getting ready for work in the office bathroom, dropping a client who tried to renegotiate rates, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Should I take a stand on getting ready for work in the office bathroom?

I work for a small company in the HR department as an administrative assistant. There are two bathrooms on the property, both single occupancy, one in the office and one in the warehouse.

I get up at 6 a.m. to work out at my gym every day. I then use the shower at the gym, arrive at work 15-30 minutes before I start, and get ready in the office bathroom. I take roughly 10-15 minutes to get ready, and then I clock in. One day, as I was walking out of the office bathroom, the call center manager asked me not to use the office bathroom to get ready and instead to use the warehouse bathroom. I said okay, but was a little bothered that I was asked to change what I was doing (which is harmless) to accommodate her.

After deliberating about this, I don’t feel I’m doing anything wrong. My productivity and attendance is not up for debate. I’m an excellent employee. So why should I change? I did, however, choose to use the office bathroom only if I knew I would be quick, and if I was going to take the full 15 minutes I would use the warehouse. However, the GM spoke to my boss, and my boss asked if I would please use the bathroom warehouse from now on. So, now all of a sudden this is an office policy?

I choose to use the office bathroom because it’s much warmer than the warehouse bathroom. The call center manager can use the warehouse bathroom, but she is choosing not to for the same reasons I’m using the office bathroom. The only difference is she wants to have access to the office bathroom and not have to wait. So, should I fold to these demands? Should I change my bathroom usage to accommodate someone else and go into the cold warehouse bathroom because someone complained? Now I feel like I will get written up if I use the office bathroom to get ready.

Yes, you should use the warehouse bathroom to get ready from now on. In an office with a single-occupancy bathroom, it’s reasonable for your company to say “this bathroom is for toilet use, not for getting ready for work.” By doing an optional, non-work activity in there every day, you’re preventing people from using the bathroom for the purpose it’s intended for, and there’s not a lot of ground to stand on in insisting that they go out to the (apparently cold) warehouse. This would be an odd to battle to fight, and you’re likely to lose and to come out of it with your reputation a bit tarnished, because their request is a reasonable one.

But why not solve the whole thing by just getting ready at the gym after you shower there?

2. Interviewer said “wow” when I told him how long I’d been out of work

I was let go from a job in October and still have not had any luck or offers. Seems that I am overqualified or under-qualified. If I wanted to go back to doing what I was doing before, I think I might have had an offer or two, but I think I am burnt out on that career path. Just a little while ago, I had a phone interview with an owner with a very dry sense of humor. When he realized how long I had been out of work (four months), his response was “wow” … which is something that I didn’t need to want to hear, of course. I was curious what you thought of his response. I am not happy that I have been out of work for this long, but every situation is different and a good portion of my unemployment has been over the holidays. Is his response a bad sign?

It might be a bad sign about this job/this manager, or it might be that he doesn’t have much of a filter, or that he was ineptly trying to express sympathy. There’s no way to really know, but I wouldn’t let it rattle you too much. Four months isn’t a terribly long time.

3. Should I drop a client who tried to renegotiate rates?

I teach a training course at a company that is also my client in other matters. This course is recurring, meaning that I teach it every year. Well, this year, just three weeks before it was supposed to start, my client told me that due to financial problems they are having, I should accept a 15% decrease on my fees. This was months after we had agreed upon my teaching this course this year, and reducing my rates never came up in the meantime. They apologized profusely, claiming that their telling me so late was an oversight on their part.

I find that hard to believe, since I provide them with other services, meaning that we talk regularly, and they had already started puting the word out about the course, inviting employees and other partners of theirs as well (the participation is not free of charge, at least not for non-employees).

I explained that I could not accept this decrease at such a late notice, but that I now felt so badly that I preferred not to teach my course at all, as my not accepting a lower rate made me feel as if I was exploiting them in their time of need, so to speak. They answered that it would be very bad for them if the course was not taught this year, and that they would not decrease my fees.

However, I now want to drop them as a client, because I feel they behaved unprofessionally and that they still are, since it turns out that they are able to pay my rates, they just would prefer not to. Would it be terrible and unprofessional on my part if I did not teach my course this year, despite the fact that my client has already started accepting participants?

Yes, it would be unprofessional and bad for your reputation! You agreed to teach the course, they’ve agreed to your regular fee for it, it starts in the three weeks, and they’ve already advertised it. It’s up to you whether to drop them as a client after this, but backing out of the course at this point and for this reason wouldn’t reflect well on you.

As for whether to drop them after that, I don’t see anything that they’ve done especially wrong here. They asked if they could lower your rates, you said no, and they said okay.  Clients sometimes try to renegotiate contacts and rates. It’s up to you whether you agree or not, but the act of them asking isn’t a big deal. (After all, wouldn’t it feel pretty unwarranted if they wanted to drop you after you asked for a rate increase, they declined it, and you agreed to continue at the old rate?)

4. Should I mention that my wife applied for a job at my company?

A previous question about talking up your spouse after an interview at your company brought many negative responses. For my situation, my wife has only just applied. Last I heard, there had been over 130 applications submitted for the position. This was about three weeks ago and the position is still posted.

I was wondering if it would be wise to at least mention to the hiring manager that my wife has applied so she does not get lost in the shuffle and possibly give him somewhere to start within all of the applicants. One reservation I have is that she is on the borderline for meeting the years experience qualification they have listed, so I would not want to be looked down upon in any way for suggesting an applicant who might not even meet their criteria.

So should I mention her, talk her up, or just heed the advice I’ve seen online and let her application speak for itself? I am in good standing with my company, have been here for 1.5 years, and been promoted once.

I think it would be fine to say, “Hey, just a heads-up that my wife applied for the X position you’re hiring for. Her name is Valentina Warbleworth. No pressure if she’s not the right match though.” But that’s it — you don’t want to come across as if you’re trying to get her special treatment or that you’ll be disappointed if she’s not interviewed or hired. That’s why that “no pressure” bit at the end is important — given the usual dynamics with this kind of thing, people will assume that there is pressure unless you explicitly say otherwise.

And definitely don’t talk her up. You’re assumed to be biased, so it won’t carry a lot of weight and instead will add to the worries about tension or awkwardness if they go with other candidates instead.

(Also, are you sure you want to work at the same company? There are lots of downsides to that, including financial security if you’re both at a company that’s having layoffs.)

5. What does a one-hour performance review meeting indicate?

My question is regarding performance reviews. Are one-hour reviews an indicator that the review might not be good?

That’s a normal amount of time to schedule for a performance review. Generally, it would be an indicator that your manager is devoting an appropriate amount of time to what should be a substantive, important discussion about your performance. Of course, if your manager has a history of scheduling these for 20 minutes, and is still doing that with everyone else, then yeah, it might indicate that there’s some specific reason that she wants to have a longer conversation with you, which could be good, bad, or neutral. But I wouldn’t read too much into it, unless there’s some other context (like that you’ve been getting warned about performance problems).

{ 498 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie*

    #1. Oh. Oof. I’ll change for my second job at my first job, which has a single-occupany bathroom (it’s too out the way to go back home and change). Second job I have to wear business casual, first job (at a tutoring company), I have to wear the company’s t-shirt. I had been changing at Job 1’s bathroom just due to more space (and I can’t get into the building without appropriate footwear). And the one time I did change at Job 2, my coworker got all weird that I walked in in jeans and a t-shirt despite my mention of “I’m changing! I promise!”

    But I do wonder if I’m occupying the single-occupancy bathroom for too long.

    1. Observer*

      Could you maybe wear your t-shirt over a work appropriate shirt or top? I would think that it would make the chage-over faster.

      1. Stephanie*

        Hot climate. =\ But I usually will wear my under shirt and the cardigan on the outside and just quickly pull off the t-shirt. That being said, I’ll probably just start changing at Job 2 and just roll my eyes at my coworker being horrified that I’m in jeans. My workplace is overwhelmingly male (like 85%-90%), so there’s rarely anyone else in the bathrooms.

        1. Jaydee*

          I think if the amount of time you are in the bathroom (at Job #1) is roughly equal to the amount of time it would take an average person to use the bathroom, you’re fine. It sounds like you are doing a quick change of shirt and maybe pants/skirt, which I’m guessing takes less than 5 minutes. Unless someone complains, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

    2. Graciosa*

      What bothers me about #1 is the tone.

      It appears as though the OP is treating the office restroom as her personal dressing area or changing room. It isn’t, and yet the question is about why should the OP change, or “fold to these demands” just because another employee wants to have access to the office bathroom and not have to wait.

      Another employee wants to use the restroom (as a restroom) when needed without waiting for the OP to finish using it as her personal dressing room.

      And the OP is upset about this, and feels the need to take a stand.


      OP, the smart – and courteous – thing for you to do at this point is appreciate the kindness of the business in accommodating your personal habits by allowing you to commandeer one of their limited number of restrooms for your regular private use as a dressing area, even if the selected restroom is not your first choice.

      Graciously allowing other employees to make use of the office restroom for its designated purpose seems an appropriate kindness to extend in return.

      1. Myrin*

        Totally agree.

        We’re all human and sometimes overlook even obvious things and that’s totally all right – I wouldn’t have bristled at the letter the way I did if it were worded like Stephanie’s comment which showed more of a “Shit, I hadn’t thought of this!” vibe and the willingness to change her habit if people are bothered.

        But the OP doesn’t seem to understand that the manager’s (and any other person’s) need to use the bathroom to actually use the toilet and her wish to get ready after gym and before work are on completely different levels of legitimacy. She even outright says that she thinks “[t]he only difference is [the manager] wants to have access to the office bathroom and not have to wait” which… well, do you not see that that’s not the case? I’m baffled by that as well as just generally not too fond of the tone, just like you say.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Exactly, it shows a lack of insight and perspective-taking. The first thing I thought when I read this is “Man, I bet other staff are getting in after a long commute, or just finished drinking their coffee, and desperately having to pee. I’d be peeved too if someone regularly monopolizes the bathroom for longer than usual, and then it turns out they’re doing something they could have done at the gym.”

          1. Blook*

            This is exactly what I was thinking. It would get really old, really fast to have to wait 10-15 minutes to use the bathroom after a long commute every. single. day. I am particularly sensitive to the cold due to a medical condition and going in the warehouse would be miserable for me. Most of the time I could wait 1-2 min for someone to finish up in the warm bathroom but I may not be able to wait 15 minutes, which would force me into the cold bathroom on a daily basis. Sometimes that would happen of course. But I would particularly resent it in this situation since OP doesn’t have to get ready at work but I do have to pee at work.

            OP, you don’t want to use the cold bathroom. I’m not sure why you think everyone else should be OK with it.

            1. AndersonDarling*

              And since this is at a call center, I can guarantee you that the staff is gossiping about it. “There goes Miss Pretty Face, getting ready for work again. I hope you don’t have to pee for the next 15 minutes.”
              The manager may just want to put a stop to the distraction.

              1. AndersonDarling*

                OH, and I didn’t mean that all call centers are gossipy. When I was in a call center and tied to my desk, I just noticed everything that was going on.

              2. LQ*

                I think it is weird to assume the call center staff is gossiping about it, not say, trying to do their jobs and having a hard time since it seems like the OP might be in the bathroom right up until the start time which would mean that if they mistakenly waited thinking they’d get to go to the bathroom shortly then they start taking calls late and they might get in trouble for this. Which might be what the call center manager is trying to address, you’re making my staff late in starting work which is a serious problem in a call center. It could just be that they are having their jobs impacted, not that they are gossiping.

              3. Dr. Johnny Fever*

                Any staff would gossip about it. Someone disappears at the same time, every morning, for the same duration, and no one knows why?

                Oh, yeah, total grist for the gossip mill. Not saying it’s right, but it is what it is.

                1. LQ*

                  Really? Plenty of people go for a walk on their break, go smoke, go get coffee, whatever. And for this person they disappear not ready for the day and come out “ready for the day” whatever that looks like. Also I don’t keep track of my coworkers enough to notice, say, someone going to the bathroom at the same time every day. That seems like a lot of work to keep track of people, even in a small office.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  Yyyyeah, I think people are reading a LOT into this letter.

                  We don’t know that there is “gossip” or that there is a big mystery about why the OP is in the bathroom – the letter suggests that everybody knows she’s changing for work.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              This. I have Raynaud’s, which means the cold bathroom would be miserable for me as well. And Raynaud’s is not uncommon, so I wouldn’t be shocked if one of the OP’s coworkers had problems with the cold as well. If the reason that I had to use a cold bathroom is because someone chose not to get ready at the gym and refuses to use the cold bathroom, I’d be super resentful. I totally understand the OP not wanting to get ready in the cold bathroom. But what I don’t understand is why she thinks she should take priority over people who need to use the bathroom for its intended purpose.

              1. Dweali*

                Couldn’t OP1 see about getting maybe a small space heater in the warehouse bathroom (or if it already has a heater maybe get it fixed) that way they don’t have to get ready in a cold bathroom…also if you don’t want to change in a cold bathroom can you really not see others not wanting to try (try being the operative word….some bodies just don’t like to cooperate in colder rooms) to pee in the cold bathroom…I got my mom a heated toilet seat for a gift one year because her bathroom gets frigid in the winter–best $100 I’ve ever spent :-)

            3. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              Arthritic hands here. Total old lady hands, rendered almost unfunctional in cold.

              I could go the warehouse bathroom that’s colder but I don’t know how I would leave. I would likely lose the dexterity to zip and rebutton my jeans.

              Plus, if I have to pee, I have to pee. If I’m in the office, I’m going to the office bathroom as it is presumably closer. I am going to go pee dancing through a warehouse.

          2. Janice in Accounting*

            +1 to the mention of finishing the morning coffee!

            One of my coworkers does her make up in the bathroom (multiple occupancy) when she gets in, which, due to our schedules, often coincides with when I finish my morning coffee and urgently have to use the restroom for not-so-nice things. I wait to avoid the awkwardness, and don’t hold it against her, but there is a small voice in the back of my head that says, “just my luck, she’s doing this now!”

            Now, if it were a single occupancy bathroom (and the only bathroom in the office, to boot) that was being occupied for make up use when I had to unload my coffee situation, you bet I would NOT be happy

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Well if she’s going to do her makeup in a shared bathroom, then she has to accept that she might hear not-so-nice noises. No reason for you to wait. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

                1. Blurgle*

                  Because there isn’t enough cheap nasty perfume being shoved at us every moment of the day already.

                2. GovWorker*

                  I work in a large agency with six stalls. There may be multiple number 2’s going on at the same time. If you wait to be alone before doing your business, you may be waiting a long time. At sixty I have never heard of the etiquette poster Holly talks about.
                  There is a door between the stalls/sinks and another room with a large mirror and outlets. So grooming can be done no problem. Just wipe the sink after teeth brushing, etc. Your mom doesn’t go to work with you, I hope.

              1. myswtghst*

                I feel the same way about people who talk on the phone in the bathroom – if you didn’t want the person on the other end of your call to hear bathroom noises, you could have taken your call in a conference room (we have plenty!) or the break room.

              2. Nervous Accountant*

                Sadly I’ve been the offender on both ends. (HA!) I would have thought this was one of my coworkers but no one’s ever in there when I go in to get ready.

              3. INFJ*

                Normally, Elizabeth, I would agree, but the post-coffee bathroom situation for me can go beyond “unpleasant” in both sound and odor (even with a courtesy flush!)

                1. Amy*

                  Maybe you should look into quitting coffee/finding another source of caffeine, since it sounds like your body is giving you some pretty unambiguous signals that it is not able to handle it…

                2. Honeybee*

                  @Amy – Coffee makes a lot of people poop. Some studies say that caffeine can act as a mild laxative in people who are sensitive to caffeine; it causes muscle contractions in your intestines that are similar to what happens after you eat. Others say it’s the coffee itself that causes contractions in the colon, or increases stomach acids. Either way, though, coffee makes about 30-40 percent of drinkers have to poop afterwards, and it’s pretty normal and not harmful.

                3. Kassy*

                  I can totally understand the embarrassment! But…it is still a bathroom. That’s why they’re there, not for putting on makeup, changing clothes, taking phone calls, etc. People can of course do those things in there, but that means accepting the less-than-pleasant sounds or odors, because, well, they have alternative options and people using the toilet don’t.

            2. Marketeer*

              We have someone who comes in everyday and does her makeup at the same time in a double occupancy bathroom as well. It’s annoying and I can’t imagine if we had a single bathroom on that side of the office. Everyone else does their makeup/gets ready at home/gym/bus/train; why don’t you?

            3. Sarah*

              As someone who does makeup in the bathroom occasionally in the mornings, I think you should just go in there and pretend she’s not there. Or do the awkward bathroom “Oh, hey!” and then proceed to pretend she’s not there. (Also, tossing wadded toilet paper into the toilet before you do your business cuts down on splashing noises; that’s what I do when my coworkers are in the bathroom at the same time.)

              1. mander*

                I know some people find it hard to use the toilet for its intended purpose when there’s someone else in the bathroom, but if I were the one doing my makeup in there I would accept that I might experience unpleasant sounds or smells as the price of doing business, so to speak. (Argh, just realized what a terrible pun that is!). I have always found it a bit strange that people are so embarrassed about bodily functions. That’s probably insensitive of me, but as the book says, everybody poops.

                I’m also concerned about the tone in OP1’s letter. It comes across as rather entitled. IMHO, if you are the one who is creating an inconvenience for others, then you should modify your behaviour. I don’t see this request as particularly demanding, TBPH. I’m assuming that the warehouse is a bit out of the way from your work area, so it also adds time to the process for anyone who needs to pee during that 15 minutes, which would add to the annoyance. Since you are there early, you presumably have time to spare, but your colleagues who get there with just enough time to get ready for the morning may not.

            4. Janie*

              This is one of my pet peeves! I have IBS and sometimes urgently have very not-so-nice things to attend to, and I do not want to do those things while somebody is touching up their make up or curling their hair (there was a woman at my old office who did this). A bathroom is a TOILET room, not a powder room.

          3. Tamsin*

            Right, pretty much everyone has their pre-work routines once they arrive in the office, and for a seemingly large percentage this includes a stop in the restroom, even if just to check oneself in the mirror. Especially with such limited facilities, it’s really kind of amazing OP is thinking only of his/her 15-20 minutes in there right before starting work!

          4. OriginalEmma*

            Absolutely. This doesn’t consider employees who have a medical condition that requires immediate bathroom accommodation (Crohn’s, incontinence, etc.) and have to wait longer than the typical 2 to 5-minutes it takes for the average person to use the loo. The other employees want to use the bathroom for its intended purpose in their work area because it’s their bathroom and they have a right to that facility for its intended use (unlike OP).

          5. pope suburban*

            Also, people who have upset stomachs, or medical conditions? Probably not loving this. I have had a couple of coworkers with IBS, for example, and it is already disruptive/embarrassing enough for them without a coworker who treats the restroom like her personal space. Digestive and urinary ailments are not super-rare, and the total lack of awareness of these things blew my mind. I…do not know that I would enjoy working with someone who has an aggressive lack of consideration for the people around them. It seems unfun.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          While I totally agree, I do wonder if the Op is getting there way before everyone else and that’s why it was okay for a while until one day the manager came in a bit early and found out?? Otherwise yeah, I don’t get the attitude.
          My first thought was what Alison said, why not finish getting ready at the gym. And if Op has some reason she doesn’t want to finish up at the gym, why not just have a mirror on her desk and finish her hair and makeup there? (before clocking in of course).

        3. Lefty*

          Agreed- the tone was my sticking point as well. I also found it interesting that OP states that the request came from the Call Center Manager and OP assumes that only the Manager will be using the office restroom. (Maybe she has information that would state that.) My initial thought is- maybe it’s not for the Manager, but for her staff. Call Centers often use tracking softward to record calls, length of breaks, etc. If a call center employee expects a 5 minute run to the restroom and back, that may be fine. If that turns into 20 minutes due to the wait for OP and their own visit, that’s problematic. 20 minutes away from a phone may be enough to affect the employee’s productivity or the general wait time that employees are experiencing.

          Old Job had a call center that only allowed bathroom breaks during predetermined times. As Alison might say, a “reasonable” manager would have considered that to be too rigid. There were many concerns and some protestations from women who were pregnant and a few others during health episodes.

          Agree with AAM’s advice especially the suggestion to use your gym to get ready if possible. You’re (probably) already paying for the membership, so you could be utilizing it as a convenience.

          1. myswtghst*

            Completely agreed on the tone being a sticking point in this letter, and I wondered the same thing about the call center manager. Every call center I’ve worked in / with has used some type of tracking for breaks to ensure there’s coverage, and if bathroom breaks started taking 10-20 minutes (instead of 3-5) because employees had to wait or run to the warehouse bathroom, I’d be pretty peeved.

          2. Kylynara*

            I agree with this. In a call center tying up the closest bathroom for 15 minutes everyday could easily have a valid impact on the work produced by others/customer service provided. The extra time away to use the farther bathroom, or see the close one is occupied wait a bit then return to your desk and try again later. The manager, in particular, probably notices that the irate callers are that much more irate they had to wait on hold the extra two minutes as she walked back from the farther bathroom.

      2. MashaKasha*


        I’d be pretty livid if I, and the rest of my coworkers, got locked out of the bathroom for 15-20 min every morning, all because of the same person who uses it to get changed, put makeup on etc, after gym every day.

        They didn’t say not to use any bathroom for that at all, though they were perfectly in their right to do that. They said to use a different bathroom. Sounds like a fair arrangement to me.

      3. Leah*

        Yes! Thank you for saying this. They’re actually being really nice by letting OP take up one of the two bathrooms for 20 minutes in the morning.

    3. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      I think people change clothes with pretty quickly. I will throw on my running gear in a stall and usually take 2-3 minutes.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, I think if you are quick about it (use restroom, quickly pull off jeans and T-shirt and pull on dressier pants and blouse, slip on new shoes and shove it all in a bag) that’s probably fine – but if you are touching up your hair and/or makeup, or being poky about changing that’s more likely to be seen as rudely hogging the one bathroom.

        Can’t you wear your biz cas pants and shoes with the T-shirt so you only have to change your top now that it’s not hot out? Or change into 2nd job worthy shoes in your car? I’m assuming you mean you have to wear closed toed non-sneakers to your 2nd job (or maybe even steel toes), and that’s what I always did when I had to wear steel toed work shoes – wore flip flops or slip ons in the car and changed into work shoes right before going in the building.

      2. NJ Anon*

        In a stall which indicates there are other toilets to use. Not so in this case. And op says she’s in there for 10-15 minutes, which can be a long time to wait if you really need to go! As AAM said, why not change at the gym.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          Absolutely; my comment was in response to Stephanie’s concern about her quick change between jobs.

        2. Older not yet wiser*

          My guess is that they can clock in when they arrive, and then use the bathroom for 15 minutes to get ready for work. If they got ready at the gym they would have to clock in 15 minutes later.

      3. TowerofJoy*

        I wondered if it was taking 15-20 minutes if this involved a blow dryer and multiple other grooming tools.

      4. INTP*

        Agree. The problem is if you change clothes into something fussy, and then you put on your makeup, maybe even style your hair. I can change clothes in an amount of time that wouldn’t really be discernible from uh…certain other legitimate uses of the bathroom. Plus, changing clothes requires a private space. To me, that is different from something like applying makeup and styling hair which you could technically do in a variety of other locations like your car or desk. (I get why the bathroom is a more desirable place to apply makeup or blow dry your hair than your desk, for professional appearances’ sake, but your professional image doesn’t trump other people’s bathroom access.)

        And in this case the OP is coming from a gym with showers, which would presumably also have sinks, outlets, and mirrors. I’m not sure why OP can’t get ready there if it takes so long.

        1. Mockingjay*

          The gyms I’ve belonged to (both unisex and ladies-only) always had an area in the women’s locker room to do hair and makeup, with complimentary hair dryers. It’s usually a separate counter with a plate glass mirror. The ladies-only gym also had changing cubicles for privacy.

          I would presume that OP #1’s gym likely has a suitable space for grooming. Gyms are accustomed to serving clients who exercise in the morning and need to clean up before work.

          1. Just Another Techie*

            I’ve been to one or two cut-rate gyms that don’t have a makeup and hair counter. And the bathroom sinks were grody enough I wouldn’t want to put tools that go near my eyes or mouth down in there. But there’s always the option of bringing a magnetic mirror and sticking it to your locker door. (Even cut rate gyms have lockers!) You might have to do a bit of juggling, but you can make it work.

            1. ExceptionToTheRule*

              My not quite cut rate gym, that’s a national chain, does not have lockers. There’s a single occupancy bathroom for each sex that also has a shower that doubles as a changing room. They ask you to be in & out in 15 minutes (including your shower).

    4. newreader*

      If you’re only taking a few minutes to change, I don’t think it’s a big deal. There are always going to be times when the bathroom is occupied and most people understand they may need to wait a few minutes.

    5. Heather*

      I think there is a big difference between quickly changing and “getting ready” for work. Getting ready for work to me implies blowdrying hair and etc and putting on makeup. That takes longer. Plus if there aren’t very many women waiting for the bathroom I wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. snuck*

        Yup. The issue is the “ten to fifteen minutes” … a normal toilet run is only a few minutes long. Getting changed shouldn’t take this long unless you are primping in the mirror. The person who just needs to change from jeans and a tshirt to a blouse and slacks can do all that in less than five, including a quick swipe at their hair on the way out. And doing it every day, in an environment where there’s probably lots of others also coming onto the floor at that same start time, also needing to go to the toilet before their shift start… that’s rude.

        The OP could use the gym bathroom, or if it’s about the clothes to travel between places use the gym to do their hair and make up and any other preening, and take only a few minutes to whip one set of clothes off and another on. I’d say that the opportunity to do a quick change in the inside bathroom is gone now though – that bridge is burnt, and she’s now pushed to the outside toilet for quite some time at least.

        Normally there isn’t a policy for this stuff until someone makes it necessary.

    6. Liana*

      I do the same thing, so you’re not alone, although my second job is jeans and the company t-shirt, and my first job is business casual. Bathroom availability isn’t an issue in my office, but I always worry that someone at job #1 is going to see me dressed in jeans and it’ll reflect negatively/weirdly on me.

    7. Xarcady*

      I sometimes have to change at Job 1 into clothes for job 2. Job 1 is business casual to the point of jeans, and Job 2 has a very specific dress code much more on the business side–specific colors, no jeans, no hoodies, no athletic shoes, etc. And I’m supposed to show up looking like that and ready to work.

      When I have to do this, I wear jeans, but the top half of me is dressed for Job 2 all day. I pop into the bathroom at Job 1 at the end of the day and change into different pants. It doesn’t take more than 3 minutes. And I don’t think that’s an unusually long time to spend in the bathroom. And it helps that the single occupancy restroom I use is at the end of the floor and not very busy at the best of times. By quitting time, most people are on their way out.

      So my suggestion would be to time yourself changing. If you are taking more than 5 minutes that might be too long. So then look at how to wear as much of the clothing for job 2 as possible all day. Do you have to wear jeans at Job 1? Doing this also cuts down on laundry tremendously.

    8. Lily in NYC*

      But does it take you 15 minutes? I get the feeling OP also does makeup and/or hair because it does not take 15 minutes to just change your clothes.

    9. Just Another Techie*

      I think there’s a big difference between quickly changing a shirt, and taking fifteen minutes to put on makeup. If it doesn’t take you any longer than it does to pee and wash up, you’re good.

  2. katamia*

    The call center manager could have mobility problems that make the trek to the warehouse harder for her than you’re envisioning. Or she could have an illness that makes being in the cold extremely painful for her. Or she could have some sort of stomach issue that makes her suddenly have to go very suddenly. Or someone else in the office who’s usually there by then could have one or more of these issues.

    I mean, or not. I don’t know these people, and I certainly wouldn’t know about any medical issues they might have. But that’s something to consider, that your use of the office bathroom to get ready for work might not be as harmless as you think it is.

    1. Glasskey*

      #1- I have to side with the call center manager here. Here’s two reasons why:
      1. I really do not want to SEE my coworkers come into the office looking like they just left the gym, even if they haven’t clocked in yet. It’s a vision that gets stuck in my head all day. (Call me shallow.)
      2. Likewise, and especially in a small office, I don’t want to HEAR my coworkers getting ready for work in the AM either. You don’t say what “getting ready” actually involves or where this manager sits in relation to said bathroom, but maybe there’s a disruptive component here due to the noise of a hair dryer or the “phhhhhhhht!” of a spray bottle or the clacking of makeup products smacking the counter that just gets on her nerves.
      Ultimately, these kinds of conflicts tend to become intensified in small offices and when people are working in close proximity you sometimes have to bend a little more than you’d like to keep the peace.

      1. Lee Ann*

        Also if she’s using hairspray, she’s setting off migraines in people like my mom; that stuff will linger in a closed place all day.

        1. TowerofJoy*

          Hairspray or any number of other grooming products. Its hard to find ones that don’t smell strongly. And if there’s a combination of them? Ugh.

        2. Anna*

          I don’t think we even have to consider all the possible whatevers of who might have reactions to what, etc. The basic fact is the OP is using the restroom for a LONG time that has nothing to do with its purpose and that is more of an inconvenience to other people in the office than to her. End of discussion.

      2. Random Lurker*

        Your second point is very key to me. I don’t like to even go into the bathroom right after someone had been getting ready. The lingering smell of hair products are very off putting to some.

        We have a single occupancy bathroom attached to our workout room at work. After someone uses it to get ready, it looks like a war zone. I routinely see a hair here and there. Toothpaste in the sink. The aforementioned lingering smell of product. The random item someone always leaves behind so they don’t need to bring it back tomorrow – a flat iron or a stick of deodorant. Getting ready in a bathroom makes a mess! Even if you think you’re being clean, you leave behind something. Think of how filthy your home bathroom gets over a week! In my case, I can’t really complain because the bathroom is for gym use. But if it was our only bathroom, I would absolutely be complaining.

        1. Allison*

          I hate going to the bathroom after someone has sprayed something in there, whether it’s hair spray or perfume. I wish people would stop spraying things on themselves at work.

          1. Vulcan social worker*

            I’ve worked in an office that didn’t have an official fragrance-free policy, but did have an understanding that no one was to spray perfume in the suite. Someone with a fragrance sensitivity may be able to tolerate a coworker wearing perfume in a private office across the hall, but as soon as she sprays it, it’s game over and someone is going home with a migraine and might be out the next day too.

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            We have a bit of a war going on right now over the air freshener. The Lysol was replaced by Febreeze a few weeks ago and it seems nobody realizes how strong that crap is. I gag and choke when I walk in the bathroom now, and I can even taste it in my mouth while walking across the building afterward. I’m not kidding, it’s so strong and so bad, I’d almost rather smell the crap someone just took.

            1. Anon for this*

              I used to feel the same way. I had two roommates in college who would spray stuff in the bathroom (one used scented Febreeze, the other used Yankee Candle spray), and I couldn’t stand being in there with those perfumed droplets lingering in the air. I did think I would rather smell their poo than have to inhale that awful stuff. BUT now I live with a roommate who takes very stinky dumps, and he knows it, and until now he would burn a candle for a bit to try to burn off/cover up the smell, but it’s not always enough and sometimes the bathroom is unusable for an hour after he poops. So when he invested in a can of Febreeze and started using it, I really appreciated it. The bathroom still has a smell but it’s much more tolerable.

              1. Anon as well*

                I cannot recommend Poo-pourri enough for situations like this. My husband has the same issue as your roommate. They even make a “nuclear” version for people who have strong smelling ones. We have it at work, too. You spray the water before using the toilet, flush it away, and are left with a light scent rather than that cloying, Lysol-in-your-throat feeling.

              2. Pennalynn Lott*

                I use a spray product called “Smells Begone” by Punati. It is an odorless spray that knocks out the worst of smells. When all six of my cats were suffering diarrhea from giardia, it was the only thing that effectively killed the horrific, nausea-inducing odor.

              3. Ismis*

                Ok – I hadn’t looked in a while but I just searched now. There is a new video!!! Highly recommended.

        2. frostyfingers*

          The tooth-paste comment made me laugh. My family is from Brazil and we are teeth-obessesed. It’s really common for people to brush their teeth at work, kids take tooth-brushes to school as well. Me and my mum could not understand why everyone thought it was such a strange thing to do at work. I mean, frankly I still don’t, I think it’s really gross to let food sit in your mouth for hours until bed-time.

          Having said that, no excuse for leaving tooth-paste trails behind.

      3. CADMonkey007*

        I feel like there’s an unspoken cultural understanding here, that there’s something about people putting on makeup, perfume, hairspray, etc that’s just not appropriate for a work bathroom. That’s stuff you do at home, or in a designated area like a locker room. I could understand an occasional occurrence, like going out to an event right from work and changing and “getting ready” at work, but not every single day.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I think it really depends on the office culture. In my office, I see it all the time and no one cares (but we have a shared bathroom). There’s one woman who uses a hair dryer in the bathroom, which I think is kind of weird, but it doesn’t bother me. I’d rather people do this stuff in a bathroom than in our open floor plan (my cubicle neighbor clipped his toenails at his desk until I threatened to throw up on him).

            1. Michelenyc*

              One of my directors would floss her teeth at the mirror by my desk. Not as nasty as the toe nail clipping but still so gross.

        2. fposte*

          I’m with Lily–I think it’s what bathrooms are for. I think smelly spraying stuff is likely to bug people, so you want to be careful of that, but this reminds me of the people who get upset at toothbrushing in the bathroom sink–where else should that happen?

          1. fposte*

            That being said, I’d rather this happen in shared bathroom space than in single occupancy, where you’re keeping people out who have needs that can’t be met elsewhere.

            1. Void*

              Except if it’s in the only shared bathroom space do you really want to be going #2 while someone is spending 20 minutes doing makeup and hair in the same room with you? Or vice versa, getting ready while people are doing their business? Maybe I’m particularly conservative or prudish but I’m not a fan of that either. Most places like gyms have sinks and benches away from toilets for that reason. In the office bathroom which is usually just for the purpose of using the restroom and washing hands that’s not typically the case in my experience.

              1. fposte*

                I know that that’s something people don’t enjoy, but it’s not a preference that I think other people are required to work around.

        3. get some perspective*

          “there’s an unspoken cultural understanding here, that there’s something about people putting on makeup, perfume, hairspray, etc that’s just not appropriate for a work bathroom. ”

          Depends where/what culture you’re talking about. There are certainly places that is OK.

        4. INFJ*

          I think it can seem out of place for a work setting, but there are certainly different levels of acceptance based on the situation. One of my coworkers bikes to work, and therefore has to change in the bathroom, which is not a single occupancy, but sometimes her routine includes wiping herself down with a wet paper towel if she’s had a particularly sweaty ride. I personally don’t mind, because I think it’s fabulous that she rides her bike to work instead of driving. But I can also understand how that would raise some eyebrows from others.

        5. MashaKasha*

          What? Why? I do that when, like you said, I am going out after work… or if I have a job interview in the middle of a work day ;) We don’t have locker rooms. I haven’t worked in an office with a locker room in ten years… There’s nowhere else to do it except in my cubicle, which is definitely not appropriate. How is putting makeup on more gross and inappropriate than what people actually normally do in bathrooms? Very confused.

          1. Holly*

            It’s not gross, it’s just rude. People who need to unload a #2, not to mention people with shy bladders, are going to be hugely inconvenienced by somebody parking at the mirror for 10 minutes primping. Bathrooms are for expelling waste. If you must do your makeup, you had better wrap it up quick when somebody else comes in.

            1. fposte*

              I know some people feel that way, but it’s really not an established rule, and it’s actually considered rude to put on makeup and do your hair in places that *aren’t* the bathroom. As long as they’re not blocking other people’s use of the actual toilets or faucets, that’s a perfectly acceptable use.

              I get the preference for an unshared bathroom–I have it too. But it’s not rude for people to fail to cater to that preference.

              1. Holly*

                Well I’ve never really understood what’s inappropriate about putting on makeup at your desk, but even accepting that that’s true, it violates common courtesy to stand there doing your makeup for ages when there’s somebody in a stall clearly waiting for you to leave before they do their business. Maybe I’m biased because I’m very against the notion that makeup is necessary. Makeup is a choice, going to the bathroom is not. If putting on your makeup inconveniences somebody, don’t do it or figure out another system.

                1. esra*

                  But them putting on makeup isn’t stopping anyone from going to bathroom. Would it be nicer to poop alone? Heck yes. But that’s the woe of the stall bathroom.

                2. fposte*

                  But it doesn’t “violate common courtesy.” You don’t like it. That’s not the same thing. You keep acting as if the way you want things to be is a rule, and it’s really not a rule. The space is designed for multi-use and multiple occupancy.

                3. Holly*

                  Is it physically possible to poop while somebody else is in the bathroom? Yes. But like it or not there is a near-universal unspoken agreement that women do not do that in front of each other. Maybe it’s stupid, but it’s the way it is. Also, for people with shy bladders sometimes it is not possible to go when someone else is there. It is polite to give people bathroom privacy when possible.

                4. Observer*

                  If it’s actually inconveniencing someone. But, refusing to use the bathroom stall because someone is in the shared portion of the place is just as much a choice, and one that has no higher priority than someone’s choice to put on makeup, fix their hair (or beard) etc.

                5. fposte*

                  @Holly, I’m a woman, and I have no idea what agreement you’re talking about about what women do in front of each other. I think maybe you’re extrapolating from family/local practice and thinking it’s universal when it’s not.

                  (Oh, and esra and I both have Crohn’s, FWIW, so it’s not like we don’t understand bathroom needs.)

                6. Holly*

                  I have used public restrooms all over the US. I have used public restrooms in Europe. I have used public restrooms in offices, dorms, public buildings and schools. It is extremely rare that a woman will poop if somebody else is in the bathroom. If you don’t have this hangup I congratulate you because it’s a dumb rule and your life is probably easier for it but I think you are in the minority there.

                7. Anna*

                  I’ve done all those things, too, Holly and it’s really not the thing you think it is. I think that’s called projection. Because you are uncomfortable about it you’re assuming everyone in all those other bathrooms are uncomfortable out it, too. That’s not really the case, though.

                8. Holly*

                  It’s not a projection of personal discomfort. It’s an observation of behavior. Do a poll of women you know, it’s a thing.

                9. Observer*

                  I agree that it sounds like projection. I’ve yet to see a woman hesitate to use the stall for it’s intended use just because I’m standing there and washing my hands or something in the sink.

                  Just reading the posts here should give you an inkling. How many stories have we seen in the last six months alone about what happens while women are using the bathroom? (Look at the thread about bathroom conversations, for a sample.)

                10. Holly*

                  This is the stupidest argument I’ve ever participated in, but if I’m going to die on an idiotic hill then this one will do. I’m used to my high standards for interpersonal behavior/conscientiousness/respect leading to a lot of frustration but the way you guys passionately defend the decision to paint your faces while knowingly making other people uncomfortable is pretty disappointing.

                11. Wehaf*

                  I am a woman, I have lived and worked with lots of women, all over the world. I have never heard of or observed anything near a universal rule that women won’t poop while anyone else is in a multi-stall bathroom. Just this morning (prompted by this thread) I polled my sisters and friends, and none of them (over a dozen people, ages 20s through 40s) have this particular hang-up or think it is particularly common. I understand why some people might be uncomfortable pooping which other people are in a (walled off) part of the room, but that doesn’t make the other people in the bathroom rude. It is a multi-person bathroom, so it is perfectly reasonable to be one of multiple people in there, using it.

                12. MashaKasha*

                  But like it or not there is a near-universal unspoken agreement that women do not do that in front of each other.

                  Look, if I’ve got to poop, I’m going to poop. If there’s another woman in the bathroom, tough sh.t (literally) for both of us, but what do you want me to do, go back to my desk and sit there, daintily breaking wind, waiting for the shared bathroom to become completely empty?

                  This is the first I’m hearing of this unspoken rule, and I am seriously smh here. I get it that it’s mildly inconvenient for more than one person to occupy the bathroom at the same time, but what are you going to do when they both need to go? Again, very confused.

                13. neverjaunty*

                  This is possibly the weirdest argument I have ever seen on AAM. You’re actually telling a group including women that you, and you alone, are the authority on what women do in the bathroom and how women feel, and when other women tell you their experience doesn’t match that at all, you scold them for making other people feel bad.

                  There really, truly is nothing wrong with saying “X makes me uncomfortable and I would rather people did not do it” or “You may not know this but many people are bothered by X.” It’s not necessary to project X onto an entire group of people and insist that they all share your feelings about X and anyone who disagrees is ignorant or a liar.

                14. Holly*

                  You are literally the first women I have ever spoken to on this topic who claim ignorance of this societal convention so you’ll excuse me if I’m skeptical, given that this is the internet. If I am wrong about this (and I really don’t think I am) then mea culpa but the “women don’t poop in front of each other” issue is not really the argument I’m invested in here. The argument I’m making is that everybody wants bathroom privacy and spending a lot of time in front of the mirror doing your makeup instead of giving people bathroom privacy is not courteous. My personal feeling is that personal grooming is something you do at home. Obviously not everybody agrees about that, but it is polite to be as unobtrusive as possible when you’re doing it in a shared space. I really don’t understand why you’re all coming at me with torches and pitchforks about it.

                15. Wehaf*

                  This article from (from way back in the day) also indicates that the “no pooping unless you are alone in the multi-person bathroom” is definitely not a thing, although it posits another “universal” rule I’d never heard of or observed:

                  If bathrooms are only for using the toilet and washing one’s hands, why are there mirrors and outlets?

                  If women never poop when other women are in multi-stall bathrooms, why have I heard so many women pooping throughout my life?

                16. Sarah*

                  Chiming in to say that I have no hang ups about pooping while someone else is in the women’s bathroom and tons of people do so while I’m in there, whether I’m washing my hands, applying my makeup, or sitting in another stall. Also, a couple rare times I’ve been sitting in a stall trying to do my business and heard someone else come in, go into a stall, and sit there silently for a long time, but it’s a toss-up, in my opinion, whether they were waiting for me to leave or just having the same difficulty I was.

                  And p.s., if you’ve ever thought a woman was waiting until you left to poop out of “politeness” or some unspoken rule, consider this: she might actually have been waiting because she just wants the bathroom all to herself. Your own comfort might never have crossed her mind.

                  You can’t attribute motivations to silent strangers in bathrooms.

                17. Holly*

                  Ok this is my last comment on the poop subject. I have learned today that other people have other experiences of this but it is a fact that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard another woman poop and I lived in a shared dorm with like 20 other girls for four years of my life. I am not the only person who has heard of this. Maybe it’s not as widespread as I thought, but it’s not something I made up.

                18. CheeryO*

                  Hmm, I also thought this was basically an unwritten rule. I was actually surprised when I started my current job because there are women here who WILL just go. The “bathroom stall standoff” is definitely a thing here (blue collar-ish city in the mid-Atlantic, but I experienced the same thing in college with people from all over).

                19. Dr. Johnny Fever*

                  @Holly – final word, your observation does NOT make it fact. No matter how much you may like to repeat it or believe it.

                  I poop where I need to. If a women is flossing her teeth, brushing her hair, putting on makeup, or eating lunch at the sink doesn’t matter. The toilet’s there for pooping and that’s just what I’ll do.

                  I work in a large office, multi-buildings per campus. Trust me, many women poop in the bathrooms regardless of the number of people in there.

                  You may not have experienced it in your travels, but that doesn’t make it universal fact for everyone. Please understand that.

                20. Ali*

                  I’m really, really surprised that so many commenters have said they have no idea what Holly is talking about. Throughout my life I’ve heard dozens of people, women AND MEN, admit they have trouble pooping with other people in the bathroom. At least when it’s all silent. In my experience it truly is a common thing.

                21. Dweali*

                  @Ali…I sometime have trouble when all is silent in the bathroom and my colon decides to break into the songs of its people, but then turn it into a competition because if the butt trumpets go a blowin’ then I’m gonna be a’ winnin’ :-)

                22. Stephanie*

                  Yeah, I’ve heard of pooping anxiety. I don’t quite get it, but I figure anxieties are inherently irrational. A couple of my best friends won’t poop if their husbands are around.

              2. MashaKasha*

                I’m used to my high standards for interpersonal behavior/conscientiousness/respect leading to a lot of frustration but the way you guys passionately defend the decision to paint your faces while knowingly making other people uncomfortable is pretty disappointing.

                It’s five damn minutes on an odd evening, when everyone’s leaving for the day anyway. (which is when people normally go out.)
                Also, judging from your comments here, it’s not just “painting our faces” that inconveniences you, it’s being in the bathroom at the same time with you for whatever reason – using the toilet, washing their hands, checking if there’s food in their teeth, anything.
                Whoever told you that these are high standards for interpersonal behavior/conscientiousness/respect was either wrong or pranking you. Sorry.

                1. Holly*

                  Um, I literally never said that. If somebody is in another stall and I have to poop that’s a bummer, but I’ll wait for them to finish because it’s my problem. If somebody is putting on eyeliner, that’s another story.

                2. Sarah*

                  How about if someone is standing at the sink fixing their contact lenses and the situation is so dire they end up having to get out the case and solution and re-wash them before putting them back in their eyes? Is that more, less, or equally rude?

                3. Green*

                  This is a bizarre thread, but I for one prefer bathroom privacy (you can’t always get it, but it’s a pretty strong preference for me) and I generally prefer that others who are not occupying a toilet for its intended purpose get a move-on as quickly as possible.

              1. OhNo*

                Shoot, there are some days when I’d settle for crappy elevator music. It would drive me nuts in any other context, but in the bathroom sometimes you just need a little background noise.

            2. MashaKasha*

              Of course I’ll wrap it up quick, whether someone comes in or not! It’s not like I enjoy hanging out in an office bathroom. It’s also not like I don’t have somewhere else to be (otherwise why would I be putting makeup on.)

              Also, they’re shared bathrooms. By the same token, I cannot use it for expelling waste if someone else is already there, because what if they’re pooping or have a shy bladder? I for one feel pretty uncomfortable when I’m in a stall doing my business and someone walks into the next stall and sits down two feet from me, but them’s the breaks.

              1. Holly*

                Again, putting on makeup is a choice. A call of nature isn’t. They are not equivalent needs. Your need to put on makeup does not trump my need to use the bathroom. Of course anybody is free to behave however they like, but it’s inconsiderate.

                1. Holly*

                  If it makes you feel better to tell yourself that you’re not being rude then go for it. Of course it’s not a rule to give people bathroom privacy when possible. Being courteous is also not a rule. It’s just a nice thing to do.

                2. MashaKasha*

                  Can we slow down here and go back to where this discussion started? I was originally replying to the comment stating that work bathroom is not an appropriate place for applying makeup, period; whether it’s occupied or not. I replied that I do it on an odd evening when I go out. You followed that up with dozens of comments all stating that, by applying makeup in a work bathroom on an odd evening when I go out, I am getting in the way of women pooping there… who are these multiple women pooping in the office bathrooms at the end of the day??? my coworkers are usually heading home at that time, where they can poop in peace and quiet, in private or possibly in the company of their toddlers, dogs, and or cats! Do you realize that I never said I wasn’t applying my makeup in an empty bathroom? that “on an odd evening” typically means an empty bathroom? I admire your high standards, but how on earth is that rude? should i still stay out because, in theory, if everyone wasn’t on their way home or heading out the door, someone might actually poop there?? where is the logic in all this?

                3. Holly*

                  Ok, I understand the confusion and the defensive tone of your comments now because I didn’t intend to reply directly to the first part of your comment when you described your routine. My apologies. I was responding to your assumption that the previous commenter thought it was inappropriate to do your makeup in the bathroom because it was somehow grosser than other bathroom things rather than lack of consideration for your fellow bathroom-goers. I think the whole thing got derailed by the who poops in front of who conversation which was a really weird turn, and I am legitimately shocked that nobody else seems to have the same understanding of it as I do which is why I stated it in authoritative terms (which is, I’m assuming, why everybody jumped down my throat about it).

                  I don’t see a problem at all with the makeup routine you’re describing, my problem is with people who regularly do full makeup in the bathroom, taking well over five minutes and not leaving promptly when other people come in. This is personally relevant to me because I have a shy bladder and sometimes am physically unable to go if somebody in in there. That’s 100% my problem so when other people are in other stalls I just have to deal with the discomfort but it really bothers me when people ignore the fact that somebody is in a stall and obviously waiting for them to leave while they put on their face.

                  Can we all be friends?

                4. fposte*

                  @Holly–of course we can be friends! We’re just having a discussion, and we happen not to agree. That’s how discussions go sometimes.

            3. Lily in NYC*

              I don’t think it’s fair to expect us to coddle someone with poop shame. That’s their problem, not mine.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I touch up my makeup in my cube, because no one can really see me if my back is to the opening or they’re not walking by. It’s not full-on applying mascara/foundation/etc.; it’s just a quick powder/lipstick touch up.

            1. Michaela T*

              I do all of my make-up at my desk, I can’t put it on in the morning until my allergy medication kicks in. It’s just mascara, shadow, and blush though. I didn’t realize people think this is rude, it takes 2 minutes?

              1. Pennalynn Lott*

                Toxic Manager once yelled at me for putting mascara on at my desk (a cube with high walls) at 7:00 in the morning when she and I were the only two people in the office. My allergies were acting up and, like Michaela, I had to wait for my allergy meds to kick in (on the drive to work) because my eyes wouldn’t stop watering (which is not the best of times to try and put on mascara). Anyway, Toxic Manager was freaked out that one of the “higher ups” would suddenly walk by and see me bent over my compact mirror. However, the “higher ups” all lived and worked several states away, and always announced when they’d be in town. That day was not one of them. Toxic Manager just needed something else to yell at me about. [She once called me into a private meeting to scold me for calling a co-worker a “rock star” in a group email congratulating him for closing a really huge sale. Apparently that was “incredibly unprofessional, childish, and immature” of me.]

              2. OP#2*

                I would think it was strange for a coworker to apply all of their make up at their desk. Touch up, no biggie. I feel you should be ready for your day when you walk out of your house and into your office. Unless you need to change for another job/activity. If it only takes you 2 minutes to put all your make up on then I probably wouldn’t care but for me and I think most people its more like 5-10 minutes.

          3. CADMonkey007*

            It’s if the person is laying personal claim on a shared space to use as they see fit. I totally understanding ‘touching up’ your makeup or hair, even brushing your teeth after a meal, but full blown “getting ready” in the morning? The letter doesn’t detail what that entails for OP, but goodness, blow drying your hair, spraying hairspray and/or perfume, trimming your nails, flossing? Who knows. The office bathroom =/= personal vanity. I find it perfectly reasonable for boss to essentially say “eh, if you’re going to to do that, can you do that somewhere else?”

        6. TootsNYC*

          Makeup, esp. a “light dose,” is OK w/ me. Blow-drying hair, styling it–that’s a little too much for the office. If it happened once in a blue moon, I wouldn’t care, but regularly, and I’m going to be thinking, “How disorganized and boundaries-challenged are you, that you’re doing this here?”

          1. OhNo*

            Agreed. I’ve no problem with people doing their make-up, brushing their teeth, or doing whatever other quick tasks they might have in a bathroom. Where I draw the line is if they have to bring appliances with them for whatever they’re doing. If they have to bring a hair dryer, a flat iron, a curling iron, etc. with them they’ve taken a step too far in my opinion.

            That said, as long as they’re not taking over the only bathroom, I would never actually say anything because it doesn’t really inconvenience me in any way.

      4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Really? I mean, I side with the call center manager too – because 15 minutes is too long to tie up a single bathroom for an optional use – but I don’t at all think it’s unreasonable that you may have to see coworkers after the gym. Shockingly, employees are humans, with bodies. This is not shameful. I’d encourage you to push yourself to get over your “shallow” reaction.

      5. LBK*

        You’d be horrified to work at my office where we have a gym in the building and I see people coming out of it every day. *gasp*

        Sorry for the snark, but I just find it so weird and almost dehumanizing that you don’t want to consider that your coworkers may exist in a form other than their buttoned up, professionally dressed work self.

        1. Glasskey*

          One of the great things I appreciate about this site is that it offers us a chance to acknowledge, laugh, and shake our heads at some of our own silly foibles. I think it’s very humanizing when we are able to talk about things that we know DON’T actually align with the rest of our character (which can’t be distilled in one thought or opinion) and recognize that it doesn’t necessarily provide some deeper clue into a dysfunctional psyche that requires a 12-step. It’s a quirk. If I were working in a small office I would have an issue with someone using the bathroom every morning to get ready for work. Period. I also can’t stand seafood, have weak fingernails, and my desk is always messier than I’d like. I have no idea why.

        2. Myrin*

          LBK! I was just thinking about you because I realised I hadn’t seen you comment on here for some time and wondered if you were okay! (If you did comment and I just didn’t see it, just ignore this. But if I’m right, so good to see you back!)

          1. LBK*

            Aww :) Yeah, I was MIA for a while due to things getting insanely busy at work. I posted a longer comment about it way down in last weekend’s work open thread if you’re dying for more details (it’s not that exciting) but things are slowing down again, so hopefully I’ll be back up to my usual commenting frequency soon.

    2. MK*

      I don’t think it matters if the manager simply doesn’t want the inconvenience of going to the cold warehouse restroom. The OP is using the office restroom daily, for too long and for a purpose other than intented; the others don’t need any other reason to object to this.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, this is where I land. Morning is also rush hour, in bathroom terms, so it’s a bad time to be camping.

        I think the basic bathroom rule is that you can camp for non-eliminatory purposes as long as you’re not inconveniencing other people. The OP’s been told she’s inconveniencing other people.

    3. Beezus*

      I really don’t think getting ready in the warehouse bathroom is the answer, either. It moves the problem out of the office, presumably to a population of people who have less leverage to complain about it, but I’m pretty certain that warehouse people need the bathroom at the same frequency as anyone else, and routinely making the bathroom unavailable for long periods of time for activities that don’t involve elimination is inconsiderate.

      1. Michaela T*

        I was thinking the same thing – the warehouse people probably need access to their bathroom too.

      2. OhNo*

        That’s a really good point, although unfortunately we don’t know if there is a separate group that works in the warehouse or not. It does kind of sound like Alison’s answer to get ready at the gym is the only solution that really solves every part of the problem.

    4. INTP*

      And even barring any medical issues, a call center is an environment where people’s butt-in-seat time is a key performance metric. When you occupy the bathroom for 15 minutes at a time, you waste your coworkers’ time going to the restroom to check if it is available over and over or walking to the warehouse. Someone might spend their entire break waiting on you to finish and still not get to go. A customer left on hold or waiting for someone to pick up might hang up with a poor impression of the company because it took so long. In any environment it would be inconsiderate but for a bathroom near a call center, it is absolutely something that affects people in a way that they have a right to be highly annoyed by, this is not a matter of a coworker getting in your business in a petty way. (It could be the same in the warehouse, of course. The most considerate thing would be to finish getting ready at the gym or in the car or some other location that isn’t a single-user bathroom.)

  3. GraceT*

    #1: Really interested to know why, as AAM suggests, the OP doesn’t finish getting ready in the gym’s bathroom after his/her shower.

    1. RKB*

      Or go to the gym after work. Of course, if you want to keep your schedule, you have to be able to adapt. Yes, going to the gym first thing in the morning has its perks, I know.

      But… Honestly, having to shower and do my makeup everyday by choosing to go to the gym in the morning, and having it become a problem at work… That seems like there’s more drawbacks then benefits.

      Certain trade offs have to be made. You can’t expect everyone to work around your choices for your schedule.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Certain trade offs have to be made. You can’t expect everyone to work around your choices for your schedule.


      2. INTP*

        I have to exercise in the morning. I can’t just switch to evening, I won’t do it or I’ll be intensely miserable the whole time.

        That said, when I worked in an office, I sucked it up and dealt with getting ready at the gym or in the work locker room afterward, or put makeup on in my car in the parking lot. Yes, it’s much more pleasant to have an entire bathroom to yourself than to jostle for space at a crowded mirror, but your makeup doesn’t trump other people’s bathroom activities. (Even at a bathroom with multiple stalls, I don’t think it’s a very nice thing to do. Sometimes people have very noisy things to do in the bathroom that they don’t want the person they’re about to be in a meeting with to hear and it’s only considerate to not make them wait too long for privacy.)

        1. Anna*

          Yeah, I think your work out time is sort of sacred. It’s part of making it a habit. It’s the other stuff you can make adjustments to (like you said, INTP, putting make up on in the car).

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          Keeping my morning workouts was worth giving up straightening my hair!

          I finally sucked it up and started wearing my hair curly, so that I could shower at the gym.

    2. Merry and Bright*

      +10 If she showers at the gym presumably she puts her gym clothes back on or even has a third set of clothes to wear for the journey to the office. Either way there must be time in her schedule. But perhaps she cycles to the office and doesn’t want to wear her office clothes for the ride (but I’m in the realms of speculation).

    3. Allison*

      That’s what I’m wondering too. They can shower there, why can’t they do everything else in that bathroom before coming to work?

    4. CheeryO*

      Maybe she needs the commute time to cool down a little more? I know that when I tried going to the gym in the morning, even after a cool shower, the warm locker room made me keep sweating. I’d be trying to put on makeup and blow-dry my hair and I would just be pouring sweat. (Not trying to excuse the bathroom hogging! Just a thought.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Everyone is assuming the OP is a woman (which I can understand, because it’s easy to assume it’s a long makeup routine), but I think the OP is actually a man.

          1. Mike*

            Maybe because the co-worker is a woman and they were both trying to use the same bathroom? I didn’t realize at first that it was a shared bathroom.

              1. INTP*

                There is often one single occupancy bathroom for each gender though, so I see where the confusion could come from.

                1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                  Yup! I assumed it was like my office…a single woman’s restroom and a single man’s restroom.

                  It kind of makes it worse if there is really is only one, single-occupancy restroom.

            1. SH*

              Episkey – I lived with a very high maintenance male actor and he would spend an hour in the bathroom. By his admission, 45 – 50 minutes were spent plucking, tweezing, moisturizing, getting his hair to look perfect etc. Assuming the OP is a male, he may have an elaborate morning routine.

            2. INTP*

              Blow-drying and styling hair, applying a skincare routine, some men do use makeup as well.

              He also didn’t specify that he gets dressed in his work clothes at the gym, as well, so he could be putting on sweats at the gym and changing into his professional clothing at work.

            3. Allison*

              I don’t know, but y’all, the guy I’m dating right now takes forever to get ready for the day. I can take a very nice, long nap while he’s in the bathroom. He also takes forever getting his stuff together to leave the apartment. It can get a bit annoying.

              1. Episkey*

                Ha! I guess I am just so used to my husband. He takes about 10 minutes flat, but that includes actually showering. All of his friends are similar. If he went to the gym before work and showered there, he wouldn’t need time in the bathroom once he arrived to work at all unless he needed to actually GO to the bathroom or he needed to change clothes (like if he put on sweats and then needed to put on his business casual stuff) — which would take him approximately 2 minutes.

              2. Me too*

                My guy is like that, too. If I’m not five minutes early, I feel like I’m late. It takes me 45-50 minutes to get ready (shower, hair, make-up, clothes). He takes just as long; I have no idea why — he isn’t styling his hair or putting on make up. He is just slow. If I am trying to get him to go somewhere with me I lie and tell him we have to leave 30 minutes earlier than necessary because I know I will be waiting at least 10 minutes for him just to put on his coat. It drives me crazy.

            4. Mallory Janis Ian*

              My brother used to take waaay longer in the bathroom styling his hair than I did. I had a pretty lengthy beauty routine when I was younger and more vain, but he would be in there for an hour and a half primping his hair into the perfect coif.

            1. Elsajeni*

              Yeah, after many years in fanfic communities, hanging out on sites with mostly-female audiences, and commenting on AAM with the default-she habit, I basically assume everyone on the internet is a woman. Sorry, Dudes Of The Internet.

            2. Myrin*

              That’s the reason I said “she”, as well. I didn’t actually particularly think of the OP as female but I’ve found myself always using “she” now as the gender neutral pronoun!

          2. Observer*

            I don’t really think it changes much though. Because the issue is not that it’s pants vs makeup, but dressing of any sort vs elimination AND it’s taking a long time.

          3. Artemesia*

            Knowing it is a man makes the attitude even slightly more off putting then. It always had a tinge of insensitivity and entitlement but now it has a whiff of male privilege as well. SHE can go walk out to the warehouse while I monopolize the warm comfy bathroom in the main office and SHE can’t tell me what to do.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t know that it’s really about gender. I could see this happening with someone of either sex, and I don’t think there’s really anything here to indicate it’s more than garden variety tunnel vision.

              1. OhNo*

                I agree, but I do think that might be something to point out as a perception issue for the OP. If he decides to push back, they might think the same way Artemesia does about male privilege as a contributing factor.

    5. Mona Lisa*

      I used to do this sometimes at my old office because, if I spent the extra 15-30 minutes getting ready at the gym, the commute would take double the time it would if I had just left the gym immediately and gotten to work early. I would get to the office a solid 30 minutes before anyone else showed up and would use the men’s single occupancy bathroom (women’s had stalls and less counterspace). Usually I would be changed, made up, and out of there before anyone else even arrived in the building. I can imagine, if OP #1 has anything like my commute, she might prefer to beat the traffic rush so she has more time to get ready at her office instead of less time at the gym and more time in the car.

      1. INFJ*

        Makes sense, given the timing. If OP wakes up at 6am to go to the gym, getting ready at the gym might make the commute closer to 8am instead of around 7-7:30am, which is a HUGE difference in traffic in the city that I work in.

        Again, that’s not to excuse the bathroom hogging, or the poor attitude, but rather an explanation as to why getting to the office early to get ready might make more sense for OP’s schedule.

        1. Mona Lisa*

          Exactly. I found the OP’s attitude pretty off-putting as well (there are plenty of reasons why the company might want the more convenient bathroom open for employee use), but I wanted to offer up what at least feels like a valid reason to me as to why she might want to get ready at the office instead.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This does make sense, but clearly there are others who need the bathroom when OP is in it, hence the manager’s dictate to use the other bathroom.

            Honestly, I’d just change at the gym and put any makeup on in the car. Though I can’t even speak first thing in the morning, let alone exercise. Ugh.

        2. Allison*

          Agreed. I can see why she might want to do that, but if I was using the single-occupancy bathroom to get ready in the morning and someone told me to stop, I’d say okay and maybe apologize for hogging the bathroom. I grew up with a sister who used our shared bathroom to do her hair and makeup and it would drive me crazy, so I totally get it.

      2. Lady Bug*

        I actually drive to the gym closest to my job, and 40 miles from home, for this reason. If it wasn’t for avoiding traffic I’d never go. But I belong to a “chain” gym and can use any one and there are several near my home, so that may not work for op.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          I do the same thing! It’s also great in the evenings if I want to stop in because it’s one exit up on the highway and gets me out of 5 o’clock traffic!

    6. Muriel Heslop*

      I am interested re the gym bathroom, too.

      And at this point, it really doesn’t matter if his co-worker wanting to use the warm bathroom is valid. OP #1, your bosses told you to change your routine so it seems you will have to choose if this is the hill upon which you wish to die.

    7. Blurgle*

      Really interested why LW1 is wasting her co-workers’ time (and her own money, by the bucket) putting on MAKEUP for a CALL CENTRE job. Were the diamond tiara and the rhinestone-studded ball gown too heavy to carry?

      1. Ultraviolet*

        I feel like you’re saying that because call center jobs are often entry-level and regarded as mundane, someone who works there would be acting diva-like and above her station to wear makeup. Is that at all what you’re getting at? If so, I strongly object.

        BTW, Alison stated elsewhere in the comments that she believes the OP is a man–not that that precludes makeup, tiara, or ball-gowns.

      2. Bunny*


        I mean, I almost never wear make-up for anything myself, but this weird attitude about call-centre staff wearing make-up is just totally confusing.

        …You do realise that – barring uniforms and manual labour work where safety and practicality is a concern – most people dress professionally for their job regardless of how “prestigious” their role is? And that many people consider make-up a part of their personal idea of professional dress? Especially since turn-over in call-centres tends to be relatively high, and a lot of the time people who want to progress to management roles will start wearing more formal office clothes even in call-centres with allowance for casual dress.

        Hell, the guys at the last call-centre I worked at got competitive about being the fanciest peacocks in the building, and regularly wore winklepickers, 3 piece suits with double-breasted waistcoats, and waxed facial hair. That’s an outlier of course, but the point stands. Have you ever worked in a call-centre?

        In fact, now I think of it, even that isn’t terribly relevant. Because some people choose to wear make-up regularly, even if they’re in jeans and a t-shirt, just because that’s what they like to wear.

        1. MM*

          I had to google “winklepicker”. I must not be very fancy – didn’t realize these shoes had a name!

  4. Artemesia*

    I’m a little stunned by the bathroom question. Not that someone would do this thoughtlessly but that someone would try to defend continuing after being asked to dress elsewhere. Forcing everyone else to use the cold bathroom because you monopolize the ONLY warm convenient one is incredibly inconsiderate. I’d drop this immediately before it damages your reputation any further and start finishing dressing at the gym after showering. I used to go to the gym every morning before work and there were always several people blow drying hair and then donning business suits before leaving the gym.

    1. Befuddled*

      And she’s in HR. I don’t know why I subconsciously hold HR folks to a higher level of business behavior (including HR admins), but I do. Maybe I’m biased, I mean – they’re human too.

      I work with plenty of folks who bike to work and it doesn’t take them 15 minutes to change cloths. It takes that much time to do hair and makeup. You don’t lock other people out of the bathroom at work to get pretty.

    2. Random Lurker*

      I posted my thoughts above but I’ll add that this seems like a very silly hill to die on. I hope OP realizes that’s what she’s doing – she is making a potentially career limiting decision by fighting for something that seems very inconsequential to most.

    3. Ad Astra*

      Some people are just very focused on rules. They’re the “Is this legal?” people. I think OP knows that it’s not technically illegal to be asked to use the other bathroom, but she seems to be looking for evidence to make a case for herself. The question she’s asking is “Are they allowed to tell me I can’t do this when there’s not an official policy?” when the question at hand is really “Is this a reasonable request?” And, yeah, it is a reasonable request.

  5. Observer*

    OP #1, some thoughts.

    Your tone seems oddly adversarial. What really highlights it is that you ask “So, should I fold to these demands?” This sound like you see your boss and the rest of the office as opponents whose depredations you need to hold at bay. Yes, that sounds dramatic, but your language is rather dramatic in this context. That line is all the more odd, because I would have expected the answer to be fairly obvious. In an office, or pretty much any employment situation, when your boss asks you to do something, or do it differently, you do what the boss asks, unless it’s illegal, dangerous, will get different or poorer results than your boss wants, or other reasons of that caliber. “It annoys me” and “I’m not doing anything wrong” do NOT qualify.

    Is this your first job out of school? I ask because you seem to not be clear on office norms. Another line that jumped out at me was “The only difference is she wants to have access to the office bathroom and not have to wait. “ That’s actually a very significant difference. Offices provide bathrooms for staff to use as bathrooms (because you really can’t expect people to work without being allowed to use the bathroom all day, and it’s a legal requirement.) They don’t provide them for use as dressing rooms. So, while I don’t imagine discreet use of the room for this purpose would generally be objectionable, it’s perfectly reasonable to want the priority to go to the intended use.

    1. Marzipan*

      And yes, #1, you probably *will* get written up if you continue to use the office bathroom to get ready, because you’ll be deliberately going against the instruction of the GM and your boss.

      10-15 minutes is a long time to be occupying a bathroom, especially at the beginning of the day, when it’s likely that people will want to nip to the loo before starting their work (and bear in mind, many people’s bladders/digestive systems run almost like clockwork, so they’ll go at very routine times in the day).

      If you look at this from the other side, imagine you were having to wait outside the bathroom for up to a quarter of an hour, perhaps leading to you not being able to get down to work and having to clock in later and stay later (or appearing like someone unreliably late), and perhaps very uncomfortable and crossing your legs the whole time… would you be happy with that? Add to that, if there’s a call centre manager then presumably there’s some sort of call centre, and taking bathroom breaks isn’t always as straightforward in that environment.

      The best thing you can do here, for yourself and everyone else, is to let a little time go by and then ask about whether a small heater can be installed in the warehouse bathroom, since it’s quite cold and that makes it uncomfortable for people to use. (Note, though, that if this happened, it would *not* be an argument for you to be able to go back to using the office bathroom. That ship has sailed.)

      1. De (Germany)*

        Also, people really don’t *assume* that they will need to wait for 15 minutes. If someone arrives just after OP#1 enters the bathroom, they might think that this is just someone using the bathroom ‘normally’* and thus wait around instead of walking to the other one. And then they wait a long time before going away and using the other bathroom. The OP might not even notice that they are annoying people, because in the end, the people waiting walk away.

        (* yes, I know it sometimes takes longer than 3 minutes. Which is why I’d never knock on the door of an occupied bathroom. But most people are in and out of there within minutes.)

      2. Blook*

        Not that I’m arguing with you, but I think OPs logic is that if the office bathroom is occupied people should go straight to the warehouse bathroom if they don’t want to wait. Therefore, they have nothing to complain about since not wanting to wait or use a cold bathroom is apparently not a legitimate complaint.

        1. Marzipan*

          Which I would get, except that if I get to the bathroom and find there’s someone in it, I generally expect them to be in there for a minute or two, and therefore wait; rather than assuming it’ll be like a quarter of an hour before I can get in there, in which case maybe I’d be prepared to go across to the other bathroom, but as things stand I wouldn’t know that in advance, so I wouldn’t be able to. I’d just be waiting. And I do think the call centre thing may be an added complicating factor.

  6. KarenT*

    #1 I totally understand why you’d rather gt ready in a single occupancy bathroom then in a crowded gym change room, but it’s probably better for you if you do. Seriously. The call center manager, the GM, and your boss have all want you to stop. Your office is not required to provide you a private place to get ready for work, and your desire to occupy the single use bathroom for getting ready does not trump anyone’s right to use it for what it’s intended for. And your sole objection to using the warehouse is that it’s cold? Don’t push this issue–three managers are already involved.

    1. Jinx*

      I wish we had a warm bathroom in the winter – we have a large multi-person bathroom in my office next to the outer wall, and it feels like the arctic in there! Cold porcelain is the worst. :(

      But yes, OP, this is a hill-to-die-on question. Your managers could have banned you from getting ready in either bathroom, but they’re still offering the warehouse bathroom. I’m a very schedule oriented person, and I understand that it’s frustrating when someone or something pushes you to change your routine. But in this case (for me) the negative consequences of kicking up a fuss outweigh the negative consequences of switching bathrooms. Even if you push back, they aren’t going to give you the single-use bathroom.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Between your comment about being “schedule oriented” and Alison’s comments saying “OP may very well be a man” and the whole “dictating the bathroom schedule” part of this, I had a funny thought:

        Picture OP’s rant done by Sheldon Cooper. I could totally see these lines coming out of his mouth: “So, should I fold to these demands? Should I change my bathroom usage to accommodate someone else and go into the cold warehouse bathroom because someone complained?” accompanied by a foot stamp.

        Don’t be Sheldon Cooper OP. He’s often rude and often wrong.

        1. Jinx*

          You’re totally right! I can see that Sheldon scene in my head. :) I have a lot of sympathy for fallout from routine changes, because I get really thrown off if I have to change something that works in my own mind. But in this case, it’s something you have a little vent session about at home and let go.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Yeah, if three managers are involved, you have already greatly damaged your reputation.

      And it’s proof (as someone said upstream) that this is not just about one single person’s desire to use the bathroom.

      All these managers are looking out for the other employees.

      Do as much as you can at the gym, and use the warehouse bathroom.

      And maybe apologize for “not thinking it through” or some other wording that means “I get it now.”

  7. MillersSpring*

    #1 Unless you are stricken with diarrhea during your shift, monopolizing the only warm bathroom for 10-15 minutes is inconsiderate. How can you expect any coworker to trek out to the cold bathroom, just because you prefer to apply your make-up and style your hair at the office?

  8. Mando Diao*

    It seems to me that OP1 might be doing her full face of makeup in the office bathroom after getting dressed; this is why it’s taking 15 minutes instead of the 90 seconds it takes to throw on a pre-packed outfit. Makeup applies better on skin that’s been allowed to “settle” a bit after a shower, especially if you’ve applied a moisturizer after drying off (applying makeup immediately after moisturizer can cause everything to slide around), so I get why she’s not applying it at the gym.. But here’s the thing: she thought she figured out something that was ideal for her without realizing where it was getting in the way of other people. Can she not do her makeup in her car? At her desk before clocking in? Or…in the bathroom she has been given express permission to use? For what it’s worth, I would be super annoyed if I had to go to the bathroom and found out that the “good” one was being commandeered by someone who was putting on makeup.

    1. Sparrow*

      I do my makeup in my car. I carpool with my husband and when he works the early shift, I usually don’t get up early enough to apply makeup before I leave. I drop him of at work and then finish putting on my makeup before I head into the building.

      There are times I’ve put on my makeup in my cubicle.. Due to various changes, the area I sit in is empty so there’s no one around to watch. I would feel weirder doing it if I had people sitting right next to me.

      1. Beezus*

        I finish mine in the car on lots of mornings, too. My son’s bus drop-off is 5 minutes away from work and 45 minutes before I really need to be at my desk. If I’m running late getting ready, I skip the makeup at home and do it in the parking lot before I head in. We have multiple occupancy bathrooms, but doing anything more involved than a quick swipe of lip gloss would earn you some serious sideye here.

  9. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

    In reading this I also wondered if the Call Center Manager’s concern was less about cold vs. warm bathroom and proximity.

    So many questions and problems can arise in a call center, and many Managers really feel like they can’t step away during calls. Depending on how far away the warehouse bathroom is, this may be impacting her work.

    1. Meg Murry*

      And this is especially important if call center employees are scheduled to start at the same time as OP or if there is a shift already working. The call center manager may no be asking on her own behalf but on her employees behalf. If call center employees can’t use the close bathroom before their shift starts or mid-shift, that’s incredibly rude of OP if they have to trek further away to use a cold bathroom, and could be costing the call center in productivity.

      1. Colette*

        And it could be costing people their jobs, since call centres usually watch things like how long you’re off the phones very closely.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Exactly. If a call center employee has any kind of commute and has to use the bathroom before his or her shift, waiting that long simply doesn’t work. And waiting for 2 or 3 people to pee takes less time than wating for one person to “get ready for work”. Your fellow employees shouldn’t have to risk a late start because you won’t go for the slightly less convenient option.

      3. LQ*

        This was my thought. A call center manager might have a dramatic shift in people being off phones for the bathroom (in a place with 1 bathroom, 2 people gone in a 15 minute period could be dramatic which can lead to longer wait times which leads to people complaining and those calls taking longer and the entire day calls take longer, customers are more frustrated, and staff are stress out).

        If the OP is there for the 15 minutes before shift starts taking up the only bathroom and people get in 10 minutes early and want to use the bathroom quick, but then they can’t because OP is in there, and then get on the phones until after their first call and now they are grumpy because they need to use the bathroom.

        This can be a legitimate business need for the OP to back off from this hill to die on.

      4. Algae*

        Also, it’s more efficient to ask 1 person to take the longer trek to the bathroom (for non-biological reasons, at that) rather than 2 to 4 people that could be using it in the same amount of time.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, it is possible that the manager is booking additional time so she can go over your review with you, and then have time in the same conference room to look over her paperwork for the next person before their review starts. Or maybe the boss just wants to make sure OP doesn’t feel rushed if she has questions to ask the boss about her review or her future career path. Heck, it could even be a positive, that the boss has lots of good feedback to provide or wants to make sure OP knows how close they are to promotion material and exactly what it would take to be recommended for a future promotion.

      Or it could just be that the boss’s calendar defaults to 1 hour meetings and she forgot to change it before sending the meeting invite – I’ve done that when scheduling a bunch of meetings in a row.

      I agree that OP shouldn’t look into this as anything more than “the review may take up to one hour” and not try to over analyze it. The only reason to ask your boss about it would be if, for instance, she scheduled the review from 10-11 and you already have another meeting on your calendar at 10:30 – then you might want to ask the boss whether the review would take the full hour or whether you should reschedule either with the boss or your 10:30.

      1. Artemesia*

        These may be planning meetings for the year i.e. goal setting etc. I would in the OP’s shoes be nervous as she appears to be that the time hints at problems and issues, but the OP is much better off preparing to discuss the year’s accomplishments and goals and go in assuming that it is a positive feedback and planning session. Hard to do though. I will say that 80% of the time in my life when I had this reaction to a situation — ‘oh no I am in trouble’, I was wrong and things were good or fine. I am sure it all goes back to childhood experiences, but if she can overcome the tendency to always fear the worst, life will be happier.

    2. Angela*

      That was my thought as well. Mine is always scheduled for an hour, but I don’t think we ever take that long. I’ve always appreciated that we have that time if we needed it. My manager is super busy and knowing that I have a full hour of her time to really discuss how things are going is so nice compared to our normal email or rushed 5 minute talks that we’ve squeezed into a very full calendar.

    3. Graciosa*

      I usually schedule mine for an hour with the individual, but make sure my calendar is blocked during the half hour before and after any review (if I do them on the same day, a half hour in between meetings serves both purposes).

      After an interview, I’ll make note of anything I need to address (help with training, changing or adding a mentor, employee wants a project that will provide exposure to X team, etc.) and review my notes before the next employee comes in. In conducting a review, I want to make sure I’m speaking fluently rather than reading, and doing a good job adding color to the written material. “During the upcoming year, Jane should focus on strengthening client relationships” may mean different things at different levels of a career, and part of my job is making sure Jane gets the right message.

      I’m more troubled that the OP is uncertain about whether their review is likely to be negative. Yes, there can be a few surprises (amount of raise, for example) but you should already know what your manager thinks of your performance – including basically where you stand, whether there are any major problems, and what you should be working on to improve.

      Feedback should not be something that comes only once a year during a single meeting (even if it’s a lot longer than an hour!).

      And it is not delivered in a secret code that translates the length of time scheduled for the review into your performance rating.

      1. LQ*

        I agree that this person doesn’t seem to have any idea about the content is worrying. (Though I’d say that’s on the manager for the most part, you can also go and ask for more feedback if you aren’t sure how you are doing. I’m like 97% sure there is a post about that.)

        I’ve also had my supervisor ask me what I’d like to focus on or things I’d like to see improve in the next year and that usually eats up the time pretty fast. (Not that I have a ton of stuff, but it has always lead to a good conversation.)

  10. Dan*


    You could help people avoid unnecessary waiting by hanging a sign on the door that says, “bathroom unavailable from 730-745. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Part of the issue is that when the bathroom is occupied for awhile and the next one is a ways away, nobody knows if you’ll be out in a minute and they should wait, or they should make the trek to the cold bathroom.

    1. Artemesia*

      The OP has already been inconsiderate, then ignored feedback and direction forcing the boss to create a company wide policy for something this silly — now you think she should hang a sign on the door saying ‘tough luck my make up is the really important thing.” You are probably joking but imagine the rage a sign like that would evoke. And of course at this point it would be insubordination and likely to get her fired on the spot.

    2. Nursey Nurse*

      Why does the OP have the right to render one of only two available bathrooms “unavailable” for 15 minutes? The bathrooms are provided so people can use the toilet, not so they can change clothes, style their hair and put on makeup. If I were one of OP’s coworkers, I would be quite resentful of her monopolizing the office bathroom every morning. It’s completely reasonable for them not to want to trek over to the cold warehouse bathroom because OP puts her primping before their comfort.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        Exactly! Bathrooms are not conference rooms to be booked and reserved for people’s personal use!

    3. LQ*

      Please don’t do this. Yes it solves the problem of the second of do I wait or trek. But the OP should not be occupying the bathroom during such a peak time for such a long time. OP needs to make the trek

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I think that would be a bad idea, considering she was already told to use the other bathroom. If a manager tells you to stop doing something, you stop doing it – you don’t look for ways to undermine their authority.

    5. Bea W*

      I don’t think that would help any. Asking people to go to another building in order to use the toilet while you “get ready for work” is still inconsiderate. This might fly if the other bathroom were down the hall, but it’s in another building entirely.

  11. Dan*


    It’s thoughts like this that make people think that they shouldn’t negotiate, when it’s a normal thing to do.

    Dropping the client now would make you look like a loon. Is that the kind of reputation you want?

    1. Artemesia*

      There is a moment to decide you don’t want to haggle with the client but it is not just after they have agreed to your terms and the class is soon to start. If they push hard on the next round, you can withdraw gracefully. And of course, they may well be looking to hire someone else before then too.

    2. Stayin' Alive*

      I read the #3 post twice trying to figure out what was so offensive about the client’s request and decision. Answer: nothing.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        My reading of the letter was the client had agreed a fee with the OP then at the last minute tried to lower the letter says the OP doesn’t believe they couldn’t pay the original rate they just didn’t want to, so maybe the OP feels lied to and that the client is messing them around.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, I get the sense that the OP felt like they were trying to pull a fast one on her, but even her description doesn’t align with that – I don’t think they would’ve apologized and taken full responsibility for not raising the issue earlier if they were trying to dupe her into lowering her rate at the last minute.

          1. Anna*

            Yeah, it didn’t come across as egregious as the OP seems to think. It seems to go along with my approach to things, which is “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” The client probably figured it wasn’t likely, but better to ask and know than to never ask.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Well, they were a little manipulative about it, IMO. I agree with the OP that they probably asked so late and pled poverty to save money, not because paying the full freight would make their business go under. I feel they should have asked about lowering the rate well before the training, or said “We can’t handle the training expense this year, we can only budget 85% of what we paid last year. What can you do for that?”

        But my reaction to manipulative tactics is to check that I still have my wallet and my watch, and to make sure to dobule-check every word of communication from them….more thoroughly than usual, because I usually parse all messages carefully.

        1. LBK*

          Eh, maybe, but I get the sense that it was more like scrambling to adjust the budget and asking the OP to drop her rates was a last resort. I guess we can’t say for sure, but given that the class hasn’t started yet I think it’s a fair assumption that maybe the budget hadn’t been finalized or that additional unexpected expenses came up, so they’d assumed that they’d be able to afford the OP as always but that turned out to not be the case this year.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            But they didn’t ask the OP to drop her rates, and the budget for this contractor was finalized, according to the OP, as they had already agreed upon their rate. Any budget considerations outside of the OP’s billing really aren’t the OP’s problem.

            1. LBK*

              I commented before seeing the OP’s update below, which clarified the situation. I got a completely different impression from the letter.

      3. Delyssia*

        The client did not make a request. The client told the OP to take a pay cut. This was explicitly spelled out in the comments, but even based on the original letter, calling it a request is a really generous reading.

        I’m a little surprised at how many people, apparently including Alison, think that telling someone you’re going to pay them less is completely acceptable and a normal part of business.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          They don’t have the power to tell her to take a pay cut. She declined, and they said that was fine. Possibly the way they worded it originally was less than perfect, but they don’t have the power to tell her what to do, pay-wise, just what they’re able to do.

        2. LBK*

          Huh? They can’t force her to take a pay cut. If they’re not willing to pay her rate, she doesn’t render the services. She’s a contractor, not an employee. It’s like buying a car – if you don’t like the price and they won’t drop it, you don’t get to buy the car.

          1. LBK*

            Oh, I see now from the OP’s update that they actually did say it flat-out rather than making a request. Well, ultimately they still don’t have that power, so if they do that it’s not like the OP is required to comply.

        3. Tamsin*

          They told her she should take a pay cut, and agreed not to decrease it when the OP did not agree.

      4. Mike B.*

        Trying to renegotiate an agreement after work has already begun is really a sketchy way for a business to operate–it’s an attempt to take advantage of contractors who might not feel like they can say no.

        But they didn’t get away with it, and most likely won’t try it with OP again, so I don’t see the point in continuing to fume about it.

      5. Stranger than fiction*

        I think the Op’s annoyance was that they asked her only three weeks before the class while she indicates they’d had several conversations about other things before that where it could have come up.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I’d be pretty annoyed if I were the OP as well.

          And I actually might drop them at this point if I thought that this annoyance would color my work for them. For me that would be the consideration, not whether it indicates they’re untrustworthy or anything. Am I now going to view every interaction with them as a chore? Are they paying enough to be worth that feeling?

      6. TootsNYC*

        Well, I’d be damned annoyed if they presented it as a statement, “you will need to accept less,” which it sounds like they did.

        I’d be annoyed even if they said, right before the start, “will you accept less?”

        The time to negotiate was when the agreement was being made.
        Or earlier, when there would be time for the OP to say, “No, I can’t accept less for the same service, but we could tweak what the service is, so that it takes less time and therefore costs less money.”

        It was pretty high-handed of them; I’d be annoyed too.
        But yes, if they’ve reverted to the original agreement, I’d follow through on that.

        But I would also be thinking about whether I wanted to continue with them later–because they have money troubles, and because their approach to it was to simply short me, and not to THEMSELVES say, “We need something less expensive; what can you do to make your service lower-priced?”

    3. Meg Murry*

      Yes, if you agreed to do the class for $X and they are going to pay you $X, you can’t back out now without seriously harming your reputation.

      However, if you have had other ongoing issues with this client, I could see this last minute notice that they wanted to change the rate as a last straw, and it would be fine to say “I’ll plan to teach the classes we have already scheduled at our previously agreed upon rate, but I won’t be scheduling any further classes here.” Actually, if OP does other work for this client it is probably best she confirms all of it (dates and rates) because it is possible they were looking for a 15% cut because that’s how much their training budget was cut – so chances are if they aren’t getting a lower rate for this class they will have to cut back on the number of classes they are offering.

  12. Marzipan*

    #4, I’m not really sure why one candidate being your wife would give the hiring manager ‘somewhere to start’ within the applicant pool. Her being your wife (presumably) isn’t one of the qualifications for the post, and you’re unlikely to say she’d be rubbish at the job, so it doesn’t really help them at all.

    In one recent round of recruitment, we had that sort of number of applications, one of which was from the wife of a colleague. He didn’t tell me she was applying (although I wasn’t surprised to see that she had). Her application wasn’t quite as strong as some of the others, so she wasn’t shortlisted – that’s really ask it came down to.

    And really, the only way to get through that much shortlisting is to knuckle down and do it – we wanted to find the best candidates for the role, not just look at the ones we already knew (of whom there were several). With that number of applications, I’m always struck by how much collective effort has gone into applying, and it’s important that every application gets looked at fairly. By all means mention that she’s applied, but beyond that it’s going to come down to how strong her application is versus the rest of the candidate pool, and there’s really nothing you can do to affect that.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      #4, I’m not really sure why one candidate being your wife would give the hiring manager ‘somewhere to start’ within the applicant pool.

      Yes; I wondered the same thing. If she’s qualified, she won’t get lost in the shuffle. But being married to an employee shouldn’t put her in the “look at this one first” spot.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Well no, but most companies want to know if a candidate is an employee referral, (and usually have a way for the candidate to indicate that when applying), and will at least review the referral’s resume first as a courtesy to the employee.

    2. Graciosa*

      A single brief mention – informational only, possibly with a *disclaimer* of advocacy – is about the most I think you can do. Even when you have a trailing spouse that the company is actively trying very hard to place, HR handles the advocacy rather than the employee-spouse.

      Anything that makes the OP look like an advocate for a spouse will detract from the OP’s perceived credibility and professionalism.

    3. OP4*

      I’ve never been involved in a hiring process so I wasn’t sure how most hiring managers go about tackling the many applications they receive. I just figured that planting that seed could have an effect, even if just subconsciously. I would like to know it is even worth mentioning her application because it seems like the hiring manager would sort through the applications just the same. Why would anyone ever mention another person’s application? Is it just for their own peace of mind?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If the mention is attached to a recommendation (“my neighbor Jane Borglesworth applied and she’s really great and has fascinating teapot experience” or whatever), most hiring managers will take a closer look at that application, even if the person wouldn’t otherwise be in the “definitely interview” pile. But in your case, you can’t credibly attach a recommendation, so that’s where the situation becomes different. I’d probably mention it anyway, but for totally different reasons — that if the hiring manager is uncomfortable hiring an employee’s spouse, I’d want them to be able to weed the spouse out early.

        1. Graciosa*

          Just to be clear, there can be very good business reasons for weeding out the spouse.

          For example, my function is really a support function with designated internal clients. If the position for which I was hiring is likely to involve supporting the client-spouse, I would disqualify the candidate-spouse. I would never be able to trust the performance feedback from the client-spouse, and it would raise serious questions in the minds of other internal clients about whether or not there was improper priority given to the spouse’s projects. I’m just not going to go there.

          I wouldn’t have an issue with this if the positions were unrelated enough to avoid disrupting the business.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          This is what mentioning a spouse’s application would mean to me: bringing up a potential conflict of interest up front so that the hiring manager can decide whether it’s a problem before wasting anyone’s time.

    4. Artemesia*

      What the heads up buys is a closer look at the application; it might get them an interview if they were on the bubble. Bringing it up IS regardless of how it is phrased, pressure. Saying ‘I understand you have to go with the strongest applicants, so no pressure’ just gives the cue that the employee won’t have a snit if his wife is not interviewed or hired. But it is an attempt to put a thumb on the scale.

      1. BXRosie*

        Do not speak on behalf of your spouse. No job description can completely outline what the role entails and it is difficult not be think your spouse would be perfect , or you need him/her to be working. I had a spouse do that to me (in an environment where we had a number of couples working) and the spouse did not meet the criteria for the role. We told him that she did not meet the job requirements. He went to HR who told him the same thing. His reputation took a hit as a result.

      2. Anna*

        Which isn’t that big a deal. It happens any time we make a recommendation. Your thumb is clearly on the scale if you suggest a friend for a position and let the hiring person know, and we see that all the time here. It’s just everyone should be aware of the baggage that comes with making or receiving that recommendation.

  13. Stayin' Alive*

    Question for OP #1: Does moving your get-ready routine to the warehouse restroom mean that warehouse workers now have to wait on you or troop to a restroom that’s farther away?

    1. Another Job Seeker*

      That’s a very good question. If so, not only do the employees have a cold bathroom — they also have to wait or walk. That doesn’t seem fair, either. Unless their hours are different from the OP’s and no one is expected to use that restroom during the time that the OP would be expected to be there.

      1. Stayin' Alive*

        Yeah, I’d really like to see that question answered. It could be that the inconvenience of waiting for the OP to exit the bathroom has simply been shifted from the company’s white-collar workers to its blue-collar workers.

        OP #1: Is that the case?

    2. Eliza Jane*

      That was my thought, too! I really hope this isn’t just the manager trying to move the problem rather than deal with it.

  14. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Just a request to please not pile on the first letter-writer (or any others, of course, but the first is where I suspect there’s danger of it). Thank you!

    1. Myrin*

      That threw me off, too! When I read the headline, I expected to read about an unemployed period of something like two years, not about someone who was let go only three months ago.

    2. BRR*

      The hiring process for one position can easily take four months by itself. Trying not to pick apart the letter but wow could also convey many things.

      1. Anna*

        Yes, it could, but unless it was followed up by a clarifying comment the wowwer shouldn’t have said it, precisely because it could convey many things.

    3. INFJ*

      I totally agree. Not only was the “wow” reaction completely inconsiderate, it was a bit out of touch with reality. OP, this is not how most people think!

      1. OP#2*

        I felt that it was inconsiderate myself but I am also, for obvious reasons, sensitive about the situation. That being said I do not feel that 4 months is an awful amount of time but as much as I tried to shake it off it probably still affected the rest of the interview.

    4. Zillah*

      I just got a job offer, and assuming it doesn’t fall through (I’m a pessimist at this point), it’ll be nearly a year to the day that I was unemployed.

      OP, don’t worry about it. Four months really isn’t that long.

        1. OP#2*

          Thank you. I feel that his comment was very inconsiderate and I’m assuming that fortunately he’s never been in the situation before and is a little clueless. I know several people who have been unemployed for a few months or longer.

    5. ASJ*

      I was out of work for 8 months. Granted, part of that was over the Christmas holidays, but still? It’s not uncommon in this economy. That guy sounds very out of touch with norms…

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      That’s what I thought. Maybe he’s just old school, but you’d think he’s still aware of the economy and job market in his area and, you know, watches the news about how hard it is out there.

    7. HK Anon*

      Glad to see from the responses that 4 months isn’t such a “Wow”. I have been out of work for 4 months with no potential yet in sight (only 1 interview thus far and no interviews even in the past 2 months!)…although I keep trying!

    8. Ad Astra*

      Yeah, I lost my job one October and didn’t have so much as an interview until March, and nobody seemed to think that was a long time. Especially since in this case (and the OP’s case), that time spent unemployed included the holidays, when not much hiring gets done.

    9. Donna*

      No, not all. I’ve read that the average is 4-6 months, but even up to a year is not so unusual, especially if there is a recession or if you work in an unusual field.

      1. OP#2*

        I think my field could be considered unusual. I am an Interior Designer and have been doing work related to that field.

    10. OP#2*

      I don’t think 4 months is that long either. I know several people that have been unemployed for a few months and it’s sadly not uncommon. Of course it all depends on your skills set, the job market and the economy…….I think it is more of a reflection on his character. I lean more towards that because before I spoke to him I reached out to a good friend that does business with him and she said that he could be a pain. I wrote in because I was curious to see outside opinions on it.

      1. Donna*

        I think you’re right, it probably is a reflection of his character–especially if he already has a reputation!

    11. Pointy Haired Boss*

      It’s getting close, though. According to research studies, after you pass 6 months, you will find getting a new job within your field significantly more difficult, because skittish HR people start to assume there must be something wrong with you that isn’t reflected in your resume and references.

  15. newreader*

    In regard to the first letter, I also use the only restroom (single-occupancy) on my floor in the mornings after having been at the gym. But I’m one of the first people in my building and am always done before anyone else arrives, so it isn’t an issue.

    One thing to keep in mind when there are limited restroom facilities is that there are actually illnesses that necessitate quick restroom access. I have a medical condition where when the symptoms are flaring, I have to use the restroom frequently and urgently. I can wait a few minutes for the restroom to be available, but 10-15 minutes would be difficult. I don’t talk about this illness at work because it isn’t something of interest to others and doesn’t impact my work, so my coworkers aren’t aware of it. The point is that there could be staff where you work that have medical conditions no one is aware of that require easy access to the restroom.

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*

      My IBS is under very good control.

      When I have a bad day it is ‘loo now or shit my pants’.

  16. Tommy*

    LW #3 isn’t upset that his client negotiated, but that they did it so aggressively, waiting until after the class was announced, basically drawing him into a game of Chicken with his reputation at stake.

    It’s sort of like trying to lower the salary of a new employee after you confirm she gave notice to her current employer. Even if she is able to negotiate her way back to the agreed upon salary she will be rightfully suspicious of her new employer’s ethics.

    I wouldn’t want to do business with them after giving this class, either. There is negotiation and there is bad faith.

    1. OP3*

      Hello everybody!
      First of all, thank you for your input and Alison, thank you for your answer.

      Since sending you my question, I have indeed agreed to teach the course as scheduled. What bothers me, however, is exactly what Tommy and Apollo Warbucks have said: this client is a long standing client of mine, we talk regularly and I have offered them lower rates in the past, because I know what the market is not as good as it used to be and that even big companies have to reduce their expenses from time to time.

      I would have had no problem whatsoever with their suggestion now if they had brought it up earlier and we have had the time to talk about it with no pressure – as we have done in the past.

      However, their announcing to me (because they told me, it wasn’t a request) “we have decided to pay you X-15% for this year’s course” *after* we had agreed upon the terms, after they had started advertising and with only 3 weeks to go felt very deceitful to me. They framed their argument in a manner that was clearly meant to make me feel sorry for them and take the cut (imagine something along the lines of “we can’t make ends meet unless we do that”), leaving me with no time to negotiate.

      They have now put me in a very awkward position, since I now feel that I’m taking advantage of them in their time of need – yes, I know that I’m a professional and that I shouldn’t feel this way, but when someone you know that well tells you that they are taking the cut instead of you so that you can be paid your full fee, it may make you feel like a greedy ingrate.

      So, going forward, I will probably have a long talk with them and explain that financial terms need to be agreed upon early and adhered to, otherwise it would be best if they sought the services of another firm than mine and in that case, I will help them make the transition as smoothly as possible.

      And @Dan & Stayin’ Alive, the thing is, if I had forgotten that I wanted to raise my rates and only remembered it when I had my client with his back against the wall, so to speak, I would have preferred to say nothing, suffer the consequences of my forgetfulness and remember to announce such things well in advance in the future. Because in my opinion, you shouldn’t pull such tricks on your long-standing partners. This is haggling, not negotiating.

      Again, thank you all for your input!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        I didn’t get from the original post that they * told * you you had to take a 15% discount. That changes the response I was going to write.

        Asking for discounts in business (or in the course of civilian life), is a common affair. As a vendor, you need to have thick skin about it because this is a thing people do. With a tightening on the books, this business is likely trying to reduce all line items by 15% and as vendors (we’re B to B also), we have to put aside the personal and deal with the practical. You can: agree to discount, offer smaller package to bring their budget down, agree to smaller discount to “help them out”, not agree to discount at all. It’s just business and as the vendor you’re in control of what you decide to do about a discount request.

        So, new information in this post, I’ll soften the “shake it off! :)” I was going to say. I don’t like people asking for discounts at the last minute, after a bunch of work has been put in, either.

        The truth is that if they do truly need to reduce this line item, and since you stood firm on your price, the truth is they are probably either shopping for other vendors or considering dropping the program for next year right now anyway. I’d operate from that POV, factually not emotionally (it’s just business, remember?), and proceed to do what’s best for you. (This does not include cutting off your own nose to spite your face because your feelings are hurt. :))

        Do you need to find a new full price client to replace them? Start now. Is retention of this client important enough to offer them a reduced package at a lower price? Start talking to them now about it, etc. Are you really pissed off enough to just drop them, and you don’t need the business at all? Just drop them.

        You’re in complete control.

        1. OP3*

          Thank you for your reply!
          As to their budget, I should add that they regularly either make up for any of their expenses directed in this course or they turn a profit, there has never been a time so far where they have had to absorb some or all of the cost themselves, so you can see why I’m irritated. I know that I’m probably overreacting, but the thing is that I have had a very good working relationship with this particular client so far and this is not something I would have ever expected from them.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            Yeah, I don’t like them for this either, but I’m old so I’ve seen it all before and don’t get thrown easily.

            As long as they paid their bill promptly, I think you’re fine to go another year with them, perhaps underlining “this is really my price” at contract/agreement time.

            But look for more clients. Once a customer goes all cost shavy, they are usually in a cost above quality mode. Remember there is always someone who will sell cheaper than you. Always.

            1. OP3*

              I can afford to drop them, this is why I considered it in the first place. Also, I have a strong suspicion that if I hadn’t overreacted and opted not to teach the course this year, I would still be on the phone with various people over there explaining why I won’t accept the reduced fee.

              1. fposte*

                I realize this is hyperbole, but you don’t have to stay on the phone with them a minute longer than you choose. “I think we’ve covered the subject, Bob; I have to get to work now. Please do let me know by February 1 if you change your mind or if you’re interested in my work at the usual rate in future. Bye!” Click.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Yeah, I’ve been reading a lot of advice about freelancing, and something I hear repeatedly is that you don’t ever want to put all your eggs in one basket with one client.

          2. Colette*

            I’d be very surprised if you could know that from the outside. They may make their direct expenses, but that doesn’t mean they also make enough to pay for the building rental (even if they own it, they’re not using it for something else), support staff (someone is doing registration and maintenance), etc. Or maybe they are, but another very important course isn’t, so the money has to come from somewhere. It’s entirely possible that they do need to reduce their expenses 15%.

            Obviously, they handled the situation poorly, and they should be honouring agreements they already made, but it may very well be something they need to do going forward.

            1. Chinook*

              “It’s entirely possible that they do need to reduce their expenses 15%. ”

              I could see this happening at the company I work for, I have a contract and work directive in place but then the bottom dropped out of the oil market and everyone was making cuts. Add to that we budget in Canadian but head office then converts it to USD and suddenly they lost 25% of their budget in a few months and are being required to cut expenses when the work has not changed, and I would not have been surprised if my boss/client came to me and said we need to cut your total annual charges to X-25%, so you can cut your hours or cut your hourly rate. It is unfair but, if the alternative is having no contract in a market where 1,000s were just laid off, I will cut my rate (especially since I know boss will recommend I raise my rates when times are good because she did that in the past). In my mind, it is just like taking a pay cut when times are bad – something is better than nothing.

        2. TootsNYC*

          “I didn’t get from the original post that they * told * you you had to take a 15% discount.”

          I did, actually.

      2. 12345678910112 do do do*

        My mom and stepdad run a small business/factory, and their biggest client just tried this on them. They were “told” that the client would be paying only 85% of the invoices, basically forcing them to give a 15% discount. My parents held strong and replied that in that case all invoices would have to be paid before product delivery, basically eliminating the 90 days to pay, a “credit” that they had been extending. The client backed down. It’s a strong-arm technique.

      3. CM*

        OP #3, I completely understand why you are unhappy with this client, and I think it’s warranted. If they have never pulled something like this before, I think you should consider just letting it go. It backfired on them this time, which may deter them from doing it again. Having a long talk with them sounds to me like it might be more about admonishing them than actually affecting the way they behave. But, if you do decide to have the talk, the way you’ve framed it above is reasonable.

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ah, this changes my response in a comment above, about telling you versus asking you. Hearing these details, I definitely get why you’re put off and concerned about continuing to work with them.

        I don’t think “we can’t make ends meet unless we do that” is a big deal for them to say (it makes sense to say it in the context of asking to change rates). But I do think it’s really inappropriate for someone there to tell you that she’s taking the cut instead of you (it’s not your problem, and she shouldn’t try to make you feel guilty), and “we have decided to pay you X-15% for this year’s course” after you’d agreed to terms and were so close to the start date is obnoxious. I think you handled it well, and I agree with Wakeen’s Teapot’s analysis of your options going forward.

      5. Yetanotherjennifer*

        So you had a good give and take relationship with them and they’ve expressed budget concerns in the past in a respectful and timely manner that have been resolved to both your satisfaction? What changed? Was there a change in contacts or leadership? This just seems like a radically different approach. And I’d definitely clearly state that this sort of “negotiation tactic” cannot happen again if you are to continue working together and maybe alter your contract to include a date where all conditions are final. I’m glad you are able to hold firm and not fear the loss of their business.

      6. ContractsareKing*

        Do you have a written contract with this client specifying rates, etc.? I think if you don’t then you should. Because if they inform you that they are paying you less than the negotiated rate you have a contract to indicate that you have an agreed rate, and the consequences for not paying that rate. For example, one of your clauses could be that you need at minimum of 90 days written notice if the client wishes to renegotiate the rate, and that failure to do so would mean that you not fulfill your end of the contract.

        I think having things written down formally is always a good idea. Then if something like this does happen in the future you can refer back to your contract, and if at some point you do decide to walk away because they aren’t following the terms, you at least have that as a reason when other clients ask you about this sort of situation. Saying that a client violated the terms of your contract is much different than saying that you were upset that they pulled a fast one at the last minute.

      7. Elizabeth West*

        You’re not taking advantage of them; they tried to take advantage of you. You have to pay your bills. They have to pay theirs. If they needed a discount, they should have said something WAY before the course was scheduled.

        You did nothing wrong.

      8. Lalita C.*

        I totally agree that the client was wrong in this instance. I highly suggest, that if you haven’t done so already, compose an iron-clad statement of work, contract, or other legal agreement every year stipulating your fees and that they are non-negotiable for that year. Nolo offers some small-business friendly sources,, but I would more be inclined for you to consult a reputable lawyer who can help you craft the version of the agreement that applies to your situation (especially if you do business out of your state or internationally). The drawback: clients will probably send it to their lawyer for review so you might want to employ it in the cases of the difficult, whiny clients. An alternative is to offer only early payment discounts, like Net 5 days 5% because it encourages people to pay early. Or only offer discount based on referrals that lead to business for you.

  17. Nursey Nurse*

    OP #1, I think you are being unreasonable. If there are only two bathrooms in your workplace, it really isn’t out of line for a coworker to ask that you not monopolize the more comfortable one for 10 to 15 minutes every morning. There are undoubtedly other employees who want to use the bathroom before they clock in, and your actions are inconveniencing them.

    OP#3, I agree, the time to negotiate your fee was before you agreed to teach the class, not after. Now you’re stuck in the position of having to accept a pay cut or look like the bad guy for backing out of your agreement. That’s definitely uncool on the part of your client.

    1. Nursey Nurse*

      Sorry, I left out part of my comment above — it should have said “look like the bad guy for backing out of your agreement or making the client pay more than they claim they can afford.”

    2. Brightwanderer*

      But… she DID negotiate her fee, it sounds like. It was all negotiated and settled, and then suddenly at the last minute the client tried to pull a bait and switch on her by announcing they would be paying less than agreed. Good on her for standing her ground, but I would be side-eyeing this client too, to be honest. Not to the point of dropping the course at this stage, but definitely wondering if I wanted to continue to work with them going forward.

      1. Nursey Nurse*

        Yes, I’m sorry, I’m being very unclear in my writing this morning! My post was meant to be in support of the OP, not of her client. I meant her client should have negotiated the fee before she agreed to teach the class, which is why I said the quick change was uncool on the part of her client.

  18. Tommy*

    If LW #1’s employer is OK with her using a single-occupancy bathroom to change, why insist it be the one in the warehouse? Do the warehouse workers not work at that time, or is it just more acceptable to inconvenience them?

    Also, why insist she not use the office bathroom to change even when it’s brief? That seems arbitrary.

    Maybe it’s that I’m a man, and therefore am not used to waiting for the bathroom (there is always a long line for the women’s restroom at the concerts I go to), but I have always felt that once I’m in the bathroom it’s mine. I don’t hang out in there, but if I’ve got something going on that takes me 15 minutes, I don’t feel bad—I just do it guilt free.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Because sucking up the bathroom every morning for 15 minutes to do your hair and make up is not what an office bathroom is for, it’s rude, and the manager appears to be nice in trying to offer her an alternative use of the space.

      In these circumstances, I would have told her that home is for her hair and make up, not the office, period.

      1. Tommy*

        Hmm… which question were you answering here? I still have no idea why it makes a difference for her to use the other bathroom. If she’s inconveniencing the office workers with Option A, she’s inconveniencing the warehouse workers with Option B. That isn’t “nice.”

        And I still have no idea why they care that she’s changing even when it’s for a similar amount of time that people usually take to urinate/defecate. It’s like saying that if you have morning sickness and have to throw up then you have to go do it in a trash can in the warehouse, since that isn’t the main use of a bathroom.

        1. Colette*

          Presumably the manager knows better than we do whether it’s inconveniencing the warehouse workers.

          Work bathrooms are for necessary bodily functions – including illness, if it happens at work. You should be dressed and ready to go before you get there (although a quick change -meaning 2 minutes, not 15- is sometimes acceptable).

          1. Tommy*

            Having worked in an office and a warehouse in the same company, I wouldn’t be surprised if less deference is made for warehouse workers.

            I’ve never read that standard before. It makes sense, but I’m naturally wondering about the edge cases, as you should for any proposed standard. So I shouldn’t use my work bathroom to take my contacts off? I can’t change into my running clothes for a lunchtime run? I can’t rinse a stain on my shirt?

            I think avoiding a rules-driven workplace is worth a few occasions of mildly annoying behavior.

            1. Nursey Nurse*

              Sure, but what you seem to be ignoring is that this isn’t occasional conduct. If the OP had used the bathroom to get ready for work once or twice I doubt anyone would have complained, but she admits she’s monopolizing the bathroom for up to 15 minutes every single morning. Do you really not understand why that’s an issue under these circumstances (honestly asking, not snarking on you)?

              1. Tommy*

                Hmm. My question seems to be getting lost in all the discussion. I’m not asking how someone could say that you shouldn’t spend 15 minutes monopolizing the bathroom every morning to do your makeup. I’m asking why someone would care if you were doing something in there that’s not bodily function/illness-related if it takes no longer than those more essential uses?

                1. Monique*

                  The warehouse bathroom might be multiple stalls cause they’re used to people getting changed for their shift at work. The warehouse shift may start two hours before OP #1 needs 15 minutes to change, meaning she won’t interrupt other people’s pre-clocking in loo requirements. I’m sure there’s a valid reason, or the boss wouldn’t have asked her to.

                  I agree with other people who’ve said that it’s nice that they’re trying to accommodate her in the first place, and also don’t quite understand why she can’t just get ready for work at the gym.

                2. Vulcan social worker*

                  Because it does take longer than the typical use. A 15-minute bathroom visit at work is not the norm, and would just be for illness. Not necessary severe – I imagine we’ve all needed to use the rest room for longer than a few minutes but then gone back to work – but still not just the average trip to the toilet.

                  Also, it’s a planned inconvenience of the entire staff of the company. It’s not necessary, like using the toilet is. Everyone understands that sometimes you have to use the toilet. There are other options for doing hair and makeup than monopolizing the only convenient bathroom for the office and call center employees as they are arriving at work.

                3. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  @Monique: “There are two bathrooms on the property, both single occupancy”. (I agree she’s hogging the bathroom, but the warehouse bathroom is not multiple stalls.)

                4. Jozie*

                  I’d say it starts with the fact that 15 minutes is a long time. During this time, it is likely someone else will need to use it and be inconvenienced. Waiting just a couple minutes for someone to use it for whatever reason (taking out contacts, etc.) is far less of an inconvenience.

                  Now, the reasons for occupying the bathroom for 15 minutes matter. If you’re sick, or using it for a completely necessary health-related reason, presumably you’re not using the bathroom for this purpose regularly, like several times a week, but more importantly, you are trying it for a health-related reason and it’s understandable.

                  I apologize for the flaws in this analogy, but all I can think of is it being like someone throwing up in my car. It’s an inconvenience to me, definitely. If they throw up because they’re incredibly drunk – thus, having put themself in that situation somewhat intentionally – I’d be a lot more upset than I would be if my sick passenger had food poisoning. (Not a perfect analogy!)

                5. Nursey Nurse*

                  I get it. I think because it does take longer than typical use. It really doesn’t take most people 15 minutes to use the toilet. I can, for example, be in and out in 2 or 3 minutes, including hand washing time.

                6. Elizabeth West*

                  Because it’s something she could easily do elsewhere (i.e., at the gym) and it’s inconveniencing everyone else. Every day. It’s not occasional. I agree that it would be just as big an inconvenience to the warehouse workers.

            2. TootsNYC*

              Or warehouse workers may have less time pressure, and maybe they can wait longer than call-center workers whose work it timed. Or maybe the warehouse crew has a slower start–or maybe a much earlier one, so their morning-coffee pee is done with by then.

        2. Nursey Nurse*

          Occasionally it does take people 15 minutes to go to the toilet, yes. However, most of the time people can do their business much quicker than that. I doubt anyone at OP’s workplace would begrudge her occasional long periods in the bathroom if they were for necessary functions, but using the bathroom as a dressing room every morning is really inconvenient to others who need to use it for its intended purpose.

          1. Tommy*

            Again, what part are you responding to? Say it takes N minutes for the average person to use the bathroom “for necessary functions.” Why would they care if OP takes not 15 minutes but N minutes to change?

            1. Colette*

              Is the OP going to given her bathroom time required for bodily functions since she’s using it to get ready? Of course not.

              Why should everyone else’s comfort and ability to work be affected by her preference to get ready at work?

              1. Tommy*

                OK, so if OP would go an average of three times at work, for a total of 3*N minutes, then by changing quickly she ups her average total to 4*N minutes, impeding on everyone else’s comfort and ability to work by N minutes.

                Considering N is probably about 3, that frankly seems quite silly to worry about.

                1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  Because it’s not about averages at all. It’s about length of a single, daily occurrence at a prime time that inconveniences a large group of people. If one person used the toilet 5 times a day for 3 minutes at a time, very few people would care, because they could use the bathroom between those 3-minute intervals. The OP is in there for a full 15 minutes, preventing use of the bathroom during that time. Add in the extenuating factor that the time she uses occurs at the beginning of a work day, when people come in and want to relieve themselves before they settle in for the day… that’s when you have a problem.

                2. MK*

                  While trying to use math to justify someone hogging the office restroom is not silly at all? But OK, have it your way.

                  The OP is not quickly changing; she is hogging the restroom for about 5 times as long as someone using it as a toilet would. Also, I doubt she forgoes going to the toilet for the rest of the day, so this time is added, not included, in her average use. And the average time isn’t relevant to the inconvenience: if she uses the restroom every hour of an 8-hour shift for three minutes, she is unlikely to inconvenience anyone, while if she locks herself there for 24 minutes, she is. The problem isn’t that she making more use of it than average, it’s that she is making it inaccessible for a relatively long time.

                3. fposte*

                  Nonetheless, her manager has told her it does. And saying “I’m going to do it anyway” is a fast track to a pink slip

                4. fposte*

                  Whoops, not her manager but a manager. Nonetheless, if you’re told it’s a problem even by somebody who isn’t your manager and you keep doing it, that’s a bad way to pave your future road.

                5. Marzipan*

                  fposte, I read it as the call centre manager, and the General Manager, AND her direct boss all having told her/said she shouldn’t use the office bathroom (any one of whom should be enough).

                6. Stayin' Alive*

                  Tommy, I love your point that warehouse workers are likely being shown less deference than office workers. Heck, the company was already sticking the warehouse workers with a colder restroom — inconveniencing them more doesn’t sound like a stretch.

                  I think you might be credulous in buying the claim that the OP is “only” taking 10 or 15 minutes to get ready. I think there’s a sense of minimizing in the OP’s account, and I wonder if it’s actually taking even longer than that.

                7. fposte*

                  @Marzipan–you’re right, I skipped over the fact that this has escalated and that it now is her boss. Posting too early!

                8. Elizabeth West*

                  You’re splitting hairs. I’m sure no one would begrudge her extra time if she were having a bowel issue, for example, but she is doing something that she could easily do elsewhere. Every single day.

                9. Tommy*

                  Actually, I think it’s hair splitting to say, “3 minutes to pee, OK. 3 minutes to change clothes, NOPE!”

                  That has always been my question. The OP was disallowed from using the warm bathroom to change clothes no matter how quickly he did it [and from his wording, possibly disallowed from using it altogether]. I asked what sense that makes, and Colette seemed to me to imply that that is still depriving others the use of the warm bathroom for approved purposes. I restated what I understood Colette to mean—that those 2-3 minutes were something worth worrying about and making rules about—and expressed my opinion about it.

                10. Colette*

                  @Tommy If everyone was capable of putting themselves in other peoples’ shoes, there would be no need for this rule, or workplace rules about leaving dirty dishes in the sink or making a new pot of coffee when you take the last cup.

                  Based on this letter, the OP sees this as something she should be able to do. She hasn’t considered or doesn’t consider important that she is making it difficult for coworkers with medical issues she may not be aware of or who have limited time to use the bathroom. So yes, there needs to be a rule, since she will continue doing it otherwise. It doesn’t matter if the bathroom is free 80% of the day, because she is using it consistently at a time when other people need it.

            2. Nursey Nurse*

              That was my point — your question really only works if we assume OP is taking no longer than the average person in the bathroom. If all of her coworkers regularly use the bathroom for 15 minutes, like OP does, then they would have less cause to complain about OP’s use. But I sincerely doubt the average bathroom visit at OP’s workplace is 15 minutes in duration.

            3. Elsajeni*

              Probably because they are much less interested in standing outside the bathroom timing her — “Okay, she’s going in the bathroom in her gym clothes, start the timer!” — and more interested in dealing with the complaint “OP is tying up the bathroom changing clothes and styling her hair, at a time when lots of us need to use it for Necessary Bathroom Business.” I think a rule of “Please do not use this bathroom for changing clothes, styling hair, applying makeup, etc.” is waaaaay more respectful of everyone’s dignity and privacy than a rule of “Please do not use this bathroom for anything that takes more than 5 minutes.”

          2. Artemesia*

            Let’s not forget that the OP is a guy not a woman ‘primping’; it is a guy monopolizing the only bathroom for 15 minutes as his personal changing room and primping room every morning.

            1. Nursey Nurse*

              I didn’t realize the OP was a man, but that doesn’t change anything. He’s clearly primping if he’s in the bathroom for 15 minutes!

        3. Dot Warner*

          It could be that the warehouse staff doesn’t arrive until later in the day, or that at 0730 they only have a skeleton crew working. And as other commenters have pointed out, maybe somebody in the office has a medical condition that means they need to be in close proximity to the bathroom all the time but no one in the warehouse does.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I was guessing there was nobody in the warehouse at that time or that it had more stalls–but if that’s not the case, then yeah, OP shouldn’t monopolize their bathroom either.

    2. Myrin*

      I’m not the OP, but I’d say the following:

      For your first paragraph: The deciding factor is that the office bathroom is warm and the warehouse bathroom is cold. Since OP says the manager can just go use the warehouse bathroom while she’s in the office bathroom, I assume the warehouse is comparatively close by. So if she uses the restroom in the warehouse, the warehouse workers can presumably use the office restroom, which, if someone has to take a longer walk to get to a bathroom anyway, is the more convenient option of the two since the office bathroom is at least warm.

      For your second paragraph: The manager told OP not to use the office bathroom, period. That she then decided to use it anyway “if she knew she would be quick” is something she decided on her own and something which was already going against the original request. Also, she’s already shown that she has a, hm, “special” attitude towards this whole scenario so why should the boss be lenient?

      As for your last paragraph, that’s incredible inconsiderate unless the bathroom in question is your own and you don’t share it with anyone and there’s something actually bathroom-related going on that takes you this long (like diarrhea or constipation, for example). A shared public bathroom is not “yours” to do with as you please just because you’re in it at the moment.

      1. Tommy*

        Regarding paragraph 1: good point.

        Regarding paragraph 2: I can sort of see your point, though I think this bathroom policing is getting way out of hand.

        Re. paragraph 3: you didn’t mean the third “and” here, did you? If so, I would strongly urge you to reconsider that view. Just because you’re in a shared bathroom doesn’t mean you should rush your bodily functions. If you meant that bodily functions are the only exception to hurrying in a shared bathroom, then I agree with you. That’s what I meant by “having something going on.”

        1. MK*

          No one is asking you to rush, when you use a public restroom, if you are using it for what it’s intended for. But when you say “it’s mine as long as I am using it” it implies that you can do whatever you want, and that’s not true. It was placed at the disposal of the puclic for a specific purpose and reasonable people understand that you are supposed to use it with consderation.

        2. Myrin*

          Ah, I didn’t realise that’s what you meant by “having something going on”, I thought you meant “going ons” like what the OP is doing, not bodily function, that was a misunderstanding on my part! And yes, I meant it the second way – but re-reading what I wrote, I can see why you thought I meant the other way around.

      2. Nursey Nurse*

        Also, we don’t know about comparative staffing levels. If there is a call center in the office, it’s possible that there are more office staff than warehouse staff and therefore that the office bathroom is more in demand.

      3. Monique*

        Tommy – putting a full face of make up on is not a bodily function that requires the use of the single office bathroom. You’re using the bathroom for something it isn’t intended for, keeping people who want to use it for its normal use from doing the same. That’s inconsiderate, and it’s why she’s been asked to stop.

        1. Tommy*

          Not sure why this is addressed to me. I have no problem asking someone to stop changing for 15 minutes every morning in a single-person bathroom shared by a lot of people. My question was why would it matter EVEN if it only takes a couple of minutes? To restrict that behavior seems like it would require you to restrict other behaviors that I don’t think are that bad, like changing contacts, cleaning a stain on your shirt, or even throwing up (if you don’t consider that to be an intended use of the bathroom).

          1. Marcela*

            I’m with you, Tommy, in that I don’t get why what I do in the bathroom could matter if I’m not using it too long. And I’m kind of disappointed because of many judgmental comments, for example the ones calling “painting their faces” to putting makeup. I am not painting my face but covering marks. But I also -and this is TMI, but hell- can’t finish my business in the bathroom in less than 15 minutes: it’s a consequence of my endometriosis.

            Of course, I do get that using the bathroom for 15 minutes every day is not showing any consideration for the other people in the office. But sometimes I need to use the bathroom for other stuff, private stuff that I’d rather do at home, but I am working, and it’s very discouraging to think that because it’s not pee or poo, somehow I am being rude or I should not do it. :(

            1. Tommy*

              Yeah, it seems like if you remove the excessive time issue, then that should be enough.

              Unfortunately, I think many people who have been discussing my question didn’t actually read the question because they keep mentioning “15 minutes this” and “15 minutes that.” It seems that some commenters read either the original post or the comment they’re replying to, but not both ;-)

          2. Artemesia*

            Politeness should prevail so that you don’t have to have petty rules about bathroom usage. This guy by his refusal to take a hint or take direction has pushed the company to create a policy about this which is ridiculous; ridiculous policies arise because people are inconsiderate and so they replace norms to police behavior. If I were this guys manager I would have fired him after he disregarded a couple of managers requests not to do this. He is too high maintenance. Refusing to change your behavior when told a couple of times to do so is at least one time too many.

            1. Tommy*

              To me, it sounds like OP was miffed that he was told not to use the bathroom of his choosing because someone else of higher stature might want it. I’m guessing he didn’t consider that some people often need to be able to get to a bathroom immediately or he would have not felt like he was necessarily being treated unfairly. I can actually put myself in his shoes. I might think, “You don’t want me to use the warm bathroom because YOU might happen to want to use it at the same time? How is that fair?! Because you’re a manager and I’m a lowly administrative assistant? I bet you wouldn’t use the cold bathroom if YOU were changing your clothes! That’s not fair!”

              So he got overly defensive inside, but didn’t make a big fuss outside. But then he decided to use the warm bathroom to change when he was going to be quick (why should that matter, right?) and the cold bathroom when it would take him longer, at which point he was instructed that he should not use the office bathroom for changing at all, no matter how quickly he did it (and from his wording, it’s possible they asked him not to use the office bathroom for ANY purpose). Then his feelings that he was being unfairly treated were made even stronger and drove him to write into Alison looking for an ally.

              Doesn’t seem like SUCH a bad person, when you think of it this way, does he?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                No one is saying he’s a bad person. I and others are saying that he’s in the wrong on this and needs to drop it and move on (which would be true even if he weren’t in the wrong, because at this point three managers in his workplace have told him clearly to change what he’s doing).

                1. Stayin' Alive*

                  I gotta wonder if the OP is trying to get fired. By the time you get three managers involved in a behavior issue, the clock is usually ticking.

                2. Tommy*

                  Maybe “bad person” was too strong. But it has been implied here that he is not smart, not courteous, inconsiderate, a hogger, etc., with few if any attempts to understand where he’s coming from. That’s rarely an effective approach.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      If LW #1’s employer is OK with her using a single-occupancy bathroom to change, why insist it be the one in the warehouse? Do the warehouse workers not work at that time, or is it just more acceptable to inconvenience them?

      That’s a good question (and I agree that most people responding don’t understand what you’re saying). If it’s inappropriate for LW1 to monopolize one bathroom, why is it okay for her to monopolize the other one? I hate to think that it’s more acceptable to inconvenience the warehouse workers, but that may be the answer. But, of course, other options are: the warehouse workers aren’t there when the LW is using the bathroom, the warehouse workers don’t mind using the office bathroom as much as the office workers mind using the warehouse bathroom (because the warehouse bathroom is cold), or there are more women in the office and more men in the warehouse so the LW is inconveniencing more people by taking up the office bathroom (I’m not sure if the single-occupancy bathroom is unisex, or if the LW means there is one for men and one for women).

      1. Lily in NYC*

        There’s nothing in OP’s letter that signifies if the warehouse bathroom is single occupancy or not.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          “There are two bathrooms on the property, both single occupancy”

          I would hope that either the warehouse staff arrives later, or there are significantly fewer of them than call center reps, but there’s no evidence on those questions either way.

      2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        I’m in the camp that firmly believes that the OP shouldn’t be utilizing *either* bathroom to take care of this task and implying warehouse workers is no better than impacting the call center team.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I agree, and that’s why I’m with Tommy, above, in wondering why this is apparently an inconvenience for the office workers and not for the warehouse workers.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I agree with this, but I disagree that it doesn’t matter what she’s doing in there. It does matter if she’s hogging (yes, it is hogging) the bathroom for something she could do somewhere else.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yes, it does matter (to me) what she’s doing in there. The bathroom is provided for certain functions. Getting ready for work is not one of them.

      3. LPBB*

        Part of the problem is that there are only so many details in this letter and people are making A LOT of assumptions. (For instance, we don’t even know if the letter writer is female. They most likely are, but people are behaving as though it was stated fact).

        When I worked for a company that had everything — corporate offices, warehouse, and call center — under one roof, the various parts of the company had different schedules. The warehouse shifts started at 7AM and were generally over around 3. The corporate workers generally worked 9-5 or 10-6 and the call center opened at 9 and closed at 10. So at different points in the day there were different levels of need for the bathrooms. It could very well be that there is less need for the warehouse bathroom because they are already well into their day by the time she comes in, while she is overlapping with the majority of the corporate/call center staff coming in to begin their day. It could always be that the office workers simply don’t care about inconveniencing the warehouse staff, whether it’s through simple self-absorption or rampant classism. Who knows?

        The point is, she (or he) is apparently inconveniencing someone who has enough pull with upper management to make this a big issue. The LW can continue to stick to their guns and choose this as their hill to die on and accept the consequences or they can interpret this complaint and struggle as a sign that using one of two single occupancy bathrooms every day for non-physically necessary reasons is disrupting their workplace, whether they think it’s legitimate or not, and think about ways to work around it. The one course of action I can guarantee that won’t work is the LW trying to convince everybody else that they are right and everyone is wrong.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          (For instance, we don’t even know if the letter writer is female. They most likely are, but people are behaving as though it was stated fact).

          The LW said the other person who complained about not being able to use the office bathroom was female. So, either there’s one single-occupant unisex bathroom in the office and the LW’s gender is unknown, or there are two single-occupant bathrooms in the office and the LW is female.

      4. TootsNYC*

        Maybe warehouse workers aren’t timed the way call-center workers are.
        Maybe there are fewer warehouse workers.
        Maybe the warehouse shifts start at different times, so the just-got-to-work trips to the bathroom are all over with by then.

        Three managers are involved, and they’re already focused on the “don’t inconvenience everyone else” aspect, so hopefully they’ve evaluated all the factors.

    4. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      I think the comparison to something like morning sickness or an upset stomach is a bit false.

      A better comparison would be if Bob from accounting decided that the only place he could get peace and quite was the only office bathroom, and went in there every day from 1:00pm – 1:20 to read.

      1. Tommy*

        Right, but again I was asking about using the bathroom to change clothes “even when it’s brief.” That’s been my question all along (in spite of many people seemingly responding to a different question that was never asked).

        You COULD say, “Even if you’re only in there two minutes, it has to be for going #1, #2, or vomiting,” but that leaves so many things out that I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with. Just a few examples off the top of my head, besides changing clothes: putting contacts in or taking them out, cleaning a stain on your shirt, changing a feminine product, washing your face, brushing your teeth, applying medicine to your feet. When you remove the 15 minute thing, it seems ridiculous to me to try to uphold any kind of strict rule.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But that’s a totally different situation than the letter. I don’t think anyone is trying to ban people from doing any of that stuff in the bathroom. The only thing people are taking issue with here is someone spending 15 minutes getting ready for work in the office bathroom.

          1. Tommy*

            Here’s what OP wrote:

            “I did, however, choose to use the office bathroom only if I knew I would be quick, and if I was going to take the full 15 minutes I would use the warehouse. However, the GM spoke to my boss, and my boss asked if I would please use the bathroom warehouse from now on.”

            So someone (OP’s employer) IS trying to ban someone else (OP) from using the office bathroom for changing clothes, _even when it’s quick_. My question is basically, what is the rationale for that ban and why wouldn’t that rationale apply to many of these other things as well?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              The rationale is that it’s not an activity that needs to be done in the bathroom, unlike most of the others you listed, and it’s causing problems for people who are waiting to use the bathroom for its intended purpose.

              1. Tommy*

                I’m confused.

                1. You don’t mean that OP should change outside the bathroom, right? I’ve always thought of changing clothes as one of the few things outside of going #1 and #2 that you should always do in a bathroom if you aren’t at home.

                2. Assuming you meant that the OP could change before he went to work (working out earlier) or change his workout to after work to accommodate his employer, would you advocate a rule specific to his situation (some people might have to change clothes at work for medical reasons, which I presume would be OK) all to save the 2-3 minutes of bathroom availability time? Would you do the same thing if someone were changing their contacts daily in the bathroom, since they could buy a mirror and do it at their desk if they want?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  The OP should either change in the bathroom he’s been directed to use, or come to work already dressed for work. The rest of this seems like red herrings and at this point is probably derailing the conversation from the actual question in the post.

                2. Tommy*

                  I assure you I didn’t mean to be distract so much from the OP’s question! I asked what I thought was a simple question (“… why insist she not use the office bathroom to change even when it’s brief? That seems arbitrary.”) but it has been misunderstood somehow by several commenters (I can only assume they didn’t really read what they were responding to). It got about four or five responses that actually answer the question, and I would say they answered it quite well.


  19. BearWithMe*

    #1. Sorry if the idea has already been thrown around, but how about ask your employer if they could purchase a space heater for the warehouse bathroom to make it less of a frozen wasteland and a more enjoyable place for you to get ready in the morning, and so that other employees don’t have to choose between regular bathroom and cold bathroom.

    1. Liana*

      This is a really good idea. If the warehouse bathroom is cold, it can’t be enjoyable for anyone else to use it either.

    2. A Bug!*

      It’s a really good idea. If you had a hardware-controlled heater (that is, physical dials and switches as opposed to buttons and digital displays), you could get one of those timed regulators that controls the electricity going into the heater. Then it could turn on fifteen minutes before OP gets there so it’s pre-warmed, and turn off again at OP’s scheduled start time.

      One concern I’d have is that, given the context, it might not look great for OP to ask the company to spend money to make the warehouse washroom more comfortable for him. If the OP’s in a position to purchase the gear himself then it might look better for OP to go into it asking for permission to set it up, and if they offer to pay for it, all the better.

  20. Rebecca*

    OP#1 There are other things to consider. When I get to work and start the coffee, we don’t have a kitchen. I have to use the bathroom to get water for the coffee pot. I rinse out my mug in the bathroom, too. Thankfully we have several bathrooms, 2 are single occupancy and 1 is double occupancy, with doors. It’s not unusual for all of them to the occupied prior to clock in, so at least we can use the sink in one bathroom. You have 1 single stall bathroom, and it’s unreasonable for you to expect everyone else to accommodate you every single day. If it were once in a while, for 5 minutes, OK, but not for 10-15 minutes every single working day. It’s just not fair to your coworkers.

  21. Katie the Fed*

    #3 – you are WAY over personalizing this. Count the number of times you use the word “feel” in your letter. It wasn’t an insult to you, it was a business negotiation. You had the option to turn it down, but managed to somehow to convince them to keep your original fee. And you’re still feeling insulted and want to cancel?

    I don’t understand. I think it would help to remove yourself as much from this – think of your course as a widget you’re selling. If they’re offering you to pay less for the widget, you have the option to accept or renegotiate. It’s not personal.

    1. Tommy*

      If you read OP #3’s more recent post, I think it makes sense that this wasn’t the usual negotiation of rates, but rather a demand made at the 11th hour (when cancelling the class would harm OP’s reputation).

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      I drop customers who piss me off, and screwing me around on price or making a deal and then trying to push a new price at me, as a demand, at the last minute will land people in that category. It’s not unreasonable to be pissed off after you’ve done work, you’ve agreed to a price, and then they screw with you at the last minute.

      I agree with you completely that it’s not personal, but if they piss me off, and I don’t need them, they can find another vendor. That’s just business, too. They are a less profitable customer if they are going to cause problems.

    3. KH*

      I kind of got that impression, too, from OP#3’s letter.

      I explained that I could not accept this decrease at such a late notice, but that I now felt so badly that I preferred not to teach my course at all, as my not accepting a lower rate made me feel as if I was exploiting them in their time of need, so to speak

      That, to me, sounds like a very passive aggressive “hurt feelings” type of response. What it comes across as is “you hurt my feelings so I’m going to take my toys and play in another sandbox”. All the things about not wanting to cost them money for the course if it’s a hardship on them, blah blah blah is simply smoke and mirrors. It’s not your place to decide if they can afford you or to play guilt games with them about your services. You set a price for your services. They choose to pay them or they don’t. If they try to lower your rates later, you say “We’ve already confirmed a rate for this year’s class, but I’d be happy to negotiate next years class at a later date.” And then you decide if you want to work for a lower rate or not and go from there. If you don’t want to take the rate they offered you, then you say “I’m sorry, but that rate won’t work for me”.

      What you don’t do is make it into “I don’t want to take advantage of you in your hour of need so I’d rather not work with you at all.” It’s clearly a passive aggressive, manipulative way to handle a professional negotiation.

      1. Artemesia*

        They didn’t negotiate, they informed the OP that they would be paying her less than negotiated. She told them she wouldn’t do the work for that and they backed down. This is not negotiating, this is unethical bullying by the client. If she has the choice it is perfectly reasonable to not work with this client in the future and there is nothing childish about firing a client who tries to push you into a corner then not pay what was negotiated originally hoping that you need the work and so will agree to take less.

      2. OP3*

        Exactly what Artemesia said. And since you (and other commentators) seem to have raised the point that I’m being oversensitive, I’d like to say that in most human transactions interpersonal exchange plays a very important role and this is why a lot of importance is placed on how we behave to the people we work with/for. Otherwise, all our decisions would be simply taken on a purely financial basis but this does not always happen.

        In general, I prefer to take my business somewhere they respect me and treat me nicely and in the same manner, I chose who to work with by the same criteria. Luckily, I’m at a point in my career where I can afford to do so.

  22. NJ Anon*

    #2 I think you are being a bit sensitive. I know its frustrating to be job searching but he maybe he said “wow” out of sympathy. Try not to read too much into it. It will make you crazy.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Agreed. My husband was out of work for a year and his last interviewer asked what it was like looking for a job. He hadn’t had to do it for a long time and he didn’t know how the market/process had changed.

    2. OP#2*

      You could be right and yes at times I am little sensitive to the situation. I’m sure anyone is who is unemployed and has bills to pay. Also the day before I got an email that I lost out on a job I really wanted. So it was a discouraging couple of days for me. However, I also want to add that before I spoke with the guy a good friend of mine who does business with his company had told me that he can be a pain. His tone to me didn’t express sympathy but more shock. I could also tell from the beginning of the phone call that he had a dry sense of humor which can come across wrong in many situations.

  23. Carrington Barr*

    “So why should I change?”

    Because you were told to do so by a manager.
    Not a mystery.

    1. Florida*


      Even if the boss makes an unreasonable request (which they didn’t here), it’s not a good idea to keep doing things the old way.

    2. TootsNYC*

      round that up to, “because you were told to do so by three managers, one of them pretty high ranking,” and there’s -really- no mystery.

  24. Mookie*

    They answered that it would be very bad for them if the course was not taught this year, and that they would not decrease my fees.

    As Alison says, they were asking to re-negotiate your fees (which is not an indignity to you and is mostly inevitable the longer you deal with any client, given that you yourself will eventually want to re-negotiate, too). Should you choose to treat normal business practices as disrespectful and drop this client knowing the massive inconvenience (and possible financial liability) you’ll be causing, expect them to be vocal about it, expect peers and potential future clients to interpret your actions as out-of-touch and risky, and consequently expect your career to take a hit, particularly if you’re in a niche or insular industry. There’d be no easy way to spin such a decision positively, if you plan to be honest when asked about what happened and when; you’ll either appear petty or will be readily outed as a liar. Neither of those outcomes will be the result of poor professionalism on the client‘s part.

    If you’re sincerely concerned about helping them “in their time of need,” listen to what they’re saying and abide by the verbal contract you agreed on months ago.

    1. Mookie*

      Now that I read (as I should have before posting) that they told you what they were going to be paying you, your reaction seems more reasonable. I’m glad they walked that back. For reasons previously mentioned, it would be unprofessional of you to drop them as a client for your teaching services before completing the course as planned, and I’m not entirely sure why you’d drop them altogether if you’re contracting for multiple jobs with them each year. If and when they offer you the teaching gig again, it’d be a good idea to nail down your contract in writing well before the course is scheduled or explain in advance that your fees are not negotiable at the moment.

      1. OP3*

        Well, as Wakeen’s Teapots, Ltd. said above, goodwill on both sides is required, this is not a one-way relationship. I mean, if this client were a vendor, most of us wouldn’t keep them after having tried to up their rates in such a manner.

        Imagine that this is a wedding planner ordering wedding cakes and that after placing their order, putting the baker’s name on all the wedding material (invitations, menus etc.) and well after the baker had started baking, the planner told him “you know, we will be paying you less for this wedding because we didn’t budget well this time”. To my mind, the baker would have every right to be pissed and not trust this wedding planner ever again.

        Moreover, after reading all the comments and thinking it through, I believe I considered reacting so badly because I saw this move as using my reputation as leverage against me. I mean, I did get what I wanted but what if I hadn’t? I would have still been unable to back out of my committment, wouldn’t I?

        1. KH*

          I think you’re still personalizing it.

          What they did was wrong. They tried to bait and switch you on pricing. Your response shouldn’t be “now I feel so bad about taking advantage so I’m not going to teach at all” (see my above comment about hurt feelings and toys). Your response should be a professional “That’s not the price we agreed on and I won’t be able to teach at that price.”

        2. Mike B.*

          I’m not so sure most of us wouldn’t keep a vendor who behaved like that–sometimes people handle situations like this poorly, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the vendor (which might employ many other people with no knowledge of what happened) won’t continue to provide good service once everything’s resolved. And your hypothetical isn’t really the horror story it seems, since the baker can do exactly what you did, and either the planner will back down or (less likely) the baker can sue and is sure to win.

          However aggrieved you might feel, you need to realize that there’s no way it would reflect well on you if you dropped this client and your professional community became aware. The story would spread as “all we did was try to renegotiate the rate, and she left us high and dry!” (Which doesn’t make your client look great either, but mutually assured destruction isn’t ultimately any better than unilateral.) Try not to take things like this personally; unless it’s part of a pattern of behavior that makes the client difficult to work with, let it go.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No — if they hadn’t agreed to stick to your rates, it would have been reasonable to say you couldn’t teach the class at those rates. You’re not expected to have to eat a cut that you haven’t agreed to. But that would be a different situation than what they actually did.

        4. fposte*

          Of course you could still back out, because you don’t have a commitment to teach at that rate.

          I think you’re thinking of the commitment and the rate as two different things, and they’re not. As somebody said upthread, this is like buying a car, with you being both the car and the dealer :-). If the agreement is that the car will be bought for $10k, the buyer saying “Actually, I can only pay $8k” means the original commitment is null and void; the dealer is free to say “Nope, sorry” without any notion that they’re somehow backing out.

          1. Elsajeni*

            I do think it puts you in a tough position if they’ve been advertising your class and signing up students on the promise that you’ll be teaching, though — like, if the car buyer has signed up for Make-A-Wish Kids’ Day at the Racetrack to give rides in this cool new car you’re selling them, it’s reasonable to worry that you’ll take some reputational damage when that buyer turns around and tells the kids and their parents that you backed out of the deal at the last minute, because they’re probably not going to add “… after I told them I wouldn’t pay the agreed-on price.”

  25. SMGWiseman*

    I have sympathy for OP#1. I can envision a situation where, in the 15-20 minutes she takes to get ready at the gym, the traffic becomes significantly heavier and therefore puts her in a position to get to work late. I understand wanting to be safe with timeframes and having to maneuver morning rush hour. I also wouldn’t assume that she has the luxury of a car. When I go to the gym in the morning, I walk there, then take two buses to work. Leaving 15-20 minutes early guarantees that I will make my buses. Leaving 15-20 minutes later gets me in about 5 minutes late. So I absolutely can empathize with her situation. She also may not be able to go to the gym after work. Schedules are difficult for people.

    But she still shouldn’t be doing it. I agree with the consensus that it’s rude and inconveniences her coworkers. Her routine is the one that needs to adapt.

    1. J.B.*

      I agree. Also, look at how the routine can be modified. I understand how with longer or thicker hair more work is required to get it looking nice, but an understated makeup routine could be applied more casually in the car+in a quiet corner of the office.

  26. Jinx*

    #5 – I also wouldn’t be alarmed by a 1 hour performance review. We just had our end of year reviews, and my manager scheduled them for 30 minutes. Turns out our meetings all went longer than that, and he told us that next time he will schedule an hour so we have enough time.

      1. Jinx*

        I’d actually love that! Especially when we’re talking our year-end reviews – there’s so much I feel like I want to cover, and sometimes I forget about things until we get into discussion.

  27. Bea W*

    If the sum total of bathrooms in this workplace is 2 single occupancy, I question whether the OP should be using them at all to get ready for work. It depends on how many people are around at that time. I can see where taking up 1 of only 2 restrooms for 10-15 minutes at a time is problematic. Other employees are also probably thinking “Everyone else does this stuff at home, why can’t she?”

    If the bathroom in the office is the busiest, I think it’s totally reasonable to ask am employee to use the one in the warehouse. I suspect someone in the office had to wait a long time to do their business and complained, and I wouldn’t blame them. I’ve felt the same way when someone decides to use a plane bathroom as their primping room and I’m in the aisle doing the tinkle dance. Not cool.

    1. madge*

      This is what I wonder, although I know at my gym there are times when there is no mirror space in the locker room so it’s not an option. Someone mentioned above that getting ready at the gym could lengthen OP’s commute time, which is also valid. But, if most at OP’s workplace clock in at the same time, and OP is taking up the bathroom for 10-15 minutes right before that time, that’s pretty inconsiderate (whether intentional or not).

    2. Paquita*

      “If the sum total of bathrooms in this workplace is 2 single occupancy”

      This! Regardless of LW1’s behavior this workplace needs more bathrooms. One single bathroom for an entire call center is certainly not enough.

  28. Former Retail Manager*

    OP#1…bathroom dweller….just a potential reason that call center manager may be making an issue of this…perhaps she has IBS or other substantial digestive issues that necessitate her having immediate access to a bathroom when nature calls. My husband has this issue….IT’S BAD! He has run into women’s restrooms and even had to use a urinal for a use other than what is intended. Sorry if that’s TMI. He would clothesline the elderly if they got in his way while running to the restroom. It comes on abruptly and there isn’t much that can be done. People that suffer with these issues are typically hesitant to disclose them (my husband isn’t, which can be funny sometimes) and the call center manager may be one of them.

    I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to accommodate the call center mgr even if she doesn’t have a health issue. Most warehouse restrooms tend to be utilized primarily by males (yes, I’m stereotyping) and not quite as clean as indoor restrooms with a more even mix of male/female staff. I have used many a warehouse/garage/primarily male bathrooms and I am grossed 99% of the time. Don’t blame her for not wanting to use it.

    And on a last note, I am surprised at the strong feelings of some about people changing at work or other people changing either when people come in or when they’re leaving for another job. I’ve experienced this many times in my career with other employees changing and never gave it a second thought. Interesting.

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      When I worked in a call center, I could go to the restroom only on break or in a requested window that had to be as short as possible – pee, wash hands, come straight back.

      It could be that OP#1 is preventing other people from adhering to their scheduled break times or occasional requested breaks, which would affect the rate at which calls are handled. It’s not just the reps who have stats, but the centers themselves as well.

      Butterfly effect – OP#1 has no idea what kinds of conflict he’s causing by thinking only of himself and his needs.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        I didn’t even consider the time frames associated with call centers….definitely another valid reason not to tie up the restroom.

    2. TootsNYC*

      ” People that suffer with these issues are typically hesitant to disclose them (my husband isn’t, which can be funny sometimes) and the call center manager may be one of them.”

      Or, the call center manager may be acting on behalf of other employees who are one of them.
      Because that’s what managers do.

      And if this call center manager has involved two other managers, I’d be willing to bet it’s because she’s motivated NOT for personal reasons but on behalf of her employees.

  29. Phoebe*

    Everyone keeps referring to OP#1 doing their hair and makeup in the bathroom, but I don’t see any indication of gender in the post. Did I miss something?

      1. fposte*

        The one who’s regularly in the bathroom near me for 15 minutes every morning, for one; my dad with his newspaper for another (probably people use their phones for that now). But I also think the point isn’t the OP’s gender but the OP’s extended bathroom stay when it’s needed by other people.

      2. Liana*

        You should meet my ex-boyfriend. Putting gel or mousse in his hair can be a morning-long affair sometimes.

      3. Sarah*

        When I read it at first, I assumed it was a man who shaved, moisturized, put on deodorant, changed into work clothes, and did his hair. The shaving would take the most time, I imagine.

      4. Marcela*

        My husband can take maybe 40, even closer to an hour to get ready every morning. The is a small detail, though: he needs to thoroughly dry himself with a hairdryer because of some strange “behavior” of his skin that makes him super vulnerable to fungus. But he takes twice as long as me to be ready to go.

    1. fposte*

      Well, people of any gender can do hair and makeup, but you’re right that the OP doesn’t say why she’s taking so long; people are therefore extrapolating what 10-15 minutes of “get ready” means. Ultimately, I don’t think it changes anything; whether she’s performing meditation or painting on a beauty mark, she’s been told it takes too long to do it in there.

      1. Phoebe*

        Good point. And you’re right, it doesn’t really matter. It was just so universal that I thought I must’ve missed something.

    2. LBK*

      I think it’s a natural extrapolation from the standard assumption here that LWs are female, although of course not every woman does her hair and wears makeup.

      For the record, I’m a guy and when my hair’s longer it can easily take me 10 minutes to get it to comply with something resembling an organized hairstyle.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just a quick correction there — I don’t want to encourage people to make a standard assumption that letter-writers here are women, because that’s not the case. I just default to “her” and “she” as generic pronouns for ease of writing when I need pronouns. But I don’t mean to imply everyone is actually a woman!

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m pretty sure that the OP is a man, actually. I think people went to assuming a woman because they figured it was makeup that was taking so long.

      1. TootsNYC*

        When you think about it, “getting ready” for a man would easily involve shaving, which isn’t fast, and which often requires a sink. A woman could put on makeup and blow-dry her hair in the supply closet, actually, if they had a mirror. Makeup can go on in the car (if there is one).

        Of course, a man could use an electric razor in the supply closet.

          1. LBK*

            I actually did find little bits of hair all over the sink in the men’s room here once, so I guess there is some man on my floor who thinks it’s normal to shave at the office. I just hope it was his face.

    1. Just employed here*

      Re: “45-60 min is normal in my experience”.

      With all these comments about bathroom usage, I first read this as another comment on that topic!

  30. Queen Anne of Cleves*

    Re: OP1
    It is really annoying when two (or more) adults can’t come to terms and work out a compromise and as a result management has to implement rules meant more for a grade school audience. I see both sides. I wish they could have come together as mature adults to reach a solution that would meet both their needs. Mornings can be a busy place for a shared bathroom but baring illness or the unfortunate choice of eating a left over burrito for breakfast followed by a double espresso most of us have a pretty regular…um…schedule. OP could simply have said “hey coworker, I am going to use the bathroom for a bit would you like to get in there first?” Or Coworker could say “Hey do you mind if I get in there first before you?” I don’t like the tone of the letter either and it might be the attitude that caused the whole debacle and not actually the fact that she was occupying the bathroom for a long period of time. Now management is involved and you, OP, are the one that needs to comply with their request.

  31. The IT Manager*

    I feel like we’re missing information.

    Is the call center manager being a jerk? ie I don’t care if you inconvenience yourself by having to walk over the warehouse and the warehouse employees by occupying their restroom to get ready, but don’t inconvenience me by forcing me to wait for the restroom or have to walk to the warehouse myself.

    Or is their a legitimate reason that less people use the warehouse bathroom at that time of day. Either way there is a single occupancy bathroom that’s occupied for a short while while you get dressed. I don’t think there’s anything odd about changing at work, but these single occupancy bathrooms do make a little less convenient for you and others.

    If there’s a legitimate reason for her request, then acquiesce gracefully, but if it’s all about her convenience perhaps you can point out that there’s the same issue with the warehouse restroom and you don’t want to inconvenience warehouse workers.

    1. fposte*

      But the OP’s own boss has said to cut it out now, and this really is a silly thing not to comply with; in fact, the more you resist complying with it, the worse you look, because it seems like you think it’s okay for everybody else in the call center to use the warehouse bathroom but not you.

    2. LQ*

      We might be missing information, but the point at which a call center manager, a gm, and your boss have all said “Don’t do the thing” you should stop doing the thing. If you think it’s unreasonable then you should look for a new job. They aren’t telling you to forge financials so it isn’t like they are all telling you to do an unethical thing or an illegal thing. You might not like it, but it’s a thing management doesn’t want you to do. If this not cooking fish in the microwave, showing up at 8:01 every Tuesday instead of 8:00, or using a mildly inconvenient bathroom to not inconvenience a group of people over one person.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Ok. I perhaps didn’t finish reading #1 before I answered. Once your boss tells you to do or not to do something within their purview LW, you need to just do. This includes which and when (within reason) you use restrooms while in the office or on the clock. I wonder about the call center manager, but I also wonder why the LW is being so antagonistic. It’s not a crazy request.

  32. OriginalEmma*

    OP1: It could also be that the warehouse has locker rooms specifically for changing, showering, etc., as well as the single occupancy bathroom whereas the office space does not.

    Either way, OP#1 is monopolizing the only bathroom in her office for an extended period of time for an optional behavior unrelated to excretion. A manager is asking her to move the performance of that optional behavior to another space to limit the discomfort of the manager herself and possibly other coworkers. It sounds very reasonable to me.

    OP is lucky she is being permitted to continue this behavior at all, because the office could very well ban employees from using the bathroom as a changing room at all. I believe we’ve had a letter talking about that in the past. We all know that’s bad management and overkill but it could very well happen all because OP refuses to be responsive and gracious to a very reasonable request.

  33. Erin*

    #1 – Looked at this quickly, and though it said, “Getting ready to work in the office bathroom,” skipped ahead to Alison’s answer (which I never do) and thought I saw, “Yes, you should get ready to work in the office bathroom” and I was like, what???

    Okay, so you’re NOT working IN the bathroom. Great.

    Yes, I do think you should get changed in the other one. That’s annoying. And cold. But with a one-person bathroom for one office I think it’s very reasonable they ask you not to get ready in there.

    Another possibility – other than Alison’s getting ready at the gym – is if you got to work even earlier. I assume you’re already getting up super early, so maybe it’s not feasible, but it would be hard to argue with you if you’re using the office bathroom an hour before anyone even gets into the office. If you’re super lucky you could negotiate a different schedule where you come in early and leave earlier.

  34. Ann Cognito*

    I assumed LW#1 is female since the letter says he/she works as an HR Assistant, which is completely sexist on my part, since a male can of course do that job too! Also, I think the fact that he/she takes 10-15 minutes led me to assume female, just because I think most males wouldn’t take that long on a daily basis. Interesting though; there is nothing to indicate gender, but your question led me to going back and re-reading to see why I thought female.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I think we’re forgetting the idea that men usually shave in the morning, which can be time consuming. And it’s certainly something that someone might not do before they go to the gym.

      And Alison has said that her indications are that the writer is male.

  35. Blitz*

    My performance review was 4 hours, with 3.5 of those spent by my supervisor talking about themselves. One part of the “conversation” went like this:

    *supervisor tells me some story about how they made a good decision for the department 20+ years ago*
    “And like my dad used to say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. But I like cats, so I don’t really like that saying…maybe more than one way to skin a dog. But I like dogs, too. ”
    *story about dog they had as a child*

    They do this with everyone, so it takes weeks for the performance reviews to be finished.

    1. A Cita*

      OMG, I don’t know why, but this just made my day. It’s kind of awesome in a terrible sort of way.

    2. myswtghst*

      My performance meetings with my boss can take 2-4 hours, but it’s because we’re both talking, and we’re mostly talking about work stuff (since I typically have a number of business-dictated goals along with developmental-type goals I help choose, it can take a while to talk through, plus my projects impact a number of other people on our team, so we also have to talk about all the overlap). I can’t imagine making it through a meeting like yours without my face giving away how over it I was!

  36. Liana*

    Re: OP#1 – I have admittedly never worked in a warehouse so I don’t know if this is feasible, but is it possible to make the second bathroom less cold? Someone suggested a space heater above, which could be a great idea, but what about just putting plastic over any windows? I do that in my apartment to cut down on heating costs and I swear it works wonders.

    1. myswtghst*

      I think this is a great idea. Since it sounds like management has made it clear OP#1 should use only the warehouse bathroom for getting ready, they could look to make that bathroom more appealing / comfortable, which would probably benefit the others who have to use the bathroom too.

  37. S.I. Newhouse*

    This blog has been phenomenally useful to me, and I’m really happy to have found it.
    That said, I’d like to make a suggestion. There seems to be lot of bathroom-related questions lately, and they’re always in the “five questions” posts. Whenever there’s a bathroom question mixed in, the comments overwhelmingly tilt toward the bathroom question, and the other questions get lost. Maybe the bathroom-related questions should be stand-alone posts? Just a thought. Like I said, this blog is phenomenal and it certainly isn’t stopping me from reading.

    That said:
    OP #2, don’t let that manager get you down. Four months is NOT a long time at all.
    OP #5, a one-hour performance review may be a good thing — as painful as it may sound on the surface. This suggests that there probably will be enough time for a substantial, two-way discussion, which not all employers do…

    1. Laurel Gray*

      I think often enough there is one of the five letters that is popular for a variety of reasons and they probably should have been stand alone posts. I don’t know if Alison has a criteria for publishing a letter as a stand alone vs a 5 questions but sometimes the other letters get buried. The letter from yesterday afternoon about asking the interviewer about experience was a stand alone but only had 24 comments.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Generally, I pick standalone posts based on some combination of length (really long is a no-go for the five-answer posts), my sense of whether they’re interesting enough to carry a post on their own, and how likely they are to be useful to a wide range of people. For example, the “there’s a sex club in my office” post wasn’t likely to be useful to lots of people, but I figured would be highly interesting. With today’s bathroom one, I think the answer is clear enough to most people that I didn’t think it made sense as a standalone post.

        The majority of people read but don’t comment, so I try to avoid having commenting potential be the primary driver of how I do it.

        1. S.I. Newhouse*

          Thank you. I’m sorry that my post probably came across sounding obnoxious but I appreciate the explanation!

    2. OP#2*

      Thank you. I think the average is more like 4-6 months. The response just caught me off guard and I think it was a little insensitive but I am also in a not so great situation so my emotions are on edge at times. :) I think people who haven’t been through it don’t realize how tough it is at times.

  38. The Carrie*

    #1 I just don’t get if she is showering at the gym why she doesn’t get fully ready there. Makes no sense.

    1. TootsNYC*

      As mentioned in other places–it may mean that leaving the gym later puts the OP in an inefficient commute time. Traffic is heavier even just 15 minutes later, so a drive of 7 minutes is now 20. So getting on the road sooner means less time in the car.

    2. Phoebe*

      I wondered about this, too. What are they wearing to travel from the gym to the office? Are they putting their dirty clothes back on after the shower?

  39. Kapers*

    OP #1, think of it this way: 10-15 minutes can be preventing anywhere from one to like SEVEN other people from using the restroom as a restroom. It’s not just the manager. Are your getting-ready-in-the-most-convenient-space needs really more important than the do-my-business-and-get-back-to-work needs of that many other coworkers? Every day?

    I agree that your post does read as unnecessarily adversarial. Though it can sometimes be annoying/embarrassing to be asked to change to accommodate others, you aren’t being attacked– I think this is one of those cases where you’ve just got to grit your teeth and move on, and do as asked. It’s a totally reasonable request. You’ll look selfish and unprofessional if you fight this.

  40. E*

    Is there a gas station with a restroom near one or both locations for the OP to use to get ready? Or a McDonald’s? The gym is the obvious place to get ready though. Why draw negative attention from management over it? Possibly a coworker noticed the inappropriate restroom use and said something to management. Why risk irritating coworkers?

  41. Ad Astra*

    Am I the only one who would prefer to get ready in the cold bathroom after I’ve just been at the gym?

  42. snuck*

    On number 1… there’s another thing.

    The Manager is asking. A Manager is asking. It doesn’t have to be a hugely reasonable request, it’s a convenience thing for them possibly… but let’s remember… it’s not a peer, the OP is not a manager… I don’t like power play games anymore than anyone else, but this doesn’t sound like that, and if I was the manager of the OP I’d be taken aback a chunk to receive this response. I say, I am boss, I say do it, do it.

    Ask questions and you might find out why… you might not. It’s none of your business if someone else has a medical condition that means they can’t go out to the warehouse toilet. It could just be that everyone else doesn’t want to go out into the cold. It might be a bug bear about your grooming habits leaving a mess, or the fact that the bathroom has been tied up just before a shift start etc.

    But two managers have now told you not to. I’d listen. And not take it too personally, just get on with it.

  43. Nervous Accountant*

    After reading nearly 400 comments about the bathroom post, I kind of get a gist of what the general idea is: standalone bathroom, not appropriate or polite to hog it to do your makeup.

    But I’m reading a lot of comments about those who have “issues” and health stuff. What abou\t someone who just takes their normal daily “break” on a regular basis tha thappens on a work schedule? Is it rude ????

    Idk, after reading posts here, I’m just mystified as to how offended people get at what goes on in a bathroom. Brushing teeth, pooping for too long,pooping in front of others, doing a little makeup, contact lesnes, everything’s offensive. (btw, I agree with the overwhelming posters here that OP is in the wrong).

  44. DoNotHogBathroom*

    Letter writer #1- Have a little compassion for your coworker. She/he may be desperate to use the bathroom. I have irritable bowel disease (Crohn’s/Colitis). Anyone who suffers from IBD or IBS can have a flare which causes them to desperately need the bathroom. Honestly having a close, available bathroom is crucial and can be a big area of anxiety for me. One of my workplace requirements is to have a bathroom that is more than single occupancy. When in a flare, the need to use the bathroom is extremely urgent. Having to walk even an extra 20 feet can make it or break it. Many people suffer from IBD or some form of IBS- you can’t tell just by looking at someone. And I guarantee I’m not blasting that news around the office- no one I work with knows. So use the other bathroom or get ready at the gym and find within yourself a little compassion for your fellow colleague everyone is fighting their own battle.

  45. That Marketing Chick*

    #1 I’m in shock that anyone thinks it’s OK to prevent a bathroom from being used for 10 – 15 minutes just because it’s more convenient and warmer for them. This is a huge inconvenience for everyone else. What if someone really has to go? What if they get sick? What if they get something in their eye? Is it really fair to make them wait or walk further so that you can get ready for work? You’re completely out of touch with appropriate work behavior. The words “millennial”, “entitlement mentality” and “narcissistic” are floating around in my head.

Comments are closed.