my coworker wants to find the office pooper — and it’s me

A reader writes:

Help! I’m the Office Pooper. Every office has one. I have a medical condition that causes it but when I have to go, I have to go!

The bad part is I have a coworker who is on a witch hunt to find the Office Pooper. She sits in front of me and constantly complains about people using the bathroom to poop. I try not to get into it much but I’m scared of being busted out! I honestly don’t do it for shits and giggles. (Pun intended.) I can’t help it. How do I resolve this situation? I’ve already lied and said it’s not me, so I can’t admit the truth.

My coworker has even watched the bathroom at different times through out the day to try and find out who it is. Luckily she tells me about these stake-outs before they happen so I can avoid using the bathroom then. My stomach is hurting and my nerves are on edge. I just want to poop in peace, but that seems like too much to ask of my coworker. Any advice?

For starters, please stop feeling like you’re doing something shameful by using the bathroom for its intended purpose! That is what it’s there for. I assure you that many other people use your office bathroom for the same thing, despite your coworker’s horror at the idea.

Then, tell your coworker to cut it out. The next time she complains about people using the bathroom, say this: “It’s a bathroom. That’s what it’s there for. People poop in it. Can you lay off the bathroom monitoring? It’s gotten really weird.” Seriously — this is 100% okay to be blunt about. What she’s doing is really weird, and you can name it for what it is.

If she pushes back or continues on her anti-poop mission, you might as well get even more straightforward, and perhaps point out how crappy (haha!) what’s she’s doing is for anyone with a medical condition that might necessitate daytime defecation. For example: “Dude, cut it out. You’re condemning perfectly normal behavior, and this is particularly awful for anyone who has a medical condition that requires them to have access to a toilet. You need to drop this.”

And if it continues, please ask your boss to intervene. You can say something like, “Jane is constantly complaining about people using the bathroom, and is even monitoring who goes in to try to figure out who’s using it for what. It’s really unnerving to feel like our bathroom use is being tracked — can you tell her to cut it out?”

The most important thing, though, is that you stop letting her intimidate you out of using the toilets for their intended purpose. Go forth and poop with no shame.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 1,023 comments… read them below }

    1. Amadeo*

      And what the heck is her end goal? What does she plan to do if/when she finds out who the person using the bathroom to go to the bathroom is? It’s not like she’s going to be able to tell them to stop…using the bathroom to go to the bathroom (well, I mean, she can try, but honestly that ought to be more embarrassing for her than for whoever had to poo through the day!)?

      1. Office Pooper*

        I have no clue! It’s like she’s determined to figure it out but I haven’t heard an intended course of action after the pooper is found.

        1. animaniactoo*

          I suggest you thoroughly horrify her by saying “As a matter of fact, I think I’ll go use it for that purpose now. I’ll be back in 5.” and walk in right in front of her.

          When you come back out and she’s sitting there making a big issue out of it “It’s a bodily function. It happens. That’s why we have a bathroom – as a place to take care of it. I’m not going to pretend anymore that it’s normal or possible for most people to hold it in until they get home.”

          However… if nobody is using air freshener and there’s no fan – you might want to address that. Because poops happen, but nobody wants to deal with the lingering stench, especially if they sit near the bathroom.

            1. Specialk9*

              Poopourri really works! As does Pure Citrus. It’s not just a partial cover, it really works perfectly.

              It’s essential oils, so hopefully less of an issue for scent sufferers. (That’s true for me – essential oils don’t bug me like artificial scents.)

              1. Jadelyn*

                Pure citrus and citrus magic are the best!! I like the plain lemon or lime ones (skip the raspberry lemon citrus magic, it’s sickeningly sweet). Febreze air fresheners give me headaches, I hate the chemical smells, but citrus oil doesn’t aggravate my senses. I also find the citrus air fresheners to be way more effective than Febreze. A 3-pack of citrus magic cans costs under $20 on Amazon and will last you quite awhile, since you really don’t need to use much to clear the air.

                1. Johannes Bols*

                  I would tell the mentally ill coworker about these air fresheners and let HER buy them! Bending over backwards to suit the mental illnesses of coworkers is something I wish others would cop to. YOU ARE THERE TO DO YOUR JOB, not to babysit adults with an emotional IQ of 3 years old!

                2. Mentally ill, not a jerk*

                  Not a reply to you, Jadelyn, but I can’t seem to reply to Johannes Bols. Johannes, you should know your comment was incredibly insensitive and disrespectful to those of us who suffer from mental illness. Dealing with the pain
                   of mental illness is quite enough without people perpetuating stigma and mocking us. I assure you, I have never once insinuated bathrooms are not meant to defecate in.

              2. Becky*

                Can’t really do this one at work, but the best deodorizer I have ever found for a stinky bathroom is lighting a couple of matches and letting them burn down.

              3. Indoor Cat*

                Not sure re: human poops, but as a cat owner who is too lazy to empty the box literally every single day (which seems to be the frequency my kitty poops), when I get home from work I sprinkle some baking-soda based deoderizer on top and spray f’breeze around the room, and nobody can smell anything. In fact, I’ve had houseguests open the door to the “cat room” (used solely for cat purposes and storing stuff that never got unpacked from the move) thinking it was the laundry, because it basically smells like detergent.

                A quick Google search tells me baking soda is okay for toilets, although you might want to double-check.

                1. Gabriella*

                  Please clean your litter box at least once a day (scoop the poop)! Your cat(s) go in there and scratch around before and after and then track whatever gets stuck in their claws all over your home. YUCK! Also cats noses are much more sensitive so your spritzing febreeze around could be quite unpleasant to them.

                2. Anne*

                  They didn’t say they don’t scoop every day, they said they don’t empty the box every day. His/her tips are to get rid of lingering odor, not make it ok to have poop laying around. I assume the office pooper flushes- so it’s the same issue.

            2. Alison Read*

              For those washrooms that have no ventilation (and believe it or not – the GI impatient floor at the local hospital does NOT have fans or windows that open!!!) yes poopourri can be a lifesaver but so can a plug in air cleaner. Not one of those fragrance things, rather a cleanser. You can get the ones that work via UV lights vs filters to save the onus of someone having to replace the filters. It’s cheap enough to even not bother with chain of command – just anonymously donate it one for the greater good.

            1. fposte*

              Judging by my building, the grandfathering provisions are pretty extensive. We’re lucky we don’t have to use kerosene lanterns.

            2. AnnaleighUK*

              You need ventilation, so an opening window or a fan.

              Building inspector here so I could really bore you about ventilation regulations but I won’t!

              1. JulieBulie*

                I recently stayed at the Treasure Island hotel in Las Vegas, where the bathroom had neither a fan nor a window. I didn’t think that was ever legal everywhere, but I was wrong. (And it sucked.)

              2. Hotstreak*

                My office bathroom doesn’t have a fan or window of any kind, and the poop smell can linger for over an hour. We have another bathroom 100 feet away in the lobby that’s designed for pooping (with fans and everything!) but people don’t like to use it since you have to walk through the lobby to get there. Management thinks this is no big deal and won’t solve the issue. Maybe if it’s a code violation I can see if the Gov will get involved, but I doubt they would.

                1. designbot*

                  It’s probably existing nonconforming–meaning that the code was put in place after the bathroom in question was, so nobody will do anything about it. Building code isn’t a thing that you constantly have to update to match, but rather a barrier to entry, which once you’ve crossed you usually don’t worry about it again.

            3. Artemesia*

              Almost no office or public bathrooms in my long long life have had fans. I have never worked in a building where the bathrooms had fans and most of them didn’t have windows. It is ridiculous but it is common. And air freshener just makes the place smell like horrifying perfumed poop. None of this has anything to do with whether people should use bathrooms for their intended purpose though.

              There are people who have a thing about people brushing their teeth in office bathrooms too. These people all need to get a life.

              1. klew*

                At my last CPA firm some put a sign reading “I just sprayed fruit scented air freshener and now it smells like shitrus”.
                But, apparently, not everyone appreciated the humor because it was gone by the end of the day.

              2. Ihmmy*

                horrifying perfumed poop is the worst. I would rather smell a bad bowel movement than go home from the migraine I get form air freshener any day of the week

                1. Jadelyn*

                  I seriously have to pull my shirt up over my nose and breathe through that if someone sprays the Febreze while I’m in there. And we have some people who will hold down the trigger for like 5 solid seconds, no exaggeration.

                2. bookish*

                  Oh my gosh, a while back my office bathroom was suddenly filled with bathroom scent things that made me want to vomit whenever I walked in. Occasional lingering bathroom smells would have been greatly preferred to those.

                3. Turquoisecow*

                  Someone put a can of aerosol hairspray in our office bathroom. I mean, that was nice of them? But the scent of it makes me feel sick whenever someone uses it. (Thankfully, not that often)

            4. Alienor*

              I thought that too, but I started working in a new building a couple of years ago and none of the bathrooms have ventilation. They’re all placed down hallways so no one sits directly outside one, but it’s pretty whiffy when you actually walk in (plus there’s just dead silence, which is weird and makes ordinary bathroom noises seem 10x as loud as normal).

            5. Restoring Faith*

              My work bathroom is newer and has no fan. Poopouri has been super helpful in terms of expanding my pooping options at work. My biggest challenge now is reducing streaking. Sometimes flushing doesn’t help. It’s possible the poop investigator is being affected by the visual and olfactory evidence of the poop.

              1. Poo Advice*

                Place a seat liner folded in half in the bowl before you use the toilet. It “captures the poop” and reduces streaking by 99%.

                Also almost as bad as smells are toilet bowls with floating poo bits. Gross.

          1. I get migraines from scents*

            The air freshener might be a problem in itself, if there’s anyone with scent sensitivities in the office. Our office has a bathroom with no fan and okay yeah, the leftover smell of ‘that was a bad poop’ is bad, but it’s AWFUL in there when someone decides to ‘cover up’ the smell with yet another smell. Public bathrooms are a no win/no win situation. :/

            1. Alli525*

              Some air fresheners are specifically created to eliminate odors, though – not all just mask it or cover over with a noxious scent. And if someone has a scent sensitivity I imagine ADA accommodations could be offered so they can sit further away from the bathrooms.

              1. SusanIvanova*

                They still have to use the bathrooms. I’ve never noticed the scent outside the bathroom but when it’s just been used the whole bathroom reeks of it.

              2. Artemesia*

                I believe the idea that air fresheners ‘eliminate odors’ is a myth. There was one years ago that essentially numbed the olfactory senses so in that sense ‘eliminated odors, but the commercial ones that claim to do this really don’t.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Agreed. I can smell the fresher and the bathroom smell. It really does not do that much, I think.

              3. Sally Seattle*

                It’s my impression that that’s a marketing ploy – there’s no such thing as an air freshener that can truly “trap and eliminate” odors. Most air fresheners work by adding a new scent, and using chemicals that actually bind to the receptors in your nose and reduce your sense of smell. The ones that can actually “absorb” odors are typically baking soda or activated charcoal, which work too slowly to be immediately effective for a strong odor.

                The EWG found that Febreze contained 89 air contaminants, including ones associated with cancer, asthma, and reproductive and nervous system toxicity.

                1. Natalie*

                  The main ingredient does actually bind to hydrocarbons and reduce their volatility, which is essentially how things “smell”. Febreze would be a much better product if they didn’t also feel the need to add perfume to it.

                2. Samiratou*

                  I believe Febreze used to have an unscented version, but got rid of it. Presumably because consumers didn’t want to buy something that didn’t “smell fresh” in addition to eliminating odors.


              4. pooper*

                nothing better to a chemically sensitive person than a bathroom where everyone feels to spray the “freshener” of their choice.
                Gone in there and had to leave and just “hold it” becasue the air was so thick.

                1. Artemesia*

                  I used to get my car washed when I flew at the park and fly place, but in spite of making a big deal about no ‘air freshner’ and putting big signs to that effect in the car itself, like taped to the steering wheel, about half the time the car would have been saturated in that horrible ‘air freshner’ scent. And it would take a couple of weeks to dissipate even when I left windows open when driving etc. So I stop getting my car washed.

            2. Cercis*

              One bathroom I used to use had a melon scented air freshener thing. Because you want your bathroom to smell like food. It was enough to turn me off melons for a day or so after using it.

              Air fresheners should be a “no go” – they’re deadly for some and for others they just make us feel really, really ill. However, there are lots of other things that can be done – starting with better ventilation and ending with an air filter.

              1. 5 Leaf Clover*

                Someone brought a “tropical fruit” to one of my work bathrooms. I would rather smell a thousand poops.

              2. JB (not in Houston)*

                The bathroom at my office had spearmint-scented air freshener things for a few weeks earlier this year. It was disconcerting.

            3. Allison*

              I’m not sensitive to smells, but I hate using the bathroom and feeling like I’m inhaling droplets of perfume, it’s only marginally more pleasant than smelling poop.

              Stuff you spray into the bowl, or leave near the bowl, is better because it doesn’t fill the air and linger for others to breathe in.

              1. NoSpray*

                I’m personally really allergic to perfume, and it’s a touch allergy. I’ve had terrible reactions because someone didn’t like the smell of their own shit, and sprayed something “on or near the bowl” — ie on the seat, where later folks sit. It’s far safer for a lot of folks to just leave it be.

                I’m really grateful our HR militantly eradicates any scents in the building and reminds people periodically not to be evil about them.

            4. Julia the Survivor*

              Air fresheners have many dangers. The non-natural ones use toxic chemicals that can both make people sick quickly and cause long-term damage. One time someone brought in one called Carrascent that had some chemicals… I had a headache for a day and a half from it, and one of my colleagues got sneezing fits.
              So I like citrus air freshener – and there are people with citrus allergies so severe they go into shock just from the smell. Any natural freshener could trigger someone’s allergies.
              We used to an unscented solid deodorizer, the kind where you twist a plastic cone to release the deodorizer. That worked well, but we’re not allowed to order it anymore. In theory people could also be sensitive to that.
              Now I just try to poop in the bathroom with a vent, and if I have to use the other one, crack the door to let the smell dissipate gradually.

              1. Rainy*

                Yeah, I’m one of those people that anything with orange oil in it makes my lungs seize up. Sometimes the lung reaction happens before I can even register that I smell orange.

                1. B5SnowDog*

                  That happens to me when I inhale clove oil fumes. Poo-pourri is a nightmare, at least the Christmas one is.

              2. Wintermute*

                I totally misread that as you try to poop IN the bathroom vent.

                It struck me as effective but perhaps a little passive-aggressive.

            5. Tau*

              I have asthma that doesn’t like chemicals. I’d much, much rather smell the odour of natural (if not exactly picturesque) bodily functions than end up coughing for the next few hours.

              1. Kathlynn*

                Me too. There is a section in one of the local malls that I dread going through, because it has 2 body shops across from each other. So I cannot avoid possible triggers if I head down that hallway.

            6. Jennifer Thneed*

              Yeah, and this goes double for scented cat litters. I get it! They’re meat-eaters. It makes their poop smelly. That’s why they cover it (well, okay, that’s why they’re supposed to cover it but I’ve noticed that my cats that never lived outside are less good at that).

              Good cat litters have neutralizers. Bad cat litters have perfume. I have never understood the perfume – it’s not like you can’t also still smell the poop.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Maybe that’s why my cat is so bad about burying her poop…she’s been an indoor-only cat her whole life, and when she uses the litterbox she literally scratches everything *around* the box in that covering motion. She paws the wall, the dresser, the carpet, just…not the litter itself.

                I had to move the touch-activated floor lamp after a few rounds of “on-brighter-brightest-off-on-brighter-brightest-off-on-etc.” when she would paw at the touch-activated base of the lamp next to the litterbox, leaving me to just wait for a few minutes in fluctuating light levels.

                1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  It’s also a dominance thing. Cats who don’t bury poop are basically going “I am the boss of this household.”

              2. Happy Lurker*

                My cat would wait for me every morning (we shared the second bathroom) as soon as I started putting on makeup…here comes the cat. He really loved me. That’s what I told myself, as I learned how to put makeup on in 2 mins or less.

                1. MCM*

                  I had a Siamese that would do a loud cry when he relieved himself and run around the apartment. Thought he had a blockage when I caught on, but it was just him.

                  OP — you could do a loud and run around the office.

              3. Misc*

                Actually, cat poop mostly smells because of the not meat stuff in cat food – after I switched mine to all meat, they poop way less and it hardly smells because they’re digesting more of it properly.

                (This was a big factor in switching my first cat when she was very old and had litter box issues,)

                1. Adlib*

                  Seconded. I feed an all-meat raw diet (for about 3 years going on 4 now), and my cats’ poop actually doesn’t smell at all and is mostly dry. Not gross at all either. Raw food FTW!

              4. Nanani*

                Scented litter is the worst thing I have ever smelled, and that’s without cats using it for the intended purpose.

                If I hate it that much, how bad is it for a cat’s nose? WHY DOES THIS EXIST.

                1. An AAM Fan*

                  I am SO with you on this. We got two kittens recently, and also have an older cat. With kittens, you are not supposed to use the clumping litter. ALL of the non-clumping litters are scented. I cannot find one in my area that isn’t. I would truly rather smell the cat poo than smell the obnoxious perfumes they put in that litter. Why oh why???

            7. Cassie*

              Our offices have automated air fresheners mounted above the mirror, and I swear those little b*stards are out to get me. A snoot full of spray, every time I wash my hands.

              1. LA*

                My boss once literally ripped the automated air freshener off the wall in one of our office bathrooms so it would stop spraying. The custodian replaced it, but hid it this time, so it took him awhile to find it, and we all got to hear the saga of his Quest to Remove the Godforsaken Air Freshener for a few days until he found it under the sink.

                I think after that he actually spoke to someone about not replacing it (or the custodian gave up), because we haven’t had one in that bathroom since.

          2. klew*

            And when, if, you pass her desk on your way back to yours make satisfied sighing sounds and maybe a few “ahhh”s.

          3. KP*

            You raise a good point. I once had a colleague who had some issues (compulsive overeating, the main one) and pooped a few times a day, and due to a poorly designed office, the entire place became a giant stench hole. She also was “messy” and didn’t clean up after herself. This problem was a consideration in deciding to move locations, and a bathroom awar from the rest of the office was a big plus. Everybody poops, but not everybody manages it in a common area very well.

        2. Say what, now?*

          This is not meant to shame you at all, but maybe she’s upset if the ventilation is poor? Our building is a converted warehouse and the landlord did the work himself which has led to many issues (thermostat wars being at the top of the list), but one of them is stagnant air in the bathroom because he forgot to put a fan in the vent and the vent is too small and poorly placed in addition. If this is the case a can of Fabreeze might be all that’s needed to appease her.

          But if it’s just that people do poop that she’s upset about, maybe get her a copy of Everybody Poops and leave it at that?

          1. Kate*

            “But if it’s just that people do poop that she’s upset about, maybe get her a copy of Everybody Poops and leave it at that?

            LOL, I came here to suggest this exact thing. I agree that maybe her complaint is really about the smell and not the action of pooping, but that’s also why I think it would be good for OP to point out how she’s basically shaming people for a normal bodily function, which is not OK ever, but especially if someone has a medical condition where they need access to the bathroom. Maybe that will get her out of her own head for a sec to realize there are ways to mitigate the smell (matches, scented candles, Febreeze, Poo-Pourri, etc.) because in a land of high coffee consumption, people are going to poop.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

              Exactly what I was going to suggest! It’s really weird that she is attempting to shame people for using the toilet for its intended purpose.

          2. JustaTech*

            My building has the strangest ventilation issues, and one of the odder ones is that the kitchen area vents into the women’s bathroom. So you walk into the bathroom and it smells like whatever was last microwaved. (Which is a billion billion times better than the other way around!)

            1. Parenthetically*

              Ours does exactly the same thing — kitchen vents into the ladies’ room!! It is extremely strange to suddenly smell someone’s lean cuisine or popcorn while doing one’s business.

          3. Amazed*

            I don’t know, it sounds like we have a problem either way. Either she’s truly upset that people are pooping (in which case her sensibilities can’t go overriding medical problems or even the explicit purpose of having a bathroom in the first place) or she’s actually worried about the poor ventilation (in which case this is such a glorious failure to articulate that I can’t see this being the only part of the workplace it affects).

          4. askamngrfan*

            The trick is not to wait till you have made a mound, keep flashing at every drop you make. No one will ever notice that you went for number two. Otherwise, its funny how poop business has garnered so many comments today than any other topic!

                1. LavaLamp*

                  That and it’s really hard to manually flush one of those toilets with the sensor on it while your sitting on it. At least for me. I don’t really bend that way.

        3. LSP*

          Your coworker is crazy!

          But, I would suggest using Poo-Pourri before you go. It cuts down on odor significantly if you spray it in the water before you go. I bought some for my office, and all of my coworkers use it (I just leave it on top of the toilet tank) and it has made a huge difference. You can get a very small bottle to keep in your pocket and no one will even know!

              1. pumpkin spice.*

                I saw the Poo-Pourrri inventor/CEO speak at a business conference last year and they put several bottles in the conference takeaway bags. I was not a believer until I tried this particular brand, it’s actually really good!!! If I’m in my own house, I don’t care about using it, but it’s awesome for public places or to leave out for guests who might be shy about pooping in my house. Haha!

              2. Bye Academia*

                I’m not Paul, but I have tried poo-pourri and it just made the bathroom smell like lemony poop. No thanks.

              3. Cress*

                I have. Adding unpleasant chemical scents to the smell of poop really doesn’t improve the situation at all.

                Different, maybe. But not better.

                1. Hotstreak*

                  It’s supposed to create a layer on top of the water, which prevents smells from escaping. In that way it’s different from a regular scented spray.

                2. Specialk9*

                  Poopourri really doesn’t smell chemically. It smells citrusy and delightful, and I don’t usually like air fresheners due to scent allergies. But obv some people can’t do citrus essential oils.

            1. LSP*

              I can’t stand air fresheners myself. They smell like chemicals and poop and often give me headaches. This is a type you spray in the water itself before going #2. It’s closer to an essential oil rather than a chemical spray. There are loads of different scents as well.

              I think OP’s coworker is making something public that should be kept private and it’s definitely not OP’s job to make her worker more comfortable about poop, but this is as good an alternative to stinky bathrooms as I have found without making me feel ill.

              1. VermiciousKnit*

                Agreed. I hate air freshener because it’s at least an instant headache and sometimes a migraine. I don’t get that from Poopourri, because it’s essential-oil based and not an artificial scent, and doesn’t smell as strongly and gets flushed away. It really does work, and I have IBS and definitely have needed to have it save my heiny on many, many occassions.

          1. Aeon*

            About the poo-pourri or any other variants that you have to spray on the water before the… ahem landing… aren’t those full of chemicals? As in, not that great for our environment?

            I do realise that smell sucks, but aren’t there better alternatives?

              1. No Green No Haze*

                (A recent Pinterest win was finding a homemade version: water + alcohol + few drops essential oil. Works well. I am a little embarrassed to know this, but it legit solves a minor shared-space problem so there it is.)

                1. Gadfly*

                  Which you can get reasonably large bottles of questionable purity (which is fine for this use) for about the same price or less that a bottle of poo-puri

                2. Justme*

                  Yep. I think mine was from the clearance section of Walgreens for like $2. I also use it on my counters (diluted) because it’s supposed to help repel fruit flies.

              2. Specialk9*

                It’s essential oils- *not* scented oils – and the bottle instructions say to spray into the toilet.

            1. Gayle Davidson-Durst*

              Literally everything is full of chemicals. You are made of chemicals. Organic free-range wheat grass juice is entirely composed of chemicals.

              But, if you like to stick with the belief that natural = safe, I do believe the name-brand Poo-Pourri is made of essential oils rather than synthetic compounds.

              1. Aeon*

                Oh, I know that the human body is an equivalent of a chemical factory with all the hormones and other bodily fluids that are in us (and we excrete, to stay on topic :P ).

                The oil we drill is also chemical and even made natural, yet I doubt that whales and all the other sea/water life like it when it gets spilled in the oceans or rivers, etc. ;-)
                Even plastic isn’t always filtered (when it is in microform) from drinking water because it is too small (and even sometimes put in soaps and scrubs and ointments, etc.)

                So yes, I try to do my best to use organic chemicals rather than the synthesized versions of it. :-) I’m on the better safe than sorry side ;-)

                Also, I’m not American but since a year or two there is a version of Poo-pourri being marketed on television here in Europe, and there are “small letters” on the bottom of the television-add that says “extremely dangerous, read the leaflet before using”. Hence my question ;-)

          2. Kathleen*

            I am absolutely against the OP having to do anything to hide the fact that he/she is using the toilet exactly the way that a toilet is supposed to be used. I guess if the ventilation is bad or something, the company or office manager or something could consider counter-measures, but nobody should feel that he has to flush extra or carry special anti-smell products just to use the toilet for elimination.

            And BTW, OP – most of us are office poopers, at least sometimes. Jeez. Your coworker is a freakin’ nut. What are you – what is anybody – supposed to do? Run across the street to a gas station or something?

        4. paul*

          bathrooms are for pooping (and other stuff). It’s kind of the point of them! OP your coworker is weird as hell about this. Unless you’re leaving a mess, and if so clean up after yourself, she’s got no reason to be upset at this.

          My last boss was horrible about this and it led to my one actual yelling match with a supervisor ever.

          Like that kid’s book says….everybody poops!

        5. ClownBaby*

          I’m sure she’s looking to publicly embarrass the culprit. “Oh the office pooper is -your name here-. His/her poops stink so bad! Hee hee haw haw.”

          I remember in highschool, people making fun of students that actually pooped in the bathrooms. I get it, poop can be smelly and there may be “funny” sounds that accompany it…but that’s what bathrooms are for. Taking craps not talking crap about students/coworkers/whoever.

          I’m an incredibly shy pooper, so I physically can’t go anywhere but my own bathroom…(I took a 3 month trip across Europe a few years back….I couldn’t poop until day 10…then my body finally decided to temporarily forgo the shyness).

          Ask the Poop Patrol what’s wrong with pooping? If it’s just the smell, see if a non-offending spray can be placed in the bathroom. My office has “Poo-pourri” in all the stalls.

          1. RVA Cat*

            The Poop Patrol made me LOL – I’m picturing a parody of Paw Patrol that revolves around dog poop. We parents of preschoolers need to make this happen….!

          2. LizB*

            Now I’m imagining a keep-calm-and-carry-on style sign with the phrase “Take Craps, Don’t Talk Crap” on it (and the poop emoji as the image at the top, of course). Apparently a necessary reminder for people in the OP’s office!

        6. Apollo Warbucks*

          The only reason this would make any sort of sense is if the toilets are being left in a mess and the coworker would like to ask the person responsible to clean up after themselves. Assuming there isn’t a messing being left then the coworker is a loon and needs to cut it out.

          1. copy run start*

            Yup… unless poo is ending up outside of the bowl or it isn’t being flushed (which I can’t imagine is the case for OP here) there shouldn’t be an issue.

            I’m not entirely thrilled about being next to the toilet either (sometimes sounds escape) but I’m not on a mission to find out who the loud pooper is! If anything, I desperately do NOT want to know who it is.

        7. SophieChotek*

          Yes like other wrote – I couldn’t figure out why she cared. (Some of the other stories we’ve read have had the mysterious co-worker making messes or going where they aren’t supposed to go – the sink, the waste paper basket, etc.) – but that is obviously not happening here. So yeah, I couldn’t figure out why this co-worker cares.

          I guess the ventilation could be an issue but geesh…talk about over-reacting.

          (I did read an interesting website about people who are afraid to poop — preciously for fear of other bathroom watchers/those who complain about the smell; it had some interesting tips.)
          Sorry you have to put up with that.

        8. Breda*

          Also, just for clarity: unless your office is literally only you and her, there is a 0% chance you are the only Office Pooper. So while this isn’t something you should feel bad about ANYWAY, it’s also not like if your medical condition were magically cleared up then all Office Pooping would stop. There are DEFINITELY other people also pooping at the office.

        9. Bibliovore*

          As someone who has had IBS issues, I can’t imagine someone in my workplace monitoring my bowel movements. Seriously, how is it her business who is going and when?

      2. Jillociraptor*

        I feel toward this situation exactly the same as I do every time I watch Ancient Aliens: I desperately want to get a cup of coffee with this woman and map out the line of thinking that has led her to this moment.

        1. fposte*

          I know, right? Like were there intervening steps where she somehow found support to escalate this obsession?

          1. Jillociraptor*

            I imagine it often. I don’t know if there is a job that is “just talk to people who have opinions that vary significantly from accepted facts and/or social norms” but I want to have it.

            I guess Jon Ronson has one of those jobs…his book about conspiracy theorists was a blast to read.

        2. The OG Anonsie*

          I talked to someone once about this who insisted that pooping at work was inappropriate. Her grounds were that it was too grotesque a bodily function to do in a professional setting, and no the work bathroom is not “for” that. She insisted people should just poop at home.

          Now my intense line of follow up questioning that I was not able to get was how this woman’s bowels work such that she somehow times her poops, and has never ever needed to poop when not in her house.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            I know a few people who won’t poop anywhere except home, for reasons ranging from shyness, to germ phobia, to ew gross that’s inappropriate.

            ALL of them have issues with constipation, and I do not think this is coincidental. Seems to me that if one continually forces their body to not defecate when it really wants/needs to, eventually it’s going to mess up the body’s ability to poop naturally.

      3. Excel Slayer*

        I also want to know what she’s planning to do if she finds out? Is she going to go to her manager with a horrified face and say “Such-and-such is *whispers* pooping in the bathroom”?

      4. aebhel*

        I had a coworker who would–no joke–keep track of how many times people used the bathroom, how much toilet paper they used, and post this information publicly in the break-room.

        I don’t know what the hell her end goal was, but everyone was glad to see her go.

        1. Jady*

          Oh my.

          I can just imagine someone with a ruler unwinding, measuring, and rewinding the paper multiple times a day.

          Sounds like she needs some extra work on her plate!

          1. aebhel*

            She’d been there for ages and had connections through her spouse. Also, I’m in civil service, so it’s not that easy to get rid of people (although they certainly could have started proceedings for this), but it just… never happened. Partly politics, partly just inertia, I think.

            She retired a couple of years ago, and the place is a lot less dysfunctional now, thankfully.

        2. Optimistic Prime*

          I just don’t think anyone who is spending the time required to do that is doing their actual job.

      5. willow*

        Is she going to run around to everyone and tell them that you poop in the bathroom? I can see a whole office of people looking at her like, “So?”

      6. Kari Paullin*

        Right, I find it odd that that this person doesn’t find it odd herself, firstly. And if she has a sensitive nose . I would suggest at there next office party . She gift herself and her co -workers generously with a bottle of pooo pouri and get back to workThat awkward moment is no longer Amen!!

    2. Lény*

      … And what does she expect will happen of people don’t poop in the bathroom? People will poop their pants is what’s going to happen. She is being very weird.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Just got back from a third-world country and literally pooped my pants this morning. NOT AT ALL PREFERABLE to pooping at work :(

      2. Imaginary Number*

        I have had several close friends mention that they would never poop in the bathroom and work and I’m always amazed by that. Like … does everyone but me have magical superpowers where they can hold it for eight hours?

        1. Alienor*

          I’ve had someone tell me that too. I didn’t get it either. I mean, I’d rather go at home, but if I have to go at work and it’s 10 am, I’m gonna go. I can’t put it off for that long, and I don’t think it’d be a healthy thing to do, anyway.

          1. nep*

            Unhealthy. And I would never, ever hold it in. Worse. Thing. Ever.
            And let’s face it — don’t we all feel like the baddest of bad asses after a good poop?

              1. Kittyfish 76*

                My cats did this when they were young. You knew they went when they went running around the house!

        2. Garness*

          Yeah. I normally only poop a few/couple times per week, and if I’m away from home in a place where others may hear me poop I just don’t go, if I get the urge I ignore it and it goes away until the next day when hopefully it might happen at a more convenient time. Absolute hell would have to freeze over before I did a poop in a public bathroom with toilet stalls! I would rather suffer stomach cramps than do a poop sat next to someone else on the toilet, separated by a sheet of plastic.

        3. Scotty Smalls*

          I think most people who say that have only one or two bowel movements a day and they usually happen before/after work. But I can’t imagine every bowel movement in their life has worked out so perfectly. When you got to go you gotta go! So basically they’re exaggerating because they think it’s less embarrassing/cleaner.

        4. SamSam*

          I’m lucky that my… routine means that I rarely poop at work. I think a lot of people in larger office buildings go to different floors for “long stays,” too.

        5. LilySparrow*

          Well, some people are on a very regular schedule (so to speak) and nearly always go around the same time in the morning or evening, so not at work.

          But a) not everybody’s body works the same, and b) everybody has days when their eat/sleep schedule gets off, so everything else is going to be off, too.

          And some people do hold it, voluntarily or not. But that’s really not good for you in the long run.

          1. Adlib*

            When I’m eating right and working out regularly (currently), I’m on a super regular schedule (pun intended). It’s usually during work hours so I just go. Bathrooms are definitely for pooping.

        6. The OG Anonsie*

          That’s what I don’t get. I guess if you’re on a super regular schedule and your times are always outside work, great, but… Can you really not fathom that this is not universally true of all butts? It’s god damn perplexing.

        7. CubicleShroom#1004*

          I must live in the land of maniacs, because I have family members, coworkers and friends who flat out refuse to piddle or poop in a toilet not their own.

          They are SHOCKED I would actually consider urinating in a work place toilet, and pooping…

          Dear God…they are like the LW’s coworker…You don’t poop at work EVER. What are you a barn yard animal? Seriously. They act like pooping in an office bathroom is a Federal crime. These nuts would call you out to your face.

          So, the holding it until you are home is more common than you think.

          Brushing teething in a public restroom? That’s beyond the pale behavior too.

          I do not know how they go 8+ hours and never use a toilet.

      3. Allison*

        Maybe she’ll expect people to use a different bathroom to poop, like maybe there’s one in the building lobby, or she’ll order an outhouse to be placed 1/4 mile away from the office.

      4. Gadget Hackwrench*

        Ok good I’m not the only one thrown for a loop by the idea, which OP seems to have internalized that there is a sole individual known as “the office pooper” at workplaces. The idea of NOT pooping in the office bathroom is bizzare to me. If you gotta poo, you go and do it. You don’t just sit there holding it all day. That’s got to be distracting and unhealthy.

        I seriously thought when I read the title that this was going to be about pooping in the plants or something. I mean… at one place I worked we had a dude (men’s room) who routinely crapped on the floor. THAT is the kind of person you hunt down (and fire, which they did once they figured out who it was.) People pooping IN the toilet have NOTHING to be ashamed of.

    3. PB*

      I know, right? Does she want people to hold it all day? This is so weird. It’s not like someone’s pooping in the lobby.

    4. Celeste*

      There truly ARE people who have no qualms about saying you should do that at home, never at work. (They’re ridiculous.) It’s because they have hangups about it. Fine! Let them wait until they get home. But they don’t get to tell others what to do.

        1. Future Homesteader*

          Haha I have a close friend who believes that. He considers it a great accomplishment to be able to wait until he gets to work. I personally prefer to do it in the comfort of my own home, but I do see the appeal of getting paid…

        2. krysb*

          I just pictured the Kermit the Frog “The company gets a dollar, I get a dime, that’s why I poop on company time!” gif and mentally giggled because I’m immature.

        3. Anon non non*

          My husband prefers to get paid for his pooping time so he does the majority of his #2’s at work. I don’t like pooping at work but will do it when necessary. I think I’m a bit like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory in that I can usually set my watch to my bathroom visits.

          1. Susanne*

            I don’t understand. Since when does pooping take any longer than peeing? By the time you’ve pulled down your pants and gotten a wad of toilet paper in your hand, aren’t you done with the whole thing? I would think you’ve got some medical issue going on if you have to spend minutes on this.

            1. KSM*

              This is definitely one of those things that vary *considerably* based on certain biological realities of people’s different plumbing (like… seriously), and whether they come from a “pooping is quiet relaxation time” household or a “pooping is the time in which I poop, and nothing else” household.

            2. eilatan*

              That’s great that you can poop that quickly. Not everyone can, for a variety of different reasons.

            3. Junior Dev*

              It does take less time to pee if you stand to pee and do it in a urinal. If you sit to pee and your poops don’t take very long the difference is smaller.

            4. Garness*


              Seriously though I don’t get this. It takes the same amount of time for me to pee as it does to poop. My OH (male) didn’t believe me when I said I took less than a minute to poop so I timed it, and it was almost always forty seconds! what else are people doing in the bathroom that takes so long? I understand if you’re using toilet break as a relaxation break or have a health condition but for normal healthy adults it seems weird to me it would take much longer than 30-40 seconds to poop. I just don’t go until I need to and then it happens. I suspect my OH goes before he actually feels the need to poop hence taking longer

              1. Turtle Candle*

                It varies a lot by person and even over time. When I was younger I was like you, but when I turned 30 my bowels started, er, slowing down. And menstrual cycle makes a difference too. The plumbing is just… less efficient than it used to be and works slower.

                1. Garness*

                  My pooping is pretty slowed down by opiates (though I didn’t poop any more often before I started these meds), I can only assume I go infrequently so when I am ready to go I just go? Rather than a smaller volume less urgent poop most days? This is a lot of detail haha

              2. Anon for Wiping*

                Wiping sometimes takes a lot longer than pooping. Often my poop has a soft texture, not the pain of diarrhea but the consistency of brownie batter. And it’s exploded against my ass. So I’m wiping five or ten times to ensure that no poop will get on my underwear or clothes. And all that wiping requires larger wads of tissue, because I don’t want poop on my hands. So I’m flushing multiple times to avoid clogging the toilet.

                So yes, that’s why pooping takes a few minutes.

              3. Pomona Sprout*

                “What else are people doing in the bathroom that takes so long?”

                Dude, please scroll back up and read KSM’s comment above yours. We don’t all do 30 second poòps because we don’t all have bodies that function that way. Everyone is different. Diet no doubt plays a role, but so do a lot òf other factors people have no control over, like age.

            5. Junior Dev*

              Gift basket idea for the co-worker:

              * “Everybody poops” book
              * Poop emoji plush
              * Fiber 1 bars

              What else?

              1. Chaordic One*

                Fake plastic dog poop that you buy at a novelty store.

                (My three-year old nephew thinks it is hilarious. That, and his whoopee cushion.)

            6. Blue Anne*

              I like to take a nice relaxing poo, okay. And my poo varies depending on what I’ve been eating. Just because we’re not all speed-poosters doesn’t mean we’ve got medical issues.

              1. Lissa*

                Hahahahaha, this thread! Wow, I am learning somuch. I am like you, LOL. I didn’t know until this thread that some people took just as long as they did for #1, this is brand new information!

              2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

                Are you familiar with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, or more to the point, their characters The Stotts? They liked to ask their interview guests whether they liked a nice relaxing poo at the end of the day.

              3. The OG Anonsie*

                I love whenever someone suggests seeing a doctor any time anyone has any bodily circumstance different than their own. I like to imagine the way a doctor would react if you went in there and said something like “sometimes it takes me a few minutes to poop!”

              1. Life is Good*

                Oh yeah, when my DH parks on the toilet to read the news on his phone! Sometimes there is no pooping, just the ritual of sitting on the throne. Drives me nuts, because I have to run downstairs since I have to pee first thing in the AM.

              2. Adlib*

                Mine takes a while too. He refuses to do it at work. He will always go to the bathroom on whatever floor I’m not on. We refer to it as “private time”.

            7. AnonCrapper*

              Susanne – I’m the same, but apparently it’s not normal to poo that fast. I told the doctor that I finish pooping and peeing at the same time, and they looked alarmed and put me on a prescription for “intestinal hypermotility” and made me do anal sphincter strengthening exercises (anal Kegels), Citrucel (it’s *magic*), and a good probiotic. It’s better as far as urgency, but still I poop 6 times a day, and have 3 minutes max from “oh hey” to “it’s coming out one way or another”.

            8. Not So NewReader*

              My parents could hog the bathroom for 20 minutes or longer.
              When bowels don’t work correctly this is what happens, they would do this like once a week. I think they only pooped once a week. They had the health issues to prove it. Poor diet and lack of hydration can cause these problems.

              I had an intestinal virus one time, my bosses did not think I was sick. I was in the bathroom every 20 minutes and once I got in there it was a good 15 minutes to get out of there. I won’t describe here, but it was hell.

        4. Cassie*

          I had a coworker who did the math. Apparently one 10-minute bathroom break per day equates to a little more than a week’s PTO per year.

          He was very eager to discuss the numbers with anyone who would listen, but I was mostly wondering why he thought that a week in a bathroom stall sounded like a good vacation.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            To your coworker I say good luck finding people who don’t use the bathroom. He sounds like he had too much free time.

      1. JD*

        I know a guy like this, luckily he works close to his house, but he has to go home during the day to do his business. I think I’d burst, quite literally.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          I worked with a guy like that. It was a part-time job, and less than a mile from his house. There were a few times he literally drove home to poop. And when he was in high school (a similar distance) he actually went home at lunch time a few times to poop. He refused to go anywhere else.

      2. LtBroccoli*

        I used to be one of those people (quietly to myself though, not lecturing coworkers). Then I got ulcerative colitis. So… my opinions have radically changed. I still really, really hate going in public but now I don’t have a choice.

        1. Kms1025*

          This is exactly what I was thinking! In the midst of a painful need, there is NO waiting. What a jerk this office co-worker is…I feel sorry for the people (mostly OP) who have to work with this selfish snot. I guarantee this is NOT the only thing she is weird about!

        2. Perse's Mom*

          I’ve had intestinal distress issues since elementary school (that’s as far back as I can remember, anyway). It wasn’t until my mid 30s that I discovered most people do NOT have chronic upset stomach problems.

    5. JD*

      Ya I am so lost on the issue here. I assume that people poop in all bathrooms because you know that is what they are for??? Her concern over this is mind boggling. I agree to tell her to drop it regardless of who it is. I’d be so tempted to follow her each time she stood up and walk with her to the bathroom to ask her what she was going in there to do!

      1. Legal Beagle*

        I can imagine being annoyed if I sat really close to a smelly bathroom, but monitoring the bathroom all day to find the “office pooper” is just crazy. If the smell is the problem, OP should bring in air freshener and leave it in the bathroom for everyone to use. I guarantee you are not the only person pooping at work, OP!

        1. ErinW*

          I do sit next to a smelly (public) bathroom all day. I bring in my own air fresheners to keep in my office, and I also grumble when odors waft my way. But I would never think of being angry at or disgusted about a person using the bathroom. I’m at least lucky that my bathroom gets cleaned every day.

          1. Samata*

            Right? The situation of a smelly bathroom is not ideal…but it’s certainly not the pooper’s fault. Poop happens, and it usually stinks.

    6. AMT*

      I worked at a summer camp where the cohnselor’s lounge bathroom was not well-ventilated, so it made the whole room stink. There were other bathrooms available nearby. That is literally the only reason I can think of, and I can’t imagine it’s the case with this workplace.

      1. Jady*

        Agreed, ventilation is probably the real problem here. My office has this problem too, and they are far too cheap to address it.

    7. babblemouth*

      I had a small freak out at the start of the letter, wondering if we were somehow not supposed to poop in the toilet in the office, and I somehow missed this important Miss Manners lesson my entire life. Happy to know it’s a normal thing!

    8. Sfigato*

      This. There’s no such thing as “the office pooper.” People are at work 8-10 hours a day. Chances are many of them will have to defecate at some point during their day. Where are you supposed to poop if not the bathroom? And if the issue is that the bathroom is really near the work area and it smells, that is a problem that can and should be addressed.

      Maybe buy her the book “everybody poops?”

      1. teclatrans*

        Right, this. OP? There is no such thing as “the office pooper.” This is not a thing. As someone above suggested, it is extremely likely that others use the toilet for bodily functions.

        And just weighing in to say that I am mystified and surprised to learn that pooping is such a taboo for so many people. It had never occurred to me to feel embarrassed (heh, I said ass) by using a toilet for its intended purpose.

        1. Moose and Squirrel*

          I thought this was going to be a Mad Pooper situation, like on the Bob’s Burgers episode. But nope. Just one person with a strange fixation on people using the bathroom for its intended purpose.

    9. AshK434*

      If the OP is leaving skid marks in the toilet or not flushing then I’d be grossed out. The only other reason I can think of is that she’s exceptionally smelly.

    1. idi01*

      The OP doesn’t explain why the colleague is on a hunt to find the “office pooper”. Bad ventilation, noise, smell going into office area or something else?; what is the problem with someone pooping in the office bathroom?

  1. K.*

    I thought you meant you were particularly messy in the bathroom or something! But if all you’re doing is … using the bathroom, your coworker needs to chill. I mean, aren’t we all the office pooper? Like the children’s book says, everybody poops.

      1. Office Pooper*

        I leave no trace behind other than the smell which I try to cover up with courtesy flushing.

        Not sure if courtesy flushing is an actual term but my family uses it to describe the extra flushes you give mid poop. I can’t believe I’m actually typing this out lol

        1. me too*

          What if you got those drops that you put in the water before you poop to hide the smell. Is it the smell she is upset over? Does she sit particularly close to thw bathroom.

          I’m an office pooper too. No shame.

          1. K.*

            Or a book of matches. Striking a match hides (absorbs?) the smell really well. I can name a bunch of people who keep matches in their bathrooms for this reason.

            1. Liane*

              I wouldn’t do this at work. There are laws against indoor smoking too many places, especially in the US. OP doesn’t need the Office Potty Monitor teaming up with the Office Jr. Fire Marshall, because someone smelled/saw burnt matches and assumed there was a Bathroom Smoker as well as someone using it for it’s #2 intended purpose.

                1. Hush42*

                  Someone in my building (who works for a different company than I do) pulled the fire alarm once because they smelled smoke coming from the bathroom. It turned out someone was smoking in the bathroom (which is illegal) because it was cold outside- it was January in the snowiest city in the continental US. So in their attempt to not have to go stand outside in the cold for 10 minutes they ended up making everyone who works in the building have to go stand outside in the cold for 30 minutes.
                  All this to say that lighting a match in the bathroom could also set off overzealous co-workers.

                2. RadManCF*

                  Smoke detectors or heat detectors maybe, but not a fire sprinkler. Those require direct heat to set off. There’s a bit of glass in there that breaks or melts, ad striking a match directly below will not be sufficient. Also, setting off one sprinkler does not set off all of them, like it does in the movies. I’ve witnessed this personally; I was once working in a paper mill, and some ironworkers started a fire while torching some steel in a repulper. The sprinklers around that repulper were the only ones that went off.

              1. Decima Dewey*

                I work at a place with badly ventilated bathrooms. Lighting a match does help somewhat, but when I use the bathroom and the sulfur smells hits my nostrils, my reaction is “Someone had a smelly poop. Oh, well.”

          2. Snark*

            But why? Humans are, tragically, creatures of mortal flesh. And mortal flesh produces many kinds of gross noises, smells, wastes, and fluids.

          3. AdAgencyChick*

            Agree, Poo-Pourri is a magic product, so if you’re not using that and the smell is bad, it couldn’t hurt to start using it. Other than that, this lady needs to get over it.

            1. Samata*

              You know what else works but is cheaper that poo-purri? The bathroom freshener at Bath & Body Works – I got it 3/$10 and have one in each of our bathrooms. So to visitors that get hung up (like my mom) it just looks like room spray.

          4. Koko*

            She and her coworkers should stage a dramatic Spartacus-like scene.

            “I am the office pooper!”

            “No, *I’m* the office pooper!”

            “And I am the office pooper!”

            1. Liane*

              Or getting a group together to go to her desk to ask her loudly, “Why do you keep fussing about what others do in the bathroom? To keep us from figuring out you’re the Office Seat-Pee-er?” Even if the office isn’t cursed with one of those.

          5. Office Pooper*

            She isn’t anywhere near the bathroom and if I wasn’t the OP I would find her whole act a lot more funny. She comes back from the bathroom gagging and saying that she can’t live like this anymore and she sooooo tired of walking into a smelly bathroom. Truth be told, my shit stinks. But I don’t think it’s any worse than the next guy. No one else makes such a production about it.

            1. Say what, now?*

              OP works on two levels here! Original Poster and Office Pooper! I’ll go back to middleschool now…

              1. Snark*

                It’s a thread about pooping. I think we’re all letting our inner 12-year-olds out for some fresh air today.

            2. Gen*

              Honestly if its just the smell I know a few companies she should tour to discover how lucky she is, because any time I’ve heard about the ‘office pooper’ its someone who has made a mess. One of the offices I worked at had three (3) padlocks on the women’s bathroom because it was the one closest to the foundry. On weekends when it was only the male foundry staff in the building they insisted on using the women’s bathroom and well… they had to repaint the CEILING on more than one occasion. I have no idea how a human being could be that explosively messy, or how they could leave it like that for days, but it was the stuff of nightmares. Please just go to the bathroom in peace and ignore that woman!

              1. EddieSherbert*

                Oh my gosh, I got to “repaint the ceiling” and stared gagging. Don’t try to imagine it, people. Hahaha

                Related – a close female friend of mine works in construction and I’ve heard some horror stories of the “female-only port-a-potty” that’s supposed to be locked, and having to just drive to the nearest gas station instead…

              2. Safetykats*

                I’ve worked in several places with mostly male co-workers and unisex toilets. Trust me, worrying about whether there is some residual smell is a girl thing. Take a whiff of the men’s room and you won’t ever worry about any smell you leave behind.

                As for poo-pourri, I frankly don’t get it. We all know it doesn’t smell like lavender and roses, so unless you have really toxic smelling poo or absolutely no ventilation in the bathroom, what’s the big deal?

              3. nep*

                In my place of work a very sick or disturbed individual spread feces all over the floor, wall, and — nice finishing touch — the full-length mirror, right about face level.
                You should have seen the look on my colleague’s face (manager-on-duty) when she learned no maintenance person worked that day. She and I teamed up to clean it and, well, our relationship changed forever.

            3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

              A friend of mine used to use the phrase “so-and-so is walking around here like their shit don’t stink” to describe someone who was arrogant or had an overly high opinion of themselves. Poop always stinks. It’s a waste product, it’s expected.

              This person is a complete child.

            4. CheeryO*

              I just don’t understand how people like that survive daily life. I mean, I don’t love walking into a stinky office bathroom, but it’s like the 20th worst thing that happens to me on any given day. It barely registers.

              It’s up to you, OP, but I don’t think you need to worry about trying to cover the smell. It is what it is.

              1. Annabelle*

                Seriously, I don’t get this at all. Bathrooms rarely smell great, but isn’t that just an inevitability of life?

            5. Observer*

              I’d honestly be tempted to send out an office wide email asking if anyone else is as utterly wierded out by her bizarre obsession.

            6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              It seems like the obvious solution is for her to stop using the bathroom.

              (Or, y’know, do what everyone else does and wait 10-20 minutes for the smell to dissipate).

          6. ClownBaby*

            Someone in my office took it upon herself to supply Poo-pourri in each stall (at least in the women’s restrooms). That stuff works great! I am not an office pooper (shy sphincter…lol) but ever since that spray appeared I cannot tell when a pooper has been around.

            Even when the bathroom was smelly though, I wasn’t mad. Bathrooms are for pooping. No one should be shamed for using them for that.

          7. Purplesaurus*

            I think I’d go hard opposite and follow her in the restroom with a poo-scented spray every time I noticed her heading there.

          8. The OG Anonsie*

            When I lived in Hawaii everyone used this stuff called One Drop. It’s a tiny little dropper bottle you can easily fit in your pocket, and it’s the variety where you put a drop in the water before you sit down. It has a chemical smell like a cleaning product, not fragranced like air fresheners or something, so it’s not exactly enjoyable to smell or anything but it’s mild in the first place and it won’t leave that blend of stink and flowers behind that some things will.

            I also like that, since it smells faintly like just a normal cleaning product, if someone goes in after you they won’t be like “Oh I see Sharon did the biz and then sprayed Febreeze all over, great.” It’ll just seem like maybe the bathroom was cleaned recently and you didn’t do anything at all~~~

        2. Another office pooper*

          OP, you should check out Poo Pourri toilet spray — you spray it onto the surface of the toilet water and it forms a film that keeps odors from escaping. Sounds a bit silly, but it might help you feel less anxious about leaving any “evidence” behind. It’s available on Amazon.

        3. Somniloquist*

          We call it courtesy flushing at home too.

          Ok, I officially don’t understand the issue then. If it’s being flushed so it doesn’t smell, then it sounds like she’s just batty.

        4. WakeRed*

          I swear Deadspin used to have a huge post on pooping at work tips, because I used to have poop anxiety (I am the Office Pooper in a big way at least one day a month) – but I can’t find it. The best advice is that if you use a gentle spray (bc of the nosebleed folks), try spraying into the toilet before you poop – it leaves much less of a stank.

          But guess what, that doesn’t matter! You’re doing your best and she needs to chill out in a big way because it’s rude. Her assumption that someone is relieving themselves maliciously in the office is ridiculous and childish.

          1. EddieSherbert*

            “Her assumption that someone is relieving themselves maliciously in the office is ridiculous and childish.”

            This line… I had to laugh out loud because of the sheer ridiculousness of that sentence. I LOVE it. :D

        5. LiptonTeaForMe*

          Extra flushes mid poop are a god send for my older than dirt toilet….am tired of snaking the damned thing!

          1. Snark*

            I recently just knuckled under and bought the fancy-pants, “look you can flush golf balls!” toilet. It’s amazing. It’d be dangerous if a small child fell in.

            1. ket*

              Exactly. Didn’t SARS spread through a hotel because of the spray from flushing toilets? I find the idea of aerosoled poop on my nether regions very… unappealing :(

              1. Just employed here*

                Or aerosoled poop anywhere at all.

                That’s why you should always close the lid before flushing, folks.

                (Which handily also gets rid of any discussions about leaving the seat up or down, dogs drinking out of toilet bowls, toddlers dropping toys in there, etc. A whole host of problems solved, with one simple action.)

                1. The OG Anonsie*

                  IIRC this happens whether you put the seat down or not. Everything in your bathroom has poo particles on it, and everyone in your home including animals all share the same colonized bacteria from repeat contact with each other. You should see the kind of stuff you can culture off a pair of freshly washed hands. The world is real filthy.

        6. High Score!*

          Make her shine brownies with that chocolate elaxative and leave a copy of that kid’s book, “Everybody Poops” on her desk.

      2. K.*

        Or that she was consistently clogging the only toilet, in which case that would need to be dealt with. But it doesn’t sound like any of that is happening.

    1. Sylvan*

      When I see “Office Pooper,” after reading this site for years, I expect a graffiti (sh)artist or something. (I’m sorry.) It’s bizarre that OP’s coworker is trying to police people using the bathroom for its intended purpose. I don’t have anything to add to Alison’s advice, just seriously, feel free to point out just how weird this is.

      1. Office Pooper*

        I am crying laughing at my desk at ‘shartist’!!!! I wish I was doing something more cool or interesting but alas, I am only pooping.

      1. CityMouse*

        A coworker of mine posted the cover of this book in response to a nasty anonymous note about smells in the bathroom.

        This is utterly absurd. Would coworker prefer the smell of farts all day from people trying to hold it in?

      2. MCM*

        Agreed. The book sounds like a great idea. I would be tempted to ask what she plans to do when she finds out who is pooping in the bathroom.

        People are crazy. I would, say, really loud for everyone to hear, “Sally you must not have enough to do if you are monitoring the bathroom to see who poops in it!”

        This type of fixation could easily switch to something else. Odd bird. My boss has a disorder, it smells horrible when she goes. She’s too tight to buy spray so I bought some and keep it at my desk & some incense matches.

    2. Kelly L.*

      I was recently the airport pooper. And there was a poop dictator there, too! She kept performatively declaring “Ew! IIII know better than to do THAT in here! Someone needs to spray Lysol! OMG!!!” Lady, it’s a bathroom. Nobody’s choosing to poop in a cramped airport bathroom because they want to.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        If there’s a poop dictator at the AIRPORT, she deserves a “WHO…DOES…NUMBER TWO…WORK FOR?!”

            1. Snark*

              OMG WOW. Imagine being that guy. How do you live with yourself knowing that your stank is so stanky that British Airways literally turned around and landed after you fouled the bathroom?

              1. KimberlyR*

                Once we were at a restaurant and my husband had to poop right after the meal ended. He did his business and we walked out but continued to stand around and chat to the people we’d had dinner with. I noticed a disgusting odor and wondered aloud if we were near some sort of sewage area. A few minutes of gagging later, we realized we were near the bathroom wall-it was my husband’s poop stench we were smelling! He had finished and flushed several minutes before but it was so bad that it lingered to that extent. We left quickly but I hope the restaurant diners didn’t end up smelling it…

          1. Just employed here*

            There’s something about the changes in air pressure when flying that quite often makes babies have to poo. And you know how spacious and hygienic those plane lavatories are for changing a baby… And how there’s never a queue forming behind you… Nor any turbulence…

            1. LavaLamp*

              Airplanes are the only place I hold it. I have an irrational fear of being the poor person caught on the toilet if the plane goes down. Irrational, but there it is.

              1. Just employed here*

                I’ve never thought of it being any better or worse than anywhere else, should the plane go down, to be honest. You’d be in deep doo-dah regardless.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                I have heard of a couple of people who died while sitting on a toilet. Eventually people tend to remember other things about the person. Eventually.

                1. Just employed here*

                  I’m not sure if this was from a detective novel or a non-fiction book, but I seem to remember that the bathroom is the second most frequent place people are found dead in (after their beds).

                  It makes sense: If you feel ill, you might go to the toilet to see if that would help, and/or then straining yourself to poo might pop something in your cardiovascular system. Well, it makes sense to this layperson, at least.

              3. The OG Anonsie*

                I think I’m the only person on earth who loves airplane bathrooms. Two reasons: 1) You have nowhere else to be in the most extreme sense possible. 2) The airplane noise means no one can hear a single solitary thing outside, and something about the way they’re pressurized means smells don’t usually linger either. The couple of incredibly rare times I’ve walked into one that smelled a little from the person before, it dissipated about as soon as I’d closed the door.

                It’s like a little private loo outside time, smell, or sound.

      2. CatCat*

        God, I’d be so tempted to say, “Lady, you clearly don’t know better because your mouth is open and *that* is coming out.”

      3. babblemouth*

        Not to mention, some people who are in airports have been travelling for over 10 hours. At some point, you just gotta go.

      4. Alanna*

        Gah, I cannot STAND when I am in a public restroom and someone is loudly complaining about people pooping in it (and an airport – are you kidding me? People have been travelling for days sometimes). Complaining about poop: rude. Pooping: not remotely rude, what toilets are for.

        1. Allison*

          At my first job there were young ladies who would walk into the bathroom and immediately go “Eeeeew, it stinks in here!” I hated that so much, especially when I was doing my doodies at the time they’d say it. I wanted to respond with “yup, it’s a bathroom, people have to do smelly things in here.”

      5. pumpkin spice.*

        OMG I always have to poop at an airport. If I have a choice in the matter, I prefer to do it in the airport than on the plane when everyone is in close quarters, lol.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yep. The whole reason I needed to go was that I’d put off going for a few hours due to, well, being on a plane. I hate those little plane lavatories.

      6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        It’s a thousand times better to drop the kids off at the pool before you get on the plane. People just don’t think these things through.

        1. Oranges*


          My body is weird. It usually won’t alert me to “full poo capacity” until it gets painful. Like I’m normal and then bam! Must use rest room RIGHT NOW because I’m in pain. So I usually can’t “think things through”.

          Also If I hold it (because I’m on the bus or some such) I have bloody poos due to micro tears in my rectum(?) aka the last poo storage place before poo happens.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            No, I mean the people complaining because you had a poo in the airport bathroom! :-) It makes sense to me that if I had the choice I’d rather leave the stink in the airport than be trapped on the plane with it.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

              Sigh, I still didn’t clarify that very well. I mean the people complaining about the bathroom in the airport are not thinking about this correctly. Not that you should feel ashamed of needing to use the toilet on the plane, of course, but it seems silly to complain that the bathroom that is not in an enclosed space in the air smells like a bathroom.

              1. Oranges*

                Ah, I misunderstood. I thought you were saying that the people who poo on planes didn’t “think things through”.

                Also I might like saying poo… Yes, I am a 12 year old trapped in a 35 year old’s body.

        2. TootsNYC*

          It’s a thousand times better to drop the kids off at the pool before you get on the plane. People just don’t think these things through.

          And *I* thought you meant that people should drop the kids off at the pool and then leave on the airplane–so you don’t have to change a kid’s stinky diaper in the cramped airplane bathroom, because you left them at the pool.

          I thought it was a joke!

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            LOL! It is a joke but you are dropping the, um, “kids” into the pool of the toilet bowl.

            1. Grace Carrow*

              I used to work with a guy who always went mid morning and always announced it very loudly using a different phrase every day. I must have heard 30 or 40 phrases like that one. I always thought he used that particular one if he thought he’d be a 1 on the Bristol stool scale, And that he needed to eat more vegetables.

      7. JD*

        Literally the second last place I want to poop while traveling next to the plane. Of all places you really SHOULD poop!

      8. Mephyle*

        All those people who complain about people pooping in the bathroom, I would like to ask them where they think people should poop instead. I can’t think of a more appropriate place than the bathroom, so I would really be curious to know what their thought process is.
        I am reminded of the letter from earlier this year about someone who thought it was inappropriate to floss teeth in the bathroom. Similarily, it can be icky if a person doesn’t clean up properly, but that doesn’t mean that there’s a better place than the bathroom to do it.

        1. Political staffer*

          The cat lady in me would respond by asking where the nearest litter box is and go in there.

    3. Tin Cormorant*

      Are we not supposed to use the office bathroom for pooping? Is it some faux pas I was never told about? I mean, I try to avoid pooping away from home because I’ve got a bidet installed on my home toilet and I just feel gross pooping without it now, but sometimes you don’t have a choice!

      1. Artemesia*

        There are little packets of wet wipes you can tuck in your purse or pocket for use when needed in public bathrooms; when they were first marketed like 50 years ago or so, they were actually named ‘bidet’ which was dumb since then almost noone in the US knew what a bidet was.

        1. Starbuck*

          Just be sure to throw those away, not flush them, because they clog sewer systems since they don’t break down like toilet paper. Even the ones that are labeled as such really don’t, apparently.

          1. Free Meerkats*

            I can confirm that. “Flushable” wipes are a bane to us. I could go on for hours, but I won’t here.

            If you haven’t eaten it and it’s not that paper product on a roll next to the shitter, please don’t flush it. That applies to facial tissues as well, they don’t break down as quickly.

            This is what our pumps look like, and that stuff has to be removed by hand. Part of why your sewer rates are jumping so quickly.

    4. LKW*

      I am 100% positive that you are not the only pooper in the office. Sure, there may be some magical people who time their poops for home but the car ride, walk to work and a cup of coffee will shake most of your coworkers’ innards enough that I doubt you are alone.

      Allison’s script is good. No one likes a stinky bathroom, but far fewer people like shitting in their pants because some immature person doesn’t understand what toilets are for.

  2. Loopy*

    All I can say is ditto to Alison x1000.

    Seriously, who thinks they get to determine their coworkers bathroom limits!?

  3. Not a Real Giraffe*

    I’m just curious as to why your coworker cares about this. Is it a single-stall toilet and it hogs up the facility? Is there a noise or smell issue? None of these are valid reasons for her to do what she’s doing, but I’m just so curious about why this is an issue for her!

    1. Fiennes*

      If it’s a smell issue, this sounds like a case for Poo-pourri! Since she’s so fixated on the situation, maybe she should take on the expense of buying it for the office.

      None of which is to say that this coworker isn’t being totally weird about a completely normal use of the bathroom. She absolutely is! But if you just want to shut her up without confrontation, the no-odor stuff would help.

      (This comment in no way sponsored by Poo-pourri.)

      1. Office Pooper*

        It’s a small bathroom with 2 stalls. I rarely ever run into anyone else in the bathroom. If someone is already in there I won’t poop and if someone comes in mid poop I try to stop asap and get out of there. I actually talked to mom this weekend (after submitting my question) and she said Poo-pourri as well! She said she may order me some so I’m hoping she did!

        1. 5 Leaf Clover*

          If your coworker is the one who’s bothered, she should be the one to buy the poo-pourri. Don’t let her shame you about totally normal body processes.

        2. fposte*

          Do you want to do that? Because that seems like a pretty radical response. It is absolutely okay and expected for you to poop in the bathroom whether somebody else is there or not.

          1. Kathleen*

            I think it’s ridiculous for the OP to attempt to modify his/her restroom behavior just to placate this loon. If the poop smell bothers the OP and she therefore wants to try some of the mitigation products mentioned in this thread, well, OK. I still think it’s unnecessary, but it’s her butt so her choice. :-)

            But if the only reason is due to this ridiculous “Thou Shalt Not Poop in the Toilet (Even Though That’s What They’re For)” campaign, then do not feel you have to play along, OP.

        3. Salyan*

          You can make it yourself really easily, too. Put 10-20 drops of a nice-smelling essential oil in a spray bottle with water and 2 TBSP of rubbing alchohol. Et voila.

        4. paul*

          At this point it might *almost* be worth it for the humor factor…escalate! Start trying to convince people to eat something that gets stuff moving for breakfast (double handful of spinach??) and one to two others to do so at lunch…

        5. k8*

          “If someone is already in there I won’t poop and if someone comes in mid poop I try to stop asap and get out of there.”

          This is NOT necessary. Well-adjusted people do not give a shit (pun intended!) if you crap in the bathroom. They’re all doing the same thing anyway!

          1. Holly*

            This has led to a comment war in the past but it is very much the norm in some places for people not to poop if there’s somebody else in the bathroom, especially in the ladies’ room.

              1. fposte*

                If it’s the OP’s call, that’s fine, but she shouldn’t let her co-worker shame her into unnecessary behavior.

                1. Holly*

                  Just mentioning it because the OP’s attempts to not poop when other people are in the bathroom are not necessarily a result of the Poop Monitor. I agree that if it is because of the Poop Monitor she shouldn’t feel the need to do that.

            1. Susanne*

              No, it’s not. Normal people use the bathroom for its intended purpose, and whether it’s number 1 or number 2 is completely irrelevant since you’re behind a door anyway.

              1. Holly*

                Not interested in reigniting the “do ladies poop in front of each other” war and I’m very happy for you if this is not a thing that’s part of your life because it is admittedly stupid but it is a thing that exists and maybe be in play for OP. Bathroom etiquette is a weird and varied thing.

                1. Turtle Candle*

                  I think part of what makes the argument so heated is that most of the time, toilet behavior is not considered appropriate for polite conversation. So people who grew up in a “only poop at home” household may not realize that other people do consider pooping in public bathrooms to be normal, and thus assume that those who do are deliberately flouting a common social norm.

                  It’s still stupid, though, as you say.

                2. Holly*

                  This post is honestly the first time I’ve ever heard of the “you should only poop at home” philosophy; the public bathroom thing I’ve always understood as “You can poop here but it sounds gross so you shouldn’t do it if somebody else is in there with you” but then again it’s always been an unspoken thing. I can’t tell you how many silent stand-offs I’ve had in public bathrooms where one of us is waiting for the other to give up and leave so we can shit in peace. It took a lot of mental fortitude but I’ve started pooping without shame in public restrooms but I still won’t do it if the person in there with me knows who I am (because we walked in at the same time or whatever).

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  Wow, really? I have never heard of this. This is so wildly unhealthy. My aunt talks about nurses who refuse to take the time to go pee and they end up with all kinds of kidney problems because of decades of refusing to pee when they need to. I can only imagine what happens after a life time of not pooping when one needs to.

                  I found this article:

                  Granted it’s an extreme situation, but I cannot see where holding poop all day is that much better.

              2. Annabelle*

                I don’t think it should be a thing, but it totally is. Lots of people have anxiety about pooping if someone else is in the bathroom and try to wait until they’re alone.

            2. Jayde*

              I get that if someone is already in the bathroom you might choose to wait until they leave before pooping. But if you are already mid-poop and someone else comes in, you got there first and deserve to be able to finish up in peace. The newcomer can wait if it bothers them or they can just deal with the fact that people poop.

        6. Another Pooper*

          Poo Pourri is great. Note that it is intended to be sprayed into the toilet before you do your business, and thereby mask the offending odors as they are, um, deposited. Then when you flush, most of the scent should be carried away, not lingering to bother those who come after you. As others have mentioned, it is very strong, so really shouldn’t be sprayed after you’re done as just one spray is powerful.

        7. Elder Dog*

          No. You need to tell the Poop Princess about Poo-pourri and suggest if she’s so bothered she should buy a couple bottles to leave in the bathroom so she can stop being Odd in the Office.

        8. Karo*

          I’m sure Poo-Pourri is great, but I just wanted to plug Squatty Potty’s Unicorn Gold Toilet Spray. Same idea, but I can personally vouch for the Pinch of Vanilla one.

        9. LilySparrow*

          *Mommy hat on* Oh, honey. Please don’t try to stop yourself in mid-poop. That’s bad for your insides. Especially if you already have a poop-related medical condition.

          If your co-workers are grown enough to have jobs, they are grown enough to deal with the reality that people poop, and that doing your business is NOBODY ELSE’S BUSINESS.

          1. Tiny Soprano*

            My health-professional sister has a saying that simply goes: “A nugget a day.” You can do your bowel some serious damage by holding poop in! She’s seen it, and I believe the word ‘poonami’ was used at one point during that story…

            A little office bathroom pooping is by far the lesser of those two evils. I mean, this co-worker is essentially telling you that her squicky feelings around a natural bodily function are more important than your health. *serious side eye*

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              I know a few poop-holders and they ALL ended up with serious constipation issues.

        10. Another Office Pooper*

          I feel you, I have a medical issue as well and, well, have to poop in public. Women have hangups with this, but I got over it because it’s a medical thing. I explained to my boss about it (not in detail obvs) and told her that was why I used the restroom a lot. She didn’t have a problem. Neither should your coworker.

          1. Another Office Pooper*

            Also might I add it’s really weird she’s set up camp outside the restroom. Who does that? And yes I use poo pourri too!

        11. The OG Anonsie*

          I suggested this above but reiterating since this post is huge: One Drop. Tiny dropper bottle, fits in your pocket, no spraying sound, no fragrance. Smells vaguely like cleaning products. Really just use one drop, more will make the cleaning product smell really intense and you do only need one. The smell of a single drop is really mild, not like you’ve fragranced the room, and won’t both most people. It also WORKS

      2. B*

        I was just coming here to say the same thing as an old office had the same issue. It worked like a charm to keep the smell at bay.

        1. Office Pooper*

          Tell them to sponsor the site and send me a sample product. I will test it out and report back with answers!

        2. Tiny Orchid*

          I’m sure their Google Alerts are pinging all over the place from all the mentions in this comment thread!

        3. Cassie*

          They make a holiday scent. I know this because a coworker gave everyone in our entire department a bottle for Christmas last year.

          1. Moose and Squirrel*

            Now there’s an office Christmas gift! Holiday scent, useful, not too pricey, funny, and can be given away to someone who could use it if not wanted. Everyone go home, we’re done here. :)

        4. LiptonTeaForMe*

          I lost it at the British Airways and now no thanks to you AAM, I have tears of laughter rolling down my face.

      3. The Ginger Ginger*

        I would just add for your consideration – the Poo-pourri (and even regular spray) type products are very, VERY strongly scented because they’re meant too cover scent, not cleanse. I struggle with them being used in our office restrooms more than just normal bathroom smells. I have respiratory issues and migraines and walking into a wall of synthetic scent can trigger BOTH those problems. Especially if I have to stay in the scent cloud to do my own business.

        It’s a bathroom, as long as it’s clean and properly used, those scents don’t linger that long. The fake sprays can linger longer than the normal bathroom smells. There is absolutely no reason to feel embarrassed about using it for it’s intended purpose even if you don’t cover up the smell when you’re done.

        1. Office Pooper*

          Good point Ginger! There are 2 people who work here with extremely low tolerance for perfume type scents. The Poop Police will spray half a can of glade in the bathroom and block the door open despite the one’s with sensitive noses asking her not to. One has actually had a couple of nose bleeds due to the glade spray.

          1. The Ginger Ginger*

            Oh my gosh! Your coworker is a LOON! She’s fine with causing physical nosebleeds in her maniacal pursuit of a poop free bathroom? Next time there’s a nosebleed have them go drip all over the poop police’s desk.

            Okay, not really. But geez, what a zany! You have my sympathy.

          2. Katniss*

            There’s someone in my office who does that with the Glade. I literally can’t breathe when that stuff is sprayed. I’d rather smell the poo smell.

          3. King Friday XIII*

            Wait, she’s actually DRAWING BLOOD from one of your coworkers and nobody in management has told her to knock off her creepy poop crusade (poo-sade?)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yeah, I think management needs to be dragged in here, it’s time. This is ridiculous.

              OP, I would tell this woman that if she did not lay off about the poop-fest, that I would make it a point to poop TWICE every day and I would wave a bottle of prune juice at her as I said that.

          4. Kateshellybo19*

            Poo~pouri is all natural. The strong scent may still bother some but it won’t have that effect if it is only
            harsher chemicals that get to your coworkers.

          5. Rookie Manager*

            I recently confiscated the spray air freshner in my office because it made me cough/eyes water and have real trouble breathing (no respiratory problems usually). I replaced it with a gentle reed diffuser and noone has complained yet.

            1. Artemesia*

              I have done that on occasion when a particularly noxious ‘air freshner’ was left in the office bathroom; I just made it disappear.

              1. annejumps*

                Someone put one of those melted wax candle things in ours, the type that plugs in; it smelled like warm pumpkin pie. I kept turning it off. People, please don’t put food-scented air freshener things in the restroom. I for one could do without the association.

            2. Tiny Soprano*

              Personally I’ve found the best thing for removing odours in the air is a candle. Unscented even. Don’t know how it works, but it does. So if the poo-police wants to cough up for a non-irritating option, I’d say she can go and buy a stack of candles and burn one a day.

              1. Parenthetically*

                Yeah, I think the flame does something with the gases? Fragrance-free, pure beeswax candles might be less irritating for people with respiratory issues.

          6. Observer*

            When she props the door open, someone should absolutely go close it. And, if that’s not enough (because your coworkers also need to use the bathroom, and timing isn’t always perfect), you may want to escalate this. Causing physical harm to others is just not acceptable.

            Poo-Pouri is apparently different enough that it might be worth trying. But do check with your co-workers to make sure it’s not causing them a problem.

          7. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

            Completely unacceptable to cause genuine harm to others because she just doesn’t like it. Her opinion is not more important than someone’s medical needs. This needs to be escalated to management.

            Frankly, I can see an argument that she is harassing you over a medical issue. HR would jump all over it if you pointed out that you have a medical issue they are accommodating and she is making a hostile environment over it.

          8. Anon Accountant*

            I think at this point management needs to have a word with her. She needs to knock off her behavior immediately. Causing nosebleeds for a coworker after being asked to stop spraying Glade? Others have asked her to stop and she hasn’t?

            Management needs to have a word with her.

          9. Tuna*

            I can’t handle air fresheners either. If you keep a small box of baking soda near the toilet it will help with the odor, and you can sprinkle a little in the toilet when the smell is really bad.

            I wonder if management is aware of all the time the bathroom inspector is wasting on policing office bowel movements.

          10. StellaBella*

            Your co worker chemical-warfare-d a colleague into a nose bleed? And she still is on about this b.s.? What kind of managers do you have? This is unacceptable.

        2. Temperance*

          Thank you for saying this! I was just about to make this comment. Scented air fresheners trigger my asthma like no other.

          1. MerciMe*

            I’m allergic to violets and they’re a super common scent base, so between that and an asthmatic reaction to aerosol, scented air is not a thing my body handles well. I mean, I like breathing; it makes me feel good. So anything that makes it harder for me to breathe is not okay. I’d have had a gentle but emphatic chat with management long before this, and with hr/health and safety staff if management proved unwilling/ineffective. This is not junior high, we do not shame our peers or make them unsafe.

            I don’t know poo-pourri, but medical supply centers and pet stores typically carry unscented or mildly scented biological odor neutralizers that were sanity saving when we were dealing with medical digestive problems and newborn baby messes.

        3. Fabulous*

          I have two bottles at home – I got them so my boyfriend wouldn’t have to smell my… ahem… usage – but he can’t stand the smell of the Poo-pourri! So while it is nice in theory, I agree that it does have a very strong smell that not everyone can take. Use with caution!

        4. JKP*

          Instead of Poo-pourri and other chemical sprays, you could try the Bad Air Sponge. You can get it at Bed Bath and Beyond, and also online at Amazon. It’s a little jar you leave open and it lasts a long time (a few months in my tiny apartment bathroom with litterbox), and it works surprisingly well. It’s like a carbon block that absorbs smells from the air rather than adding fragrance. You can’t smell it unless you put your nose right up to it. My hairdresser told me about it, and they had a bunch of them all over the salon, so you couldn’t even smell any of the chemical treatments and sprays.

          1. Tiny Soprano*

            Now that’s an idea me and my poop can get behind. And if it’s really about smell, then it should shut the poop-police right up. (Somehow I think it’s more her personal ick than the smell though…)

      4. Arielle*

        Not sponsored either but the stuff really works! I wish we had it in my current office. We have the European-style bathroom stalls with doors that go all the way from floor to ceiling, which is nice for privacy, but there’s no ventilation so it can get stinky in there.

  4. Thlayli*

    Is she complaining about people using it to poop at all? That’s really weird.

    On the other hand if she’s complaining about it being constantly blocked up, or really filthy or something, that’s a bit different. You are perfectly entitled to use the bathroom, but you are not entitled to leave it all blocked up and filthy dirty behind you. If you have to stay to let it fill again before flushing, do so. No one wants to have to flush your poop away, or worse yet unclog the bathroom.

    If you are already cleaning up after yourself, then yes she’s a complete weirdo.

    1. Office Pooper*

      I never leave a trace of my visit other than the odor and I to minimize that as well. She get’s super offended when she walks in and it smells bad. I feel bad, but after all, it’s not a kitchen. I’m not baking a cake in there.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Don’t feel bad – your coworker has entirely too much time on her hands. If she’s concerned about smells, she needs to ask your facilities team to order sprays.

          1. Moose and Squirrel*

            This more than anything else. Scents won’t last long in a properly ventilated area.

            However, it seems the issue is less with ventilation and more in the coworker’s head. In that case some one needs to tell her to knock this off now.

        1. Allison*

          No, she probably manages so time her bowels so she only poops at home. Or maybe she’s really, really constipated.

        2. ket*

          “Oma paska ei haise.” ‘No one thinks their own shit stinks.’ Applicable to so much more than poop.

      2. AKchic*

        You worked hard on that keister roll. Don’t sell yourself short on that bumper biscuit. Everyone makes ’em, and while we all seem to prefer our own “brand”, this crusade she has against the competition is only making her look crazy. Perhaps she’s constipated?

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Then she should not walk in there. Problem solved.

        I don’t see a problem with her not using the bathroom ever, because that is what she expects of other people./snark.

      4. Anon for this*

        There is nothing to feel bad about.

        I have a complex medical history and that has ended up with me having a complete colectomy (removal of the entire large intestine) and an ileostomy. I empty the appliance when it needs to be emptied; if I don’t, I run the risk of it separating from my skin and leaving the feces no where to go except onto my skin and into my clothes.

      1. Office Pooper*

        She has a formula and she plugs in multiple variables to see if that person is it. It has to do with length of time in the bathroom, look on face when exiting (if you look guilty you must have pooped), and if any smell wafts out behind the person.

        Okay so I don’t actually know if that’s true but I really think it is! lol

          1. Tiny Soprano*

            If they run out really fast with their ears back and their tail swinging… oh wait nope, that’s my cat.

        1. Liane*

          Huh. She uses a spreadsheet or something for that, that she undoubtedly had to make herself? If she’s spending that much time on this c–p, surely it must be impacting someone’s ability to get their work done. So the boss needs to know. “5 times this month I have been unable to get the TP* reports out by deadline, because Odora prioritizes updating her Poop-o-Meter code over the daily roll audits.”

          *Yes, I left the S off on purpose. Why would you think it was a typo? ;)

          1. Liane*

            Missed you were joking. But if she’s wasting that much time even just obsessing, my point is still valid.

        2. EddieSherbert*

          Oh my gosh, I want to pick this woman’s brain so badly. WTF is going on in there (her head, not the bathroom!).

          1. Oranges*

            I KNOW! Like the Office Pooper is having bad (aka normal) smelling poops AT her.

            Now I’m imagining Office Pooper plotting all day and suddenly goes “Now! I know she’ll need to use the restroom soon because of the amount of liquid she drinks! I ate beef last night! I have to poo NOW for maximum smelliness!”

        3. Artemesia*

          Haven’t you ever felt embarrassed to use a one stall public john that someone before you has really stunk up. Then you walk out and someone you know walks in and they think it is you. Heck sitcoms on TV have been based on this common embarrassment.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Briefly, sure. But I don’t worry about it too much.

        4. Cyberwulf*

          Has she no other work to do or something? Maybe your manager should know how much time she has on her hands.

  5. AnotherAlison*

    What is she going to do when she figures out who is doing it anyway? Tell them to stop using the bathroom to go to the bathroom? This is totally ridiculous.

    We all have a medical condition, I guess. It’s called eating and digesting. It’s not good for you to hold it and get backed up.

    1. Future Homesteader*

      Just adding to the chorus of “WTF?” because I don’t think we can overdo the reassurance that your coworker is being ridiculous. Maybe some people can control when they go, but I sure as heck can’t! And I have a perfectly normal digestive system.

    2. just another day*

      omg, I hadn’t even considered what the co-worker plans to do when she figures it out! What a great question! Obviously it seems like she will tell the person to stop it and do it at home, but can you imagine that conversation?

      Also, isn’t it likely that the co-worker knows it is OP and is trying to address the issue by discussing this as though it is someone else to avoid that very conversation? Don’t we all know who the poopers in the office are (because actually not everyone does this – I’m not saying people shouldn’t, I am just saying that not everyone does)?

      1. Gadget Hackwrench*

        No. I have no idea who”the poopers” in my office are besides me. I know others do because there are skid marks I didn’t leave, or smells when I arrive, but I have never been cognizant of who among my co-workers poos at the office and who doesn’t.

  6. sunny-dee*

    Is there any chance that the pooping is causing issues, like a toilet not working or a particularly pernicious smell? If there’s something going wrong, it makes sense to try to address that issue, but there’s no inherent problem with just using the bathroom.

    1. redcybra*

      That was my thought. I once had a co-worker in a nursing home who had had stomach stapling and so her poop wasn’t being processed the way it normally would. The smell from her poop would gag a goat – worse than anything from any patient!- but hey, there wasn’t anything she could do about it. Just open the window.

    2. all charitied out*

      I agree. if it is a smell or bad plumbing, your coworker’s energy is far better spent trying to get your boss (or HR) to find a plumber to address the issue, as opposed to PREVENTING COWORKERS from performing everyday bodily functions.

  7. Mes*

    Bathrooms are where you’re supposed to poop! I hate your coworker.

    I hope someone poops in her potted plant.

    1. Office Pooper*

      It might just be me if she keeps this up! I can pretty much poop on command. I usually considered that a curse but it really could be a blessing!

      1. Too Witches*

        I love your attitude and approach to this and I hope you get to poop in peace soon.
        A former colleague/current friend of mine at an office of 30+ people (25 of whom were women sharing 1 bathroom with 2 stalls) has some irritable bowel issues and she combats poop-related weirdness by being extremely open about it, like warning people about the smell if she’s been in and telling ragingly funny anecdotes about times she’s almost not made it to the can in time (obviously they’re only that funny because of *how* she tells them).
        That may not be an approach you are willing or able to take, but just so’s ya know that your co-worker needs to pull her shit together and stop monitoring people’s bowel movements because normal people don’t care about their colleagues’ poops!!!

      2. Archie Goodwin*

        Trust me…it’s a blessing more than it’s a curse, really. Some of us wish we had that superpower.

        (Add this to another one on the list of things I never thought I’d find myself admitting in a public forum…)

        1. Office Pooper*

          I might be kindred spirits with the guy who put his turds in his employees lunch box as well as climbed up high the poop at them. I would prefer to use my powers for good instead of evil, though!!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        My husband thought it would be great to fart on command. Like if someone gave him a hard time about something he could respond by just farting away. “What? Oh excuse me. You know that we can’t control when we fart [smirk].”

    2. Cassandra*

      LOL I thought I was the only one who thought at first that this was a followup to the potted-plant-pooper story!

    1. Manders*

      I suspect every person in this office knows they have pooped in the toilet, and each is staying silent because this lady has created a poo-based prisoner’s dilemma.

      1. Excel Slayer*

        Omg, ‘poo-based prisoner’s dilemma’.

        I also suspect that everyone else in the office apart from The Bathroom Monitor uses the toilet for normal toilet things.

      2. Anony McAnonface*

        I was keeping it together until “poo-based prisoner’s dilemma” and now I’m crying tears of laughter at my desk.

        This woman is bonkers and needs to be told to cut that sh*t out (pun intended).

    2. Mrs. Psmith*

      Everyone should be the office pooper. Because unless you are being forced to clock out (in which case, shame on your office), you are getting paid to poop. Embrace it.

      1. M*

        “Boss makes a dollar, I make a dime. That’s why I poop on company time!”

        I think I’ve heard that somewhere.

        But yeah, I’m the office pooper too.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      We need an I am Spartacus moment.

      The first time I realised some people consider it weird to poop in public toilets was when I was eleven and coming out of the bathroom at school. My friend looked at me, disgusted, and said “you didn’t poo in there, did you?” I was like, of course I fucking pooed in there. I wasn’t writing the Magna Carta. I was at school for six-seven hours five days a week. At some point, I was going to need to use the toilet the way it was intended.

      People are so, so weird. Does this woman not have enough work to do? Does she not poo at all?

      Go forth and poo, my friend.

      (Not a line I ever expected to write on AAM but hey-ho!)

      1. Archie Goodwin*

        Well, to be fair, most of us don’t bring up the Magna Carta in everyday conversation, so I can see why you wouldn’t expect to write it.


      2. AKchic*

        I dunno… I think we were writing the highly anticipated follow-up, the Cart of Margaritas!

        *sigh* I love that gag.

    4. Wendy Darling*

      I am totally the office pooper and I don’t have any kind of poo-related medical condition, I just drink coffee before work.

      I don’t even think being upset about the smell is legit unless someone is doing, like, especially noxious poos.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have also poo’ed at work, because I had to. It happens. We also had a pooper at Exjob–I never said anything because I figured she couldn’t help it (I never found out who it was). I would blast the air freshener a couple of times, if stench were an issue. No big deal.

        The person who bothered me the most was the one who apparently took a bath in the sink and left water all over the counter.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          I was at one workplace where someone(s) would brush their teeth in the office sink (fine, I do it too) but then not rinse the sink at all and leave food detritus behind. EW.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          UGH, nothing like leaning toward the mirror to check on something and getting a soggy shirt for your trouble.

      2. pumpkin spice.*

        I probably went through my entire twenties without ever pooping at work. I always pooped after I woke up in the morning, and never ever had to go during the day – and if I did, I held it because I had a weird fear of pooping at work. Cut to me in my late 30s, and I basically poop after every healthy meal. I eat a lot of veggies and lean proteins and fiber, and I poop all the time. I couldn’t survive if I still had a pooping-at-work hangup because when you have to poop, you have to poop. I generally hope for an empty bathroom without people in the other 5 stalls, but I no longer live in fear of a workday poop.

      3. NextStop*

        I know, right? It’s a bathroom. It’s where we deposit foul-smelling body things so we don’t have to smell them elsewhere.

  8. MuseumChick*

    Close friend of mine has a conditions that causes similar issues.

    Seriously, if she has time to monitor who is using the bathroom she doesn’t have enough work to do.

    I would tweek Alison’s script a little by adding something like “I’m sure whoever it is you are looking for would be incredibly embarrassed to know a co-work has been obsessing on their bathroom habits. This has the potential to both really embarrass someone and not reflect well on you. I think you should drop this.”

    1. Office Pooper*

      True! She has spotted a few occasional poopers but has identified them as not being the main threat. After years of shitting my brains out on the daily I have become a pro at speed pooping. I can get in, poop, and get out without it seeming like I am away from my desk for long. I think this is the only way I have been able to hide my identity for so long.

      1. Snark*

        “After years of shitting my brains out on the daily I have become a pro at speed pooping.”

        lost it, lost it all, everything I ever had

        1. Snark*

          Also, I think you should use your superpower for evil, not good,. If you can drop anchor that fast, just keep torturing her. Speed-poop her to the edge of insanity.

          1. Office Pooper*

            Hahaha! I could start eating Mexican food for lunch every day and finishing it off with a big glass of milk. She will rue the day she began this poop war. I have far more ammunition than she!

            1. Snark*

              “I can’t wait till I get home. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you stop talking about pooping now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not poop on your desk. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will speed-poop in your bathroom.”

              1. calonkat*

                I was maintaining a quiet giggle until this comment. And now I have to stop reading the thread and go back to work, as I’ve attracted attention, partly for the tears streaming down my face from laughing.

              2. Southern Ladybug*

                I’m totally losing it now!!!!

                And yes, I do need to go poop, too. I will never poop at work again without thinking of this…

              3. Mananana*

                Snark, first with the pizza oven story and now this. Eegads I’ve never wanted to share a beer with an internet stranger this much in my life!

            2. Southern Ladybug*

              I think I love you. I’m so glad you have a good sense of humor about this. She’s crazy.

              I seriously would start a concerned whisper campaign about her ability to do her work given how much time she spends on this and vaguely wonder if perhaps she’s hiding something. She doth protest too much…..

              1. Snark*

                Oh HELL yes. Turn it on her. She’ll crawl in a hole forever. “I think Leni is actually the person who keeps pooping in the office. It just makes sense.” “Oh yeahhhhh!”

              2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

                Grandma used to say this about farts, but I think it applies: the very first smeller is the very same feller.

            3. Theodoric of York*

              I congratulate you on your finely honed sense of humor. I’m at home, so I can laugh as loud as I want (and I did).

              I suggest a different strategy: have some fun by becoming her accomplice. Do your best to “assist” her in efforts to uncover the truth.

            4. JB (not in Houston)*

              “She will rue the day she began this poop war.” This may be my all-time favorite comment on this site.

      2. MuseumChick*

        You really have nothing to be embarrassed by. Your co-worker is being the weird, invasive one. Start saying thinks like what I posted above and Alison’s script. Your co-worker needs to know how weird she is being. And, even if she does identify you, all you have to say is “…why do you care about my poop? That is really weird.” If she badgers you what people should not poop at work say, “Huh, its weird they put a bathroom here if people are not suppose to use it.”

      3. AKchic*

        *sigh* You and my husband would get along well. And we have two bathrooms should you ever meet!

        The man literally goes a minimum of 10 times a day. Still refuses to see a doctor because he sees nothing wrong with his bathroom habits because it doesn’t actually bother him. He’s ALWAYS been this way, so he has never thought it was weird.
        No. Just no. Sorry, but when you need to go 6 times in a 90 minute movie and spend more time in the bathroom than watching the movie; there’s a problem. When a cup of coffee keeps you on the toilet for 30 minutes and that is “normal” for you, that’s a problem. When Taco Bell can cause nose bleeds in small children (yes, it has happened) – you have a problem.
        But he still won’t go to the doctor. I wish I could get him his own bathroom.

    2. Elizabeth H.*

      More like “I’m sure whoever it is that you talk to about this is incredibly embarrassed on your behalf to know that you spend so much time obsessing about something really juvenile like other people’s bathroom habits. This has the potential to really embarrass and not reflect well on you. I think you should drop this.”

  9. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Some people are super weird and controlling about this issue. My sister is one of them. When we lived together, I wasn’t allowed to poop if she was home. I had to go to the 7-11 around the corner. I was unemployed and trying to find a job so because I was living with her for free, I had no say. Plus she could never poop in a public bathroom. She almost pooped her pants when she drove 1.5 hours back to her home.

    If I wasn’t related to my sister, I’d never understand this letter. Oh but I do.

    1. Office Pooper*

      This reminds me of my Mom! When she farts it’s absolutely hilarious, but God forbid anyone else fart. Then it’s gross and rude!

      1. Adlib*

        That’s my husband! His are apparently hilarious, but anyone else and he covers his nose with his shirt. It drives me crazy!

    2. Annabelle*

      My parents are friends with a lady who won’t let her husband poop in the house. She had a bathroom installed in their garage area specifically for him to poop in. It’s the strangest thing.

    1. Janet*

      My mom actually raised me to think you should only ever poop at home… it was a relief when I discovered it was okay to poop at work.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        My mom was the same. : (

        I’ve spent way too much time in life worrying about this. You can’t go at school, but you have to leave for school before 7 am, then you have to run 2 miles in 5th hr PE, then go to a swim meet after school, and finally get home at 7 pm. Yeah. That’s going to work.

        Meanwhile, my mom would get home from work and spend an hour in the bathroom trying to straighten things out after fighting it all day. It can’t be healthy!

      2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        My husband was raised the same way – he’s in his mid-40’s and couldn’t poop in a public restroom if you held a gun to his head.

        Me, I have IBS so I’ll poop in any bathroom that’s available – anywhere anytime anyplace.

      3. Dinosaur*

        I have just started getting over my weird complex about pooping in restrooms that aren’t my own and this post is my nightmare. I have a pooping in public mantra that I tell myself (“No one cares what I do in the bathroom, everyone poops, everyone in here is taking care of bodily functions”, etc) and now I know that there’s a possibility that someone does care and hates me for pooping.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          My solution to overcoming my upbringing & learning to go wherever was taking up running. You are not going to go on a 10 mile run without clearing the pipes before (or if not then, during). Sometimes, magic happens & you can TCB before leaving the house, but my system never wanted to get moving at the crack of dawn. Nothing like using a port-a-potty in a public park after 5 other runners to get over yourself. And then there are the races & the wall o’ port-a-potties. . .I never thought I would be able to go in a port-a-potty while a line of people waited to use it after me and are fully aware that I’ve been in there for 4 minutes and 27 seconds. Ha!

        2. JulieBulie*

          There’s a possibility that for everything you do, there’s someone out there who will care and hate you for it, but *dealing with that is their responsibility and not yours*.

          Keep repeating that last phrase until you believe it!

        3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          Nobody sane cares. The people who hate you for it really need to find better things to focus their unhappiness on.

        4. Annabelle*

          FWIW, normal people aren’t concerned about what you’re doing in the bathroom. Well, unless you’re like, having a lengthy phone conversation whilst pooping or something. Some people in my office do that and it drives me crazy.

        5. Not So NewReader*

          Um, if someone hates you for pooping, so what?
          Seriously, suppose Jane who you only know casually decides she hates you because you pooped last Tuesday? What’s next? Nothing. Nothing is next. Life goes on and the planet continues to revolve. Jane will eventually end up hating everyone she meets. But you will have a fine, fine NORMAL life.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      Refreshing their makeup?

      Maybe pee is okay? I hope? I wonder about tampons…

      And I can’t tell. Is she monitoring only the women’s restroom, only the men’s, or both?

  10. Valancy Snaith*

    ….Are you my old co-worker?

    I worked in a small office with 6 employees that was open to the public, and consequently had a bathroom for public use. The woman whose desk was situated closely to the washroom (although not next to it by any means–it was down a short hallway) would complain, constantly and ceaselessly, about people using the washroom for pooping. And god forbid if her least-favourite (and our only male) coworker used it for that reason–she would berate him and say he should use the washroom in the unit next to us (which, while technically owned by us, was accessible only by a keyed lock, a door code, and was frequently being used by different community organizations during the day anyhow). She would aggressively spray Febreze, say how gross it was, and so on.

    Our boss’s opinion? “Well, it is kind of gross, and I would prefer people don’t use it that way. I mean, she’s just using Febreze!” My boss also agreed that it was “gross” of our solitary male coworker to poop daily in a toilet, whose intended job was to receive waste.

    This is just one of a few reasons I am glad my contract was not renewed there.

    1. TeacherNerd*

      This is only in response to your user name. I don’t know if you’ve commented before and I just haven’t noticed, but I HEART your use name so hard; that’s one of my favorite books, even now, as an adult.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Just noticed this. Bowels of Temp Hell. Hardy har-har.

  11. Bend & Snap*

    This is the best post title of all time.

    Co-worker is ridiculous and has to be taking time away from her work if she’s this focused on people’s bathroom habits.

    OP, if you haven’t tried poo-pouri, that may help throw your coworker off the scent. I got sick at work daily for years until I figured out I was lactose intolerant. This stuff really works as far as neutralizing the smell and you can get it on Amazon. You don’t have to of course! But it may give you some peace of mind.

      1. President Porpoise*

        I half feel like our OP should provide the lady’s name an office address – so we can all get her Poo-pouri for Christmas.

  12. Kaitastic*

    How does she even know that people are pooping? Is it a mess afterwards? Is it really smelly? I’m not justifying her weird behavior but if something like an air freshener will help her cut it out then maybe that’s an obvious solution, if no one is sensitive to air fresheners.

  13. fposte*

    Oh, OP, I assure you that every office has multitudes of office poopers, because people poop and people are in offices. It doesn’t matter if she realizes that you lied to her about not pooping before, because of course you poop, and what the hell kind of question was that for her to ask?

    This isn’t a delicate procedure that you need to keep veiled lest people figure out you are the one who’s been doing this; don’t let her attitude convince you of that. This is like somebody rampaging through the office kitchen asking if somebody’s had food in there. Um, yeah. That’s what it’s for. Go back to work.

    1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      “I assure you that every office has multitudes of office poopers, because people poop and people are in offices.”

      Pretty much this. “The office pooper”? Just the one? Shenanigans.

    2. Myrin*

      Oh, OP, I assure you that every office has multitudes of office poopers

      For real, though. What actually weirds me out mostly about the coworker’s behaviour is that she seems to think that there is The One Who Poops in her office and not like, you know, multiple people who sometimes have to poop. (I am like that – my body works in such a way that I either have to poop very early in the morning or pretty late in the evening, but I have definitely pooped at work before still because I’m not a machine.)
      I see in a comment above that she has identified some “casual”/non-regular poopers but I honestly don’t even want to imagine how she determined that, nevermind that she could be 100% wrong about any of her assumptions.

      1. fposte*

        I’m a little concerned that the OP seems to have accepted the co-worker’s theory here and has internalized (no pun intended) the notion that she is the Office Pooper and that that is bad. OP, you’re not and it isn’t.

          1. Esme Squalor*

            I think you meant to respond to the Blue Castle thread above, but your comment works weirdly well here.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, it’s funny how one LOUD voice can dominate with their message. It does not really matter if the message is correct as long as it’s loud or repeated constantly. OP, she is not normal, at all.

      2. SaraV*

        What actually weirds me out mostly about the coworker’s behaviour is that she seems to think that there is The One Who Poops in her office and not like, you know, multiple people who sometimes have to poop.

        “Say my name.”

        (For our German speaking readers)

    3. Artemesia*

      I think the OP should come in every day and groan and say ‘somebody made coffee in the break room, WHO does that?’ ‘I can’t believe people are making food in the breakroom and some of them are putting it in the refrigerator; that is sooooo gross.’

      I wish the OP could gang up with her peers and do the Spartacus thing; she should be on the lookout for others making comments about this toad and see if she can create a little conspiracy here.

  14. Umvue*

    Oh my god, your coworker is the weirdest. Please rest easy — you are not the problem here, and you do not need a medical excuse to use the bathroom!

  15. Lady Phoenix*

    Warning: Body functions. Skip my comment if you get grossed out.

    I am also the office pooper and I do feel bad about it because of the smell. To combat it, I tend to flush twice. The first time is right after the action, and the second time after I wipe to make sure everything is cleared out. Then I take air freshner and spray around the toilet. You can also use the poo-pouri spray, but I can’t tell you its effectiveness. Additional, leave the bathroom fan on if your bathroom has it. The idea is try to leave the bathroom the same way you found it (or better).

    Another courtesy is you can clean the bathroom if there is no janitor and you tend to be messy.

    1. Snark*

      But even the smell is just one of those things that we all deal with. There’s a guy in my office who, when he performs his daily afternoon ritual, produces an odor that is almost sentient in its unrelenting viciousness and propensity to sneak under doors. And, like, it’s gross, but it’s also not something he can control, and when the gastrocolic reflex has its way with us, it’s not like we can really say, “hey colon, maybe wait till we get home.”

      1. President Porpoise*

        I have IBS and a bashful bowel – if this lady was in my office I would just be in absolute hell. I’m sorry, OP!

        1. Lady Phoenix*

          I dunno if I have problems either. I probably do. I just know that when my stomach hurts, it is not pretty (even though poop is never pretty).

          There is nothing you can do if you gotta go (and it is dangerous to hold it in), but you can minimize the damage.

  16. Snark*

    I’d be super-blunt. “It’s me! I won’t bother you with the details of my gastrointestinal health, but since you’re apparently going to torture the information out of us, yes, I do bathroom things in the bathroom, including pooping. It’s unfortunate that that offends you, but unfortunately my health doesn’t permit me to poop as stealthily as you’d prefer.”

    1. JulieBulie*

      I too would be tempted to confront her pre-emptively, explain that it’s me and it’s medical and I can’t help it, and suggest that if she’d unclench too she might feel better .

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. She sounds like a person whose bowels work sporadically. OP, definitely turn the tables and ask her if she has gone to a doc lately. If she says yes, then you say, “Good, so you are getting help with your constipation.” If she says no, then you can say “Be sure to talk over your problem with constipation with a doc soon.”

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I wouldn’t even go into the health issues. “Um, I use the bathroom to poop, as do many other people. If you have an issue with it, I suggest you talk to HR, but you’re going to find the one who is in the wrong here is you. Your obsession with this is weird and inappropriate.”

    3. JulieBulie*

      I would also ask her, now that she knows who the pooper is, what does she intend to do about it. Because really, ???

    4. TootsNYC*

      The one downside is that she will probably complain AT our OP all the time about her poop’s smelling. It won’t shut her up, to tell her the truth.

      But since our OP could have to live with the anxiety of potential discovery, it might be better.

      I think going on the attack might be better.

      Along with plenty of “There you go again!” “Oh my god, do you have nothing better to think about?” mild ridicule when she brings it up. Make it unpleasant for her to bring it up.

    5. Tiny Soprano*

      Me being the upfront bodily-functions-are-natural person that I am, I’d probably be tempted to squick her out even further. Breezily inform her that I took so long because I was wrangling the ol’ menstrual cup. Then go cheerfully back to work like it was nothing, happy in the knowledge that she’d probably never have the nerve to ask me about poop again.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        Evil. Especially if you describe in great detail some of the potential disasters that can happen with those things. They’re great but not for people who are easily grossed out by bodily functions.

  17. Sparkles*

    If she continues on her weird manhunt and this is something that you are self-conscious about you should really try some poo-pourri! Seriously this stuff is borderline witchcraft. It works like a charm! You spray it in the toilet before you go and no joke- you can’t smell ANYTHING. They make discreet travel sizes that you can bring to work :)

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      I have thought about buying some and hanging it from the hook in each of the stalls in our public bathroom. I personally do not care that the bathroom is used for its intended purpose, even though sometimes that means the bathroom smells like, well, it was used for its intended purpose. But I know people are sensitive about it, and people here do numerous courtesy flushes, so I thought it might be appreciated. I’ve avoided doing it, though, because I worry that people will take that as a hint that their activity is offensive to others, and I don’t want to make people feel self-conscious about something that is completely normal.

      1. Astrid*

        I bought some for the women’s bathroom at my office because someone seems overly concerned about smell/cleanliness. It was stolen in less than 30 minutes. I guess that’s a ringing endorsement for the product but come on!

  18. Will!*

    I’m trying to decide if I want to call out the office Guy Who Uses like Half the Industrial Roll of Toilet Paper and Clogs the Thing Up. I was in there with him and I heard him pulling and pulling and pulling; it must have been a football field’s worth of toilet paper. I just wanted to yell “dude are you going to carpet your office in that stuff? The pipes can take so much!”

    But of course it would have been mortifying to complain to an unknown co-worker about their bathroom habits so I didn’t and I never will

    1. fposte*

      Augh. Years ago I worked in a basement office that kept getting clogged up and overflowing into our space; it turned out to be this one woman making a seat nest. Nowadays I have little shame and would have told her that she’s breaking the plumbing and has to flush a third of it at a time, but then I didn’t know what to do.

    2. Office Pooper*

      That’s aweful!! I try to be quick and use the TP sparingly. Mostly because I don’t want to be wasteful. Also I don’t think you asked, but a few others above have, we do have a janitor and our bathroom stays pretty spotless for the most part.

  19. Elmyra Duff*

    It seems the best course of action is to poop on her desk when she’s using the restroom.

    Deep down, I’m still 12 years old.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Grabbed a handful of food at office potluck: poop on desk.
        Required everyone to be tested for liver donation: poop on desk.
        Crashed chemo to talk about work: poop on desk.
        Steal and gift cast iron railcar: poop on desk.
        Use the old TPS Report cover sheet: poop on desk.

        I could go on.

          1. The OG Anonsie*

            I’m not gonna lie, I feel like this would be a great regular feature on questions about deviating really really dumb social norms.

    1. Office Pooper*

      I’m seriously considering it. If I knew where she lived I could put in a bag and light it on fire on her door step!

      1. Political staffer*

        There’s something on Amazon called ‘Liquid Ass’ which frequently shows up in the hilarious reviews section.

        Apparently it is a fart odor spray, but if the reviews are to be believed, it is foul enough to clear a room. Know what she drives? (Evil me is retreating now)

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      You can get that fake plastic poop. I’d be seriously tempted to sneak some onto her desk.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        It’d be fun to spray one gold and give it to her in an elaborate ceremony. The Golden Turd Award for the most hardline of the office Poop Police!

  20. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    I have confusion.

    LW, you are doing nothing wrong. What your coworker is doing is all kinds of wrong. Your coworker is causing you mental anguish over something that most people don’t think about nor focus on. (And honestly, of all things, WHY THIS?) I agree with Allison to tell her to cut it out. This is beyond ridiculous.

      1. Office Pooper*

        No pissing, only tinkling. You can fluff, but you’re not allowed to fart. And you can candy, but no pooping. It all has to smell like rainbows and unicorns or it’s not allowed!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I’m confused. Over here pissing and tinkling are the same thing.

          One might also powder one’s nose?

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Here too, but I think that’s the joke—they’re the same, but tinkling sounds more dainty.

          2. Totally Minnie*

            It’s like when people say “Ladies don’t sweat, we glisten.” When the reality is that bodies are frequently weird and gross and life is much less embarrassing if you can accept that.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies glow. (But then, once you’re pregnant, you “have a glow about you”. Euphemisms are hard.)

    1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      …except the fact that it’ll stink like a lit match… I’ve truly never understood the logic there.

      1. fposte*

        My theory: 1) I think it felt like a less obtrusive solution when smoking was more common and 2) for some people, it’s not the fact that there’s smell but that body smells are the least acceptable of all smells.

    2. CMF*

      Poo Pourri also works great and is available in portable pocket size bottles. We have it in our office bathroom right on the counter, so you can always do that too. Everyone should be able to poop freely in any bathroom they choose.

  21. Rebecca*

    It seems like every office has a bathroom monitor! At my first job, there was a woman who did exactly this: demanded that no one poop in the ladies room near our office space. She insisted that we could “hold it” until we went home! Seriously? Who does this? I told her my colon didn’t operate on a schedule, and that she was being unreasonable!

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I’ve never met anyone like that. Thank god. What a nut job. What did she say? I need to know!

      1. Rebecca*

        Apparently, she was one of those magical creatures who didn’t poop, because she said there was no reason any of us had to poop at work (it smelled bad, old bathroom, poor ventilation, and using sprays was also not an option due to a coworker’s perfume/scents sensitivity). We just ignored her. Honestly, if I could have waited to poop AT work from then on, I would have done it just to spite her.

    2. Excel Slayer*

      I think through quirks of biology some people do only need to poop once a day (clearly in the evening). So obviously everyone else can do that too… /s

    3. Not So NewReader*

      “Here, let me call our health insurance provider and see if they think that this is a good policy to have.”

  22. KHB*

    Ditto Alison and everybody else. Is this a thing, where some people have the idea that it’s somehow inappropriate to poop in the workplace bathroom? A couple years ago I saw a thing online on “how to poop at work” – meaning how to poop without anyone else suspecting that you’re pooping. It never occurred to me that anyone would care or think there was anything wrong with that.

    1. Edina Monsoon*

      I used to think that I couldn’t poop at work, or anywhere outside of my house, and sometimes I’d be in agony all day trying to hold it in. Then I got pregnant and when I had to go I had to go, and once you’ve had a baby you lose all your inhibitions- I can’t believe I even thought anyone would care if I pooped at work!

  23. all charitied out*

    … Uh, what did she feel bathrooms are used for?
    And isn’t it very unhealthy to “hold it in” for the sake of some weird etiquette roles? And holding bathroom stakeouts? Me thinks your coworkers has WAY too few KPIs on her plate O_o

  24. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    My floor has over 100 people. There’s more than one office pooper. As a matter of fact, there’s more than 100 of them.

    I know it’s better to speak to the person face to face, and if you are the only one she’s sharing her mission with, any word from the boss will obviously be from you, so you’re kind of stuck anyway.
    Just tell her you are not down with the poop hunt, you don’t want to think about poop, you don’t want to talk about poop. Follow up with, “you’re doing it again,” until she gets the hint.
    Yes, she may decide that it Must.Be.You. And she may go to others and say, “Jane poops at work! Can you believe it?”
    And they will believe it. And they will think she is a loon.

    1. all charitied out*

      I have to agree. I could imagine this whole incident reflects far more badly on the toilet gestapo than OP.

    2. MCM*

      What stage is that children are fascinated with relieving themselves? Sounds like your co-workers hasn’t grown up much past it.

    3. Lizabeth*

      “Yes, she may decide that it Must.Be.You. And she may go to others and say, “Jane poops at work! Can you believe it?”

      If someone said that to me at work I would say, “Your point is????????” with a level stare and long pregnant pause after…

    4. TootsNYC*

      Just tell her you are not down with the poop hunt, you don’t want to think about poop, you don’t want to talk about poop. Follow up with, “you’re doing it again,” until she gets the hint.

      I kind of like this. If it’s gross to smell it in the bathroom, it’s EXTRA GROSS to talk about it in the office. Tell her she can complain all she wants IN the bathroom, but when she comes out, she needs to zip it–it’s grossing you out to listen to her talk about it.

  25. Mike C.*

    Loudly embarrass your coworker for going on this sort of a witch hunt. Shame them for policing the bodily functions of others.

    Do this every time they bring it up until they learn to stfu. It’s the only way.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      Seriously. The other secret office poopers (meaning, everyone but this woman) will silently thank you for it.

        1. Artemesia*

          EVERY time she brings it up the OP should say ‘Hey you know everyone thinks it is you since you make such a big fuss about it. I know you are embarrassed, but really everybody poops when they need to and that is what bathrooms are for. You don’t need to be so ashamed of it.’

          Every time. We all know that ‘he who smelt it, dealt it’

    2. PersephoneUnderground*

      Yep- this. It’s really rude *of her* to point out the smells etc. I always thought that the polite thing was to NOT mention that you could hear or smell someone else in the bathroom, since there’s no way around smells and sounds being produced so we all just ignore them as a courtesy so people don’t feel embarrassed.

  26. ChemistryChick*

    Oh my goodness, OP, I can relate. My office has a Bathroom Monitor, too. This one went so far as to passive-aggressively put poo-puri in one of the women’s rooms (even though the company provides air freshener and we use it). The kicker is that there are bathrooms closer to this person’s workspace they could use, but they make the conscious choice to use this particular one. She finally removed the spray when she realized none of us were going to humour her. Hope Alison’s script works for you and you can poop without shame!

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      See, this is what I was worried about in my comment above. I thought about supplying some because people here seem self-conscious about leaving a smell (they do multiple courtesy flushes, so my assumption is they are worried about smell), but I don’t want anyone to think they are being judged!

      1. ChemistryChick*

        If it’s not being supplied by the company, I think it’s totally fair to bring some in for people to use. This person has a history of judging people for doing normal day-to-day human things in general, though, so the poo-puri is just one in a string of incidents

      2. JulieBulie*

        One of my coworkers bought and put a spray can in every stall in our restroom. At first I wondered if she was trying to tell me (or someone else) something, but I decided not to worry about it and I definitely wasn’t offended by it. (The spray fragrance nauseates me though, even if poop smells worse.)

        Long story short, she had bought it in for anyone to use who wants to, but mostly she brought it to mask the odor of her own stuff. She was more worried about offending others with her own poop.

        1. Office Pooper*

          My dad hates when people spray air freshener after pooping. Says it smells like a turd in a punch bowl!

    2. Alton*

      Your coworker sounds like my cat–a few years ago, she was upset that Elderly Cat was making a mess of the litter box, so I got Elderly Cat his own box. But of course the other cat decided that the new box should be hers, too, and started going out of her way to use it even though the whole point was so that she wouldn’t have to share with Elderly Cat.

      Surely humans can be more sensible than my neurotic cat.

        1. nonegiven*

          I forgot this.

          My sister had a cat that would never poop in a clean box. If boxes were all clean, she’d go behind the couch. Always had to leave one dirty box for that cat.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        An old housemate’s cat of mine used to rage-pee *beside* the tray if we’d done something to offend her. Some people in my office seem to do this too, which I find far more egregious than pooping. So yes, people are just as silly as cats.

  27. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Apologies if this is a duplicate.

    Many people are weird about poop, and my sister is one of them. When we lived together, I couldn’t poop if she was home. I had to go to the 7-11 around the corner. My sister also can’t poop in a public or work toilet. She almost pooped her pants when I drove 1.5 hours to get her home so she could poop.

    If I wasn’t related to my sister, I’d think this letter wasn’t real. Oh but I believe this coworker.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Yeah I moved out even though I was unemployed. I’d rather pay rent and go into debt so I could use a bathroom when needed than live with her for free. She was sincerely devastated.

      2. paul*

        We don’t have 7-11’s here, but if their bathrooms are anything like Allsup’s tend to be I’d sooner use a garbage can.

    1. Snark*

      You’re kinder than I, because I’d have said, “I have a home, and a toilet, and I will poop in my toilet, and you will cope.”

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      Yeah, I’m weird about poop myself. I try not to do it anywhere but at home; however, with celiac disease and lactose intolerance issues, it’s not always feasible. I know when people come over to my apartment (which isn’t often) I ask that if they go number 2 in my toilet that they use the cleaning solution I have under my sink to clean the bowl, thereby eliminating smells I don’t want amplified by air freshener. That said, I also have OCD, and this is one of my contamination fear triggers, people know this about me, and they do what I ask. However, I wouldn’t expect people at work to do this, so I just suck it up and deal (and secretly cry inside).

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      So you weren’t allowed to poop if she was home, but she wouldn’t poop anywhere BUT home? That makes no sense.

  28. Amber O.*

    OP- this is something you definitely shouldn’t feel weird about. My husband has Crohns disease, and has been in your shoes before. There are some people who refuse to poop anywhere but in public, but that’s there prerogative, not anyone else’s! As long as you’re being courteous and not leaving a mess, it’s none of her business. There are plenty of products that help to mask the smell if that’s what she’s worried about, but I’m on “team honesty,” here… I think you should bring up the medical issue (even if not admitting to your own) and ask her what she’s hoping to achieve by trying to catch people using the bathroom for its intended purpose.

    1. Arya Snark*

      No need – just invest in a good bottle of fish sauce and dab it around her office. I recommend 3 Crabs brand.

        1. BookishMiss*

          My reply is in moderation but… Don’t actually give her those sugar free gummy bears. She might have a breakdown.

        2. willow*

          oh Lord, is this the one with the review called “My Dinner with Andrea”? I needed my rescue inhaler for that one!

  29. Naomi*

    OP, I doubt that you’re “the” office pooper–I would be shocked if none of your co-workers ever pooped in the office bathroom! I would be tempted to ask the Toilet Sleuth what she thinks people should do instead. Hold it in for the rest of the day?

  30. Longtime Lurker*

    I have a friend who used to get appalled when people pooped in the office bathroom. I was like seriously? — you spend 8 (or 10, or 12) hours a day at work, sometimes you have to go. But my friend was adamant — it’s gross, “save that for home,” etc.

    Then she got pregnant and developed a whole bunch of bowel issues, including extreme flatulence. :)

    1. CityMouse*

      I know I have some digestive issues, but I don’t think it is physically possible for me to “save it for home”. That sounds like a recipe for hemorrhoids, for one. Do people really do this? They must feel bad all day.

      1. A grad student*

        My boyfriend absolutely does this- he has a thing about sitting on public toilets. Will get grumpy if something delays him on his way home, but he otherwise copes with it. I find it strange.