your workplace is gross

A reader shared this disgusting internal email from his workplace:

Subject: Restroom Walls, Conference Room Tables, & Boogers
Importance: High

Good Morning All,

As you can read from the title this is a very unusual request to be sending to a group of professionals. Yes, we are talking about boogers this morning.

As I and my staff travel through the halls and rooms of our shared office, we occasionally find some rather unusual “treats” left by those that have inhabited the areas before us. Unfinished drinks, food and paper are tolerable; albeit still wrong, and as adults we should be cleaning up after ourselves. What is intolerable, and increasing as the weather starts to change, not to mention childish and disgusting, is the amount of boogers found rubbed on the restroom partition walls, tile, grout, and occasionally the underside of choice conference room tables.

So my request to all of you this morning: Please dispose of your boogers using Kleenex, toilet tissue, or paper towels, and please do not smear them on the walls of the restrooms or the underside of the conference room tables.

Thank you and have a fantastic day!


Does this kind of memo ever help anything? I mean, it’s not like the perpetrators thought that they were engaging in socially acceptable behavior but this memo will open their eyes. Anyone who smears … bodily matter around their workplace pretty much knows they’re doing something gross.

I suppose it’s possible that this memo could shame people into better behavior … but I’d argue that when you’re at the point where this has become such a problem that it’s memo-worthy, the war has already been lost.

{ 275 comments… read them below }

  1. A Teacher*

    EWWW… I teach high school and think our bathrooms are gross enough but I can honestly say I’ve never seen boogers rubbed anywhere.. I might just vomit. Gross.

    1. MaryMary*

      My mom is an elementary school teacher and my best friend is a pediatrician, and I frequently tell them that the best part of my job is that everyone keeps their bodly fluids to themselves. This week’s AAM posts are making me change my mind.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Yeah, when I saw “treats” I was REALLY afraid something else was going to be involved.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Cool Beans, you must have worked in retail at some point in your life. This seems to be a big issue with restaurants and fast food establishments in particular, but no retail business is exempt from it.

    3. OriginalEmma*

      I worked in a city health department once. There were suspicious smears in one of the stalls of the employee-only, locked, women’s bathroom.

  2. BRR*

    Besides addressing the issue directly if you catch somebody in the act, how should you handle a situation like this?

      1. BRR*

        Uh oh, I stumped Alison.

        I just can’t think of alternatives to memos if you don’t catch people. Don’t eat lunches out of the fridge. Don’t put boogers everywhere.

        1. MaryMary*

          My office installed a security camera is the lunch room to catch fridge thieves. Maybe the conference room needs a camera too? Actually, that might come in handy in general: “Here is a recording of the October 2 meeting where you told me I could have two additional resources for Project X.”

          1. Clerica*

            I have to wonder whose job it’s going to be to review the footage. Now there’s something to put on a resume. “Reduced booger deposits by 85% via intense scrutiny of security footage.”

            1. esra*

              See, there is another workplace somewhere with a severe booger problem*, and that accomplishment will move their resume to the top of the pile.

              *Please note, all booger problems = severe.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Depending on how big the office is, you COULD have people sign out keys to use the bathroom, so you can get a better idea of who is doing it.

        This is the most vile thing I’ve ever read here. If you have to use the word “booger” in an email and you don’t work at a preschool, something’s gone dreadfully wrong.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          If you have to use the word “booger” in an email and you don’t work at a preschool, something’s gone dreadfully wrong.

          Right? I’m flabbergasted that this email had to be sent to adults….addressing their behavior in their workplace. Who would even think to do that (not the email-er, the intended audience of the email)?

          What the actual hell.

      3. Another comment on the situation*

        Have more boxes of kleenexes available.

        My university workplace will not buy them as office supplies and students are always asking for them. Then we get surveys on how we can appear to be friendlier and more supportive to the students . . . Um, suggestion number one is to listen to what they have already told us – buy boxes of tissues, etc..

          1. DLB*

            Not a clue why this is so hard, but we can’t get them either. I always have a roll of toilet paper on my desk. I get comments/jokes about once a week. Especially with cold season coming up, it would be lovely to have.

        1. Artemesia*

          Once upon a time they probably did and then some employee starting taking them home to stock their own abode and they stopped.

        2. Enjay*

          I’m a fed and we aren’t allowed to buy tissues with government funds. They are seen as a personal item we should buy for ourselves. We do. I’m proud to say no one is smearing anything anywhere they shouldn’t!

        3. Victoria, Please*

          We can buy tissues for students… but not faculty. This is although my office does not serve students, but faculty.

          So every now & then I donate to The Cause and bring in a case from Costco.

          1. fposte*

            Wow, we’re allowed to have tissues. I never thought I’d feel rich because of that. (They’re not very good tissues–does that make it any better?)

            1. Windchime*

              Thank goodness, my employer also stocks us with tissues. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that no only do they buy them, but the Environmental Services people will put a fresh box on my desk when I’m out.

              We take pride in being a booger-free workplace.

        4. Anx*


          Omg, yes!

          I am a student at a satellite campus and with no tissues available; it is so tempting to use the KimWipes in our microbiology/cell culture/genetic engineering lab. And who knows what they have come in contact with. The toilet paper is so chintzy, too, that it’s not worth going to the bathroom to try to use that (I can’t shake the image of hands clawing all over the roll to try to break some off, so it’s really unappealing to put that near my face, too).

          I do bring my own tissues, but sometimes I forget, and convenience packs are so much more expensive.

      4. James M*

        Once you have the offender’s attention, fix him with a stern and disapproving gaze and hold for a slow count to 3. Then do the “no” head shake, clearly but subtly. Then unhurriedly turn and exit the space. All throughout, say nothing, even if the offender speaks to you.

        1. Traveler*

          Yep. When you work with kids/young adults you have to perfect this face, and its surprisingly effective with adults as well.

      5. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I have been puzzling over this. I think first you would have to either pay a professional cleaning crew, pay one person (office manager?) REALLY well to do it all, or assign every employee to a team to clean a designated section. After this fresh start, the company would need to start a policy where conference rooms are checked at the end of every conference, and everything not in the shape it was after the cleaning blitz must be remedied by the people in the meeting.

        Still not ideal, but I really can’t think of anything else. It sounds juvenile, but you have to catch the person who is doing these things and deal with them directly.

      6. Hooptie*

        I would follow the same process we use for any egregious behavior. We have a super touchy-feely HR department, but the manager can:

        1 – Send an employee home for the rest of the day
        2 – Tell them you’ll call them the next day
        3 a- Immediately go to HR and fill them in on the situation and demand a fast decision
        3 b -Pray fervently that HR will allow you to terminate the employee
        4 – Make the call as soon as possible the next morning (with HR on the line) and let the employee know if they can return to work or not. Sometimes we’ll put someone on paid or unpaid leave for a few days while we are working out the details.

        Note that I’ve never had to deal with a booger wiper or poop smearer; when I say egregious I mean making a severe mistake then trying to cover it up, threatening or striking a co-worker, etc.

        1. Hooptie*

          Oh and if I actually CAUGHT the person in the act? I think throwing up on their shoes is a perfectly reasonable response. :)

      7. HR Pro*

        I’ve heard from other HR pros that a strongly-worded sign or memo can actually be effective in these situations. (It’s ironic, because normally in HR you don’t send a memo to all staff and expect that one person will change their behavior.) I think the memo has to be pretty strong, as in “if we catch you doing this you will be fired.” I’ve heard this specifically in regards to poo-smearing in professional white-collar workplaces, which is, horrifyingly, a thing. Luckily I’ve never had to deal with it.

        1. Windchime*

          I’ve heard about the poo-smearing several times on this website, and it makes me so very, very grateful that I’ve never had to deal with that at work. What on earth would possess a person to do such a thing? Does anyone actually know?

          1. nyxalinth*

            I read someplace years ago that it has to do with deeply buried hostility towards a person or workplace. the boogers? i think that’s just being gross, with nothing underlying it.

      8. snuck*

        I agree that if you have to send this then you’ve lost the war.

        If I couldn’t quietly identify the culprit/s (wipe everything clean and then check the spaces periodically and narrow down the options, ugh… but how else do you catch them – same as toilet floor poop smearers?) I might be inclined to send a memo out like this one but I’d probably be a little more generic about the issue and a little more devious about ‘knowing who it is’. Something like “With the approach of cold and flu season we need to be mindful of personal hygiene, please remember the basics – tissues if you cough or sneeze, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you are sick and if you are an icky nose picker you might want to rethink that or we will hunt you down and share the flu with you!” …. and put tissues in places like the conference room and a poster on the back of toilet doors about colds/flu and hygiene.

        Someone doing this knows it’s gross…. they aren’t doing it in a way that gets them caught. I’d be quietly wondering which of my staff hated being there so much they were willing to surreptitiously snot the place and whether it was some form of passive aggressive pay back.

      9. SJP*

        Maybe by putting the memo out it will make others aware, who may have not noticed it and they can be vigilant on watching co-workers and calling them out on it when they see them smear boogers on the wall?!
        But really, this is super gross

      10. V&SFX Addict*

        I’ve worked for a company where employees as a group had to clean the common areas and each cleaned their own work area. This meant the break room, fridge and employee bathrooms were cleaned by EVERYONE at the same time. Your company CEO and the secretary were working side by side with no excuses. This is most important so the nasty person raised by wolves wouldn’t be able to get away with unwanted decorating one week and then have a clean area the next week. Areas weren’t rotated so no one could escape the cleaning. If people called in sick or went home sick that was a red flag. The day of the week to clean was even changed to cut down on people calling in “sick” too. When interviewed people were made aware that they would work with the CEO to clean so it wasn’t a surprise, but they didn’t know the details. That way if your new hire is the problem it wouldn’t take a month of Sundays to find out who was vandalizing or stealing. The best plus is that everyone knew where their supplies was, we could order as we needed, we never had that many truly gross messes to clean, our break room and fridge never had any mystery smells.

        I tend to find that the person who makes the loudest stink about cleaning up and being “above” such work usually is the poopetrator (or boogertrator, etc.). Yes, I love my puns. ;-P

        One employee left to grab some cleaning supplies in the office closet and found one male employee ducking into the bathroom to mark the wall while the break room was being cleaned. He was fired and due to a claw-back clause in his contract had to pay for having his urine cleaned off the wall. He actually had to clean it off the wall and was escorted out of the building immediately afterwards. His excuse is that he didn’t get enough vacation days. How can three weeks not be enough? We were actually paid higher than average for the area and had bonuses so it wasn’t as though the employer was an abusive cheapskate. Plus we were allowed to take some cleaning and safety supplies home because the employer was safety conscious to put it mildly. Free supplies to clean and safety equipment? Yes please!

        To stop gossip we’d actually feed different information to people to find out who’s gossiping and spreading nasty rumors. We found out through telephone type games about how some rumors were started and I’ve worked in both huge (2,000 +) and tiny (10 -) companies. The company was a bit odd because we all worked with a huge array of chemicals, supplies, and materials. We’d clean the work area once a week and subcontractors were never allowed in the buildings. Cleaning companies were considered a huge security risk and why they did not use them was pretty obvious. Obviously this won’t work for everyone and it seems to be industry specific.

        If nothing else it may help others get creative with problem solving. Leave tissue boxes and small trash cans around high traffic areas and replace/empty them often during cold/allergy season. Leave disinfectants in high traffic areas… That works real well where I work. We have Purell dispenser stations to avoid those lovely holiday germs that start showing up this time of year. You feel like much more of a team and actually care a bit more about the people you work with. At least I do.

        I hope this helps someone out. I use some methods still and it’s kept my butt covered pretty well. Also I’d like to thank AAM for helping me get a much better career since my last job was going nowhere fast. I followed the interview advice and completely rewrote my resume/CV. I nailed the interview and I’m getting TWICE what I was previously paid and love this new career path. This is the first company I’ve ever worked for that has a retirement plan, affordable insurance, and fringe benefits. Thank you! I love this site.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      I can’t imagine doing anything other than staring blankly and going “What, exactly, are you doing?” and then an awkward stand-off where Boogers just stands there, one hand on the wall, and we stare at each other. Like, what is the person going to say? “I didn’t have any kleenex, sorry.” “So, what, you smeared it on the wall? I know toddlers who don’t do that.”

      Has anybody actually encountered this scenario in the wild before?

      1. BRR*

        I would either flat out, “That’s gross, can you please clean that up.” Or if it was somebody super higher up than me I might say, “would you like me to go get you a tissue so you can get that?” That’s what I have prepared if I’m ever walking my dog and see somebody not clean up their poo, “Do you need a bag?”

      2. OriginalYup*

        I’ve never encountered a booger smearer, but there was a woman in my former office who used to leave the stall door open while she was using the toilet. Whilst speaking on her mobile phone. The first time I saw her do it, I averted my eyes and ran out the door. The second time, I flushed a nearby toilet a bunch of times to shame her to whoever she was on the phone with. The third time, I looked right at her and made the “WTF are you doing??????” wild gesticulations, and she looked right at me and kept talking. Some people have no shame.

        1. Liz*

          Ew to both. I’ll admit to leaving the door ajar at home, but it’s just me and my husband and 3 cats who yowl, dig, scratch and generally make a nuisance of themselves if we dare to shut them out. While on the phone? Never.

        2. ME*

          What? A one time thing I would assume it was a mistake, but If you caught her that many times, it’s fair to assume that she PREFERS to pee (dear lord… I hope it was pee…) with the door open. That makes it so much weirder.

          1. INTP*

            I finally satisfied my bucket list item to make a gross bathroom noise during someone’s in-stall cell conversation. I had to go to the restroom to pass gas rather loudly and someone was in the next stall doing a PHONE INTERVIEW on the toilet of all places. I’m not mean enough to CHOOSE that as my ideal moment, but I had a colon full of air and needed to get back to my desk quickly so….

      3. Ineloquent*

        Well, there was the time that I caught my younger brother peeing in the bathtub. He claimed he’d forgotten what the toilet looked like. He was also 4.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I would be direct and polite. “Would you like me to get you a tissue for that? Here at the office, we use tissues for that. You can put it in the trashcan when you are finished.” Being passive-aggressive or “hinting” may not fix the problem since it is unclear and can be misconstrued.

      In working with autistic children and their families, we find that a direct, prepared response works best to build social skills. You have to assume in this situation (since it is recurring) that there is at least one person in the workplace who does not know this is an untenable solution for his/her hygiene issue.

  3. steve g*

    People act gross but more importantly most corporate cleaning crews barely ‘clean.’. They may do the bathroom good, but a lot of the rest of office don’t really get cleaned. And if they do its more of a quick wipe with a dirty rag and a soap and copious water cleaning.

    1. Artemesia*

      One of the glories of outsourcing cleaning rather than having on site cleaners with ownership and under the supervision of the on site manager is that little real cleaning gets done. The standard is no longer ‘is it clean’ but did I run the mop past it. I remember checking into a hotel room once where they had obviously cleaned the bathroom with a filthy string mop and there were dirty mop stripes in the ‘cleaned’ bathtub.

      1. Cucumber*

        Oh, so, so true. When my present employer switched, the woman who had cleaned our building for more than a decade, and had developed friendships with several of us “night owls” who stay late, had left. We have an outsourced person who comes in to do the daily trash and mop, and has gotten to know us, and she’s also great, but the rest of the crew, you can tell, doesn’t have that sense of belonging to the organization.

      2. The Bookworm*

        I had a similar experience.

        Checked into a hotel room, get ready to give my (then) young son a bath – and what did I see? DIRTY SHOE PRINTS in the tub.

        It took the front desk forever to get someone up to the room to clean it – and only when I went to the front desk & told them to give me the supplies & I’d clean it myself.

    2. Nashira*

      Oh so true. I regularly have to pick up clumps of dust off the floor in my office, because they “vacuum” but leave the clumps behind.

      But the woman who does the bathrooms and the glass does a great job, even though we have some nasty people who use the facilities. Like the lady from another office who never, ever, ever washes her hands. Ever.

  4. Interviewer*

    I coached someone just this morning on how to have a conversation with an employee who is smearing poo on the bathroom walls at 2 different worksites. Why do people have to be gross AT WORK?

      1. Squirrel!*

        I’m with Alison on this one. There is no legitimate reason for smearing feces on the walls anywhere at all. Not that snot is acceptable either, but it’s much less disgusting on the scale of “stuff that comes from your body that you can smear on things”. Yuck.

      2. Cat H*

        I think Interviewer meant that they were coaching the non poop smearer how to have a conversation with the poop smearer.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah, you’re right — the coaching was for the manager who has to address the situation. I hope/pray that the manager isn’t going to be coaching the poo smearer though.

          1. Crazy Me!*

            “OK, poop smearer…here’s what you’re doing well, here’s what you need to improve on!”

            1. Clerica*

              I think we need to bring back the compliment sandwich. “I really appreciate how you always pitch in with X. There is one thing I’d like you to work on–we have a policy about smearing feces on our bathroom walls. Thanks for understanding. But I am impressed with your work on the Wakeen account. Now, the terms of your PIP are as follows…”

          2. JCC*

            Perhaps they have a medical issue they are afraid to talk about, some sort of explosive diarrhea? Smearing could just be ineffectual attempts to clean it off using dry toilet paper on the walls.

      3. Stephanie*

        How do you even coach someone on that?

        “Wakeen, we’ve created this performance improvement plan to mitigate the amount of poop smearing incidents. We hope over the next month compiler leu eliminate them by tapering down each week.”

        1. fposte*

          Yes, the key here is to set reasonable expectations for the improvement curve, so the poop-smearer can feel like s/he’s successfully progressing and take pride in the ability to smear less poo.

          1. HR Manager*

            How about an immediate 33% reduction in poo smearing (and yes, the manager has to measure this to give objective metrics and feedback) with a slow progression down to 50% — 75% and voila – to none.

        2. Hermione*

          “Please consider this your first warning. Should we not see immediate improvement, we may ask you to completely refrain from defecating in the office. It’s not something we want to do, but is not unprecedented…”

          1. Stephanie*

            “If you do not follow the poop smearing guidelines set forth in this performance improvement plan, your tenure at Persephone’s Teapots will be in question. Any increase in poop smearing will result in immediate termination.”

        3. C Average*

          You could use the feedback sandwich approach (and never has the “shit sandwich” nickname for this technique been more apt):

          “Wakeen, I’ve been impressed by the booger mitigation progress you’ve made. But you need to stop smearing feces on the walls. Can we make that a goal? I hope you know how much we value your non-bodily-fluid contributions to our enterprise.”

          Can I just say this thread is making my day? It’s been a shitty day so far. Might as well laugh about shitty subject matter.

          1. Clerica*

            Looks like we both tapped into the hive mind at the same time.

            Nothing brings people together like body fluids at work.

        4. Audiophile*

          You’re too funny!

          I worked retail and during one particularly awful shift, someone had to close the juniors dressing room, because a visitor to the store had peed on the floor.

      4. Kerry (Like The County in Ireland)*

        Yeah, I’m in the “poop-smearing is a deeply antisocial act and a cry for psychiatric care” camp. There’s no reason to put up with that.

      5. GrumpyBoss*

        Can’t speak for Interviewer, but I had a situation once where an employee would poo his pants, go to the restroom to change, then leave the dirty pants on his desk (he was in an open call center area, so lots of people saw his handy work and called to complain). COMPLETELY out of my depth (because really, I didn’t take “Poo Removal 523” in my MBA curriculum), I called HR for guidance. They told me that coaching was what I had to do, because the behavior was that bizarre that they were concerned about mental illness. I had to 1. Ask (Is there any concerns that you would like to discuss); 2. Coach (if you have an accident, please put your soiled clothes in a container where they cannot be seen or smelled by your coworkers) and 3. EAP (If you would like to talk to someone….)

        He did do it again, and only then was I able to remove him.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          This is what I’d guess is going on — that someone in HR or upper management has decided this employee has to be coached out of fear of a lawsuit.

          The fact that the law could cause this to be a legitimate fear is just flabbergasting to me.

          1. MaryMary*

            Or, like someone suggested above, this behavior is symptomatic of severe behavioral issues or a mental disturbance and the company wants to avoid a dangerous situation. I’ve never had to manage someone with these kinda of issues (thank god), but I have been involved with PIPs where we suspected the employee was suffering from a mental illness. We went out of our way to make sure they knew help was available and took additional precautions for the individual’s coworkers when they were terminated.

            1. Squirrel!*

              A person with a [possible] mental illness should not automatically be equated with someone who is going to become dangerous or violent.

              1. MaryMary*

                Yes, my apologies. I believe people with mental illness are actually less likely to be violent than the general population. But I don’t think it’s wrong to be concerned that someone who is already displaying erratic behavior make take being fired badly.

          2. alma*

            I actually have a relative whose ADA-covered medical condition has led to her requiring an ostomy bag. And yes… my relative has had accidents with the bag. My relative finds it absolutely mortifying when it happens, and would never smear it on the walls or leave soiled clothes in a communal area (!!!) .

            I know this doesn’t really apply to some of the situations being described above, but I wouldn’t reject out of hand the idea that the ADA does fairly cover at least some waste-related situations. It’s awful but at least for people like my relative, it’s 100x more awful because it’s something they constantly have to worry about.

            1. Kerry (Like The County in Ireland)*

              And that’s why if you ever read any ostomy related articles or materials, the tone is relentlessly positive and “you can do it!” about having a stoma. Because they know that normal people are grossed out by waste, and accidents like that are embarassing, and these are fears an ostomy patient would have that would lead to a really restricted life.

            2. MissDisplaced*

              I was thinking in this situation that yes there could be an underlying condition or disability where reasonable allowances could be made. The person clearly knew to go and change (which is quite different from poop smearing on purpose).

        2. Katie the Fed*

          That’s kind of sad, actually. I mean, something must be REALLY wrong with him mentally to be doing that. I hope he got some help.

          1. GrumpyBoss*

            All joking aside, I was very concerned that he would hurt himself after we let him go. I usually am as cold as ice when I terminate or lay someone off (my coping mechanism), but I was very emotional with him.

            Haven’t heard about him for 9-10 years now, but last I heard, he was injured at a new job and was getting disability. I do hope that was a euphamism for “getting help”.

      6. Creag an Tuire*

        Hey, chimpanzees cost of lot of money to train. You can’t just fire one over a -little- poo!

      7. Not So NewReader*

        When you work with adults with disabilities this is fairly normal stuff. I think there is a diagnosis in some cases- an OCD of some sorts.

        IF you could figure out who did and IF they were capable they would clean it up. But usually, no.

    1. BRR*

      The effort that has to go into smearing poo on the walls. Out of curiosity do you know why they did it? I can get the boogers, it’s wrong, but I can get the action.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      PLEASE come back and tell us more about this–as in, why this conversation had to happen rather than instant removal!

      1. Interviewer*

        A colleague of mine at another company was looking for help in having a difficult conversation with the suspected poo-smearer. Actually, she’s about 95% sure he’s the poo-smearer. Two different worksites, and it happens only when he’s there at the 2nd location – so she did the math, and was dreading this talk. I gave her some assistance and language to use in having that conversation. I told her to put the STERN VOICE on, this is your last chance and all that, but you leave a very small crack in that door for the ADA consideration, like GrumpyBoss said.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am not sure what a reasonable accommodation would be for one who has to smear poop. I guess it would be time off to go get help?

          Anyway. Gross ALERT. Some folks may not want to read this.
          We always checked their nails. It was a give away. That and the smirk on the face.

          1. Artemesia*

            Watching the way my workplace dealt with alcoholics whose drunkenness was causing work problems, I don’t think accommodation means you have to let people do things that are dysfunctional. Our alcoholics were given the choice of company paid rehab or being fired. They were not allowed to be drunk at work because it was a disability.

          1. OhNo*

            Mental illness – if that’s what is causing the behavior, as many people are assuming – is indeed covered under the ADA.

        2. Joey*

          Wow. A free poop smearing pass? A long time high performer with out of character personal issues I hope?

    3. Artemesia*

      There are all sorts of uncouth things that workers may need to learn to do differently. This is not one of them. This one should result in firing the first time it happens. It isn’t a cultural difference, or different standards of hygiene, or ‘he didn’t know better’ — it is vandalism. If the guy had a gun with him, he’d probably just shoot everyone.

      1. Squirrel!*

        If the guy had a gun with him, he’d probably just shoot everyone.

        Why is this your assumption here?

      2. snuck*

        Not sure about the gun thing… (I’m in Oz, we don’t do guns like Americans!)

        But I will say I agree with the poop smearing being an immediate fire – it’s a deliberate act, often of vengeance.

    4. Joey*

      Interviewer, how did you decide that coaching was appropriate?

      I would think coaching is reserved for those times when an employee doesn’t understand what the expectations are.

      This reminds me of the no shirt conundrum I sometimes have to remind HR of. Which is if an employee shows up with no shirt and there’s no policy that specifically requires him to wear a shirt does that mean he needs to be counseled about having to wear a shirt to work?

  5. Stephanie*

    FirstJob involved a lot of document review. You could use keyboard shortcuts to scroll with one finger. I had a coworker who would scroll with one index finger and pick his nose with the other. I tried not to touch anything he did.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      I knew someone like that at my student job, one of the staff members would eat all the time and lick their fingers after everything, then want to come work on your computer to use the equipment…um, no thank you.

    2. Traveler*

      I always loved the mystery stains on papers and tests when college kids turned them in. It taught me that if I was ever tempted to become a professor it was going to be electronic submissions only.

      1. Artemesia*

        I once had to carefully clean a paper and then photo copy it and regrade it before returning it to a student because my cat barfed all over it. I received more than one coffee cup stained paper back from professors in college.

        1. cuppa*

          I could absolutely see that happening to me (the cat barf).
          I just got Cheeto dust on an evaluation the other day.

        2. Traveler*

          Oh yes. I’ve definitely gotten coffee/wine stained papers back as well. Both sides are guilty!

  6. MaryMary*

    Today signs appeared on our bathroom doors with this gem:

    Turn around
    Did it all go down?
    Please re-flush.

    But that is so much better than a booger problem.

    1. LBK*

      We had a department-wide email once about someone repeatedly clogging the toilet on our floor. Shockingly, it actually worked – hasn’t happened since then.

      1. Frances*

        I wish that had worked at my ex-workplace. Right before I left, we had a regular issue with the toilet on one floor clogging because someone insisted on flushing paper hand towels down it. We sent out an email and the clogging stopped — on that floor, only to start up on a different floor. We went through this cycle multiple times, clearly stating “you should not flush ANY hand towels in ANY toilet” — every time the culprit simply started doing it somewhere else.

        I had my suspicions about who it was, and I think a language barrier might have been part of the issue, but I could never be sure.

        1. alma*

          My sister works in a local government office, and there is apparently one person who is forbidden from ever entering the bathroom because they DELIBERATELY flush a bunch of hand towels down the toilet and cause a clog. This person is not an employee, but someone who will come in on a pretext about a “meeting with so-and-so” or needing help with some city service department, but really just wants to clog the toilet.

          I think there is some backstory on how this person was angry about some city service or not getting a job there or something, and that’s their (repeated) revenge. Because making some poor plumber/janitor take care of a huge mess is totally sticking it to The Man.

          I’m sorry, but that kind of person makes me wish we’d bring back the stocks in the town square, for regular citizens to jeer and throw rotten vegetables at.

          1. Cucumber*

            Wow. That’s cruel, to the point where I would think this person needs psychiatric counseling.

    2. Nerd Girl*

      My mother has a little plaque above her commode: If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe down the seatie.

    3. Stephanie*

      We had a sign that said (with the requisite toilet clip art):
      If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat.

      1. alma*

        At my first job, we had a habitual sprinkler in the ladies’ room. A coworker and I tag-teamed on leaving that note in all the bathroom stalls. No effect.

        Eventually, someone else finally escalated to a hardcore, “SERIOUSLY, WIPE DOWN THE GOD DAMN SEAT, YES, WE MEAN YOU” type of note (they did not actually use the profanity, but there was a long note about how nasty it was). It finally stopped.

        1. Artemesia*

          Why don’t women who hover and spray lift the seat they aren’t sitting on? They don’t use the seat and are making it nasty for everyone else.

          1. Audiophile*

            I imagine because then you have to touch the toilet, which is what you’re likely trying to avoid in the first place.

            1. Annalee*

              When I encounter nasty seats I don’t want to sit on, I lift the seat with the heel of my foot, and lower it with the ball/toe. It’s a little loud sometimes if the seat falls while I’m trying to lower it, but it works fine, and it doesn’t expose anything but the sole of my shoe to the seat. Since I live and work in a city, the sole of my shoe has seen worse.

              Alternately: grab a small wad of toilet paper and raise the seat with that.

              In the absence of a serious medical issue, anyone who can’t show other people the basic consideration of raising the seat instead of urinating on it shouldn’t be working with other people.

              1. Audiophile*


                I can’t wear heels in my current job, so I usually do the toilet paper thing.

                But truthfully, it’s very unlikely to happen, despite our parents warnings to “not touch anything in that restroom. It’s dirty.”

          2. Sasha LeTour*

            I agree, and I despise that particular bathroom habit. In junior high/high school, I met girls whose mothers raised them to believe you could catch HIV, Hep B/C, and all manner of life-threatening illnesses simply by touching unbroken skin on the buttocks to the seat of a public toilet. Don’t get me wrong – coming of age surrounded by the “AIDS kills” slogans was a terrifying experience – but I also grew up in the pre-“abstinence-only health class” generation, and at my particular school, the health teachers were pretty explicit about which diseases were communicable and how one could catch them. It struck me as ignorance and superstition more than anything else, plus a dash of squeamishness about sitting someplace where other naked buttocks had touched down.

            Thank God my workplace provides women who are so inclined with toilet seat covers. On an average day, I encounter far fewer stalls with seats festooned with the urine of the previous occupants because we provide those covers. Based on conversations with female friends who were raised to heed the “dangers” of public toilet seats, it seems seat covers offer a comforting illusion of a totally sanitary “block” between butts and seats, preventing any and all wayward “germs” from “contaminating” any flesh. That’s ironic given that when I take them to lunch or dinner, they have a total lack of concern for sharing plates, utensils, wine glasses and straws. No matter how many times people tell them, they still don’t believe they can “catch” anything that way – and next thing I know, I’ll get an email from one of them saying something like “Out sick again, Sasha! I seem to get every single cold and flu that comes to town and I have no idea why!”

        2. nyxalinth*

          We have one of those cute rhyming notes, but it also bluntly states that if people get pee all over the seat, the bathroom will no longer be cleaned. I have yet to see any problems in the five weeks I’ve worked there :D I’m guessing we had a number of seat-hoverers at some point in the past.

    4. MaryMary*

      I’ve been told today is National Poetry Day. Thank you all for sharing these poems in celebration

      1. Nanc*

        Annnnndddddd there’s a Gross Office Musical waiting to be written ’cause I can totally hear that! And halfway through these comments I started humming Boogie Fever.

  7. GrumpyBoss*

    Some people collect baseball cards. Others collect little figurines. I collect passive aggressive memos about gross things that happen in the workplace.

    This one is a keeper :)

  8. Cath in Canada*

    One former workplace, many years ago, had notes in all the bathroom stalls saying “if you are ill, clean up after yourself. DO NOT LEAVE IT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO FIND”. The notes already looked old when I started there, and were still up when I left three and a half years later. I’m not sure if there were multiple incidents that prompted this note, or just one really, really bad one…

    1. Traveler*

      When I was in college living in the dorms if someone vomited and didn’t clean it up – one of the other people living on the floor had to. Or, everyone on the floor was fined $50. I never saw vomit but I wish there would have been a similar law about feminine products and bandaids in the shower stalls.

      Why are people so gross?? And are bodily fluids the theme of the week on AAM?

      1. DEJ*

        Oh college dorm life. Like the girl who was apparently squatting and would leave a huge mess every time she used the bathroom. And then on the weekends when the bathroom wouldn’t get cleaned as frequently, she’d have made a mess on at least two toilets (out of five we had in the bathroom) taking those out of commission. 10 years later and I am still appalled – who does that?

        1. Artemesia*

          This can be a cultural issue. People from cultures that use squat toilets are known to stand on the toilet seat and squat with predictable results of missing the hole and piling excreta on the back of the toilet. This used to be a big problem at Orly airport and they now make very clear which toilet stalls contain squat and western toilets to lessen that. I remember about barfing when I walked into a western stall 20 years ago and was met with this big disgusting pile up on the back of the toilet.

          My father worked in aviation and he said that when preparing airliners for middle eastern countries they had to design toilet seats with foot rests that allowed their squat use but were placed to make it work cleanly.

          You would think anyone who fouled a toilet this way once would get the picture and figure out how to avoid repeating the process in the place they live with other people.

          1. alma*

            When I lived in Japan, where there’s a mix of Western-style and traditional squat toilets (at least in the area where I lived), I discovered that some people find the whole concept of Western toilets incredibly gross and unhygenic because your butt is touching a surface that lots of other butts have touched. So as ridiculous as it seems that people wouldn’t adapt to Western-style toilets, from that perspective, I can sort of understand the reluctance. (NOT saying it in any way excuses the mess!!!)

            1. Traveler*

              This reminds me of idiot abroad where he freaks out about the squat toilet. I completely get the cultural issue coming from squat toilets to western toilets…but still, to just leave the mess? That’s what I don’t get.

              1. Cath in Canada*

                When I was in Ukraine last year I quickly realised that a sparkling clean public squat toilet facility beats a filthy public Western-style toilet facility, hands down. This was a revelation to me

            2. nyxalinth*

              A friend of mine lived in Thailand for a year. She thankfully had a Western toilet where she was, but she hated the squat sort. Some flushed, she said, but with some, you poured water down the hole. She said that the water down the hole sort almost always had water on the floor around them. Also squat toilets are bad for people with bad knees, like she and I both have!

                1. vpc*

                  Late to the party but I just have to share. I have lived many years in places where squat toilets are the norm.

                  The term “squatty potty” never fails to get a giggle.

      2. Annie*

        My friend lived on a co-ed floor where you had to have a keycard to get into the bathroom (aka worst idea ever). There were a few weeks where people tried to make it to the bathroom, and vomited outside of it because they couldn’t get the key to work. After a while, the powers that be left the vomit there to teach the floor a lesson.

        She moved out of that dorm a few weeks later. It was gross.

        1. fposte*

          “the powers that be left the vomit there to teach the floor a lesson.” I know what you meant, but I enjoyed reading this as if the building structure were being punished.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This. Definitely. And state the consequences. This person is damaging company property and increasing maintenance costs.

  9. Mallorie, the recruiter*

    We had this EXACT issue at a place I worked and at the time I remember thinking – “Boogers on the bathroom wall? That is so random!” ….. How is this a thing???

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Some people become fascinated with bodily by-products. Something is going on with that person that is not good.

    2. Joey*

      It’s really not that much different than seeing someone digging for gold at red lights. I’m sure they don’t wipe it on a tissue sitting on the seat next to them.

      1. Crazy Me!*

        That would be better than what I saw the woman behind me on Tuesday do with her booger. It’s still burned in my brain.

  10. YoungHR*

    These are all amazing. Last week our office received an email asking individuals to check the bathroom before exiting because the sender had to spend and extended period of time cleaning fecal matter from the back of the toilet before they could use it.

  11. Alien vs Predator*

    This is so weird. I thought the OP was in my workplace. We too have a problem with people smearing boogers on the inside of the bathroom stalls. Somebody made a passive aggressive sign that tried to shame people into using the toilet paper that is right there. And then, somebody else started wiping boogers on the passive aggressive sign.

    1. Crazy Me!*

      We had a guy who was doing this…we thought it might be him. Our suspicions were confirmed when he quit and the boogering stopped. I guess he was trying to send a message.

    2. Tris Prior*

      OMG, we had the exact same thing happen at Former Company. (though, I hear that the passive aggressive sign was directly above the urinals, as that’s where the smearing was taking place.)

      This was like 10 years ago or else I’d think we worked for the same company!

    3. dontberidiculous*

      That’s almost exactly what happened in my old building (same job, but moved locations). The men’s bathroom, above the urinals, had a booger problem. A sign was made and promptly used as a booger receptacle as well.

      I sat right across from that bathroom, and let me just say that it was repulsive. One guy wouldn’t even wait until the door had closed before he let out the loudest/longest farts I’ve ever heard. Another would clear his throat every time he entered the bathroom, but in the most disgusting, phlegmy. obnoxious way. He was another one who wouldn’t wait for the door to close.

      And then the people who don’t cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, and spray it all over their keyboards? Or remove their shoes and socks at their desk? Ugh. I think I hate people.

  12. Karyn*

    This just reminds me of living in the college dorms – having floor meetings with the seven other rooms of girls and the RA going, “OK, who is it that’s pooping on the floor NEXT to the toilet instead of IN the toilet?” We all kept looking at each other, fully grown women in a reputable college pursuing higher education, wondering which of us it was, and no one was owning up.

    I didn’t know how to react to that then, and I still don’t know. Good lord.

      1. Karyn*

        You would have thought so, but no. Every Saturday night, without fail, except they moved to the stairwell instead of the bathroom.

        1. Frances*

          Hmm.. if it only happened on Saturdays, it sounds like maybe someone was too …altered to aim properly.

    1. Kay*

      I bet it was someone’s guest and not a resident. The residents (usually) know they have to share these bathrooms. Many times guests don’t really feel any sense of decency in a space they don’t have to use frequently or clean.

  13. ella*

    “Do I want to read the comments on this post? No good will come from reading the comments. It will be gross.”

    *commences reading comments*

  14. evilintraining*

    We used to get emails like this all the time at my former job. Believe it or not, the women were worse than the men! And I once found one of these “treats” on the headliner of my car from a former boyfriend. Some people are disgusting.

    1. Stephanie*

      I was living in an admittedly “transitional” part of DC. I walk out my apartment one morning to see a used condom on my trunk. I screamed bloody murder, got in and drove to highway in the hopes it’d fall off and paid for the extra nice car wash.

          1. Kerry (Like The County in Ireland)*

            Even better–I was living in an old house and the basement had a dropped ceiling the cats would someimes climb into. One time I had to lure one out by removing a tile, and on the back of the tile was a used condom and a cat toy that predated my living in this place and owning cats.

            1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

              I bet a teenage hid the condom in the ceiling from parents or something like that! Secret teenage love!

  15. Another Steve G*

    We had the same issue in my office. Then one of our more obnoxious sales reps left the company and the issue went away…interesting how that worked.

  16. HR Manager*

    Eh, I’ve worked in two offices (2!!) where there was the poop problem too, except it was in the men’s room each time, so I didn’t need to witness or address this incident (I can’t remember if it was an employee or vendor rep).

    If it were boogers I think manager and HR need to have a stern conversation about what were you thinking and why? Regardless of reason (unless there is some little-known booger-smearing medical affliction), I would put this person on management warning, with a “do it again, or anything silly/gross/offensive) and you are out.” If it were poop, sorry – you are out (exception again for poop smearing medical conditions?) There is no excuse or justification for poop. Seriously, at best I might be concerned with psychological problems and put this person on a medical leave…

      1. Colette*

        Well, it’s hardly a sign of someone who is mentally healthy. That doesn’t mean they have an actual mental issue, it could be aggression/poor coping skills, but if you find yourself smearing bodily fluids of any sort on a wall, it’s time to re-examine your life.

        1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

          but if you find yourself smearing bodily fluids of any sort on a wall, it’s time to re-examine your life.

          I feel like I might have to hold on to that little mantra! Nice one!

    1. snuck*

      I’m not sure how it works but if they have a medical condition they want accommodations for don’t they have to tell you about it, and if you are going down the discipline path with them then the boats left the shore?

      Especially for something like this. Unless it’s a one time slip of a colostomy bag or something (and then it’s a “WTF didn’t you clean up after yourself you gross sloth?”) there’s really no excuse.

      1. HR Manager*

        Generally you are right that medical accommodations start with an employee requesting this from an employer, but in some cases, there is an obligation for employers to ask if an accommodation may be needed if there are “obvious” signs (this is per an employment attorney in MA whom I worked with).

  17. Sascha*

    Since the likely culprits of this in my office are the students that randomly wander the halls sometimes, I know an employee memo wouldn’t do any good…ah, university life.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      When I first started working at my university library, our floor is just staff offices, and the bathrooms require a key which I didn’t get mine right away, so asked about why they were locked, apparently students would come up to the floor just to use the bathrooms…I couldn’t help but wonder how gross it got for them to install locks and make keys for the three floors of staff offices…and every now and then I see a student rush in from the stairwell, and start yanking on the bathroom door, and for some reason it always takes them at least 30 seconds to realize they are locked.

      1. Cafe Au Lait*

        It probably wasn’t gross, and rather toilet paper stealing. Practically every bathroom at my Uni had roll locked toilet paper holders. Otherwise students would steal them.

  18. Kyrielle*

    …seriously? My *two year old* gets a Kleenex to wipe those on most of the time. (And the rest, it’s his shirts, not walls or furniture. Which is gross, but…he’s two, and those go in the laundry, at least.)

  19. Not So NewReader*

    Here is how to frame it: Any form of damaging company property is not acceptable. No work place on earth would find this acceptable. Even if the damage can be fixed it still has increased maintenance and repair costs.

    Then state the consequences for anyone who damages company property. Do you want to suspend them for a week? Do you want to just get them out of there?

    Having a job is a privilege not a right. One earns that privilege by being trustworthy. Someone who is willing to damage/deface company property has breached that trust.

    To the question of stains on papers handed on for course work: Papers with random stains will be returned to the student and [fill in here with consequences: 2nd chance for first offence and automatic zero from 2nd offense on? OR No second chances and a zero for the grade for that paper.]

    My two cents. After cleaning up all kinds of messes, I have grown rather hard-nosed about these things.

  20. Jay*

    Sounds familiar. I have experienced the bathroom stall booger on wall thing years ago in a company that had unisex bathrooms.

    But it doesn’t compare to the time I went to fix a customers computer and had to get down under his desk to check a cable… only to find the entire underside of his desk was coated with dried snot… I mean, within his hands reach there was nothing but, no clean space. I accidentally touched it. I couldn’t eat for the rest of the day.

    Oh, and I also have a coworker (a people manager at that) who unashamedly picks his nose and eats it.

    1. Transformer*

      Is anyone else checking under there desk to see if the previous occupant left them any “treats”? Found a sport where a random piece of chewed gum had been stuck to the desk but no longer… not from me…

  21. Librarian*

    I concur with mental illness on the poop smearing. A local homeless man was discovered in between the stacks in our main library with what looked like chocolate all over his hands and face. The police helped escort him away. The smell was horrible.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It a regressive sort of behavior. Going backwards, little kids can get fascinated with body excretions.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        A local shopping strip had problems with a phantom pooper who would leave treats in the doorway when the shopkeepers arrived in the morning. He was eventually aprehended.

  22. AtrociousPink*

    In my job, we turn lots of paper documents back and forth with our bosses. A former coworker had a boss who picked his nose, and she would find the remnants smeared on the documents he handed her. I could not have coped with this, being so squeamish that my own fingernail-biting boss had me continually washing my hands. My current boss has that annoying habit of licking his fingers while he flips pages. I hate to think how many buckets of saliva I’ve had on my hands.

  23. ProcReg*

    I worked at a place in 2011 that had this type of email go out to the masses. It also included cleaning up the toilet seat, not peeping in the stall to see if it was occupied, etc. Awful place; indicative of further problems within the company.

  24. Jill-be-Nimble*

    Good timing! We’ve had problems with a woman (or women) peeing all over the toilet and floor and not cleaning it up lately. Shortly after I went EW, EW, EW! to one stall today, signs went up in the bathrooms politely reminding everyone to clean up after themselves. I’m skeptical that they will help, but it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks this is gross and weird!

  25. Nerd Girl*

    I used to work in retail and once I found a used sanitary napkin, wrapped in tissue, on a shelf. Based on the placement it appeared that the person had set it there while doing her business and forgot about it when she was done. That’s what I choose to believe at least. I had to hold a conversation with all the female employees about how disgusting this was and how it was our responsibility to properly dispose of our feminine products. It never happened again, but I remember how gross it was having to clean up this mess.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      Retail is a whole different ball of wax. My friends who’ve worked in retail would have been thankful to find a pad wrapped in tissue, in the bathroom. Some people think of change rooms as their own personal bathrooms and think nothing of depositing bodily fluids and/or excreta and/or other items that belong in the bathroom trash into a corner of a changing room.

      How lovely.

      1. Artemesia*

        I worked retail at JC Penney for one summer when I was in college and am happy to say that I never encountered this sort of thing even once. One of my jobs when on the floor was gathering up and rehanging the clothes people dumped all over when trying them on and yet while some of them were slobs just leaving stuff on the floor, not a one pooed in the corner. I feel uniquely blessed.

        Come to think of it, the summer before that when I worked in a greasy spoon we never had a horrible bathroom incident where customers misbehaved either. I remain astonished that anyone would do this sort of thing.

        1. fposte*

          I’m really very relieved to hear this. The frequency of the retail poop stories has made me think it’s deeply pervasive, and I’m glad to hear it’s not. Maybe there are just a couple of industrious poopers criss-crossing the country making humanity look bad.

    2. Gwen*

      Honestly, before your comment I assumed you meant on a shelf in the store with products on it. I found some weird stuff throughout the store when I was working retail.

    3. Anon Accountant*

      When I worked in a grocery store I always felt bad when maintenance staff had to clean up restroom messes that often involved fecal matter.

      The restrooms occasionally required fecal matter to be scrubbed from the wall. And it wasn’t an unusual occurrence either.

  26. Rat Racer*

    Between this post and the one about the vomiting co-worker I am so so so SO glad that I work from home. Although my dog has been known to barf up a sock or to during conference calls.

  27. Frances*

    When I first took this current job I was not thrilled with the bathroom situation: we rent office space in a building with many other small offices and all the offices on one floor share a men’s and women’s bathroom. But it does kind of eliminate some of the weirdness of workplace bathrooms, in that any gross or weird stuff that happens in there we just blame on the other offices (they probably do the same to us). Overall, I think people mostly behave better *because* they don’t want the other offices to think we’re gross.

  28. Amanda*

    If this works can you let us know? We have the same booger issue in the bathrooms here and I’m seriously so grossed out

  29. M*

    I was part of a printer inventory reduction project, and had to witness one fellow pick his nose and wipe it on the printer I was about to remove. Naturally, I recommended destroying that printer instead of re-purposing it.

    I won’t go into further detail regarding a poop incident that happened at my very first job ever, besides… It was everywhere. So glad I was voluntold to clean that up. /s

  30. TheTemp*

    Okay so, I have to be a little gross right now. There is someone who uses the restroom and leaves poo smeared on the inside of the bowl nearly every day . I know that’s a very common thing, BUT: we have those seat liners where the middle part could hang down in the bowl while you’re doing your business and prevent that. It’s that what that little flap is for? Are they not using the seat covers? Ewwww.

    1. just passing through. . .*

      No!!!! The little flap is so that it gets pulled down into the whirlpool once you flush. A hands-free experience!


      1. M*

        I thought they were for ease of flushing too! But hey, I won’t complain against unintended, secondary uses.

      2. TheTemp*

        Right! I always figured it had the added benefit of…ahem, blocking things from sticking around. Pun!

        1. C Average*

          Yeah, I don’t think not using the paper liners warrants an “ewwww!” either. And, honestly, while mud tracks in the toilet aren’t attractive, they don’t seem entirely . . . unforeseeable. It’s a toilet. As long as it’s getting cleaned regularly, I don’t see the big deal about it not being lily-white at all hours every day.

          I’ve always found the whole idea of paper liners kind of prissy. The theory that you can catch anything communicable from a toilet seat has been long and often discredited, and there are numerous studies telling us our cell phones and keyboards and kitchen sponges have way more cooties on them than our toilet seats. What exactly are you protecting your butt from? Unless you’re a cat and you’re licking your own butt, the pursuit of a completely pristine butt seems a little pointless anyway.

          I have never been squeamish, and a lot of experience distance running and hiking in the backcountry (where facilities are minimal or nonexistent) has made me less so. If there’s toilet paper available, it’s good enough for me.

          On a side note, I have long been an advice-column junkie and I’ve noticed that these questions seem to come up periodically in almost every advice column. I really think they need their own forum. Someday, when I have a little more spare time, I’m going to create a site called Toiletiquette that’s all about workplace and shared restroom etiquette.

          1. Anx*

            Skin infections.

            I have eczema and very dry skin which leaves me vulnerable to skin infections. I wear long sleeves whenever possible to reduce the amount of pathogens on desks and the like, but toilet seats do have more bacteria than a lot of other common areas. Plus, in the summer, people sweat more on the backs of their legs than they might otherwise.

            I have definitely picked up infections from public toilets, but that’s because my skin doesn’t work properly.

          2. Fish Microwaver*

            Unless you’re a cat and you’re licking your own butt, the pursuit of a completely pristine butt seems a little pointless anyway


    2. MilitantIntelligent*

      We have that too!! Every morning. And it’s like, jeez, another flush or two could have cleared that. So juvenile.

  31. just passing through. . .*

    Don’t know about anyone else, but I get a kick out of seeing the word ‘booger’ written out.

  32. Camster*

    Laughing out loud reading all these comments! And here I thought the worst thing at my workplace are people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom (and that’s the women; don’t know about the men!). Yikes!

  33. LuvzALaugh*

    Wow…..this tops when I had to post memos in the restrooms at work regarding graffiti. I think the most aggravating part of the situation was finding a politically correct, professional way to say “knock it the H*ll off” when at times like this I feel people behaving in these types of ways would respond better to “knock it the H*ll off!!!” instead. I ended up typing a memo about conducting ourselves in the professional and business-like manner anticipated in the workplace and how destruction of property was a work place rule violation. …….Not that I mind being formal and professional. I am at work. I expect to be. It is just at times I feel you get someone’s attention a little more when you talk to them on their level. And the level you’re at when you are writing on the walls or even worse… wiping boogies on them….eeeewwwww seems pretty darn low if you ask me.

  34. Cucumber*

    Afraid I can top that.

    Try a workplace (student dorm at a top 100 college) where a student insisted on wiping his feces on the walls after using the toilet. This kid came from a well-off family and was, frankly, no pun intended etc. a shit-stirrer.

    All you can do in this situation is find the culprit and catch them in the act, then fire them. This person is, I would gather, trying to make people ill – not with outrage, but by actually spreading their germs. Judging by the Gawker stories about the phantom poopers at national magazines, finding a culprit like this is harder than it seems.

  35. TinyPM*

    Oh man. Long time reader, first time commenter, but this thread is a perfect place to start. At my old company, we had a disgruntled employee (on the inside, she was very jolly and easygoing on the outside) leave a lovely dump on our carpeted staircase. Yep.

  36. AUB*

    Gosh, to be honest it sounds like a email as result of someone being board to me. Is work slow in your office right now? A similar notification was verbally mentioned at one of my former employers, and I felt as though the people pursuing the subject truly didn’t have enough to do that day so they created something to do in this way.

    1. fposte*

      Meaning you don’t think anybody was really doing anything with their boogers, or that the office should let this behavior go without comment?

  37. Another Sara*

    I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to share these!

    1. For a long time, there was someone who habitually did not flush the toilet. Instead, this woman would take a stack of toilet seat liners and place them over the bowl, then take a few more and roll them into a ball and place it on top of the stack, on the flap parts. W. T. F.
    2. One time I walked into the bathroom and there was blood all over the ground in one of the stalls. There was a large smeary mess right in front of the toilet, and then the person had tracked it out of the stall halfway to the sink. The pattern looked like someone had stepped on an upside-down, used, santiary pad, and had it stuck to their shoe as they walked around. Seriously, wtf?

  38. C Average*

    So, I came up with something kind of evil. What if you sent out a memo like this? “Attention, colleagues. As you may have noticed, we’ve had some problems with bodily excrescences being left in inappropriate places. Because the substances in question are classified as biohazards, we had to have our offices decontaminated, at considerable expense. Part of the decontamination process involves analyzing the DNA of the substances. To our surprise, the DNA we collected was a match with the DNA of an individual in the federal law enforcement database. We are working with law enforcement to determine how to proceed, and the individual in question has been placed on administrative leave. As for the rest of the individuals whose DNA we recovered, consider this a warning: your leadership, including your direct manager, know who you are. Your next offense will result in you being assigned a restroom chaperone, and subsequent offenses will result in your termination. Thanks for your cooperation!”

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      This reminds me of something I heard (I think on This American Life) about the apartment building where, if you wanted to have a dog, you had to submit a poo sample for DNA analysis. That was, if a poo was found on the building grounds, the culprit could be identified and the owner fined and/or evicted for not picking up the poop.

  39. Freelance Vandal*

    Well, it was certainly good for comedic relief. I’ve worked in software development for the last couple decades and am used to working with people who are hygienically challenged. You know the sort— lock them in a room, slide the occasional pizza under the door and get awesome code in return. Just don’t let them meet the client face to face.

    I’m just glad I wasn’t tasked to deliver that message!

    Freelance Vandal

  40. MR*

    I didn’t see this amongst the comments above, but I can guarantee that at least one recipient of that email knows who does this (other than the actual offender).

    In fact, I’m sure that most people who are at least cognizant of what goes on around them could narrow down the guilty party to two or three people.

    There is a high probability that the offender is generally sloppy in not only their workspace, but possibly their work as well. Or it is someone who has recently become angry about something in the workplace and this is their way of ‘lashing out.’

    While it is possible that the offender is someone that nobody suspects, chances are, the perpetrator is easily identifiable.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I’m so sorry.
      I guess everything has to have a name. “Nasal excretions” just takes too long to say. And if you teach that term to a five year old. then the kid sounds pompous.

  41. JCC*

    My guess is that it is part of a larger workplace problem. When people are treated in a way that makes them believe that their positive efforts are ignored, that their useful actions don’t matter, they begin to act as though their negative efforts will be ignored, and that their pointless actions won’t matter.

  42. Snoopy*

    EWWWWW – And our OM and I were sulking over someone leaving rotting feta cheese in the fridge….

  43. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    I have a friend who was complaining to me just last week about her ill coworker digging into her nose and wiping golden nuggets all over office walls, chair arms, the copy machine, the bathroom walls, the cloth-covered bulletin board, and all sorts of other places. I was astonished – first, because this coworker is a grown woman, and second, because she’s a freaking phlebotomist.

    That’s right. She had boogers all over the draw chair and boxes of tubes. My friend had to keep constant vigilance and wipe stuff down so no patients would encounter these little gifts.

    I am going to be so paranoid next time I get blood drawn.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Some people have a huge disconnect between their work and their personal habits. Accountants embezzle, doctors abuse, and so on. We see these examples over and over. I often wonder if the person realizes how much they have discredited themselves- such as this booger thrower here. Does she honestly believe no one notices? It’s too bad that someone around her cannot just say “Hey, it’s been noticed that you throw your boogers everywhere. Please use kleenex tissues for your nose issues.”

  44. Stryker*

    How do you know that it’s boogers? I’ve never really thought about it much, but now that I have, I wonder…

  45. That Marketing Chick*

    I haven’t yet determined whether it’s someone in my office or someone in the only other company in the building (on a separate floor who really has no reason to use stairs to get to a different restroom than the one directly outside their company office) who feels it’s appropriate to pee all over floor and leave it. So much so that there is no way to use the stall without stepping in it. And then there’s the “lady fluid” left all over a separate toilet on the same day. Yes; that happened.
    What is WRONG with people?!

  46. Jill*

    Ugh. I worked somewhere where women would take off their used sanitary products and just throw them on the floor of the stall, and not even wrapped up. I saw another woman come in once, step right over the mess, do her thing, walk over it and leave. Like it was as common as air to see stuff like that on the floor. And she was a Division Head. So there you go.

    OP, if your coworker is at the point where they are part of the working world and still don’t have good hygiene habits, I’d say it’s a lost cause. Besides, how would Management even identify who’s doing it? Plus…if you’ve got a booger wiper, just think of how many people are using the toilet and not washing their hands in your place?? Uck!!

  47. Facilities&more*

    I currently have had this problem at our office of 250 (mostly women) in our women’s room since January. I am honestly at a loss about what to do about it and PLEASE if anyone has gone through the boogers-on-the-wall thing and had a solution let me know what worked. We don’t want to put up signs because we think then our visitors will see the signs and wonder about our workplace (we have a cleaning crew and maintenance man that has to clean this up regularly) and I agree with Allison that an email like OP got will not change the mind of someone that thinks this is ok to do. Short of catching someone in the act, what do you do? I’ve tried to visit the bathroom once an hour and check for new “evidence” in hopes of checking the cameras that are just outside the restroom in the hall and who used the restroom in that hour, but they don’t do it every day. We also had a person that was peeing on the back of the toilet, and we did put a sign up – and it DID work, but I’m not so sure about that working for the booger lady.

    1. hodie-hi*

      We had a pee-bandit who reportedly hosed down a vast area of the men’s room on seemingly-random days on and off for weeks, but always after the end of business hours. We do have employees in the building a 24/7/365, for call center support. The building we leased the floor in had some cameras, but none covered the elevator/restroom lobby. Eventually, a small web cam was discreetly aimed across the lobby so that we could see people passing through the area. Not aimed at the restroom doors, and we certainly never put any in the restrooms. It’s also worth mentioning that the receptionist had formerly worked as a law enforcement officer. They eventually figured out that the pee-bandit was an acquaintance of someone in housekeeping! I’m sure those people were “pissed” at their “friend”.

  48. buddleia*

    All this talk about poo reminds me of this Savage Love column from 2007… (When someone actually admits to poo-smearing, it gets filed away in your brain somewhere only to be twigged by talk about poo-smearing). So if you really want to know why someone would smear poo in the washroom and work (with no regard to the low-paid janitors who are often people of colour who have to clean it up): (see third letter from the top – now that I read it again, something about the way it’s written strikes me as fake. Who knows.)

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