someone is taking phone calls while using the toilet in our shared bathroom

A reader writes:

This is such a niche and gross question. I work in a very upscale building in a large city, where we have high-end, VIP, A-list celebrity clients on our floor at least several times a week. Needless to say, it’s important for us to always look and act in the most professional manner possible.

There are four office suites on my floor, and all of the employees in all offices are generally very courteous and kind and very professional and discreet. However. One employee in one of the other higher-end offices has a habit of taking/making phone calls in the shared bathroom, while she is doing her personal bodily business. This is so disgusting and unprofessional, and two of our clients have mentioned something to us about being weirded out while trying to do their personal bodily business, during a time that this (outside of my company) employee does hers. Additionally, I was just in there, she came in, CLEARLY DID NUMBER TWO WHILE ON THE PHONE WITH A BUSINESS CONTACT AND DID NOT WASH HER HANDS BEFORE LEAVING.

This is so gross, and it makes the shared bathroom experience really uncomfortable. She’s maybe in her 30s, not American (I am in a large west coast city), and speaks very loudly. I thought that this was a cultural thing maybe? I asked my partner (who is from the same city/country she is) if this is the norm/not as obscene as it seems to me in their home country? And they told me, no, officially no, “I’ve never heard or seen anyone do that, ever.”

What do I do? This is such a fragile/awkward thing to talk about. Do I bring it up with her boss? Do I leave an anonymous note? We all need our clients to have a wonderful experience from top to .. er.. bottom, when they are in our office space, and this kind of shit (pun intended) does not help!

Ew.

The next time you’re in the bathroom with her, why not just say, “This is awkward to ask, but could I ask you not to take calls in the stall? We’ve had some clients say they don’t feel comfortable using the toilet while someone is on the phone right next to them.” You could even wait for one of the calls to wrap up and say this when she comes out.

Obviously it’s going to feel awkward, but that’s okay! Don’t take the awkwardness as a sign that you shouldn’t proceed; there is no way to address this that won’t feel weird. You just have to move through the awkwardness. In fact, ideally you’d even embrace it! If nothing else, though, remember that the awkwardness is being created by her, not you. She is the poopetrator, and any weirdness that results from saying this out loud stems from her choices, not yours.

But if you just can’t bring yourself to say something directly, another option is to talk with your boss (as long as you’re not so senior that you’d be expected to handle this on your own). The fact that clients have mentioned it makes it easier to bring up without seeming like you’re monitoring someone else’s bathroom habits or making too big a deal out of something that’s gross but not necessarily escalation-worthy.

You could explain that clients have mentioned this, that you’ve noticed it yourself, and that you’re wondering if there’s a way to address it since clients are squicked out. From there, your boss gets to make the call about whether to do anything. If she chooses not to, it’s officially not your problem. (Although if you think it’s grossing out your clients to the point that it’s affecting your company’s relationship with them, tell your boss that too, because if nothing else, your company needs a strategy for how to handle that.)

But I would not do the anonymous note, no matter how tempting. It’s going to be an awfully weird sign for your clients to see, and people are notorious for ignoring signs left in bathrooms. I’d also leave the hand-washing out of it, no matter how grossed out you are by that, because that’s about her personal hygiene and you don’t the same standing to comment on it as you do with the calls (and I’m sorry to say, she’s almost definitely not the only one guilty of that).

{ 322 comments… read them below }

  1. No Mercy Percy

    I love the puns in both the letter and Alison’s response. Especially “poopetrator”.

    1. MechanicalPencil

      My dog had an accident while I was at work the other day. I shall now refer to him as the Poopetrator. I thank you for this glorious nickname, because I was calling him such sweet, sweet nothings while I cleaned the floor.

    2. CastIrony

      Me too! But I’d be spraying everything the client touches if I knew that, and continuously washing my hands! That’s my nightmare! ewewewewewewewewewewew!

    1. Anonym

      This is not so niche! I’m having this exact problem, minus the important clients piece!! And not for the first time!

      I will not change my bathroom habits just because you have made the impenetrably strange choice to have a phone conversation on the toilet! I have work to do!

      (Apologies, I did not realize how irritated I am by this. And no irritation meant at you, Myrin! Best of luck, OP!)

      1. Nikara

        A week ago in the bathroom a person from the other side of our office had a conversation ON SPEAKER PHONE while in the stall, doing their business. Thankfully the first and only time this has happened to me. I’m not to proud to say that I basically froze and hid in the stall until the person left. Hopefully it doesn’t become a pattern and I never have to do anything about it. Weird things happen in bathrooms.

        1. Armchair Analyst

          this happened to me. I flushed. A lot. A LOT.
          Also, I mentioned it to her BECAUSE IT KEPT HAPPENING.
          So at least then the speakerphone thing ended. She still talks on the phone in the bathroom but having experience POSSIBLY THE RUDEST THING EVER everything else is fine.

          1. RabbitRabbit

            Yes, I would definitely do so much flushing if on speaker. I haven’t run into that, but I’ve done multiple flushes during regular calls, with the attempt to time them to hopefully cause maximum overhearing potential for the other end.

            1. RecoveringSWO

              So glad to hear I’m not the only one! My favorite is when there’s one of those high-blast hand driers–I make sure to take my time using it!

            2. Rebecca in Dallas

              I do the same thing!

              I can’t imagine being the person on the other end of the phone. I’d be like, “Are you calling me from the bathroom? Ew! Call me back when you’re done!”

            3. Liane

              I also cannot resist flushing multiple times when someone uses the restroom as a phone booth, whether I am a coworker or fellow customer. I don’t care if the poopetrator is using speaker, Bluetooth, an ancient flip phone. I don’t even care if they are an actual starship Enterprise officer asking to be beamed up. Flush, flush…

          2. Gumby

            Yeah, I was thinking I’d have the conversation Alison mentioned but without waiting for the person to finish her call. Instead of starting “This is awkward to ask” start with “I’m so sorry to interrupt but…” (Okay, in my head I would do that. In my real life I would probably not because I’m fairly conflict-averse and this is gross but not illegal or clearly immoral.)

        2. Amber T

          I’ve told this story here before, but it’s worth retelling. I should start by saying we have two pairs of bathrooms – our locker room and our guest bathroom, the latter being nice and fancy. It’s a general, unspoken rule that you only do #1 in there and leave more personal things for the locker room (including brushing your teeth, reapplying makeup, etc).

          I had a coworker who would take calls in our locker room while sitting with curlers in her hair. It basically became an extension of her office because she was always in there in the morning and always working while doing hair and make up. Well. One time I had eaten something that didn’t quite agree with me, and we had guests in that were using our guest bathroom. So I ran to our locker room, and there she was, on the bench on the phone holding a meeting. I’m stall shy, I hate it when people are in the bathroom with me in general, but it’s especially bad when your tummy isn’t happy. But honestly, there was a small sense of pride that day.

          1. RabbitRabbit

            That’s amazing. I can’t imagine turning the work locker room into an office extension; she deserved that.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger

            That’s hilarious, I was just wishing that, if I had a coworker like that, I could know for sure, in advance, when they would be on the phone, so I could tailor my diet for maximum….let’s just say sound effects! :D

        3. PeteyKat

          This also happened to me – someone was using the speakerphone while in a stall. I yelled out “Are you really on speaker phone?!” They told me to mind my own business. So I repeatedly flushed the toilet, probably for a total of 4 times. It was so loud. She shouted at me “Do you mind?” I said No, not at all and flushed again. I then left. Felt so good.

          1. Sharrbe

            I once had a woman wait outside the stall I was in while on the phone complainging about how long I was taking. It was a shared bathroom but only had one stall. I sat there long after I was “done”. Then flushed three times in a row.

            1. PeteyKat

              Sharrbe – good for you! I hope you were tapping your feet while you were taking a few extra seconds. I would have waited a few extra minutes and said I was constipated!

            2. CastIrony

              I’d be mad if I was that woman who was waiting for you, but only if it was because I was really sick or something!

          2. That One Person

            Managed to not choke as I read this somehow because it’s brilliant and everything I’d hope for someone to do. The fact she got mad at someone flushing a toilet IN A BATHROOM is just that extra bit of spice I love.

        4. Flash Bristow

          Another thing you could try to put her off / make it clear to the person on the other end of the call – why not bang on the dividing wall and very loudly ask if she can slide you some toilet paper?

          Ofc you’d risk being spotted that your stall did actually have some, but if called out maybe you didn’t spot it or couldn’t reach it or something. Or it was damp, or…idk.

          But a loud “*bang bang* hi babe, could you slide me some loo paper under the door please!” might deter her from so many phonecall escapades…? Even if she’s talking to a close friend or relative I imagine they’d say “hang on, are you on the loo? Don’t worry, I can wait! Call back when you’re done!”

        5. J.

          Yesterday I ran into someone in an airport bathroom talking on speakerphone in the stall. There was a line out the door and at least 15 stalls, with a steady stream of traffic, and she was just chatting away on speaker for everyone to hear (and to hear the flushes & whatnot on the other end of the line). I will never understand it.

          1. rocklobsterbot

            I had that happen in a busy airport once. What a selfish jerk. I yelled at her that this was a bathroom not a phone booth, but people that self absorbed don’t care.

        6. Shoes On My Cat

          Just laughing here!! Being me, I’d take great delight in making the juvenile fart noises against my hand that my guy friends taught me in grade school. You can make them loooong and drawn out, or quick toots, maybe even in a rhythm to Yankee Doodle…..then a loud Aaaaaah! Followed by standing up movement and a yelled out “WTF! What a huge log!” Then a flush. No, I don’t get embarrassed by much, especially by bathroom noises-in-the-bathroom. If one should put one’s phone on speakerphone to force me to listen to something that’s none of my, ahem, business and I WILL return the favor! And revel in the awkward.

      2. Myrin

        No worries, I didn’t read your comment as irritation meant at me!
        I honestly had no idea this was apparently more widespread than I thought. Like, I could imagine it not being rare insofar as it might happen relatively easily for someone’s phone to go off in their pocket while they’re doing their business and them unthinkingly going for it – but in my mind, that’s something that happens once in a blue moon and not intentionally!

        1. Guacamole Bob

          I accidentally ended up on the phone in the bathroom the other day. I was talking with my spouse on my way out the door and made a detour into the ladies room. I was wrapping up my conversation while putting my bag and coat down in the little lounge area we have in our bathrooms when it registered in my brain that I was *on the phone in the bathroom* where other people might want privacy and I ended the call pretty quickly. I was intending to get off the phone before I went into a stall but I hadn’t thought about anyone who might already be in the bathroom.

          But it was my spouse and I was talking to her about leaving to pick up my daughter because daycare called and she had a fever, so it was obvious it wasn’t a client. And it was maybe 20 seconds total from when I opened the bathroom door to when I hung up.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            Hey, sh!t happens.

            No, seriously, no one is perfect, you didn’t do it on purpose, and when you noticed the issue you addressed it. This isn’t one of those life-or-death errors, like not getting vaccinated….

            1. Guacamole Bob

              Definitely not on speakerphone! I don’t really get people who use speakerphone on their cell phones in public.

              1. Midlife Tattoos

                This is one of my pet peeves. And the person is still holding their phone close to their face, so I don’t understand why they can’t just put it to their ear. You don’t have to have a sensory processing issue like me to find this incredibly annoying. It’s not the same as overhearing people talking at the next table, etc., there’s something specific about phone calls.

                1. Buffay the Vampire Layer

                  My old phone had something wrong with the proximity sensor, so I couldn’t take calls off of speakerphone because my cheek would hang up the call. That said, I only used the phone when in private or while like, walking down the street, not just standing on line at Starbucks or whatever.

              2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

                THANK YOU! This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I DO NOT GET IT when I see someone walking down the street having a yelling conversation over speakerphone.

              3. ItsOnlyMe

                I’m hard of hearing and almost exclusively use my speakerphone in public or not. I do try however to find a quiet spot as soon as I take a call. I don’t like it but sometimes needs must.

        2. myswtghst

          So, I wonder if it’s becoming more common with the rise of the open office, where people have fewer options for “private” calls? I’ve never personally taken a call in a work bathroom, but it’s unfortunately super common where I work, and since we don’t have clients on site, I settle for passive-aggressively running the jet engine of a hand dryer for as long as I can when it happens.

          1. Autumnheart

            At my job, people usually go to the break room, a vacant meeting room, the supply room, or down to the lobby if they have to take a personal call.

          2. Quickbeam

            I work in an open office and people take calls in the bathroom ALL THE TIME, especially over the winter. Otherwise most of us go out and sit in our cars to call the doctor, plumber, etc. The home office created “phone booths” for employees to make personal calls but I’m in a satellite unit.

          3. Ginormica

            It isn’t just open offices. I work in a public library, and this happens in our public restrooms all the time. Same thing used to happen in the toilet stalls at the Y where I used to do an exercise class. I think it’s like people on phones or texting while they drive; they feel a need to multitask.

        3. Elizabeth West

          The ONLY person I talk to on the phone in the bathroom is my mum. At home, and only if we’re already talking and I really really have to pee. This woman changed my diapers–she doesn’t care if I flush.

      3. Jadelyn

        I once had a coworker order the cake for that month’s birthday party (we do once a month for all staff with birthdays in that month) while she was on the toilet. I know it’s not rational, but I couldn’t bring myself to have any of that cake. I had mentally labeled it as the “toilet cake” and just…nope.

        I genuinely don’t understand how some people can be so comfortable with talking on the phone in the bathroom like that…I don’t even like bathroom chatters talking at me from other stalls, much less someone who’s not even in the bathroom!

            1. I should be working ...

              Same here! The only time I have done this (and it’s been a long while) was while talking to my sisters on the phone. And it was at home only!

        1. Sharrbe

          I know! Isn’t it an unwritten oath that you don’t talk to someone while they’re doing their business in a stall. If I’m ever in a public bathroom with a friend I stop talking and resume the conversation when we’re at the sinks, etc.

      4. Allornone

        I know! My old office had a woman on our floor talk (LOUDLY) on the phone all the time in the bathroom. I always wondered what the person she was talking to thought since she made no attempt to hide where she was and what she was doing (no problem flushing, tinkling, what have you).

      5. Kyrielle

        Yes, there is at least one woman on the floor I work on who chats away while using the facilities (and while others use them). Look, I realize whoever you’re talking to will judge you on this and never know who I was, but I *still don’t want them hearing me*. It’s creepy.

        Some fine day, her stall call will happen at the same time I’m having a bad run of things (pun intended) with my IBS, and I’ll be unhappy, but also probably so will she and whoever she is talking to. :P

        1. Midlife Tattoos

          Ever since I read Alison’s “weaponize your IBS”, that’s been my new mantra whenever people are doing non-biological things in the bathroom. That’ll teach ’em.

      6. straws

        Yup. I had the joy of listening to someone from another business in the building call up her doctor to check on her birth control prescription while going #2. I didn’t stay to find out if she washed her hands though, so hopefully she was better than the letter.

    2. ThatGirl

      It’s unfortunately not that niche, I’ve definitely heard people on calls while I’m in the bathroom, and one woman was face-timing. Though so far it hasn’t seemed to affect any customers/clients.

      1. Electric Sheep

        :| I didn’t think anything could be worse than speaker phone, and yet this is an entire order of magnitude worse. Who are these people?!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood

      I may print this and post it in one of our bulding’s bathroom where we already have the sign “no cell phones in bsthtoom”…and it’s ignored.
      (Poopetrator. Snerk.)

    4. Jen RO

      There are/were several people in my company who do this. Not with clients, as far as I could tell, but with friends and family. None of the conversations were urgent! Why not delay them? Why???

  2. Sneaky Ninja for this one

    We have people who do this. On speakerphone. One who Facetimes (I’m pretty sure, because she plays games with her kid that need a visual from what I can hear) while she’s actively on the pot. Argh!!! And Ew!!! I have no ideas, but I sympathize. I also make sure I flush a lot, just to be annoying.

    1. Lance

      Speakerphone!? It’s bad enough that people will be able to make out the distinctive echo, and the other applicable… noises from themselves, and potentially others using the bathroom (assuming it’s multi-person), but to have the phone pick up even more of them in their call?

      There must be someone who can speak to them, maybe even as a group, and say, very definitively, ‘this is not okay, cut it out immediately’, surely?

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Speakerphone and FaceTime!? Who uses FaceTime while on the toilet??

      It took til Wednesday at 8:15, but my gob has been smacked for the week.

    3. DCompliance

      A company policy is actually being worked on due to a Facetime incident in a company bathroom…

      1. DCompliance

        Guy was facetiming a member of opposite sex in the bathroom while someone was using a urinal.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I had a feeling this would be the reason, and I am still horrified.

        2. PizzaDog

          You know when you think something is going to be a fun answer and then you get it and it’s like “oh yeah, people are awful actually.” This is one of those times lol.

      2. Zephy

        File that under “Rules We Shouldn’t Need,” subfolder “Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” The mind boggles.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          Cross reference from “things I never thought I’d need to say at work” for those of us who have had to explain behavior to a toddler.

      3. AKchic

        Considering some of the group facebook chats I’ve been called into thanks to children, and some inappropriate random idiots I’ve had try to video chat me, I can only imagine what prompted that.

    4. CookieWookiee

      We have one who sits in the handicapped stall and either watches movies on speakerphone, or plays games with the sound on.

      This is an improvement from her doing this at her desk, at least. Two people have moved desks due in part to the noise. She still takes and makes all of her phone calls over speakerphone. Loudly. In our tiny, open-plan office.

      My favorite is when she calls her co-worker who sits 3 desks in front of her, and they’re both on speakerphone yelling at each other, so we get it in double stereo.

      1. Mockingjay

        Is she a movie critic? Because that’s the only job I can think of where you get to watch movies while you work.

        1. Zona the Great

          I watch movies all day! I’m in program management and it keeps me very productive. But I can clearly see that my watching Parks and Rec while I analyze data is different from someone actually looking at a screen and engaging in a show.

          1. LJay

            Yes.

            I only do it with shows I’ve watched a bunch of times so I don’t really have to attend to them. It’s just pleasant background noise/extra stimulation for my brain so I don’t get bored doing data entry.

            But I’m either in an office away from other people, or watching with headphones.

            1. Autumnheart

              I’ve done that too, but they throttled streaming sources because too many people were doing it. Now I listen to audiobooks.

            2. Elizabeth West

              I used to do that when I still had cable and worked at home. I’d put on the never-ending Kitchen Nightmares marathon–they always showed episodes I’d seen eleventy million times, so I could mostly ignore them. It would sometimes get really quiet and the TV provided ambient talking noise like in the office, so I wouldn’t fall asleep.

            3. CookieWookiee

              I do this too. Not in the office, but if I’m cleaning or cooking or knitting at home.

          2. DataGirl

            I have TV playing from my phone but I use headphones and it’s really just background noise. Also a data analyst type person. When you are staring at rows of Excel for hours on end you need something to keep you from going crazy.

            1. Sally

              I used to do this when I had work that didn’t require much concentration. I played Law & Order on the monitor behind my laptop, and I had already seen most of the episodes more than once. I tried this with Sherlock, but it was way too distracting because I hadn’t seen the show before.

        2. AKchic

          I keep noise on all day. Tedious data entry gets boring, and I talk to nobody all day. So, some days I have music, other days I have old tv shows or movies on a small screen that is turned away from me so I don’t actually need to see it, but can hear it. I’ll watch during lunch while I crochet, knit or otherwise keep my hands busy, but otherwise, I just need sound. The only radio station I get in my office is a country one, and I loathe country music.

            1. Bilateralrope

              Working security, I listen to a lot of podcasts. I dont use my phone, instead I bought an mp3 player for them. That way I download them at home and dont need to use mobile data for them.

              Plus I don’t risk my phone battery running out. The lack of a camera and microphone might be an advantage on some sites.

              1. lurker

                I *love* my old skool Scandisk MP3 players. The battery lasts all day, the tiny device clips to my shirt or jacket collar (or bra strap in casual tee-over-sports-bra situations), and I can pause the sound by pushing a button I can find by touch instead of having to look at/fuss with a touch screen.

      2. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)

        I don’t think this is an improvement–it sounds like she is camping out in the handicapped stall when she isn’t using it for its intended purpose, and possibly getting in the way of someone who actually needs that stall.

        I sometimes read on the toilet at home; I don’t go in there specifically to read, but I do stay longer than if I wasn’t reading. It seems almost certain that, even if she goes in there to use the toilet as a toilet, she’s loitering when she’s done because she’s watching a movie.

        1. CookieWookiee

          She absolutely is camping out. She actually has a reason to use it, so it’s not so weird she’s in there. It’s the movie watching/game playing on speaker phone that gets me.

          As for getting in the way of others from using it, I’d have to say yes, but not because of the movies: I have bad knees and sometimes would like to have the reassurance of the bar to get up and down. But I won’t risk the possibility of being in there when she wants to use the stall, because I know if I am I will be on the receiving end of a temper tantrum. (She’s not the most reasonable person.)

          The reason I say it’s an improvement—one of her former neighbors told me that one day she was watching a movie with the sound on her phone cranked up, and Neighbor was forced to listen to sex scenes full volume while she was trying to get work done. (I don’t know if it was porn, and I don’t WANT to know.) So I think the bathroom stall is preferable for cases like that.

          1. valentine

            I won’t risk the possibility of being in there when she wants to use the stall, because I know if I am I will be on the receiving end of a temper tantrum.
            Let her tantrum and report her. Don’t forego something made for you. Don’t let this terrorist win.

            1. CookieWookiee

              Oh, management is very well aware of her. She’s a broken stair and we are all expected to work around her, because we are reasonable and she is not. She’s been spoken to multiple times to no avail. There are multiple reasons why mgmt is reluctant to do anything. She’s well past retirement age and I think they’re hoping she’ll eventually just leave. In the meantime, we deal with it and are occasionally entertained.

      3. DataGirl

        Do we work at the same place? My boss and grandboss do that. There is perhaps 10 steps between their desks and it echos across the entire floor. They have been asked not to by other managers but can’t seem to resist.

        1. CookieWookiee

          This woman is no one’s boss, so I would have to say not.

          I can’t believe there’s someone else out there who does that, and is actually IN CHARGE OF PEOPLE. GAH.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I get kids/mom barging in the bathroom and talking during that time but I cannot handle the idea of doing it via facetime, that’s even too far for me and my boundaries are…limited.

      Only my mother and I are comfortable doing this to each other, even my partner and I close the door when we’re together and I notorious open-door bathroom user [in the privacy of my own home of course]. My cat protests if I close any doors so I just don’t bother unless others are around, then he just has to deal with his feels.

    6. Mimi Me

      I was watching an interview with the comedian Greg Davies and he told a story about how he had surprised his sister with a video call that included Taylor Lautner – who she has a big crush on. According to Greg, she was incredibly rushed and quite rude during the call. During a later call she explained that she’d answered the call while on the toilet.

    7. ClumsyCharisma

      My kids follow me into the bathroom at home but there is no way I would facetime them. I also would never talk on the phone in the bathroom.
      We have several women who think the bathroom is a completely acceptable place to have phone conversations. I always make sure to be extra loud and flush several times. I just don’t get it.

  3. Amber Rose

    People who don’t wash their hands are notorious spreaders of germs and consequently, illness. Which is expensive for the business and tiresome for the workers. So I do think you have some standing to speak up, or if not you, a manager or someone.

    Guys, as a safety person I have absolute horror stories about what happens when people aren’t clean and share food. I remind everyone not to be gross so as not to spread disease and wipe out the office on a monthly basis. That includes washing your hands if you blow your nose, and ideally before you touch any communal food regardless of what you were doing.

    If you need some gross out stories to horrify your office into washing their hands, I will be happy to share.

    1. Ms. Taylor Sailor

      Let’s also hope she never asks anyone to hold her phone for her for any reason…

    2. JB (not in Houston)

      In defense of this person (and I hate to be defending this person, taking calls in the stall of a public, shared bathroom isn’t ok), there are people who have severe contact allergies to the soaps in restrooms (they have to use special soap). And there are even people who have severe contact allergies to tap water–more specifically, to one or more of the chemicals used in treating the water. So yes, you absolutely must clean your hands after you go to the bathroom, there is a tiny chance that this woman is cleaning her hands elsewhere and just not using the soap/water in the bathroom. It’s not the most likely scenario, but it is a possibility. I mention this just to say to the OP–you didn’t ask for advice about how to tell her to wash her hands, but if you are planning on saying something to her about the hand washing part of her behavior, keep this possibility in mind in deciding how to phrase it.

      1. Psyche

        Even if she is using hand sanitizer in her office, she is touching the door and spreading germs while getting there. It would be better to bring a travel sized hand sanitizer with her into the bathroom.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Yep, I’m sure there are better way to address the issue, but that’s not the point of my comment. I am not trying to defend Those Who Do Not Conspicuously Perform Ablutions. I’m a big fan of hand washing myself. I’m just pointing out something the OP might want to keep in mind if –IF– she is planning on saying something about this issue. (and as an aside, we can probably all assume that the bathroom door handle is covered in germs and act accordingly, regardless of whether this one person decides to start using hand sanitizer before leaving the bathroom)

          1. Amber T

            Yeah, we have the generic office soap and also provide the SoftSoap or whatever it’s called in one of our bathrooms. If the office can’t provide a better/different soap, bring your own.

            1. EH

              Given how many people use our bathroom, that is Not Happening. We go through four rolls of paper a day in the favorite stall (there are four stalls total).

              Plus, unless you’re using hot water and scrubbing for at least ten full seconds, there’s no point using soap. Scrubbing well with hot water does an equivalent job to a halfassed wash with soap (according to the family doctor, anyway. Most of us are allergic to soap).

      2. Amber Rose

        Depending on the office, that stuff should still be kept in the bathrooms though. Or at least carried with her.

        I have had contact allergies to soaps used at work before. The accommodations for such things are not hugely burdensome.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Yes, there are other ways for her to handle it if she does have a contact allergy. I wasn’t trying to get into best practices for those with contact allergies. I’m just saying that (1) we should not assume she definitely isn’t cleaning her hands at all and (2) more importantly, if the OP plans to talk to her about her not washing her hands, she should keep this possibility in mind in deciding how to phrase it.

      3. Samwise

        Yeah, well, in this case, she should carry her own freakin soap or other hand sanitizer because she’s TOUCHING THE DOOR HANDLE on the way out. (This is why I push open doors with my foot or grab a piece of toilet paper or paper towel when the door’s not pushable, because EWWWW)

        1. RandomU...

          Yeah, I just assume the door handle is germy and never touch it. It sort of makes me laugh when I see a pile of paper towels on the floor just inside the door. I’m thinking, great bathroom design to not have a garbage within easy tossing distance from the bathroom door.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            WHAT? People do that? If there’s no waste bin outside the door, which is the norm for most places I frequent, I have the decency to take the paper towel to wherever there is a bin or stuff it in my pocket. That’s another level of gross behavior of it’s own, I wouldn’t find it funny, I’d be furious people were such animals that they could notice “dirty handle, no touchy” but not “don’t drop trash on the G-D ground.” RAAAAAAAAAAAAGE

            1. RandomU...

              I’m a firm believer in natural consequences. For some reason people are stupid when it comes to garbage placement. (This is such an irrational pet hate of mine I can’t even explain it).

              If you want people to use it, put it in a place that makes sense. Especially by a bathroom door where a large percentage of people are going to need to throw something away right there.

              So yes, it does make me laugh in that shake your head sort of way, because every time I see it I think to myself what an idiot who designed this bathroom.

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch

                This is the same rationale people use for littering in general, it’s gross. Oh no, there’s no ashtrays anymore because they’re trying to detour you from smoking, let’s just toss the butts on the ground. Disgusting vile humans, we’ve been civilized for too long for that kind of behavior to just be viewed as “well put a trash can there then” mentality.

                Cart your trash elsewhere.

                There’s literally no trash cans in a lot of public parks because it’s “bring it in, take it out” and budgets don’t allow for workers to go empty the trash cans or the disposal fees.

                Pay the collective trash bills and then I’ll start giving you trash cans wherever you want them.

                1. RandomU...

                  It seems easier to me to put trash cans where people would use them than to change human behavior and rage against the injustice of paper towels on the floor… but your way may work too.

                  I’m sure this has moved well into derailment and off-topic so I’ll leave the discussion here.

              2. Amber Rose

                You know, in some countries they don’t even have much in the way of public trash cans, because people are expected to deal with their own garbage.

                Don’t blame people for poor bathroom design when it’s the people who can’t be bothered not to be disgusting slobs who are at fault.

              3. Sunflower

                This feels like the equivalent of yelling at retail workers for their company’s policies. The maintenance person likely has no say in the amount and location of bins, so why would you punish them by laughing as they pick up people’s garbage?

                1. Clorinda

                  You are right, Sunflower. It’s like chewing out a customer service rep because you don’t like the company’s policy. It is not cool to take out our frustrations (however rational they may be) on people who have no control over the matter and just happen to be available for punishment.

          2. Sunflower

            Yeah, I also laugh at the thought of some poor maintenance person having to pick up lazy, entitled people’s garbage because there isn’t a bin within immediate range of their precious little selves. Isn’t it hilarious?

            1. Thursday Next

              Thank you for this. I find it similarly un-hilarious when people deliberately make unnecessary work for someone else. Especially if that person is on a lower rung of the workplace hierarchy.

        2. JB (not in Houston)

          Without getting into details, even if the only people who touch bathroom door handles are people who have washed their hands, the bathroom door is still not going to be germ free. Not touching the door handle is generally a good rule regardless of whether this person starts using hand sanitizer in the bathroom or washing her hands.

          1. RandomU...

            And it enforces the idea of not using hand sanitizer until after you’ve left the bathroom.

          2. Starbuck

            Yeah, in bathrooms where the toilets don’t have lids (that are used!) I assume everything is gross. Will never understand people who don’t use the toilet lids in their own homes.

      4. AKchic

        This.
        I will never use bathroom soap. Ever. I’m not risking the rash and itching simply to conform to others’ comfort and social convention, because they will still panic about my rash even though I’m “clean”.
        I’ll keep my bottle of hand sanitizer, and I’ll use my own soaps, away from the bathroom (because people are still going to touch the faucets in that bathroom with their soapy hands).

        My own mom still gets on to me in public about hand washing, and she *knows* how I’ll break out. She just can’t break herself of the “everyone must wash their hands immediately after and before leaving the bathroom” idea. She even gets the same rash with some of the soaps, but she’ll accept the rash because she won’t change the order of operations.

        1. Close Bracket

          I’m sorry to hear that you react badly to public washroom soap. Washing your hands after using the toilet isn’t about “conforming to others’ comfort and social convention.” It’s about removing fecal bacteria that yes, you get on your hands even if you don’t poop. The entire groinal region contains these bacteria and regardless of your personal plumbing, they Will get on your hands even if you think you have created a barrier with toilet paper. “Comfort and social convention” is really dismissive. You can bring sanitizer in with you to avoid touching the sink handles.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            AKchic isn’t saying cleaning your hands is comfort and social convention, they are saying doing it performatively so others can see them doing it is. (and let’s be honest, people ineffectively wash their hands all the time, or wash their hands and then touch the germy taps to turn off the water, or touch the bathroom door, but people don’t tend to jump all over them for spreading germs)

      5. CheeryO

        I get rashes from soaps, too, so I bring my own or use prescription steroid cream if I forget or can’t be bothered. Sorry, but that’s absolutely not an excuse to not wash your hands after using the bathroom, especially at work where people would be more than happy to spread that particular piece of gossip, and where you would presumably prefer to be known for something other than your restroom habits.

      6. Electric Eel

        Why would she do it somewhere else than in there? Why would you suggest something so strange?

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          On the scale of strangeness, using your hand sanitizer at your desk instead of the bathroom is closer to “my coworker only drinks coffee if it’s tepid” than it is to “I just saw a camel riding a unicycle.” I wouldn’t do it that way and I don’t recommend it for others, but it is not, in the grand scheme of things, all that strange.

      7. Aveline

        As someone who has severe fragrance allergies that preclude using most soap out of dispensers, I always carry my own. Full stop.

    3. Anonforthis

      There was a lady I used to work with (a college professor!) who would often bake treats for the office. I stopped eating them as soon as I realized that she never washed her hands after using the bathroom. Ew.

      1. SophieChotek

        Ew.

        I often study/work at the library…I have been consistently surprised how many do not wash their hands after using the toilet. I’d say it’s around 33% of the people I happen to see/hear/encounter in the restroom at my library.

    4. Curious

      Do people really wash their hands every time they blow their nose? I always thought it wasn’t necessary unless your snot actually soaked through the tissue to your hand. If I’m sick and constantly blowing my nose I can’t keep getting up to go to the restroom. (And no, I can’t take a sick day just because I have a bad cold. :/)

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney

        Yes, we teach the kids to wash their hands every time they switch tasks or blow their nose or even touch their face. We’re a kitchen workplace. I actually worked in one place where the staff were not allowed to touch their face/hair while working.

        1. Amber Rose

          I worked in that place. All hair, including facial hair, was behind nets, and if you touched your face or hair you had to wash your hands. I wasn’t allowed any accessories either. No makeup, no hair dye, no rings/earrings/etc, not even my employee ID badge.

          People can volunteer to cook meals or snacks at the Ronald McDonald House here, and I always wonder what the restrictions look like there. I hope to be able to try it some day.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            Most food preparation volunteer jobs are still very strict about their cross contamination and prep regulations, so they should be in full gear and not be allowed to have rings/long nails/makeup etc because that’s not just a “place by place” thing, that’s a legal regulation at least in the US. People found cutting those corners are in deep dark doodoo when found out and if there’s ever an illness linked to the food.

          2. Lepidoptera

            By facial hair you just mean beards or goatees, right? Trying to imagine nets over eyelashes and eyebrows…

        2. Starbuck

          Good, they shouldn’t be! When I worked in food service it was the same, if you were wearing gloves you could only touch food or sanitized surfaces – if you needed to adjust your outfit or hair, you’d need to wash your hands after and put on a fresh pair of gloves.

      2. Amber Rose

        If you’re sick and must be around people, you should at least have hand sanitizer around. Blowing your nose spreads essentially the same germs as sneezing. No tissue is gonna prevent those germs from getting on your skin. Or at least try to limit the contact you have with things other people touch.

      3. pleaset

        I try to do so at work, but I’m probably only at 80% compliance.

        When I’m sick enough that it’s happening a lot, I don’t. But in those cases I’m generally at home.

      4. fposte

        You almost certainly are getting spray on your hands whether you felt it or not. Kind of like the bathroom handwash theory–you don’t only wash if you felt you had substance contact.

    5. Armchair Analyst

      Do you mean “guys” in the sense of “men and males” here or do you mean “guys” in the sense of “everybody”?
      Like, because men are notoriously grosser than women but, being a woman, I can vouch many of us are kinda gross, too, so I am just wondering….

      1. Amber Rose

        I use the word “guys” in the genderless sense most of the time. Same with “dude.”

        I am pretty well aware that women are as gross, if not frequently more gross, than men. I’ve had enough roommates of both sides to basically just consider everyone gross at all times unless proven otherwise. =P

    6. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

      I had a roommate that didn’t wash her hands after using the bathroom. We used the same kitchen and dishes! I moved out.

      1. coffee

        We had to ask a housemate to leave because of this. (And various other issues, but the hand washing was the last straw.)

    7. WellRed

      Amber Rose, I’d like to jump on here and add: don’t blow out candles on the birthday cake! It amazes me that, especially in an office environment, people willing eat a slice of cake after some one has sprayed it with saliva!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Idea for someone who’s committed to the candle thing: Get cupcakes. Put the candle on one that gets handed separately to the honoree when lit. Keep the rest around back until ceremony is complete. Hey presto no spittle potential.

      2. Amber Rose

        Euuuw, that’s a thing? I’ve never had an office cake that had candles in it. D:

        I don’t care as much at home because it’s just me and husband, and we share drinks and food and stuff anyway. In a larger party situation, I might choose to not have the cake.

      3. DataGirl

        OMG YAS about the candles. So gross. Personally I rarely eat communal food. Like when someone puts out a tray of cookies and there are no tongs- everyone’s hands are touching the other cookies when they grab one. And don’t get me started on potlucks….

      4. twig

        My Sister in law once blew out the candle son her birthday cake with a fine spray of beer.

        No one wanted a slice of beer-spit cake.

  4. Ginger

    Oh my.

    It’s weird behavior, full stop. But now you have not one but two clients who have said something which means there are probably more who have noticed but not said anything (and how often is she in the bathroom doing this?). Time to address it.

    If you don’t feel comfortable approaching her yourself, and presumably she’ll be too absorbed in a phone call to notice (!!!), either you or your boss need someone to interface with her office (her direct manager, if known) and get the behavior addressed. It doesn’t need to call her out by name necessarily (if known) at first. Just a general “we all share this space and so do our clients” type of thing. But if it continues, then I would address it naming the individual causing the problem.

    1. Dragoning

      Well, it does sound like OP knows this person at least a bit–they know what country they are from, after all, to ask their partner about it. Now, they might be an American citizen now, of course, but that wasn’t really OP’s point with that statement.

    2. Zephy

      I think LW means culturally American, i.e., not born and raised in the US – not questioning her citizenship. The next sentence implies that LW knows that this person is from Somewhere Else, and furthermore knows where that is, as they were able to ask someone else from the same place if this kind of thing is normal there.

      1. Former Young Lady

        Yeah, that was my read on it, too.

        Granted, if the hospital visitors in the washrooms at my work are any indication, it’s absolutely a Thing for at least some Americans to have loud phone conversations on the toilet. I’m not above precision timing my flushes for maximum impact.

        1. Zephy

          I don’t think LW’s point was that the behavior is/isn’t an American Thing, just that they wanted to cover their bases and make sure it wasn’t A Thing in the coworker’s culture, just in case. I don’t think it’s an American Thing or an XYZ Culture Thing as much as it is a Gross Person Thing, and Gross People are everywhere.

      2. Liane

        Considering how often OP’s had to listen to this person’s phone conversations, I am pretty sure OP knows where all the woman’s lived, for how long, and grosser details. From the poopetrator’s own lips.

    3. Ms Cappuccino

      It doesn’t matter wheter they are American or not. Being dirty have nothing to do with your ethnicity or nationality. It’s weird to even mention the pooper wasn’t American.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        The OP has said elsewhere in the comments that she was trying to head off inevitable questions about whether this could be because the person was from another culture with different norms (which definitely would have arisen otherwise, based on past letters).

  5. AnotherAlison

    Obviously, this is not a likely option for the OP to explore, but if I had a high-end celebrity clientele, I would probably install a private bathroom in my office suite.

    Otherwise, good luck? People are weird and gross. She may have moved floors, but we had some woman who seemed to take all her personal calls in the bathroom (not the stall, but still irritating when you’re doing your business). She was also originally from another country and spoke another language on her calls, which left me thinking why not take the calls at your desk? Do you need privacy if you’re speaking a language others nearby don’t speak?

    1. BelleMorte

      You never know who speaks your language around you.

      I was working as a bagger in a grocery store as a young teen, and two men were in my line signing graphically and descriptively about their dates and activities the night before. I was doing everything I could to keep them out of my line of sight, once I caught wind of their conversation topic.

      Then my cashier says ” ooh you two are deaf! She is deaf too! Say hi”

      Cue the looks of horror on their faces as they asked “Do you sign” and I regretfully nodded.

      1. AnotherAlison

        Agree that’s true. . .however, I can’t quite imagine this person is having that many ultra-sensitive conversations at work. (It got to where everytime I went to the bathroom, she was in there on the phone, or in the stairwell.) Even if people understand your language, it’s okay to talk about your mother-in-law issues, mortgage refi, or whatever other private-but-mundane thing at your desk.

  6. Drax

    The child in me would like to suggest bringing in either a whoopee cushion or a fart machine, but the adult in me would have no qualms telling her that’s weird and uncomfortable and please let people poop without having to worry about the phone call in the next stall.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      I dunno, that might be what gets the point across! Plus these days I’m sure you can find no limit of gross noise apps to play on your phone as needed.

    2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      The childish brat in me agrees with you. Get a big ol’ supply of fart-in-a-can and start spraying whenever she starts talking.

      1. Bilateralrope

        Spraying could annoy other users of the bathroom.

        I’m thinking get a cheap smartphone and configure it to play various bathroom sounds when it detects speech. Leave it hidden in there.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      The adult in me says we can have a fart machine AND a conversation about how inappropriate phone calls in the restroom are! That’s because we’re adults and can afford luxury items like fart machines ;)

    4. Grapey

      I’d personally have an EASIER time pooping if someone else is on the phone.

      It’s already a stupid cultural phenomenon to want to hide poop noises in a BATHROOM, but if someone’s going to eschew the “no phone calls in the bathroom” social rule I’ll gladly eschew the “hide thine poop noise” social rule. Just sending awkward back to sender. What are they going to say, “Can you be quiet, I’m on the phone?”

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Interesting…usually we hear about the shy poopers. Ppl who literally can only pooh in their bathroom or very specific ones.

        1. Grapey

          That’s actually usually me (not bad enough to go only at home), but in a specific case of a loud bathroom phone talker I’d be more likely to throw social mores out the window if someone else does it first.

        2. Autumnheart

          I’m a shy pooper myself, but even I am routinely irked by the “Stall ghosts”, the shy poopers who freeze into complete silence while you’re in the bathroom and make all *your* bathroom noises seem extra-awkward. Waiting for me to leave so you can poop? Okay, I’ll be right out as soon as I fix my hair, makeup, arrange my clothes, wash my hands, check my teeth…

            1. Anon7

              Agreed, and I used to be one. Right up until the day I got in a ghost-off with another person in my office.

              I never figured out who they were, but I thank them wholeheartedly for helping me realize how silly it is to worry about getting caught going to the bathroom while IN a bathroom.

          1. Anonny

            I can be a ‘stall ghost’ when it comes to weeing (I cannot poop in a public toilet) but it’s not voluntary. If I’m stressed out, and I hear someone else in the loo with me, I just can’t go. No matter how much I want to. Sorry, not happening.

  7. Anonforthis

    Oh man, this is so gross. There’s a woman in my office who does this too (I don’t work with her) – I hear her in the stall all the time doing conference calls and other calls. She’s often speaking in her native language, so I’m not sure who she talks to, but it is just so awkward and gross. I get it that sometimes nature calls at inopportune times, but come on, man. Ugh.

  8. Carol Danvers

    My company rents office space in a building with a bunch of lawyers. I haven’t experienced too much of it in the women’s bathroom, but my male coworkers have told tales of lawyers taking client’s phone calls while at the urinal, or – even worse – when pooping. The toilets are the automatic kind that make a LOUD flushing noise, so I know there’s no way their clients can’t hear what’s going on.

  9. Ellex

    The “poopetrator”, OMG. I nearly spewed a mouthful of coffee all over my keyboard. That’s brilliant.

    But really, I don’t care what kind of workplace you’re in, be it super professional or really laid back, whether you have clients that come in and may use your restrooms or not. A shared restroom is not the place for phone calls. The office I work in even has a couple of little rooms especially for making private calls, and there are plenty of conference rooms that could be used in a pinch, and yet there are still a few people who use the restroom. I don’t want to be using a restroom when someone else is making a phone call in there, and I don’t want to get a phone call from someone who is using the restroom.

    1. Crivens!

      It seems to be getting more and more common to me, along with people playing their music out loud in bathrooms and on public transit. Also people having extremely loud conversations on speakerphone on public transit, too.

      1. Jadelyn

        I think it was someone here who talked about carrying a few sets of dollar store earbuds with them all the time so that when someone started playing music or games or whatnot out loud on public transit, they could go over and hand the person a pair of earbuds to use instead.

        1. WellRed

          I have once or twice (in a restaurant setting) asked people if they could please use their headphones (because of course they have headphones : ). I do wait a bit in case its a quick, albeit thoughtless, I wanna watch this cat video, rather than settling in with Gone with the Wind.

    2. DCompliance

      I get the sense a lot of people don’t think it is rude to be on speakerphone in the bathroom. I have seen it happen in so many places. Some people see it as the only place the only place they perceive as private and can make a quick call without clocking out.

        1. fposte

          I think it’s because they find it easier to hear, and that’s as far as they think. My theory is that there’s something about the bathroom cubicle pretense of privacy that operates in their mind as real privacy, so they don’t consider that there are effects on other people.

        2. DCompliance

          I guess by private, I mean away from a boss who doesn’t want to see you on the phone when you are clocked in.

    3. Arctic

      I will never consider it normal, personally, but it is definitely something that happens with greater frequency.

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

        Yeah, and the more frequent it becomes, the more it becomes the norm… so normal. I’m a great big ol’ nerd and it reminds me of an Isaac Asimov book — I can’t remember right off the bat which one since I read them as a teenager — but in one of his books a main character from Earth goes to a world where the culture is so…antisocial?…that they largely remain physically isolated from each other and only communicate (even married people) through video. They then believed there was a big difference between “viewing” someone and “seeing” them so their behavior while “viewing” was without any normal rules of privacy; they’d bath, dress, use the toilet all while on video and being “viewed” but those same behaviors would be horrifying if they were “seen” in person.

            1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

              Dr. Doll has the right planet, but the book is The Naked Sun. Isn’t it insane that a book published in 1957 — long before personal computers let alone cell phones — would have an eerie similarity to the present where social norms seem to change depending on whether someone is using technology vs. face-to-face with another human. I wonder if the bathroom Facetime users would be so open if the person were physically in the stall with them.

    4. lurker

      Talking on the phone while in a stall is pretty common where I work (college building frequented by students). I don’t know if they’re actually using the toilet, or just going in the stall and closing the door because they think it’s “private” (not realizing how clearly everyone else in the bathroom can hear them).

  10. Crivens!

    If it weren’t for the fact that it would be wasting water, I’d just respond to people who do this by flushing CONSTANTLY while in a stall.

    Then again the kind of people who do this don’t seem to mind whatever poor sap they’re on the phone with hearing flushing, so they probably wouldn’t care.

        1. jolene

          I LOVE the singing idea! And when the talker objects, you say you’re doing it because they’re on the phone and you don’t want their callee to hear the noises you’re making.

  11. Delta Delta

    Suppose you’re a client. How do you feel knowing your confidential (I assume, based on the description) information is being blabbed in public? You don’t know that, because you may not know your file is getting reviewed in a public bathroom. Seems like a fabulous way to lose business, without even getting to the poo part.

    1. WellRed

      I’ve fantasized about leaning over when its on speaker phone and repeating that private information: “Oh, hi there, you’re getting divorced because you cheated on your spouse with the mayor and got caught?” Especially since I can add, “I’m a reporter.” I would never actually do this, but that should shut ’em both up!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Right? I’m always hearing conversions in public that seem very private and think “whyyyyyy??” and it’s not necessarily privileged information but just personal AF.

      BUT we also see public domestic squabbles and even worse. I’m still unable to comprehend how you shout at one another in the cereal aisle. My mom would just snatch me up and take me home to lecture/punish me…she was embarrassed by a misbehaving kid or a disagreement as an adult so heck no to bringing that to the public view!

  12. RandomU...

    I love my office. We had at one point the phone/bathroom issue. It was pretty simply solved. We made a rule that no cellphone use was allowed in the bathrooms. We were small enough that everyone recognized voices, and while the biggest perpetrators actually worked for our client who was co-located in our office. There was a firm understanding that they abided by our office rules and their management helped enforce any policies or rules we had.

    I believe one of their employees was given at least a verbal warning but might have even gotten to a written warning stage for multiple violations.

    IIRC, we cited the potential camera usage privacy as the reason for the ban.

  13. LawBee

    Poopetrator. ALISON. Well done, well done.

    I had a boss who always took his phone into the bathroom. I felt so sorry for the people on the other side of the call because bathrooms echo, and you KNOW they were aware of what was going on. Why why why. I couldn’t say anything to him, but you, dear LW? You totally can speak up!

    1. RabbitRabbit

      As long as you’re not doing it via speech-to-text, you’re not making anyone’s bathroom experience too awkward.

  14. That Girl From Quinn's House

    There’s another angle the LW and her company could take with regards to this issue. For celebrity/A-list clients, there’s a concern of being recorded at private times, when they’re indisposed, such as when they’re using a bathroom. So it’s not only that using the toilet next to someone on the phone is uncomfortable in general, it’s that it’s something of a security risk to them and their privacy. No one wants to be wondering if the person next to them is saying, “Do you hear that wrapper crinkle? That’s Jennifer Lawrence unwrapping a tampon in the stall next to me!” and pointing the camera at her feet visible through the bottom of the stall door, showing her leaning forward to toss the wrapper in the trashcan.

    This is especially salient because it’s the ladies’ room, since sadly there’s shock/porn value for video of female celebs using the restroom. Their company needs to ensure the safety and security of their clients, and allowing people to actively use phones (which are ultimately video cameras) in the restroom as their high profile clients are disrobing is not creating a safe environment for their clients.

    1. CupcakeCounter

      This was my thought. There are a lot of places that do not allow cell phones to be used in restrooms for many, many reasons. Privacy is a big one.

    2. Aveline

      If you are in California, there is a penal code stating no cameras can be used in public bathrooms. In essence, this probably it illegal (though seldom enforced) to pull out a smart phone and use it in a public bathroom.

      I have, however, seen one instance in a spa frequented by celebrities where a patron was hauled out by the cops for being on her phone in the spa area. They explained to the offender that their interpretation of the privacy rights under PC 647 meant that any device with a camera could not be pulled out in a multi-occupancy toilet facility anywhere in the state. Period. They were more than happy to make her the test case. She left after she called her lawyer and he told her to stand down.

      There is a reasonable expectation of privacy in California in bathrooms that is explicit in the law. It has been tested wrt taking photos. It hasn’t been tested with eavesdropping or use of smartphones with camera features.
      I’m sure someday it will when a celebrity’s privacy is at stake.

      If you have HR or in-house counsel, have them draft a letter to all the staff that no phones are allowed in the bathrooms. Period. People will still take them in, but you can then deal with blatant offenders.

      1. WellRed

        Do they define public as any bathroom used by people or as those owned by the government, rather than an individual company?

        1. Aveline

          Any bathroom. Including one in a private home. People always have an expectation of privacy in bedrooms and bathrooms in California. Full stop.

          There are other places enumerated in the statue, such as changing rooms and tanning salons.

          If it is somewhere that you performing toileting functions or change clothes, it counts.

          So I can pull out my phone and take photos of myself in a dressing room if it’s a single use one, but not in the hall of a multi-stall changing room where I might capture someone else in a state of undress accidentally.

          It’s about the activity, not who owns the space.

    3. theletter

      I think this is the crux of the issue. Anyone sharing restroom space with celebrity clients should keep their phones in their purses so that the client, and anyone else sharing the intimate space, feels secure.

      A person who feels comfortable gabbing away while on the throne, what other boundaries are they going to cross?

      1. Autumnheart

        There was a case in 2016 where a minor celebrity (Playboy model or some such) was the one who took a photo of another patron in the locker room, and published it to her Snapchat (with the charming caption, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either”–the patron was a 70-year-old woman). She was sentenced to probation and community service.

        1. Aveline

          Yep b/c that’s criminal in California. Even if it’s a woman photographing another woman.

          Cellphones should never, ever be out in a bathroom, locker room, changing room, etc. If there’s any chance of photographing someone else either naked or doing a bodily function, the answer is no. Just don’t.

    4. Elizabeth West

      I can just imagine high-profile clients warning off other clients from a business if they have an experience like that. “OMG, don’t use CompanyName for your X service; you’ll never believe what happened to me in their bathroom!”

  15. JJ Bittenbinder

    One time, at a former job, I walked into the bathroom and a coworker was on the phone with her husband. She paused and said hello to me as I went into the stall to do my business. He must have asked who she was talking to because I heard her say, “Oh, it’s JJ Bittenbinder.”

    Like, I did NOT need you to announce to your husband that I was peeing, thank you very much. I dunno. It was rude and weird.

    1. Ginger ale for all

      I think they will be unfazed as well. I work in a library and had a coworker who would call the library reference desk while driving on the freeway to ask us to look up directions or sales ads for the stores she was going to. When I figured out that she was driving, I would tell her that it was unsafe to be on the phone while driving and hang up on her. She went to my boss to complain about it. I had to have a meeting with my boss and had to point out that it is illegal to in our area to be on the phone and drive. I avoided a write up but that employee still continues with her behavior and I still hang up on her. There is no getting through to some people.

  16. KittiesLuvYou

    Ugh, The problem was so pervasive in my large office (500+ people) with people on phone/facetime/gaming while on the toilet, including multiple people talking on their phones (fun!) — dueling poopinators if you can imagine that– that our management put signs up to the effect that often people use the bathroom as a quiet refuge and as such they are now phone-free zones. Peer pressure and passive-aggressive disapproving looks seems to keep that in check for the most part.

    1. Jadelyn

      I saw the phrase “dueling poopinators” and my brain blue-screened because it couldn’t decide whether to go with the mental image of a “toilets at dawn!”-style duel with poop guns, or jousting with people riding toilets on wheels.

      Just wanted to share that with everyone here. If I had to mentally see that, then so do the rest of you. :)

      1. just a random teacher

        My brain went in more of a “dueling banjos, but with fart noises” direction.

        1. Drew

          I went with “let’s play Battleshits” from the first Harold & Kumar movie, because I am a paragon of class and civility.

  17. Dollis Hill

    At my old job I was on a conference call with at least fifteen other people, including the head of the company and some other high up people. Someone on the call, who was working from home as he was a remote worker, was very audibly (splashes, grunts, etc) on the toilet from about halfway through the call, and we were all trying to politely ignore him while also wondering why on earth he didn’t use his mute button. It was the most uncomfortable call I’ve ever been on. He got massive talking to afterwards, and was fired a few months later for unrelated reasons – although I can’t help but think that this incident may have contributed a little.

      1. Dollis Hill

        I think it was due to total embarrassment – although if I was in charge of the call I definitely would have said something, even if it was just “can you use your mute button?”

    1. Nicelutherangirl

      This should be an SNL sketch, assuming the writers haven’t thought of it already.

  18. Arctic

    This happens all of the time in our shared bathroom at work. I hate it so much. But it doesn’t impact clients or anything so I really just have to suck it up.

  19. lilybart

    A lot of our outsourced catering staff have phone calls in the bathroom on our conference floor. I assume they don’t have anywhere else to go and am not sure what their break schedule is like. It weirded me out at first but I got used to it and now go about my business. The only time I decided to go find another bathroom was when a man was having a tense call about a relative’s health situation (most of the time the conversations aren’t in English so I have no clue what they’re about).

  20. Face of Boe

    We have a guy — “The Multitasker” — who goes into the stall with his phone, his mug, his toothbrush, and a pile of memos. Whe he’s on the phone, everything else sits on the floor. Between the germs on his hands and whatever is on the floor, I’m afraid to be within 20 feet of him. Fortunately, our men’s room has two doors, so I leave through the one that leads away from his department whenever he is conducting his “business.”

    1. Zephy

      > “The Multitasker” – goes into the stall with
      How bad could this possibly be? Buckle up, I guess.

      > his phone
      Okay, I take my phone with me to the bathroom, too, that’s not crazy. I just use it to scroll through Instagram or something for a quick mental break, though, I’ve never taken a call. Still firmly in the “but why” category on that (exceptions made for urgent personal matters, e.g. hospitalized loved ones).

      > his mug
      Uhh…I mean, I’ve taken my travel mug in with me before and set it on the counter for a minute, because the water fountain is right there…

      > his toothbrush
      my dude why are you bringing this to work
      did you not brush your teeth after you got up this morning
      who raised you

      > a pile of memos…everything else sits on the floor
      brb i need to go puke forever

      1. Jadelyn

        Yeah, I went down pretty much that same path. Although I don’t even bring my mug into the bathroom – I will make separate trips for the bathroom, then back to my office to get the mug and back over to the kitchen (which is near the bathrooms).

        But…the toothbrush? And the memos???? What is he doing with memos while he poops?????? Setting everything on the FLOOR???????????

        (Sorry…I’ve used my allotment of question marks for today, I think.)

      2. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

        Obviously this doesn’t excuse the rest of this guy’s behavior, but I know of a few coworkers who have a second toothbrush/toothpaste set at work just to get rid of the morning coffee breath. I mean, I get it, coffee breath is impossible to get rid of. BUT. They have a separate bag for those items and they leave it by the sink, far away from stalls, and are generally discreet about it.

      3. Lepidoptera

        I brush after lunch. I just spent four years and eight thousand dollars on braces. I’m not walking around with food stuck in there for six hours.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I do too (brush after lunch), but my toothbrush lives in my purse, not in the actual bathroom. Toilet plumes, y’all.

      4. lurker

        Brushing teeth at work is actually pretty common, either for medical/hygiene reasons or to get rid of lingering food tastes/breath smells. I wouldn’t typically take a toothbrush with me into a stall though, let alone put it on the floor of a stall and then use it again afterward.

    2. Dankar

      I was once in a stall next to someone who put their phone FACE DOWN on the bathroom floor!! Who are these people and where are they learning this stuff?

    3. irene adler

      Ick ^infinity.
      Long ago I read someone’s list of “time savers” for working women. Mostly these were multitasking tips. One suggestion-which the list writer highly touted- was to do one’s written correspondence in the morning while on the toilet. Just swing around 180 degrees and use the tank as a small writing desk.

      I don’t know. I think this takes “leaning in” to a level I just can’t fathom.

      1. Drax

        I definitely pictured someone straddling the toilet to use the back as a desk and my brain cannot not compute someone using the toilet that wrong. just why.

  21. NewHerePleaseBeNice

    Ugh. Sadly more common that you’d think. It’s not massively rare for me to walk into the ladies at work to find someone chatting away on their phone either at the sink (on speakerphone) or in the cubicle.

  22. government worker

    There are some kind of gross, classist and anti-immigrant sentiments in this letter.

    1. fposte

      I can kind of see where you’re coming from if I squint, but I don’t think it makes much difference to the actual problem–if anything, the OP is mistaken in thinking this wouldn’t be a problem elsewhere, so her question is more universal than she realized.

      1. Aveline

        I think this is a case where the LW tried to be sensitive to cultural issues and is getting shot for it. Talk about a circular firing squad.

        As for the types of clients, I’d put that in there as well. Because those people can, and do, sue and ruin companies over this. That might not be fair, but that’s reality. Also, that group of people, particularly if she’s in LA, are much, much more privacy sensitive than the average bathroom user.

    2. Drax

      I don’t see that. I actually read it as she assumed it was and wanted to make sure it wasn’t before saying something.

      It’s like how a lot of people are squicked out by people eating everything with their hands, but culturally for me it’s very very normal. We all wash up very well before we eat and it’s less dishes. Now, I know better to do it at work especially at business dinners but not everyone understands what’s normal for them isn’t normal for everyone else.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t see that. She wanted to try to be sensitive to someone who might have different cultural traditions, and to put it in that context if they did. I don’t see any classism here, and it’s not anti-immigrant to try to recognize that different cultures can have different norms (and that while X might be weird to people from Y, it might not be a big deal to people from Z).

      1. government worker

        “Very upscale…high-end, VIP…celebrities”. Why add the part about her being foreign if the OP’s partner already cleared that up? And to follow that with the info about not washing her hands. That’s what I’m seeing.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Because it was something she’d thought about when considering the problem, I assume. And maybe to head off the inevitable comments asking if she’s considered if the person might be from a culture with different norms. Letter writers really can’t win sometimes. Please leave this here.

        2. Jadelyn

          Why include it? To preempt the “Maybe she’s not from wherever you are? Have you considered that maybe it’s cultural?” comments that would inevitably pop up if she didn’t include it.

  23. Not A List

    We don’t have A-LIST or VIP people in my office. We’re all factory workers and I just happen to work in the QA lab. We had someone doing this–and we just asked them to STOP. Our boss had a meeting and said “no cell phone calls in the toilets.” Period. It stopped. Not sure why it’s so important to mention how super-elite your office is, but if a bunch of blue collar welders and machinists can get it, maybe y’all can, too.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      She’s not saying only A-listers see this as gross; she’s explaining that she’s in an office that presumably tries to cultivate a particularly high-end, decorous image, which is ruined when someone is loudly crapping in the stall next to you while talking on the phone.

    2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      I agree that the behavior is not appropriate anywhere however, That Girl From Quinn’s House upthread had a very valid point — VIP’s or celebrities are often targets for being recorded without their knowledge at private times and having that info sold or distributed in a way that other people usually aren’t, and so that detail does add a layer of security to consider. Whether the poopinator in this office is having a fake conversation in order to gather clandestine info about those clients or not — there is no way to know who is on the other side of the call and what they might be hearing…or even seeing and then passing that info on to others.

  24. LaDeeDa

    It is gross. I do not want whoever you are talking to to hear me pee. I can hardly pee if someone else is the restroom, let alone talking on the phone. It is weird to me.
    Also, please don’t talk to me why I am in the stall. Pretend we are all alone, and if we meet up at the sink and you want to chat, let’s leave the restroom so that we aren’t disturbing other people.

    1. Carlie

      YES. I am the ultimate “the bathroom is invisible space” person. I don’t want anyone else in there at all, if there has to be and I can’t leave and come back later we must maintain the shield of polite invisibility wherein we do not even acknowledge the presence of another human. I would not be able to handle someone being on their phone in there all the time. Besides everything mentioned above, I’d be tempted to bang loudly on the stall door in hopes the person would startle and drop their phone into the toilet.

      1. cat socks

        I’m the same way! I think bathrooms should be like a club where the music is so loud you can feel it in your chest. That would cover the sounds of any bodily noises and it would be impossible to make phone calls or have conversations with other people.

      2. LaDeeDa

        If someone tries to speak to me I am going to say “we must maintain the shield of polite invisibility while in the restroom.” HAHA!

      3. Aveline

        Yes, by peeing next to you, I consent to you hearing it. I do not consent to it being broadcast to god knows who..

        It’s a huge violation of both the social contract and the other person’s consent.

  25. AngryOwl

    My face as I was reading this. I cannot.

    Many moons ago, I was in the bathroom at the same time as a colleague and she started to leave without washing her hands. I instinctively was very WTF about it. Later that day I’m sitting at my computer when all of a sudden, her cold hands are on my bare arms as she comes up behind me and was like “I WASHED THEM THIS TIME!”

    I do not miss that colleague.

    1. fposte

      It’s a horrible thing to do, but I did laugh to hear about it. So you didn’t suffer in vain!

    2. an infinite number of monkeys

      I don’t blame you, but on the other hand I now picture your former colleague as Spider-Ham as voiced by John Mulaney, and this makes me happy.

    3. LaDeeDa

      EWWWWWWW NOOOOO!! and for her to think “this time” is funny. GROSS!

      I also love the people who fake wash because they know someone is in a stall. We know. The water sounds different, and I didn’t hear the soap dispenser, and you didn’t do it long enough. Don’t try to fool me, Grossy McGrosserson.

  26. softcastle mccormick

    Ugh, this is so common in my workplace too. People will actually facetime with their significant others while on the toilet in our shared bathroom–it’s truly vile, and there’s something that crosses the line for me and my sense of privacy to know that people are doing video calls from the next stall.

    For us, though, it’s because we work in an office attached to our company’s DC, and none of the warehouse workers have private places to make a phone call. The break room is atrocious, and is basically just a giant, loud lunch hall that isn’t conducive to conversation. We’ve brought up creating break rooms to the warehouse manager, but he always says no. Though it truly disgusts and irritates me, I let them talk on the phone because they have nowhere else to go on their breaks :/

  27. V

    This is kind of happening to me now except I’m pretty sure someone is… eating in the bathroom. About once a week I go in and it very clearly smells like chili or pasta or some other hot entree. At the time there’s usually one stall at the far end that has someone in it that doesn’t come out.

    I’m not sure if I should do something about this? Our office shares a restroom with a floor with two other offices so it’s very likely not one of my own co-workers but I’m concerned maybe this person is being bullied or something? Either way it’s really gross just to even think about.

    1. EH

      Wait… our office bathroom often smells like food. I always assumed it was a quirk of the air system in the building, blowing in air from a kitchen or something. But I guess not? Yikes.

      1. V

        I hadn’t thought of that but I really don’t think it’s likely in my scenario at least, the bathroom is behind the elevator bank and no where near any kitchens. Also this only started up recently (past few weeks)

    2. LaDeeDa

      Bullied? Do you think that is a real possibility? There aren’t any private areas for someone to sit and eat if they don’t want to socialize?

      1. V

        @LaDeeDa the bathroom has 5 stalls and is in near constant use so, to be frank it really really smells. I can’t imagine someone using the stall to eat just because they don’t want to socialize in that scenario. We work in a metropolitan area where they could easily go outside, the nearby Whole Foods has a seating area for example. I think something dire would have to be going on for someone to eat in the bathroom. Again this is probably not a coworker of mine since we share the floor with different offices, but my office does have a cafe and several open offices/phone pods.

    3. SuperAnonHere

      This is undoubtedly going to be TMI and just a bit off topic, but there are certain gastrointestinal issues where what comes out smells virtually identical to what went in. Particularly if what went in was tomato-y or particularly pungent. And such issues do tend to coincide with spending more time in the restroom, so… it’s possible that is the case here.

      (I happen to have one such illness, and very little shame, so I’m familiar with having the conversation of “why does it smell like chili in here?”/”oh, that was me.”)

  28. MuseumChick

    Childish side of me: Whenever you are in the bathroom and she is on a call: “HELLO? ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?” In a very loud voice. If she doesn’t respond say it again. And again. And again.

  29. oona

    I have a friend who also works with very high-profile, famous people and she experienced the same bathroom problem. Except it was the famous people talking on the phone while peeing so no one dared say anything.

  30. Davis

    When I encounter someone in there, I flush the toilet at least 4x to make as much noise as possible.

      1. davis

        Grunt really loud, then drop a cantaloupe in the toilet from 2 feet up. Then sigh really loud.

  31. Karen Roudabush

    I’d be more concerned about her not washing her hands after doing her business than using her phone while she goes. In my eyes that is the most disgusting offense.

  32. Miss Astoria Platenclear

    If I were a celebrity/public figure, I’d be concerned about being recorded if someone was obviously using her phone in a public restroom. :-<
    And ew, ew, ew on FaceTiming while on the pot. The Jetsons would be aghast at how their videophones are being used.

  33. Nicelutherangirl

    I haven’t run across this in any of the comments I’ve read so far, and I’d welcome other insights, but I disagree with Alison about not raising the issue of the employee not washing her hands after using the bathroom. I don’t know what her position is, but she could very well use those unclean hands to shake others’ hands, or at least touch their documents. Not as bad as using them to make my salad, but I’d still be grossed out to know they’d been on a contract. (Shudders.) I’m willing to be told what I’m overlooking, though.

      1. Nicelutherangirl

        Okay, my thinking did start to move in that direction after (of course!) I posted, but not to that degree. I can’t argue with any of that. Well said.

  34. Jaid

    CSR’s and anyone else with a butt-in-the-seats job often make calls on their bathroom breaks. It’s an unfortunate fact of working life, I think.

    Mind you I wouldn’t be gossiping on the phone while doing my business, but I think for some people, it’s a form of stress relief after a difficult case or business interaction. And if you gotta schedule for a service (cable, teeth cleaning, etc.) and can’t do it after work…you do it when you can.

    1. Nox

      Yeah im kinda disappointed with how the response doesn’t factor this in. In call centers where everything is run very lean, a person may only be able to use the phone while in the bathroom and to see people here finding it cheeky to multi flush and troll them is kinda mean spirited.

      People gotta do what they gotta do sometimes.

  35. My Brain is Exploding

    Clients use this bathroom and while doing their “business” might hear other clients’ work-related business being discussed. That should be enough to make all bathrooms no-phone zones

  36. LowerLevelLawyer

    One of the assistants in my office used to do this. She’d take personal phone calls on her headset while in the bathroom stall. Ultimately the person who brought it up with her figured “well, she doesn’t seem to be embarrassed about it, so why should I be embarrassed to bring it up?” It was true. The assistant was just oblivious that this wasn’t a social norm. And in our case it was more the awkwardness of the INCREDIBLY personal conversations she was having while on the phone, rather than the location of the calls. Some people just don’t have “shame” programmed into their database, so don’t worry about offending them.

  37. I Work on a Hellmouth

    So, I have encountered person-in-the-stall-next-to-me-is-using-the-phone issue before, but the very worst was when I DIDN’T REALIZE THE LADY WAS ON THE PHONE. I’m just sitting there, minding/doing my business when a disembodied voice goes “So, what did you do this weekend?” to which I replied “Excuse me?” And a few awkward beats later she spoke a bit louder and said “I said, WHAT DID YOU DO THIS WEEKEND?” I was super startled, and… well, gave some sort of response. And she kept firing off rando oddly paced questions and I kept answering until she said “Hold on just a sec, I can’t hear you because this weird rude person is TALKING TO ME.”

    It was the worst.

  38. AnotherKate

    I can’t imagine being the person on the other end of that call. The second I heard a bathroom sound I’d be chastising them for calling me and hanging up with a quickness.

  39. LW

    Hi —

    So it just happened again and my work wife (who is also from the same city/country) was the one who pointed it out to me, as she (the Poopetrator) was striking (dropping bombs?) again. She was at a loss as to what to say — but she mentioned it to me, and I said “I WROTE TO ALISON GREEN ABOUT THIS THE OTHER DAY AND SHE RESPONDED!” — so at least now we have a framework to address this issue.

    Re: the classist/anti-immigrant/etc. stuff — I mentioned those particular traits, and what my thought process was, because as an avid reader of this column (and the comments!) I wanted to make sure all the bases were covered. In reading many of the above comments, it’s nice to have it reiterated it’s definitely NOT an “immigrant” or “culture” issue, it’s a boundaries and personality issue.

    The hand-washing (or lackthereof) — I know, is a totally personal choice (as is all hygiene, unless one is in the food industry, which we are not) — but I mentioned it because my *personal choice* is that it’s fucking disgusting and I can’t believe that this kind of shit happens. (No pun intended this time!)

    My personal favorite of the stories so far (which are so delightful to read and have had me actually LOL-ing) have been the ones where people FaceTime while on the toilet.

    Thank you all for your camaraderie and incredible anecdotes. :)

    If I wind up crossing paths with her again in this regard, I will definitely swallow my anxiety and say something to her. And of course, I will write to you right after I do so, Alison.

    Ladies-Room-Letter-Writer

  40. Phil

    Whenever I witness this in the toilets, I’ll make extra noise in there to make sure the person on the other end of the conversation knows where the poop guy is. I’m not talking about, you know, the actual deed, I’d feel awkward amplifying that. But I’ll flush extra toilets, run the hand dryer longer than usual, etc.

  41. Phil

    Also, one time, only a few years ago, I heard noises in another stall that can only be described as “classic Game Boy sound effects.”

  42. Fromanotherculture

    Is it just me, or is it offensive to ask your coworker if it’s normal in their culture to take client calls from the toilet? I highly doubt it is appropriate anywhere, and asking this is akin to wondering if other countries have electricity or wild animals roaming in the streets.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      No. The OP has said elsewhere in the comments that she was trying to head off inevitable questions about whether this could be because the person was from another culture with different norms (which definitely would have arisen otherwise, based on past letters).

  43. Anon poopetrater for this

    So what exactly do you all object to when friends talk in the bathroom (not business calls, I get the problem there)? The sounds the talker makes using the toilet or the fact that the person they are talking to can hear the sounds you make and you lost privacy in a public restroom where there is no privacy? I don’t see the issue with either of those, we all make bathroom noise and I don’t care if I hear strangers or friends making them in person or on the phone.

    The real problem is the fecal matter that is now on the cell phone from being in a public bathroom.

    1. Person

      I agree. I don’t do this myself, but I encounter it enough and it’s never particularly bothered me – I was surprised how much people were freaking out on here. The biggest issue is the not washing hands.

      And c’mon, have none of you guys ever browsed the internet or texted while in the bathroom? Is it really that different?

      I’ve also been on the phone with people and known the person on the other end was in the bathroom, and it struck be as a little weird but not horribly disgusting.

  44. MCMonkeyBean

    I’m a little surprised at how strongly everyone feels about this! I do always think it’s super weird when people are on the phone in the bathroom, but (aside from all the comments here about people being on speakerphone, which is extremely rude because it brings other people who are in the bathroom into it) it seems like really not my business? I always think it’s weird for the person that they are on the phone with, not with me. But 90% of the time I actually hear them say something along the lines of “oh I’m just in the bathroom” or whatever so the person on the other end must not mind. I definitely can’t imagine being so bothered by it that I would complain to someone (again, assuming that speakerphone is not in play).

    Now, OP said they are taking business calls, so I can imagine the person they are talking to complaining… but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here. I’m genuinely surprised the people in the other stalls care that much.

    1. Person

      I was beginning to think I was crazy for not finding this as horrifying as all the other commenters! I agree with you

  45. OrchidDragon

    A boss of mine actually did this! It’s one of the many reasons why she is my former boss now. Her idea of acceptable behavior was not the same as most people. “Mabel” rented a small suite of offices with very thin walls. I could hear noises with the door closed but learned to tune them out. Mabel only used her mobile so she could walk around the office. She had the habit of going to the bathroom while talking to family, friends, co-workers and maybe clients. A couple of time I heard her tell the person on the phone that she just used the bathroom. They must have asked what the noises were (loud toilet flushing and hand washing).

    A colleague witnessed Mabel doing this once and had a weirded out look on her face. The colleague asked Mabel how she could feel comfortable doing this and Mabel did not seem to have any qualms. At least she wasn’t on speaker phone…

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