need it for more than the 2-3 minute spiff.

(I wouldn’t seen any problem using a general bathroom for something quick, but something longer I might raise an eyebrow. I had to change for a while and always ended up sticking around until everyone had left at the end of the day so I could change in the bathroom and wash my face and such, but that wasn’t just a 2 minute thing.)

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Sascha March 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm

It may not be possible to use the gym showers. At my current university, you have to pay (even as staff) to be a member of the campus gym, and they keep the entrance staffed 24/7 and you have to swipe your card to gain access to the facilities. They are super proud of that new gym.

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Runon March 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm

That’s crazy. Being super proud and then not letting people use it, that’s hardly a perk or benefit at that point.

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So Very Anonymous March 26, 2013 at 11:05 pm

The fancy facility is likely meant for the students, not the staff. It’s the same at the university I work at.

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Cassie March 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Our gym is open to students but faculty and staff have to pay a membership fee (nothing extravagant – I think it comes out to about $20 a month). They did come out with a $25 annual pass for people who bike and need to use the showers – I thought that was pretty cool, although I don’t personally know anyone who utilizes this.

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I don’t know why doing make-up at your desk is such a big deal. I mean if its a couple of minutes then does it really matter? I understand if its taking you 30minutes, but otherwise… it’s a quiet activity done once a day. I carpool and am not a morning person, so I always do my makeup quickly at my desk with a small mirror. My process is concealer for trouble spots, eyeliner, mascara and maybe lipstick (the whole thing takes 2 minutes max). To be fair I’m usually the first one in, but I think I would still do it even if I wasn’t, and I wouldn’t care if I saw someone doing it.

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fposte March 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm

It’s not the time, it’s that that isn’t a public activity, kind of like brushing hair and cleaning ears. If you have a private office, it matter so much, but in general, personal hygiene and refurbishing are restricted to bathrooms and private spaces.

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Job seeker March 26, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I agree with you. I would not do this at my desk but the ladies bathroom would be OK. I am impressed that this poster bikes to work. I am a fitness and health person and I believe in any activity to keep you healthy. But, I am very much a girly girl and I love fashion and makeup. When I was working I did carry a touch-up bag with mascara and lip gloss but I would never do my whole makeup in a public restroom. I don’t think I would feel comfortable brushing my hair or applying makeup at a desk in front of others. I also use to carry a touch-up light fragrance and after lunch apply a quick touch-up in the ladies room. You have to be careful because some people do have problems with fragrances. Mine was very soft and light.

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Well, there’s an official etiquette prohibition on public grooming, so that’s part of it.

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I do have a private office (and have yet to experience an open office floor plan or cubicle) so maybe that’s colouring my view on this. I’m still of the “it’s not a big deal mentality”, but I suppose I’ll keep it in mind that not everyone feels the same way.

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Jean March 26, 2013 at 3:24 pm

If any of you ladies want to continue the beauty-routines-at-work conversation I can steer you to Corporette (www dot corporette dot com) which also talks about workplace issues. The stated demographics seem to skew to late 30s and younger but there are some regular commenters over 40 and 50. It’s a cozy community but newcomers are welcome. As with AAM the comments are well-written and articulate!
P.S. I’m a semi-regular at Corporette, but post using a different name.

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Kelly O March 27, 2013 at 11:04 am

I very heartily endorse Corporette too. I don’t post much there, because I am so not her demographic, but I do like the tips on dressing/hair/etc. I worked so long in formal offices, sometimes I kind of miss it (don’t tell my coworkers, they would lynch me.)

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Cath@VWXYNot? March 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I cycle to work at least 4 times a week, year-round, and have done so for 15 years, and this is 100% normal. I don’t wear make-up but I do shower (including washing my hair) at work, and see other cyclists and runners doing their own full post-shower routines at work all the time. Not an issue – so relax, and enjoy those beautiful springtime rides!

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Laura L March 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I’ve done that when I’m running late in the morning. I feel uncomfortable doing it, but I also don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world, so I continue to do it when necessary. :-)

Maybe you could ask your coworkers what they think about it?

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Joey March 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Hard to take someone seriously at work because of her makeup routine? That sounds a little petty.

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Because of how extensive it was. As a man, you might not get what I’m talking about when I mentioned the case — something like this:
http://www.sephora.com/embossed-traincase-black-faux-croc-P311601

She’d bring that into the bathroom and go to town — 6 different kind of makeup brushes, contouring, the whole deal. I’ve never seen anyone do that in public before, let alone mid-day at work. It’s the kind of routine you’d do before going to the Oscars.

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Mimi March 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I think we’ve worked with the same person. ;-) This is a high-level exec, too. She travels around the organization with a makeup case *on wheels*. Whenever she stops at a bathroom, she pulls out all her makeup, lotions, hairspray, the works. She creates another hole in the ozone everywhere she goes. My point is, she might be great at her job, but all anyone ever talks about is her and that damned makeup trunk on wheels!

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Kelly O March 27, 2013 at 11:06 am

/tangent

It’s like a Caboodle for grown-ups! I switched to bags and those little rubbermaid drawer things years ago, but part of me wants one, just because… CABOODLE!! I mean, not my hot pink/green circa 1992 version, but still…

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Joey, I agree with you (and I’m a woman). I honestly see this kind of mentality in women predominantly and it’s persistent. Girls that don’t dress up/don’t wear a lot of makeup will look down at those that do and vise versa, the ones that dress up/wear a lot of make up look down at the ones who don’t. If it’s not affecting her performance, and she’s doing it on her own time, why should it matter that the girl wants to reapply her makeup, ground up?

I don’t want to argue about whether or not this mentality exists (it’s my opinion that it does and that it’s harmful), but I do want to say that I think letting someone’s makeup routine affect your judgement of their character is petty. And honestly, is there something really wrong with prioritizing your appearance among other things?

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Hey, I wear makeup. I love makeup. And I could give a crap whether other women choose to wear it or not and don’t appreciate the implication.

But spending 30 minutes on a full makeup application with six huge brushes and a metal case the size of small luggage in an office bathroom after lunch every day in sends a weird signal to your coworkers. It just does, like lots of other outlier behaviors. If you want to do that at home before work, that’s totally fine — go for it. But doing it in an office bathroom is going to stand out.

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Absolutely – because it’s odd. I love make-up (and am totally coveting that case from the link…and there is a Sephora in my mall…so I spend the money I’ll blame you) but to me that kind of full spread would be like bringing in a secondary outfit to change into each day – because you liked wearing something different after lunch.

It’s not wrong per se and you aren’t hurting anyone – but it’s a bizarre indication of priorities. Besides, I’ve been wearing make-up for most of my life and I can’t for the life of me imagine the need for that. You have a lot at home because you have options, but touching up during the day is usually just what’s already on your face. I’m not going from a smokey eye to a solid liquid liner mid-day. I have 6-8 products on my face at any given time…tops. I just can’t even imagine what she’s doing?

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I used the not wearing makeup vs. wearing makeup as two extremes of the spectrum. You can even say taking 60 seconds to do your makeup (as Ellie below mentions) or taking 30minutes to do it.

My point is, I honestly don’t understand why you would judge someone based on the amount of time they spend putting on makeup or the amount of makeup they wear (unless it’s inappropriate for the office). I mean judge in the sense of it affecting your view of them professionally (as how you said, “it was hard to take her seriously”). I suppose on a personal level you’re allowed to judge them (as Elizabeth says) based on the fact that you disagree with how they spend their time… but even that’s weird to me. Imagine the activity was crocheting? You’re coworker crochets at lunch, so now you can’t take her seriously? I say at lunch, because obviously in Chris80′s example it seems that the personal grooming was actually interfering with productivity.

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I’m not sure how to explain this in a way that will make sense to you, but visibly paying such an unusual amount of attention to your appearance at work does indeed create an impression that you’re prioritizing differently than most people at work.

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 6:26 pm

I’m not disagreeing with the impression it creates… I’m disagreeing with the validity of that impression :P

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Understood. I’m disagreeing with that. I think it’s a reasonable conclusion to draw. I would say the same thing about a man who spent 30 minutes on his hair in the middle of every work day.

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CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Fair enough. I imaged many would disagree with my view which is why I mentioned I didn’t want to get into a discussion about it… to be fair though, it’s hard not to get into a discussion about something when it’s out there. Plus it’s harder to communicate ideas by typing them out (and I’m sure I didn’t communicate as well as I could have).

I suppose we’ll call it a day there. :)

CoffeeLover March 26, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Oh and I’m not saying the behavior won’t send “weird signals” to your coworkers. In fact I’m saying the opposite. That obviously it does, but that it shouldn’t because your coworkers shouldn’t care about that kind of thing.

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mimimi March 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I agree, it is bizarre.

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Elizabeth March 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm

If I had a coworker that spent half an hour, twice a day (once at home and once at work), applying makeup – yeah, I would judge them based on how they spent their time. I think it is fair to form opinions of others based on how they spend their time. I would hold a higher opinion of a coworker that I saw reading Science News over lunch than one who pored over celebrity gossip every day, for example.

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Kelly O March 27, 2013 at 11:10 am

Honestly? I would wonder about how insecure you might be if you had to spend that much time reapplying your face (and I am the queen of touching-up throughout the day. Felt the need to be up-front about that.)

But I also realize that my lipstick is going to come off on my coffee cup, my fan is going to blow my hair a bit, and my eyes will water all spring and make my mascara smudgy. There is a difference between taking a quick second to check/touch up and basically reapplying an entire face of makeup.

Trust me, I get makeup and hair feeling like your “armor” at work. But even I don’t take that much time with it, and I guess I feel like if insecure me can deal with it, I don’t get why someone else would make such a production.

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Ellie H. March 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that I’d judge anyone for, regardless of where she was doing it. I wear makeup every day but mine takes about 60 seconds to put on and can all fit into the zipper pocket of my purse if need be.

I do think that to each his or her own and if someone really loves that personal style she should be free to do it. I would also be less critical if the person used the makeup to produce a distinctive or unusual personal style (like really colorful makeup, false eyelashes, etc.). But if she used that much “equipment” in order to go for a relatively normal look, I would find that a bit weird in that it would seem unnecessary and inefficient. I do understand that it can be kind of a compulsion. I doubt that my wearing makeup makes a substantial difference in my appearance but I still feel not-dressed without it, which is probably dumb. Still, I think the difference it makes is appropriate to the time I spend on it (not much).

I am pretty girly and very pro-grooming rituals and expressions of femininity in general, but for someone to spend so much time and effort to achieve something (looking nice and professional at work) that can be approximated to at least 90% quality with proportionally less effort (I doubt this woman looked ten times as nice and professional as those of us who spend just a couple minutes on makeup) seems objectively strange to me.

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Chris80 March 26, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I worked with someone similar to the person AAM is describing, except this person completely changed her clothes AND redid her makeup during her lunch hour. She was otherwise well-liked, so I can’t say no one took her seriously, but there was some definite eye-rolling and muttered comments when she went in the bathroom. With one bathroom for an office with 20+ people, her 30 minute midday grooming sessions were a pain! I understand where AAM is coming from with this.

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Ask a Manager March 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Wait, so she actually lived out Jamie’s hypothetical example of changing outfits during the day? Like she had a morning outfit and an afternoon outfit, just because she enjoyed the variety?

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Dang – and I was reaching for an extreme “because no one would ever do this example.

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Esra March 26, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Ugh, imagine the laundry!

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Chris80 March 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Yep, although I think it was more about hygiene than variety for her…she always referred to it as “freshening up”. Our jobs didn’t involve anything particularly strenuous that would cause you to get sweaty or dirty, so I guess her standards of cleanliness were just higher than most others. She brought a small wheeled suitcase with her every day.

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Elizabeth March 26, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Since I normally go home for lunch (small town, live 5 minutes from the office), if I drop lunch down the front of my shirt, I change clothes. If I’m going somewhere after work (like the city dump), I may duck into the bathroom to do a quick change of clothes.

I cannot imagine having a complete change of clothes at work each day and making the change during lunch. It’s enough work to get dressed each morning & putting together an outfit without having to do it twice!

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bearing March 27, 2013 at 9:49 am

Some form of OCD maybe?

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Karyn March 26, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I literally just came back from the bathroom having put on some eyeshadow, liner, and mascara. It’s rare that I wear makeup at all, and when I do, it’s mostly for going out after work – so it makes more sense for me to put it on AT work in the bathroom than before work. As long as you’re not in the bathroom for an hour doing it, I don’t see a problem. Most women have done this at one time or another.

There was, however, a girl I used to work with at my old company who you could almost always find in the bathroom, just staring at herself in the mirror. Primping, fluffing her hair, almost to the point where it looked like she thought she was a supermodel getting ready to walk the runway. It was always a little weird to go in, do your business, and leave, all the while with her primping in front of the mirror. But again, this is not the norm. As long as you’re not doing something like this, I think it’s fine.

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Carrie March 26, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I’m one of those people with a shy bladder. It really bothers me when people do their makeup in the bathroom, because it’s a very quiet activity (as opposed to hand-washing), and thus it feels like they are just standing there, listening to me relieve myself. I think it’s ok to do makeup in a very large, heavily-frequented bathroom, but in a small two-stall bathroom you’re going to bother people who think that using the restroom should be a private activity.

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Natalie March 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I’m sure having a shy bladder is difficult, but it seems unreasonable to me to expect a public, multi-stall bathroom to be private. There are certainly going to be other times when someone else will be in the bathroom for a while – perhaps they also have a shy bladder, or need to change their clothes for some reason. Would you find their presence bothersome?

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Jamie March 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

The problem is that the small two stall bathrooms are worst case scenarios for people with shy bladders. Private is best, but next to that a huge bathroom with tons of people is better than one other person. Especially one other person who knows you.

I totally get it – it’s unreasonable – but I’d feel the same way.

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Natalie March 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I understand having the basic feeling – “Rats, I wish she would leave” – but not interpreting the feeling the way it seems it’s being interpreted here – “She should leave” or “She is bothering”. It seems to be putting the onus of the feeling onto another person who is acting totally predictably and reasonably.

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fposte March 26, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Agreed. A bathroom preference (privacy in a public bathroom) carries less weight than an accepted bathroom use (personal grooming, hygiene, and…that other stuff). (Exception if somebody’s overcamping, like Alison’s old colleague.)

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Jazzy Red March 27, 2013 at 9:10 am

It took me YEARS to get over that (an attack of you-know-what that I couldn’t stop).

What I found is that people don’t care what you’re doing in the can as long as you wash your hands when you’re finished. (And don’t use a lot of hairspray.)

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Esra March 26, 2013 at 6:53 pm

As someone with Crohn’s, I feel your pain. I think it should be law that all bathrooms be outfitted with white noise machines.

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Anonymous March 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm

I say OK! I do my hair and make-up just about everyday, as I am usually walking or biking into the office. And if there is an opening, then everyone pops in to get ready as well. It’s a bathroom, that’s what happens. If it really bothered someone I might adjust my time but as is, it’s a rare thing for anyone to be around when I get ready.

I have on occasion done my nails at the office. I have a private office, and sometimes I’ll apply a clear coat to various fingernails. No one can smell it, nothing touches it, and oddly enough it helps keep me focused on the really busy multi-tasking days. Plus the positive part of thinking “How crazy was it? Well, I did do my nails.”

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Darcie March 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Isn’t the bathroom precisely the place where you are supposed to do personal grooming and hygiene? If you aren’t taking up space that other people need(say if there is a lineup), I don’t see an issue.

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Janet March 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I used to work with a rather odd guy. He was very “off the grid” and didn’t own a TV, a phone (this was before cell phones were prevalent) or a computer. He’d bike to work in his biking outfit and then he’d come to his desk and change. In his cubicle. He kept clothes in his desk drawers and would take his biking shirt off and pull on a company polo shirt and then pull his khaki dockers over his bike pants and then take off his biking shoes and put on work shoes that he kept under his desk. I assume he would take the clothes home and wash them because he never smelled. But man, he was weird. Just striping down to his bare chest in the middle of the office. He once threatened to kick a woman in the crotch so I think everyone was just scared to tell him not to do that. He eventually quit.

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Ellie H. March 26, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I think that one of the teachers at my high school was fired for changing in his classroom. He was a serious biker and would bike to and from school in his cycling outfit (like the all-Spandex kind with the sponsor logos), and I think he was once changing in the classroom and students saw him in his underwear or something like that. I just heard this as a rumor, though.

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Natalie March 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

He wore his bike shorts all day??? Ew.

(If anyone is unfamiliar, cycling shorts are typically worn without underwear and really should be washed after every wearing.)

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Janet March 26, 2013 at 5:35 pm

As far as I know – there is a distinct possibility that he changed into underpants (also likely kept in his desk) at some point during the morning. But I only witnessed the weird desk changing and his pants were always pulled over the bike shorts. Man that guy was weird.

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Lisa March 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Forget the bike shorts – I’m stuck on the “threatened to kick a woman in the crotch” part. Why wasn’t he fired for that?!

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Janet March 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

There are things that are acceptable when you work in a news room that are not acceptable in any other office environment. Threats and throwing things were common and no one was fired for it in any instance that I can recall and in my 6 years in the industry I saw people break expensive equipment in a temper tantrum, someone throw something at a co-worker’s head, cussing, screaming, threats of violence and people coming to work drunk. Only one of those people was put on probation.

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RAD March 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I do the whole flossing/brushing routine at work as well in-between or after meals ….. luckily the majority of the bathrooms are single stalls so the worst thing I have to deal with it excessive knocking. I like to abide by the 2-minute brushing rule lol ……

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Monica March 26, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Not a problem. Whatever it takes to do your best. Maybe putting on a trunk of makeup is relaxing, and that’s the only focus time that manager gets all day.

Certainly a quick make- up job is no prob. At our office we keep hairspray out in case anyone needs it. We also have an ironing board and iron. All acceptable… If you’re using it, it’s for your performance, which benefits the company, which benefits me. So by all means primp if you need to do so.

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Steve G March 26, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Everyone is saying they do it, but I think it would be annoying to some people, especially those who need to be alone to relax to go to the bathroom. If you had to go #2, and your coworker was standing at the counter 10 feet from the stall, you’d probably pretend to go and curse in your head, and go back 15 min later. It would be annoying if the same person was “holding court” at the bathroom counter all of the time.

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Joey March 27, 2013 at 8:56 am

Alone and relax in a community bathroom? You could argue that deuces are inappropriate at work, especially if its routine.

(I can’t believe I’m arguing this.)

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KellyK March 27, 2013 at 9:07 am

Annoying, sure, but it’s a shared bathroom. You can’t really expect more privacy than the stall door offers. (Also, why pretend to go and come back? Why not just wait for them to leave?)

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Dry White Whine March 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

At a previous job we had a multi stall bathroom for the whole floor. One day when I was washing my hands, a woman came out of one of the stalls and proceeded to wash her mooncup in the sink next to me before disappearing back into the stall. What you have seen cannot be unseen :O

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Laura L March 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm

omg! When you’re in a public bathroom, you’re supposed to just wipe it out with toilet paper! Ick.

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Aimee March 27, 2013 at 1:24 am

I don’t apply makeup at work, other than the occasional touch up of powder or lipstick (really, if I even wear makeup to work, it’s a good day. If I remember to put on lipstick while I’m stopped at a red light on my way to the office, it’s practically a miracle. Remembering to touch up powder or lipstick later is really rare). I don’t care if my coworkers do though – our cubicles are pretty secluded, so the chances of someone seeing it are low.

Years ago, when I first started my first stint at my company, my now-husband had someone in his department who brought her entire makeup kit to work every day. One of his early attempts to talk to me actually involved him sending me an instant message to ask if I had any nail glue that he could borrow to rehang a coat hook that had fallen. Being clueless, I just told him he should ask his coworker, as she probably had some. :) His cubicle was in the back corner, and pretty much hidden unless you knew it was there. He stated finding weird powdery dust on his desk but couldn’t figure out what it was…until the day he came in early and found her applying her makeup at HIS desk!

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Cindy March 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Kudos for you for biking to work… I do not see an issue with applying makeup in the ladies room. Others brush their teeth, change their clothes, etc. Don’t stop your routine… but do stop at applying makeup in the cube.

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Lils March 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Reading this comment thread made me realize that I think some bizarre things are normal (washing your Diva cup in the sink? fine–what the heck else are you supposed to do at that point?) and some apparently normal things are disgusting (HATE HATE HATE people flossing in the work restroom, it’s just sick). So I have decided to quit judging everybody for this stuff…

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M March 27, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I’m a teeth brusher. I get up really early for work so I like to brush mine mid morning after I’ve had my tea. There are other people in the office who do it as well, one person that has braces but the rest of us don’t and we do it. Never been an issue.

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Cassie March 27, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I would only have a problem with someone putting on makeup in the bathroom if they were taking up space on multiple sinks (you know the type – their makeup bag is at sink #1, they’re standing at sink #2, and their binder is at sink #3).

I’ve put on makeup after I went jogging/walking during lunch and washed my face afterwards (I don’t like exercising at work because I sweat a lot and since I’m not a member of the campus gym, I can’t use their showers). So I put on a little coverup because my face was splotchy. I actually feel more awkward putting on sunblock (I do it in the bathroom because I think it’s weird if I do it in my cubicle).

Back when I was in ballet, I put my hair up in a bun/chignon a couple of times on the bus. I would have preferred not to but I was running late (and no, I didn’t have to use hairspray or anything – just pulled my hair back into a ponytail twisted it around and stuck in a bunch of bobby pins).

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Steph May 9, 2013 at 10:29 am

I think it is super annoying and distracting for people who actually need to use the restroom. If I am doing my make up and someone steps in and doesn’t start peeing right away, I leave and come back. Because that’s what the bathroom is FOR.

There have been several times I’ve needed to, em, relieve myself and somebody is taking their sweet time in the bathroom doing their makeup. It’s distracting. It’s awful enough having to conduct personal business around other people, let alone people who have no sense of urgency and whose business is only out of vanity, not necessity.

I am struggling with terrible morning sickness and every time I’ve gone to the restroom some chick has been in there. One even was flat ironing her entire head and then moving on to a full make up job! How awkward for the person suffering and needing to throw up.

It’s selfish, and if you HAVE to do make up, please make it a couple minutes or under. Priorities, people.

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Anonymous May 9, 2013 at 10:36 am

I am confused about how someone putting on makeup on the sink/counter in any way impacts your ability to use the toilet. She’s not in your way. You’re in a private stall (presumably) so there’s no reason that you have to wait on anyone else in the restroom to leave before you pee, poop, or puke. How about somone in the stall next to you. Do you wait on them to leave too?

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DR December 16, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I too work at a University and people who don’t even work for our University (they work for a college next door) use our bathroom all the time. I have a huge problem with this because it seems everytime I have to poop, someone is in there brushing teeth or putting on makeup.
It’s very uncomfortable for MANY people to do #2 when other people are in the bathroom.
Shit and leave is the proper thing to do. Find somewhere else to put on your face.

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