I pierced my nose in quarantine, a disgusting boss, and more

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

1. How do I stop clients from ranting about why we haven’t reopened yet?

I work for a national nonprofit that does hands-on, in-person work. We have been closed since mid-March, got a PPP loan in the second round (so staff are still getting paid), and are closed until upper management/staff feel that it is safe to reopen. Our offices are regional so some areas where we operate have been hit harder than others but because of the hands-on nature of our work, we don’t feel comfortable opening any of the offices until we are on the other side of the curve.

The office I work in is in Georgia, so many things are reopening around us. I find I’m getting pushback from clients and vendors who want to know why we aren’t opening yet. They often give advice (“can’t you get those shields like they have at the grocery store?” or “the experts are never going to tell us it’s really safe, so you should just get back to normal”). The majority of people are understanding, but a small percentage want to argue with me and tell me it’s safe to reopen.

When I try to point out that we have to have a process for disinfecting our materials between clients, it’s literally impossible to do our work six feet or more from our clients, wearing masks is a challenge when you have to give verbal instructions, and other reasons that our particular context is more like school/camp than a general office might be, I continue to either get “helpful” suggestions or a rant on why shelter-in-place has ruined the economy. I’d love some advice on how to shut this down without alienating potential clients or other people that work with us.

Don’t make it your goal to convince people you’re right (emotions are running way too high and for many people this is no longer about facts) — you just need to shut it down. I wouldn’t even get into all the reasons; I’d just go with, “Because our work requires close contact, we’ll be closed until our management and staff feel it’s safe to re-open.” If someone rants at your or tries to tell you how you could open sooner, this can be your answer: “There are a lot of factors that make it complicated, but the organization is committed to waiting to reopen until we know we can do it safely.” And then signal that that’s the end of the discussion — change the subject or use an obvious conversation closer (like “well, thank you for calling and we’ll send out an email once we do have a re-opening date”).

But your measure of success here can’t be “no one ever argues or rants at me” because that’s being driven by forces outside your control. Success here is just that you politely restate your organization’s position and close the conversation.

2. I pierced my nose in quarantine

I am a professional at a small company that does not have any limitations regarding body modifications. I wanted to get my nose pierced for a long time, but I also didn’t want to field questions about it or call attention to my changing appearance. Quarantine seemed like a good time to do it, as that’d give me some alone time to heal up, put in a retainer, etc. I’ve been working from home since mid-March, and because April and May have been five seconds long (and I wasn’t sure when we’d be going back to the office) I didn’t actually start planning how to do this until last week, and I pierced my nose yesterday.

My company will be WFH-ing at least until the end of May, and we can technically do this indefinitely. However, I didn’t think about the semi-frequent video calls I make throughout the day, and I’m finding myself sitting really far back from my camera hoping that no one says anything. Not really because I’m worried about the nose stud but because body modifications in quarantine may seem objectively crazy to my coworkers. Which, you know, it is.

On the bright side if we’re back at the office in June, I plan on wearing a cloth mask anyway so the in person visibility should be limited, so I don’t have to explain the provenance of said piercing. I’m not sure what to do about this. Do I lie and say it’s a stick-on gem and that I’m experimenting with my appearance in quarantine (I have already dyed my hair)? The stud bar is a little visible so … I’m not sure about that.

I think you’re over-thinking it! You pierced your nose, you happened to do it during quarantine, your company doesn’t disallow it … it’s fine. If anyone asks about it, you can cheerfully say, “Yes, I pierced my nose!” If you’re worried people will think this is a sign that you’re officially Losing It from isolation and next you’ll be showing up on a video call shirtless (which I don’t think they’ll think), just say, “Yes, I have a nose piercing!” They may think you’ve had it all along and just took it out when you were at the office. But really, if you’re allowed facial piercings, have the facial piercing. People will live.

(There’s a separate conversation here about whether your office is really okay with piercings and whether the absence of a “don’t do it” rule is the same as acceptance of it, but it sounds like you’ve already assessed that.)

3. Boss so gross that no one else can use the men’s bathroom

We have a toilet cleanliness issue. The boss, who owns and directs the business, gets his poop everywhere in the only male toilet. All over the bowl, on the seat, sometimes on the walls. He leaves it that way after he flushes, drops his used paper hand towels on the floor, and walks out.

He is so bad, that his wife makes him use an outdoor toilet at home (not unusual in Australia). The issue at work has gotten so bad that the three male employees have expressed to me, the manager, that they feel they cannot use the toilet during their nine-hour work day.

My boss isn’t malicious, just oblivious. He is the sort who makes a sandwich directly on the lunch room table and leaves crumbs, tomato juice, honey, jam, butter, etc. all over the table along with his dirty knife, and wanders away happily munching on his lunch. How do I address the bathroom issue?

WTF. Your boss is disgusting, and he is not using the toilet in a normal fashion.

If his wife hasn’t been able to solve this travesty of hygiene, I’m not optimistic that your office will be able to. You can certainly try telling him that he’s leaving the bathroom in such a mess that other employees don’t feel they can use the toilet at all during their work day, but it sounds like it might be more practical to simply let the other men use the women’s bathroom (with the understanding that that access can never, ever be extended to the boss). Or as a group you can try insisting an additional bathroom be added, but that may or may not be practical.

Your boss is foul.

4. How do I ask colleagues to stop sending me encouraging messages while I’m furloughed?

Like many people, I have been furloughed without pay for an indefinite period of time. For various reasons, I am not eligible for government support and I am really, really struggling right now.

My former colleagues are hardly affected by this at the moment, because almost all of them have some kind of fallback income (husbands in secure jobs, supportive parents, even trust funds). They are aware of my predicament, and a few of them make a point of regularly reaching out to me with messages of encouragement. I’m grateful. But to be honest, sometimes I want to scream at them, “Platitudes won’t pay the rent! Inspirational quotes won’t put food on the table!”

I just want them to stop. Is there a nice way to get them to do that?

Depending on the relationship, it might be possible to say something like, “I really appreciate you thinking of me, but to be honest I’m in a place where this kind of message makes things more difficult. I’m going to try to take some space from work right now. Thank you for understanding.”

If that feels like too much for the relationship though, it’s okay to just ignore the messages. You don’t need to respond every time. You can even automatically funnel them all to their own folder so you don’t see them as they come in (although it would be worth checking that folder periodically in case there’s something you do want to respond to).

5. Performance reviews with two managers

I work in a library and am the collections manager for the fiction section. My colleague is the manager for the non-fiction section. We each have a small team of full-time library staff as direct reports, but they float back and forth between projects in our two sections. For example, this might mean that Sally (who reports directly to me) is doing a project in the non-fiction section where my colleague provides all the project direction and oversight. At the conclusion of each project, we have a feedback session, where the manager on the project goes over the good/bad/lessons learned with that staffer. Anything significant gets addressed in the moment.

When it comes time for annual performance reviews, the other manager and I write them together. I may have observed a consistent behavior on the person’s projects with me that the other manager didn’t, and vice versa. We reference the project feedback session forms to help remind us of their past year’s work. This has worked very well for us and our reviews have very specific and detailed feedback. My question is on the performance review delivery. Since the staffer may want more context for a behavior one manager observed but not the other, we give the reviews together. We explain to the staff why we do this, for reasons above, and no one’s expressed any concerns. But after a few years of this process I’m wondering if it’s really the best way to do it? I haven’t noticed any hesitancy on the part of our staff in the discussions, but wondered if we were potentially sacrificing a more open discussion? What would you recommend?

I’d say it depends on how much work the person has done for each of you. If the work is close to a 50/50 split, it makes sense to do the meetings jointly. But if 80% of Sally’s work is for you, I’d do the performance review by yourself; much of the conversation will presumably center on projects and topics that the other manager isn’t involved in (and Sally may be less comfortable with full candor with a third person there). If the other manager has input that you can’t accurately represent on your own or if nuance would be sacrificed if you tried, it might make sense for the other manager to have her own separate meeting with Sally to go over that piece of the evaluation, or to only bring her in for that part of the discussion.

{ 520 comments… read them below }

  1. Beth*

    #3: Wow. Just, wow. I don’t even know how one makes that much of a bathroom mess? Much less on a consistent basis? You and your coworkers have so much sympathy from me.

    1. Dynamite With A Laser Beam*

      My three year old only has sporadic success using the toilet, and she has never got poo on the wall. What does he DO in there?!

      1. Sparrow*

        Seriously. I cannot fathom what he is doing and why he thinks it’s ok. There is no level of oblivious that makes this make sense.

      2. Miss Muffet*

        agree! there is no normal way of toileting that gets it on the wall. I literally can’t understand how a grown person can do that “unintentionally”

    2. allathian*

      GROSS! Yikes. I wish you could order a portaloo and put it in the parking lot and ban the boss from using the indoor toilets. It’s gross, gross, gross. I feel sick just thinking about it. Cleaners and janitors should be paid way more than they are!

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I think this is a good idea. Push back as a group, absolutely insist, state an intervention with his wife, take up a collection for locks on the bathroom doors and do not allow him to have a key under any circumstances, and do not give a fudge in the slightest about offending him. Lock him out of the office and refuse to let him in until he has used the port-a-potty if you have to.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Also, I am fascinated that this man got married and stayed married. Even with an outdoor bathroom. Seriously.

          1. Aggretsuko*

            How come THAT GUY can get a wife and I can’t get married?!?! Yes, I thought the same.

      2. Mama Bear*

        Honestly, if his wife makes him use an outdoor toilet and it’s not terribly uncommon, I’d ask if this is an option. Then it will be serviced by the toilet company periodically and no one else has to deal with it. I don’t even want to speculate what he’s doing in there.

    3. Rexish*

      also, does he use the bathroom again while it’s dirty? Or does he only go once and waits for the magic fairy to come and clean and then uses it again?

    4. Rexish*

      also, does he go there himself again while it is dirty? Or does he go only once (home or Office) and then Waits fro a magic fairy to come and clean it before he uses the bathroom again?

      1. Rexish*

        Damn. Website froze and didn’t post, but aparently it did a few seconds later. sorry for double post!

        1. Dodging the Basilisk*

          Who’s going to bite the bullet and get him a pack of adult diapers?

    5. willow for now*

      Can you lobby to get an outdoor toilet put in at work, too, in addition to the one he has at home?

      Seriously, how do you get poop on the WALLS? Is he wandering around the room while he is extruding poo? I just can’t even!

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        I was wondering the same thing, and then I remembered our toilets at work. There is one person who regularly (I’m talking about once a week) has an issue and gets visible poo splatter on the seat and wall in one of the stalls. They also don’t bother to clean it up, although I’m torn about that one – at least when it’s visibly disgusting, I know to avoid that stall. If they were to clean it up but not disinfect, I shudder to think what we might be unknowingly sitting in. Ugh.

        1. Charlotte*

          If you’re typing this on a keyboard, nothing you don’t have on your hands and face right now, sorry to say

      2. JSPA*

        Giant wiping fail (missed the paper, poop to hand to wall), or a standing wiper with bad balance (poop to paper to wall, on the way to bowl), or digestion problems leading to a massive explosion while leaning forward??? They’re all at least remotely possible, but so’s the option that he’s wired so that he likes making people deal with his messes / has some need to leave a mess.

        If he’s regular like clockwork and once-a-day, and resistant to changing his procedure, how much would it cost to have the cleaner come in an hour or so after his regular performance?

        If he’s doing this several times a day and it’s an “explosion” thing, maybe take all the lactose-containing foods out of the snack machine, at least, and see if that helps. Or leave him information on IBS. (Normally, the anonymous route isn’t OK, but for this…yeah, I’d put an envelope of information on his chair, keyboard, or inbox.)

        1. Lord Gouldian Finch*

          This should NOT be the worker’s problem to solve. Ugh. But…

          If it’s a wiping issue, maybe lobby to have a washlet/bidet toilet seat installed. If it’s explosive … someone might need to prompt the wife about IBS issues.

          1. Starbuck*

            ” someone might need to prompt the wife about IBS issues.”

            This would be way out of line and I assume if there’s more to the story, she already knows, due to, you know, living with him.

            1. Lord Gouldian Finch*

              Normally I’d agree, but this is literally the fecal matter hitting the wall. She might not realize how it’s affecting others.

              Although someone else suggested calling the health department which is probably the better idea by far.

              1. Armchair Expert*

                It’s not his wife’s job to manage his diet or his bowels, and this is a hugely sexist attitude.

                1. Mama Bear*

                  Or he could be the kind of person to never take medical advice or see a doctor, and maybe he likes cheese (for example) too much to care about the consequences? I knew someone who would eat an allergen and then pop a Benadryl because they just *had to have* that food item.

          2. JSPA*

            Someone has to let him know that it’s something to get treated, not something on the grand spectrum of normal biology. Whether that someone can be an employee is a tough question. If anyone’s been there long enough to be a friend of sorts, and to have a, “this is affecting our ability to keep employees / have you considered seeing a doctor” chat, Or a “here’s what my cousin did for that problem” chat, that would be helpful…but there may be no such person. I know I’d let this drive me right out the door.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          I have IBS-D, plus a nasty allergic reaction to soybean oil. I have even “not made it” and exploded into my underwear. It’s embarrassing.

          However, even during my worst flareups at home or work, I have *never* gotten poop on the walls. Floor, seat, front of toilet? Yeah. I also clean up after myself.

          Furthermore, it’s not every day that I “explode”. I watch what I eat, I take medication, and I know the signs of impending explosions.

          But he needs to talk to a doctor if he’s having explosive diarrhea every day that always misses the john. The fact that this is a daily occurrence means that he is unwilling or unable to manage his problem. That is disgusting, and is usually what childhood potty training is for.

          Just…. ewww.

    6. JM in England*

      The boss is also evidently oblivious to the concept of leaving something as you would wish to find it…

      1. JM in England*

        BTW, at my current work have had to file several H&S incident reports pertaining to toilets left in a disgusting state. To date, nothing seems to have been done…

        1. JM in England*

          Also, this post brings back memories of news stories from the late 1970s/early 1980s about IRA prisoners who were on hunger strike and did “dirty protests” on their cell walls….

          1. Texan In Exile*

            That was part of that Bobby Sands movie, Hunger, I think. It was quite elaborate.

          2. New Jack Karyn*

            If I recall, their cell toilets didn’t work (if they existed), and the jailers would not remove their honey buckets.

    7. JB*

      Could be what he eats that affects his bathroom output. I’ve just had dinner, so I’ll leave it at that.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        That’s true for everyone, but most people don’t make this kind of revolting mess. This guy is deliberately disgusting.

      2. TimeCat*

        I don’t understand how someone messes up the walls without at least callous indifference.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        But he doesn’t clean it up. In fairness, I haven’t made a mess in a bathroom since I was out of diapers but if for some reason I did, I’d clean it up! And then I’d see a doctor about why my innards were sabotaging my entire life.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Yeah. You don’t get stuff on the *walls* if your insides are functioning properly. And probably not on the seat either.

        2. Michaela*

          I was staying at my Grandma’s while visiting as a teenager, and a distant uncle was there too. He missed the hole, and left a present on the seat without cleaning it up.

          As I wasn’t going to do anything about it, I told me Dad, and he fixed it, including having a talk with that Uncle. That was the great thing about my Dad, he was great with stuff like that.

      4. So very anonymous for this*

        I have a medical condition which requires me to take supplementary digestive enzymes before each meal, but sometimes they’re not enough and I have an EXTREMELY URGENT bathroom situation and while I’ve pooped my pants a couple times (due to my incorrect assessment of how much time I had to get to the bathroom), I have NEVER gotten poop on the walls.

        This boss probably doesn’t have a medical condition, he just has terrible and unsafe hygiene.

        1. TimeCat*

          Even in the throes of the worst norovirus I have ever had, I’ve never been that bad. Smearing poop everywhere regularly sounds like someone either has a substance abuse issue or some kind of untreated mental issue. It’s not healthy or normal behavior.

        2. JSPA*

          Enzymes have been amazing for me. They do nothing for allergens, though.

          As to whether one might hit the wall behind the toilet, I suspect that’s a function of position, individual anatomy, and having the sense and determination to clutch / clamp until safely positioned.

          Bodies are as variable as faces, if not more so. Clearly some people DO spray. I assume it’s not universally because they intend to be gross (?).

    8. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I live with someone with IBS, and let me tell you, sometimes is worse than have a baby in potty training. I also worked with someone that clogged the office only toilet and left it out of service for a week (and, yes, we had to come to the office anyway, don’t make me remember).

        1. Gatomon*

          IBS is a real rough ride from what I have heard but I suspect it’s a little bit medical, a little bit poor dietary choices and a little bit, “I like my crap on the walls.” Whatever this man’s situation he clearly doesn’t seem to notice or care about the disaster he leaves behind, which is the exact opposite of everyone I know who deals with IBS.

    9. MistOrMister*

      I wonder if there is some,sort of medical issue causing a more violent expulsion than most of us are used to. But even if there is….if I got poo all over the place, I would do my best to clean it! Given that OP is saying he is generally clueless, plus dropping his paper towel on the floor on the way out, it seems like maybe he just doesn’t care. I’m not the neatest person in the world but that is far, far beyond what I could handle.

      1. NowI’mHungry*

        This level of “cluelessness” should be called what it is: entitlement. The boss feels entitled to use a shared space however he wants without regard to others. He’s not a clueless kid, he’s an entitled adult who should know better. Godspeed to OP!

        1. Cara*

          Yes!!! If you are so gross in the bathroom that your wife forces you to use an outdoor toilet at home, you don’t get to claim cluelessness anymore! You cannot possibly be unaware that there is a problem!!!

      2. BeeKeen*

        My boss is similar, unfortunately. He’s a slob and lazy. His office looks like a file cabinet blew up and that there may have been a ticker tape/confetti parade or 12 in there at some point. He simply does not care about how things look. And, because he’s lazy, he’s taken to peeing off/on the porch of our office (it’s an old early 1900’s house with a huge brick front porch) when no one is here rather than walk down a dozen steps to the restroom. Truly gross! Especially in the summer when it’s hot and humid.

        1. SophieChotek*

          Ewwww….(in addition to all the “ewww” of the OP #3’s situation/Boss.

        2. Confused*

          I’m guessing you must be in a small company with no HR because I would consider someone taking their private parts out, in a public place, to be sexual harassment.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            “when no one [else] is here”

            I’m guessing the issue is the big stinking urine puddles on/under the porch, not that anyone has been unfortunate enough to witness it.

            (I lived in an RV without a working bathroom for 5+ years and I managed to never pee in the yard, even when it was below freezing and the walk over to the house through knee-high snow totally sucked.)

        3. Swiftly Tilting Planet*

          Oh UGH…….

          One of the bedrooms in our house has its own outer door, and we discovered an old roommate had been peeing outside of it I guess late at night or something because noticed from the SMELL.
          My husband had a talk with him, and said he looked really embarrassed and denied it, but it completely stopped happening.

      3. HoHumDrum*

        Yeah, like if I had an issue like that I would be mortified! I would bring in some cleaning supplies (disinfectant wipes, paper towel, a trashcan) that I kept in the stall so I could be sure to wipe up when I was done.

        I would still be embarrassed about that, but being the person who needs special cleaning products after using the bathroom is WAY less embarrassing than being the person who gets sh!t everywhere and leaves it! How does this boss not see that??

    10. kittymommy*

      This may be a little too TMI so fair warning, but I have pretty bad IBSD and while things can get a bit much in the bowl I have NEVER had issues with the walls. I mean you kinda learn how to make sure you cover the entire hole so there’s no issues with that.

      Also, grown ass people clean up after themselves. Yeah, it’s still gross even if it’s yours, but you still do it.

      1. Kiki*

        Yeah, again, TMI, but I’ve been in some in some… explosive situations and I’ve never had issues with the walls or areas outside the toilet. I think this man is using the toilet in a way that is very wrong. Like, how does this even happen, let alone regularly.

        1. ...*

          I mean in a horrible case of norovirus I did poop all over my floor. There was truly no hope for anything else. But I assume he doesn’t suffer violent norovirus daily? Lol.

          1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

            Sit on the toilet, barf into a bag/bin. That’s my norovirus strategy.

            1. Admininja*

              Yep! I have several medical conditions, one of which causes me to use this strategy for days at a time, several times a year. I’ve even had to migrate into the shower/tub because I was exhausted. While 99.9% of stuff lands in the bowl or bin, I’ve had to clean my bodily expulsions off various bathroom surfaces a few times. I’ve never had poo on the walls, but I can actually see how that might happen. Not cleaning it is inexcusable, though. He’s an adult, & it’s his responsibility to either clean it or make arrangements to pay someone WELL to clean behind him. So gross

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I took a trip overseas and it turns out that anti-malarial medication and I are emphatically not friends.

        Still no walls involved.

      3. pope suburban*

        Yeah I worked with someone who had IBS for a couple of years, and while she would semi-frequently spend long stretches of time in the women’s bathroom (Not a problem, we could just use the men’s room that was right next to it), I have no idea if her condition created a mess- because she left it clean! As any responsible adult would.

    11. Springella*

      And I don’t know how one manages to stay married, or how one doesn’t have any shame at all.

    12. Artemesia*

      I understand 8 year olds who have trouble managing messy poops but a grown man? And one who then leave it for everyone else. This guy is not ‘oblivious’ — this is aggressive behavior. And he is the boss and isn’t going to change.

      Absolutely time to find a new job.

    13. Lucy P*

      We had male employees that did this. The person who cleans our office contacted me one weekend, politely frustrated. They even sent me pictures for evidence. On the toilet seat, I can kind of get it. 4 feet up the wall–how, just how does it go that high?

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I think that kind of thing is deliberate, and a form of acting out. But I’m not a shrink.

    14. emmelemm*

      My overriding question is how does the poop get this widely dispersed without getting on his pants or shoes? It’s hard to imagine getting a bathroom this messy without getting some of it on yourself. Does he just spend the rest of the day with poop on his trousers?

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        And tracking it all over the office and everywhere else he goes. Eww eww eww.

    15. Snuck*

      Fellow Aussie….

      Is this a small business run in a private space?

      Why not suggest to the wife (because obviously you have had access, can you again?) that there be a separate bathroom for Gross Manager? Ask her if she’s considered getting one of those fancy bidet toilets, that self cleans everything? Get one of those put in the men’s toilets maybe? Work out who has the bigger bathroom/most cubicles and allocate him a ‘Management Toilet”? Ask him to hire a cleaner to come through several times a day (and pay them DARN WELL!) to deal with his shit? Put those stupid passive aggressive notes up “Who is leaving SHIT on the walls?”. There’s oblivious, and there’s intentionally oblivious. Trust me, he knows. He learnt when his wife delegated him to the Kevin Bl-y Wilson toilet seat. He’s choosing to live the way he is, regardless of any of your needs.

      I cannot imagine being married to a man so revolting I have to send him out to use a 1920s back laneway dunny and considering that ‘acceptable’. While out back dunnys still exist in older suburbs of Australia they are usually used as a wood store, a store room for the kayak and surfboards or a mosquito breeding ground. They are rarely considered a viable alternative to having your husband stink up the loo inside! (They can be an outside toilet for when you are in the pool… IF they are still connected to the sewer properly, the sewer line was probably cut when you put in the pool). (Some dunnys are attached to the yards of 60s and 70s built houses, they too are usually used for storing sports gear and breeding mosquitos. Usually have a fabulous assortment of tiles in them, and a pastel coloured basin trap stained black from years of neglect.)

    16. TardyTardis*

      Solution–explain to the boss that he’s so important, there needs to be an *executive* bathroom for the boss’s sole use, untainted by the worker bees. He may or not fall for this, or he might see this as similar to what his wife does, but if he agrees, does it matter?

  2. Magenta Sky*

    LW #3: Maybe an anonymous (or even non-anonymous) complaint to the health department. Human feces is a pretty serious biohazard, and not having bathrooms that are safe to use is a labor code violation.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      This is what I would do. Alison’s right – this guy is foul. And he’s not oblivious, OP. He can see that shit (pun intended) when he (presumably) wipes after defecating and he could clean up after himself with toilet paper. He’s choosing not to. The man is a monster. For him to be getting feces on the wall, he’s squatting while pooping, which I don’t blame him in a public restroom. But then you have a responsibility to the people who come behind you to ensure you clean up any messes you make with bodily fluids because a lot of people don’t do the squat maneuver and they don’t want to sit in/on anyone else’s excrement or urine. It’s nasty. Your boss has zero class or regard for others.

      1. Diamond*

        Squatting on a toilet designed for sitting is also really dangerous! They’re made for weight to be evenly distributed, not concentrated on two spots. They can break!

        1. Formerly Ella Vader*

          You’re assuming that the boss is squatting with feet on the seat. I know that some small children are taught to do that on public toilets, but for an average sized adult male, if he isn’t sitting wouldn’t it be more likely that he’d be hovering with feet on the floor?

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yes, squatting means hovering in this scenario, not standing on the toilet. It’s when you bend over the toilet without touching it at all, usually with back arched, and that’s how these incidents happen.

            1. Barbara Eyiuche*

              #3 How long has this been going on? If it is a fairly new habit, maybe there is something wrong with his health. After my father got dementia, he got poo everywhere, whereas before he was clean. Sometimes when he made a mess, instead of cleaning up after himself, he would try to hide stools under a towel.

              1. UKDancer*

                Yes we had something similar with an elderly aunt. Once we moved her to a home we had to get the flat she’d been occupying professionally cleaned by a biohazard team. If this is a change in behaviour it may be indicative of an illness.

              2. Louisa*

                This is unfortunately a possibility. We had a few similar incidents in my workplace (albeit on a much smaller scale) which we suspected were related to an elderly co-worker who had begun showing signs of dementia. It was a very tricky situation to navigate and emotionally fraught as nobody wanted to say anything that might cause upset.

                From the sound of it though, LW3’s boss has been doing this for some time. If it’s a habit so established that his wife has made rules to accommodate and manage it, it doesn’t sound like a recent change. I could be wrong though. Either way, I think the ideal approach would be to raise the issue of the behaviour to higher ups (if there are any) and manage the impact as best you can (frequent and professional cleaning services, etc), but oh boy do I understand how difficult that conversation can be!

              3. Smithy*

                When my father was in the later stages of a terminal illness, his combination of opiod painkillers and stool softeners led to a range of new and awful stool related problems. No matter how much it was entirely acknowledged as being related to illness and everyone doing their best to avoid situations of feces left throughout the house – my dad would really fight and push back that of course he knew what he was doing, he could take care of himself, etc.

                What this boss is doing is unhygienic, disrespectful, unsafe and wildly icky – but even if there’s no new health issue, I really wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t acknowledge this behavior as anything special. The ability of people to assume and defend their hygiene practices as acceptable is pretty extensive.

                I say this not to excuse him, but rather that the only way I can imagine a response is to find a way to give him his own bathroom or have him formally fined/sanctioned by a state agency. Particularly given his role in the company, I just don’t see any kind of “inside the house” conversation changing anything here.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  Prescription stool softeners are just nasty. When I came home from the hospital with pain-killers once they also prescribed stool softeners. I took one. I didn’t make it the 15 feet to the toilet, it was so bad. I would have needed a bedside toilet to have a chance with those things.

                  I never took stool softeners again. They do bad things to some people.

                2. Swiftly Tilting Planet*

                  Curmudgeon – out of nesting, but I had something similar happen last summer when I also, came home from the hospital with painkillers & stool softeners.

                  I made it to the bathroom- barely- but since our other bathroom was occupied, I had to rush into the one where my poor husband was taking a shower…

      2. Beth*

        Agreed that this guy knows what he’s doing. He has eyes and a nose; he can perceive the space around him, he knows it’s there. His wife has called him on it and has set rules at home; he knows leaving a bathroom that others use in this state is unacceptable. For whatever reason (he’s decided that the rules don’t apply to him? he gets a rush from knowing he’s got enough power over everyone else that no one can call him on his literal shit? he’s incompetent and can’t figure out how to handle his own messes without his wife there to set rules for him?), he’s choosing to do it anyways. He’s awful.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          This. Getting poop on the WALLS and leaving it? He *is* malicious. He just cloaks that malice in a “well-meaning bumbler” act. Like the creep who just so happens to inappropriately touch his younger female coworkers because he’s “socially awkward” or the passive-aggressive coworker who always just “forgets” to leave the person she’s sabotaging out of vital emails, he’s discovered that a lot of people will fall for it and defend him if he just plays dumb.

          1. Bella*

            yeah. I would also argue this is different from the sandwich thing (which also… what?) because people intrinsically understand that humans have a visceral disgust of bodily discharges. I honestly don’t understand how this person can be competent enough to work?? I’m trying to imagine what job they can be high functioning at, yet not understand that poop = gross

        2. alienor*

          I have three cats, and one of them likes to poop in the litter box and not cover it up to assert her dominance over the other two. Apparently this boss is on the same evolutionary level as a small domestic feline.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, my neurotic cat doesn’t bury either. It’s a definite dominance thing.

      3. Ms. Ann Thropy*

        You are completely right. He is not oblivious, he just doesn’t respect others. So disgusting.

        1. Artemesia*

          More than that — this is purposefully aggressive behavior designed to assault others. If he had his own bathroom at work, I wonder what he would choose to do next. The men should together go to him and demand that he have another bathroom built for them and everyone should find another job if possible.

      4. HoHumDrum*

        I actually do blame people for squatting in a public restroom. There aren’t really any diseases you can get from butt cheek to toilet seat contact, but sitting in urine and feces is disgusting and IME that only happens when everyone else is squatting. Unless you have like open bloody sores all over your butt, just wipe the seat/use a protecter and sit. The squatting is what makes the seat filthy.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Bingo. If they’re worried about getting butt cooties, they should use an a**-gasket (toilet seat protector).

          Squatting is gross because of splattering

      5. Confused*

        I still don’t see how that would get on the wall, the seat maybe, but unless he has explosive projectile diarrhea every day…how?

      6. JSPA*

        Or just leaning way forward and straining.

        I know we don’t diagnose, and we don’t talk about this stuff in polite company, but:

        IBS with constipation (and no doubt other conditions as well) can lead to the combination of an obstruction that’s hard to clear past the puborectalis muscle (thus the lean forward, if you don’t have a squat toilet or a squatty potty) followed by rocket powered slop.

        It’s a bad feedback loop; the puborectalis muscle is part of what you tighten to maintain control, so the obstruction effect can get worse over time.

    2. Beth*

      This is a good idea. Leaving the bathroom in this state on a frequent basis has to be some kind of code violation.

      1. Wherehouse Politics*

        I have this image of an employee who is on their way out, and would find this flaming bridge so worth it–just announce it in outraged shock and disgust to the boss in a very public shaming, before walking out for good.

      2. Liz*

        Probably not a practical solution, but I’m picturing a scenario where every time boss leaves a mess, the employees cordon off the offending bathroom and inform the boss that he needs to call in some HazMat specialist cleaners because of the state of the bathroom. I’m thinking yellow tape and some nice bold biohazard signs on the door. If the expectation of human decency isn’t enough to persuade him, then perhaps the ongoing cost of a professional clean up will.

        In reality, I really do want to know who is currently cleaning up after this guy.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think you’ve got something there: if there’s a cost involved.

          If *every time* he uses the bathroom his employees insist on a $$$$ specialist professional cleanup, with all the men in the building having to go home (because there’s no suitable toilet facilities for them), that just might do it.

          Also, yiiiiikes. This can’t be the only way this boss is a thoughtless asshat.

          1. Avasarala*

            Yes, I believe this was the suggestion that came up in similar letters past. Translate this into cost and inconvenience for the boss.

            I also think it would be OK (but wicked awkward) for whoever is in charge of the office environment to talk to the boss about bathroom complaints. Not “you”, but “we have received numerous complaints about the men’s bathroom being too dirty to use” and see what the boss has to say about it. Does he know he’s the problem?

            Also if I ruled the world, refusing to use a toilet cleanly would be grounds for expulsion from society. This boss can go live in the woods if he wants to live like an animal.

        2. JB*

          Whoever cleans that bathroom deserves a lot more than they have to deal with. Probably a sainthood.

        3. Anonny*

          I was going to suggest that after the boss goes to the loo, one unfortunate employee goes in and then exclaims something like “DEAR GOD THERE’S SH*T ALL OVER THE WALLS!”

          Presumably for drawing the short straw, they would be compensated with a box of their favourite donuts or something.

          1. Pingmelater*

            I’m imagining the scene from the Shawshank Redemption novella where the guard finds the tunnel and just starts screaming “IT’S SHIT! IT’S SHITTTTTT!”

            1. Anonny*

              I mean, if you walked in and found that… that’s pretty much what you’d do. Or add to the mess by throwing up. Possibly both.

          2. Tisiphone*

            If I were new to a workplace and walked in on that, I might be shocked enough to do exactly that. How would I know how it got that way?

    3. Trek*

      I completely agree that health department needs to be involved. I am also trying to picture how the boss uses the bathroom a 2nd time during the day assuming janitors only come in at night. His he just not bothered by the site of fecal matter all over?

      While I would tred lightly to begin with to see if a resolution could be found, this would be a hill to die over. And anyone who quits needs to post online about the bathroom.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Most dudes don’t have to sit down to pee, so the cleanliness of the toilet seat doesn’t tend to be a big factor in considering whether they can use a toilet.

        Source: I’ve lived with dudes before; one time we had like half a toilet seat for over a month—it broke … I’ve no idea how beyond there were dudes involved—and I was the only one who had a problem with it. C’mon guys, seriously, those edges were pointy. O_o

    4. Amethystmoon*

      Especially if this is happening during COVID-19 or will continue when employees are back in the building. If they are remote right now, it might not currently be an issue. But it will be once they are back, and COVID-19 will continue to be an issue for at least the rest of this year.

  3. SydV*

    How on earth does one get poo anywhere else than in the bowl?! What is this man doing in the bathroom good lord.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Squatting while pooping. And his poop is clearly the runny variety for it to be splattering everywhere.

      1. DyneinWalking*

        That, and maybe he doesn’t care about getting it on his fingers while wiping? And/or wipes standing up in a random place in the the stall and doesn’t care where the dirty TP touches in between the way from his ass to the toilet bowl?

        (I am… actually sitting here, eating breakfast, analyzing the mental image of a man shitting in the toilet for possible behaviors that would lead to shit on the walls…. )

        1. Curmudgeon in California*


          I have had to deal with my own IBS accidents. I go to some length not to have to do it and keep control.

          I would want heavy duty gloves and strong disinfectant to deal with someone else’s diarrhea.

      2. MatKnifeNinja*

        Working in health care, I had a patient bent/squat from the waist (picture a down hill skier sort of stance), proceeded to blast the whole wall behind them. Poop splatter got the flusher mechanism, pipes and wall. Above 3 ft off the grounds.

        Walls are doable, how to you get splatter on the ceiling is what fascinates me.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Even in that unusual and extreme case, it takes a pretty disgusting person to do that daily in a space shared by other people and not *clean it up*.

        2. Ego Chamber*

          Thank you for explaining what must have happened in the bathroom at the Taco Bell I worked at for like five minutes back in high school. It is a question that will haunt me no longer.

    2. Rexish*

      This is what I’m thinking. Shouldn’t gravity top this happening unless he is twirling somehow while doing it?

    3. Pomona Sprout*

      What I can’t understand is how he can deposit poo all over the floor and walls and not come out covered in it himself. Wtf kind of acrobatics would be required to accomplish this.

      I. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Um…I’m guessing he’s not that clean on his person, either, but maybe his clothes just cover the worst of it?

    4. Jam Today*

      Its intentional. He’s not oblivious, he’s not careless, he’s not using a toilet incorrectly: he is deliberately getting feces on the floor, the toilet, the walls, everywhere. He’s doing it because he wants to.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Some kid smeared a name in poop on the wall of the girls’ bathroom when I was in elementary school. It’s definitely a known form of vandalism.

        1. Quill*

          Common enough in elementary schools that every 2-5 years I’d hear about it when my mom worked in one.

          1. pope suburban*

            Outside them, too. My husband works in parks and rec, and I have heard some absolute nightmare stories about what people do in public restrooms. I’m sure a lot of it is kids plus the fact that they can’t leave out cleaning supplies since people would take them (and there isn’t often a visible worker to alert in these parks and open spaces), but it’s not all the little ones. The nightmare coming to mind here, for example, is the time someone (The rangers suspected a homeowner who objected to the new developments in his neighborhood park based on repeated encounters with him, though of course there was no way to be 100%) used their poo to express their opinion of the new restroom on the wall. It began with an “F” and ended in “you.” People are kind of terrifying with respect to eliminations sometimes.

        2. Flashgordon*

          This is a strong memory from fifth grade. Poop smeared down the stall in the girls bathroom. Total power move. I had my suspicions as to the suspect but it was never publicly acknowledged.

  4. Airy*

    OP 3, good lord, that is feral. I can only express horrified sympathy. He is presumably immune to shame if he has gone this long and it may well be a power play (“This is my company so I can be totally disgusting and no one can tell me off and that is how I know I am a success”). Never, never shake his hand.

    1. Sally O’Malley*

      Yeah, I’m kind of concerned about those sandwiches he’s making in the office kitchen too. Blecchh.

      1. iambrian*

        That’s what I’ve been sitting here thinking. There’s no way this pig of a man cleans himself properly after leaving that kind of mess. I’ve just been sitting here picturing him walking out of the bathroom and grabbing a quick sandwich.
        Call health and safety, have them asses the bathroom and the kitchen.

      2. pope suburban*

        I’m concerned about…everything he might have touched, frankly. My confidence that he follows proper hand-washing and other personal-hygiene guidelines is nil. I’m not a germophobe by any stretch, but my skin is crawling just imagining sharing a space with this guy. I’d have been stocking up on Lysol spray and wipes well before COVID if I had to work with someone like this. Ugh.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m concerned about EVERYONE who uses that kitchen. Or anything after him.

        If he goes from just having constant uncontrolled beer-shits all over the place but comes down with a GI bug like norovirus, he’s spreading that feces all over that kitchen with his behavior. I have no reason to believe he washes his hands if he can get poop so many places. Poop carries so many diseases.

  5. Margarita*

    I read #2 to my husband, his response: “I’m pretty sure he works from home and his boss is his five year old son”

    Makes so much sense!

      1. Heidi*

        This letter should have been #2! Missed opportunity. I’m sorry you have to work with this guy. And I’m sorry his wife has to live with him. And I’m sorry for those of us that could have gone our whole lives not knowing such a gross person existed.

    1. Anon to protect my kid*

      I have twin kindergartners, and we have never had problems with poop on the toilet seat or the walls. The bowl not being clean, maybe something splashing back onto the underside of the seat, clogging with too much toilet paper, yes. But poop on the walls is a whole different level of awful that even most oblivious preschoolers manage to avoid.

      Now, pee everywhere is a different story, at least with my son. He keeps forgetting to lift the seat, and his aim is… subpar.

    2. Confused*

      That is unfair to five year olds, they can use a toilet. The most a five year old needs is someone to wipe their bum which at least this boss doesn’t need (though he prob doesn’t do that…shudder).

  6. nnn*

    I read the question in #2 as not being about having a nose piercing, but being about getting a nose piercing during quarantine. (e.g. Did you go to a piercer against public health advice? Did you do it yourself?)

    If this is in fact the question being asked, a workaround might be to respond to any comments as though the piercing has been there for some time already, without actually saying that it has. Example: “Oh, since I’m at home I kept my nose stud in,” perhaps prefaced by a brief baffled look as though you initially weren’t sure what they’re talking about but then remembered you have your stud in.

    If they notice while you’re at work, you could say “I’ve been keeping it in since I’m wearing the mask,” or “I’ve been keeping it in so I don’t have to touch my face as much.”

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I definitely read it as a question about “having” a piercing the first time, but I think you’re right that the question is about “getting” a piercing, i.e. will my colleagues be questioning my judgement for doing this during a quarantine, not will they care that there’s jewelry on my face.

      1. Formerly Ella Vader*

        Yeah, I’d probably bite my tongue, but unless I already knew that the co-worker lived with someone who worked as a piercer or something, I’d be speculating privately about which kind of irresponsible they were being.

        1. Avasarala*

          Agreed. I don’t care about someone having a nose piercing but getting one now? Or doing it yourself at home? That is the part I’d be judgy about.

          1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

            Yeaaaaah, that’s what I’ve been thinking about. Like, I’m not dumb enough to cross state lines to get someone to pierce me, but I am dumb enough to buy piercing supplies online, watch a couple videos and then stick a needle in my face. Which like, I’m fine with as a personality trait because I know this about myself. Other people at working knowing this about myself however…different story. I think I’m just gonna say I wear my nose stud at home and have been normally wearing a retainer otherwise, because explaining that (minor) body modification is one of my many quarantine coping mechanisms seems…ill advised.

            1. Smithy*

              That’s a really savvy consideration.

              If I saw that a colleague had a full nail set, I’d be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt of having taken the quarantine time to explore home-manicuring as a relatively benign activity. If I saw that a colleague had a new piercing or tattoo – I wouldn’t initially assume they did it themselves, and then if I found out – it would be more surprising. And if my mother was your boss, she’d definitely get very concerned about your coping strategies and mental health.

            2. Adele*

              Oh thanks for that clarification! I did jump to the conclusion that you were being irresponsible here.

            3. Sparrow*

              It probably depends on your office culture and coworkers’ personalities, but I personally think this is fine? It feels like giving yourself a fairly common piercing isn’t that weird in the grand scheme of quarantine coping strategies (though I would judge if you’d found a way to get it professionally done, given the circumstances). And honestly, unless it’s particularly ostentatious, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of your coworkers don’t even notice it. But if it will keep you from stressing about it, your plan should work!

            4. Legal Beagle*

              I’m kind of impressed by this, to be honest. I can barely rip a Band-Aid off, so piercing your own nose seems pretty badass! I might goggle in amazement, but I would not be judging you.

            5. Junior Dev*

              I love this! I don’t know that it helps with fitting into white collar culture at all but it makes me personally very happy.

              I’ve been cutting my own hair and it’s been making me happy to give myself a more punk rock haircut like I would before I started trying to work in offices (it’s not like I know how to give myself a “nice” haircut anyway). IDK, I think “changing one’s appearance” is gonna be a pretty standard response to all the chaos that’s happening and it looks like you did your research and made your best attempt to have it be safe and correctly done. If you’d stuck an unsterilized safety pin in your nose or something that might be cause for concern.

              1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

                Honestly that’s kinda what I was thinking? I’m really happy I did it myself, and piercing myself was definitely not the perfect experience I would’ve had at a piercing studio, but I felt really in control of my body, I have decently bad anxiety normally but I was super calm, and really able to feel confident in myself. Like, idk, doing it myself made me feel strong and that means a lot during The Crisis. Obviously I would explain zero of that to my coworkers anyway, but being honest that I did it myself might either get some “is your judgement okay???” vibes, or some “damn she’s harder than I thought” looks, and I kind of want to keep my toughness close to my chest.

                1. jj83*

                  I definitely think you’re overthinking and I wouldn’t worry about your coworkers seeing it. If anyone has a judgey reaction they’re probably just wondering why you’d risk infection for something that they don’t see as a necessary action. I also wouldn’t worry about people thinking you’re “hard” because at least in my experience self piercings aren’t super uncommon, I know a ton of people who pierced their own ears/nose/bellybutton, with mixed results. I don’t think most people equate sticking a needle in body parts with being “hard”.

            6. Avasarala*

              I think that’s the easiest solution!

              I think this is one of those things where you know yourself and your own risk, but to others this may seem as just too darn risky (what if you get infected and have to go to the hospital now etc.). In my experience it’s pretty difficult to get someone to change their risk assessment during these stressful and unprecedented times, and also do you really want your coworkers knowing you’re OK with that level of risk (even conversely, do you want your coworkers knowing you don’t take any risk)–these things can impact your reputation and relationships.

              I would save it for people you’re closer to who know you better and can place it in the context of you as a full person!

          2. Rachel in NYC*

            Yeah, that’s what I’d be judgy about. (Okay- that’s what I’m judging. It’s all I could think about the whole time I read this one.) I can’t imagine co-workers would feel any differently.

          3. Aggretsuko*

            I was on a Zoom call for a comedy show in which one of the performers was all, “I gave myself a stick-n-poke tattoo by my eye in quarantine.”

            I confess I am giving sideeye to DIY piercings and tattooings myself. Like…is that safe…..?

            1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

              Yes and no. Like, to be fair, nose piercings are pretty forgiving, and diy body mods do have several thousands of years of history behind them (dying of infections notwithstanding). It’s generally unsafe because of the lack of tools/cleanliness/training, which you can mitigate the first two but the training aspect is dicey. Also, it depends on what you’re piercing tbh. I wouldn’t tell anyone else to do it themselves, but I was comfortable with the risk I was taking on.

              1. Kettricken Farseer*

                So I work with a lot of Indian women, and since pierced noses are part of their culture, I kinda ride on their coattails. Like, they can’t say it’s okay for Sindhu but not me. I also got a full sleeve tattoo over the last year or so that I’m not currently covering up.

                But at any rate, wear the nose ring! Dye your hair! Give yourself bangs! (no, don’t actually do that)

                1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

                  Ayyyyyy that’s the spirit. I appreciate the encouragement!!! Eventually whenever I can get tattooed again, I’m going to get the spine tattoo I want (my first was on my ribs and I only flinched once when my artist got a direct hit on a nerve) and start planning a big ass hip piece. Seize the quarantine when u can for all the things you can no longer do in my book!!

        2. doreen*

          I pierced my about ears two weeks before this all started, and a day or two before the stay at home order, I mentioned to someone that I had plenty of alcohol because I had recently pierced my ears. She looked at my like I was crazy, and said ” This is the time you choose to put holes in your body?” I was able to explain that I had done it pre-pandemic, but if she hadn’t said anything, she’d still be judging me.

          1. pentamom*

            What does “this being the time” have to do with it? Coronavirus is a respiratory virus, not blood borne, not something you get from an infected ear lobe.

            1. Observer*

              How do you keep a reasonable level of distance with the person piercing your ears?

            2. Archaeopteryx*

              And because new piercings can easily get infected, which would necessitate seeking medical help, when the medical system would prefer that everyone reduce their risk of needing to come in to any medical facility as much as possible.

            3. A*

              In addition to not being able to properly social distance, in many states there’s been a shelter in place requirement or recommendation to only be out for essential business. Piercings etc. are not essential to survival.

              It’s not about whether it is or isn’t a big deal etc, it’s about the perception. And I think OP is wise to recognize that this is something that lead to some judgements being made consciously or subconsciously. And I say this as a business professional with a nose stud, so I’m referring only to the timing : )

            4. ian*

              Well, it’s not a great time to either be in close proximity to a stranger doing a piercing for you, or to have to go to the hospital for an infected ear lobe. So I’d say it’s a strange time for those two reasons regardless of whether or not you’d get Coronavirus from an ear piercing directly.

              1. pentamom*

                I would think the chances of going to the hospital as a result of an infected ear lobe are very, very small. If anything can be handled by telemedicine or the urgent care, that would be it.

                And in this context, the questioner knew that she did it herself.

                Personally, I don’t think it’s a great idea to self-pierce under any circumstances. I just think “in this time” is getting thrown around a lot as an all-purpose justification for why someone feels permitted to criticize someone else.

                1. doreen*

                  I’m actually not sure she knew I did it myself – where I live , ” I pierced my ears” doesn’t imply I did the piercing myself, just like answering “yes” to “Did you cut your hair?” doesn’t imply that I was holding the scissors.

            5. pentamom*

              Yes, but in this conversation, the questioner knew she did it to herself. So again, what’s special about “this time” that makes it worse?

              1. Aggretsuko*

                I’d be concerned as to whether or not the person knew enough about what they were doing to do it safely. If it’s literally the first time ever, I’d be concerned, not that there’d be anything you can do about it.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      I assumed OP did the piercing herself because she said “I pierced my nose” – if someone else did it (in their irresponsibly-open tattoo and piercing parlour) then I’d expect “I had my nose pierced”. Might be a US versus U.K. English language variation though?
      Either way it seems to me that it’s only necessary to reassure coworkers OP did do it herself – “don’t worry I have the proper equipment and training so I was perfectly safe!” etc., as it sounds like having a pierced nose isn’t an issue.

      1. TimeCat*

        I guess this is a good PSA moment don’t attempt a cartilage piercing (nose, ear other than lobe) unless you know what you are doing. It can go very, very wrong. And if you do get one, follow hygiene to a T.

        1. MayLou*

          I got my nose pierced at the kind of back-alley place that does cartilage piercings on sixteen year olds and sells human hair extensions, and I second this heartily. My nose is permanently a different shape from how it healed after getting so badly infected I had to take the stud out after two days.

          1. A*

            YES! Same – I love my nose stud, but I’l incredibly grateful I’ve never had to remove it permanently because it shattered the cartilage. It looks fine with the stud in, but is noticeable once removed. And as I get older I can tell it definitely has had an impact on my facial symmetry, my friends swear they can’t see it – but it’s literally all I see in photos now – my nose looks crooked!

            I had at one point hoped to let it close up and repierce on the other side, but that is when I discovered the cartilage was shattered and I have a strong chance of developing a keloid scar if I remove it.

            Gosh darn teenage decisions!

          2. AnotherAlison*

            I had my belly button and ear cartilage professionally pierced in the 90s, and turns out I get infected and never heal. I’m glad it was only those locations. Just a PSA that no matter where you go, some bodies just do not take kindly to adding holes. (My issue might be nickel, but I’ve never dug into it.)

            1. alienor*

              My daughter’s got the same problem. She got her ears pierced when she was in primary school–just standard lobe piercings with 14k posts–and they still hadn’t healed after months despite the most careful cleaning. We’ve been told since then that some people are also sensitive to gold, and that she might be able to get them pierced again in the future with titanium posts (we had to let the original piercings grow over) but she says “Never again.”

              1. Queer Earthling*

                Spouse is allergic to titanium AND gold*. They can tolerate them in already-existent piercings for a while, but new piercings have to be stainless steel. They haven’t gotten pierced in a LONG time because of that.

                *We’re pretty sure that means they cannot wear the Iron Man armor, which is a gold-titanium alloy, which is a real shame.

        2. Queer Earthling*

          Yeah…when my spouse was a teen, their mother made them help her pierce her nose on a whim. It is not one of my spouse’s most cherished childhood memories. They mostly just remember how bloody it got. (Surprisingly, I don’t think it got infected, but when my spouse got older they were just like “WHAT A TERRIBLE IDEA ALL AROUND.”)

      2. WellRed*

        This is a very common way to say “I had my (nose pierced, hair cut, teeth cleaned, tummy tucked, car serviced.”)

      3. Karo*

        I know you said it may be a US v UK English variation so I’m not sure where you hail from, but in the US that’s a super common way to say that someone else did it for you. I think it might be more awkward to say “I had my nose pierced” or “I had my hair dyed” rather than just “I dyed my hair.” In fact, I was coming to this thread to say that I dyed my hair during quarantine and most people haven’t cared, but the truth is that someone who lives with me dyed my hair for me.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          I think both formulations are used in both UK and US English. I think this is more individual preference rather than variety-of-English preference. I (a lifelong AmE speaker) would definitely say “I had my nose pierced” only if I had someone else do it, and if I heard someone say “I pierced my nose,” I’d probably assume they did it themselves. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that someone had done it for them. So “I pierced my nose” can be used either way, at least as far as I know.

        2. Librarian1*

          I’m in the US and I would say I got my nose pierced or I got my hair dyed if someone else did it and I’d say I pierced my nose or I dyed my hair if I did it myself. But I might also be a bit more concerned about accuracy in for these types of things than other people are.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Good point, nnn — OP2 should have a script ready for the inevitable procedural questions & safety rants.
      (And maybe a bingo card for the anticipated ones to keep their mood light: First square “Scolding OP for going out to get pierced after shelter-in-place started.” Second square “Scolded OP for NOT going to a certified piercer.” Third square “How do you blow your noses?” Et cetera ad nauseum.)

      1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

        the bingo card idea is gold. And yeah, the safety/judgement questions have really been what I’m worried about because best case, I did it myself (which I did) and worst case, I drove across state lines to get my nose pierced. Which, either of way, not a great look, but at least if I did it myself I’m only personally irresponsible instead of a disease vector?

        1. EPLawyer*

          Honestly and truly, everyone is so stressed right now and not in their normal headspace I would be really surprised if anyone even noticed. They are too busy thinking about their own lives. If someone did notice, well, it’s Nonya territory.

          If you CHOSE to pierce your nose, well it’s your nose. Ya gotta live with the consequences (which hopefully are none). Even if you went out and did it, all kinds of people are breaking quarantine. A one on one with a nose piercer is on the low end of that.

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          OP 1: maybe something like “Yes, it’s hard not to be able to provide an important service, which so many people like you value. I hope we’ll reopen soon, but the decision is out of my hands.”

          You do hope to reopen soon; the unstated difference is that you mean that you hope it will be safe soon, and they mean something like, “hope people will stop being inconveniently strict.”

          [This is based partly on suggestions that other commenters have posted.]

          1. OP #1*

            That’s a really good suggestion. Sort of like the old “I’d love to but I have plans.” My plans are sitting on my butt reading Louise Penny and drinking wine but they don’t have to know that.

            I hope we’ll reopen soon gives that same kind of non-answer answer.

        3. HoHumDrum*

          I mean I would think you’re kind of a cool badass. I personally would probably never pierce myself because I would be anxious about it from a health & safety standpoint, but I don’t think it’s a big enough of a deal that it would make me think you’re irresponsible. Just more comfortable with risk than I am.

          If you gave yourself like a whole tattoo with no training, or you gave yourself like a septum piercing or something more intense than the nose one, I might start to feel differently.

      2. Syfygeek*

        Blowing your nose after a piercing is painful. I had mine pierced Nov. 2018. Before the new year, I’d had 2 sinus infections, and a family member passed away. My nose hurt so bad I pulled the stud out and let it heal.

        I am curious how OP2 pierced her nose at home? A kit? An ice cube and a needle?

        1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

          Built my own kit – did briefly use an ice cube, but it wasn’t really that helpful. I bought catheter needles off Amazon, some biodegradable straws from Walmart and used the straw as a needle receiver for the catheter needle.

    4. Katie's Cryin'*

      Good point. That phrasing confused me as well. Most people don’t tattoo themselves, so you wouldn’t hear them say, “I tattooed my leg.” I assume this was just non-ideal phrasing.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I unfortunately found out a few months ago that DIY “stick n’ poke” tattooing does happen. I know a guy who has done it, apparently. (Plus see above.)

        1. Katie's Cryin'*

          Yep – I’ve heard of it too though I’m hoping it’s a small minority doing this.

    5. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

      Lol!! I am the nose piercing person, and yes I did it myself. I had an aside in there explaining that I didn’t use a sewing needle/non-piercing needle etc. I think acting like I already had one might be my best bet if asked – I did check my company’s directory and one other person has a nose stud in her company picture so it should be fine.

        1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

          Mainly because piercing/tattoo shops aren’t open right now, and not being around other people gives me time to change my appearance without much notice. Like, aside from the lack of piercers available, working from home full time seemed like the best time to do it. Also I’ve wanted a nose stud since I was 13, and changing my appearance/home decor has been my coping mechanism for a pandemic lol.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            My friend pierced her nose during quarantine too. She ordered a kit and had her husband do it. He worked as a piercer for a bit after high school so he had some training.

          2. Astrid*

            We are kindred spirits. I work in a conservative office environment and I’ve been wondering for ages how I would look with (a) brightly colored hair and (b) a very small nose piercing. At the beginning of this month I was really bored and colored my hair purple and pink – just before my boss announced that he wanted to hold his first Zoom (with mandatory video) call. Thankfully the temporary color washed right out. In any event, with my natural coloring, the purple looked mostly gray and the pink definitely didn’t do much for me. I told my sister that I’m fortunate all piercing studios are closed, otherwise my nose would definitely be pierced right now (for better or worse). I never considered that the face mask would cover up the piercing. Now I’m back to plotting how to get the piercing after all. Thanks and good luck!

          3. skunklet*

            Your company can’t prevent you from piercing your nose (unless you’re in the US Military, and that seems unlikely from the OP). They can only prevent you from wearing the stud during work. That is, afaik, an important distinction.

            1. PollyQ*

              They can legally fire you for it, if they’re stupid and petty. “Has a nose piercing” isn’t a protected class.

          4. Dezzi*

            I commented this below, but I just dyed my hair teal in quarantine because why not? Sooooo many people are making these kinds of changes to cope with everything! (If you want me to go all anthro/psych here, people are desperate for something about their lives they can control. They want a decision they can make and something they can do totally by themselves, for themselves.) As long as you didn’t decide to give yourself bangs, you’re good.

            1. Goliath Corp.*

              I came here to the say the same thing – body modification is a valid way to exert control / take ownership of your body, and that can be really therapeutic in stressful times. When I went through a serious illness I ended up dying my hair multiple times, getting my septum pierced, and stretching my ear piercings. I needed to feel in control of something, and it was fun besides.

              Good call on avoiding the bangs! Don’t give yourself bangs.

              1. filosofickle*

                I love having bangs. And I’ve trimmed them twice myself in quarantine. *shrug*

                1. Dezzi*

                  That’s totally cool! I just think “I want bangs, I’m going to get the scissors and give myself some!” is not a great thing to do on impulse/because you’re bored in quarantine :P

                2. Goliath Corp.*

                  I’m not a bang-hater, I just think stress-cutting bangs usually ends badly.

          5. LCH*

            well, congrats on doing it successfully! i tried piercing my own ear cartilage once and fully failed.

          6. azvlr*

            I have always wanted colorful hair and never worked in an environment that allowed it. Before quarantine, I finally had some subtle dark blue streaks put in my dark hair. No one really blinked an eye. That faded pretty quickly, so I DIY bleached my bangs, which are now Electric Lizard green.

            It looks great, but now the top of my head disappears if I try to do a green screen background on a Zoom call. I want them to see my green bangs, so that when we do get back to the office, it will not be ‘a thing’. OP should be fine.

      1. Quill*

        Just a heads up that rubbing alcohol is no longer a standard disinfectant for these things, it apparently promotes scarring. :)

        (Thank god you didn’t do it with a sewing needle and a POTATO like my mom did with her earlobe)

          1. Quill*

            Put it behind the ear so you don’t prick your scalp, then just run that hot, hot sewing needle through.

            … Mom does not get to cast shade on any of my jewelry choices.

  7. Julia*

    LW #2: I pierced my nose last year, work in a fairly conservative industry where no one in my department has visible facial piercings, and was also nervous about reactions. Some people noticed immediately (my mom, the second she saw me) and other people took weeks or months. My step-dad, who I lived with at the time, didn’t realize for three months. I was most worried about my boss but he literally never mentioned it. Some friends asked me a couple weeks in if I had always had a piercing and they had just failed to notice it. Since you’ve been WFH for so long I think you’ll have more people assuming that it had always been part of your face than you might expect as long as the jewelery isn’t that flashy.

    1. AlexandriaVictoria*

      I pierced my nose 14 years ago, and there are STILL people at work who all of a sudden will go “Oh! You got your nose pierced!” If you’re wearing a small stud, it might be a non-issue.

      1. A*

        Yes!! I love when this happens. I’m in my early 30s, and got mine done when I was 16 so I tend to forget about it.

        Honestly, I always assumed I’d have to remove it for professional reasons – it never occurred to me I’d make it this far without running into any issues (that I’m aware of, obviously there may have been times where I was passed over but unaware, but I’ve gotten every job and position I’ve pursued so it certainly hasn’t been a major issue).

      2. Fabulous*

        Same! I got my nose pierced 12 years ago and only had issues at my first job post-piercing, but even then I let them know I was unable to take it out at that time (I was still in the healing process) and people forgot about it so it basically became a non-issue.

        1. Cat lady*

          The exact same for me! I have had it since I was a teenager and totally forget about it sometimes. I have worked at my office for 5 years and there have been people who have just asked me if I have always had it pierced. Similarly I have asked the same thing of coworkers who I am close with.

    2. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

      Fjfnsijfdjw ty!!! It helps that my internet was super laggy for a long time so I was just a pink pixelated blob on people’s computers. I was just worried they’d think I was crazy for doing it myself but like, I can just act like it’s always been there I think!

      1. Colette*

        Honestly, my first thought would be “how did I never notice she had her nose pierced?” I wouldn’t assume it happened during the pandemic.

      2. SarahKay*

        There’s a lovely story in my family about the day my Grandad started wearing glasses. He got home and Grandma looked at him and said “Oh, you look different” – pause – “did you shave off your moustache?” Moustache was very clearly still there!
        Basically, people are bad at noticing that sort of change so I think you can easily just act like it’s always been there.

        1. Dezzi*

          There was a study once where they had people go up to a fast food counter to order food. At some point during the interaction, the cashier would duck down below the counter to get something, and then a completely different person would pop up and finish the transaction. A fairly high number of people didn’t notice the change.

          Humans are sooooo oblivious to this kind of stuff, I don’t think you’re going to have a problem :)

          1. noahwynn*

            I worked as an airport agent for awhile. I would check someone in at the ticket counter and charge them for an overweight bag or something. Later I would go to the gate to work the flight and the same passenger would come up to me and complain about the ticket counter agent. When I would reply “that was me” they were always shocked.

          2. Lantheval*

            Or they notice, but consider it too awkward to say anything. If it’s a prank, they’re just going to deny it, and if you’re imagining things, you look crazy. It’s hardly worth getting into an involved confrontation for the sake of a few seconds of “well that was weird”. I think a lot of these studies underestimate the percentage of people who will roll their eyes a little but not make a scene.

      3. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, I never notice nose piercings on other people. They just don’t register. So most of your colleagues will either not notice at all once you’re back at work or will think it was always there and they just didn’t notice.

        And unless your colleagues have giant computer monitors, I suspect they can’t even see it on video calls. And never underestimate how little people really pay attention to other people while on video calls. Either they’re too busy talking, thinking about what the talking person is saying, or watching their cats chase mouse toys and aren’t paying attention to the screen at all.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Our company isn’t using video calls, but I’ve done some with friends, and honestly, I’m not sure I’d notice a change as subtle (!) as a nose piercing over video. Unless you put in an LED stud or something that flashes multiple colors. I like to think I’d notice that. :P

    3. Anonymouse*

      Not a piercing, but I went from collar bone length hair to a pixie cut. It took my dad three once-a-week dinners to ask if I cut my hair.

      I think people in general pay much less attention to our appearance than we pay to ourselves.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        I honestly have to frequently ask myself whether my *girlfriend* has a nose piercing or not. I mean, I know she does, but I rarely notice it. So most people won’t notice a small stud, I think. And kudos to you for doing it yourself — I’m squeamish weird about that stuff.

      2. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I was growing out my relaxer to go natural via wearing it in braids. I did a Big Chop and cut off all the relaxed hair over a weekend and showed up to work with like a 0.25″ long Afro (this was after I had had shoulder length braids for a couple of months). It was honestly 50-50 for whether people noticed. My boss saw me and was like “WHOA!” Others asked if I had gotten new glasses.

  8. Diamond*

    Uhh… regularly getting poop on the seat and WALLS goes beyond being oblivious! I don’t know what is wrong with him, but something is. Dropping paper towels directly on the floor is just the cherry on top. How does he still have a wife??

      1. DyneinWalking*

        It’s clearly nasty in her eyes, too; she is making him using an outdoor toilet. (Though I have to say that I would tolerate even that only as a temporary solution with a room mate I can’t get away from immediately, NOT for a husband!). So at most she’s unhygienic on a level where she doesn’t care if he leaves the kitchen in a mess.

        But I wonder if his wife has some sadly sexist ideas about men and cleanliness, or a very low self-esteem or something like that – something that leads her to believe that she couldn’t get a “better” man anyway, and that any man is better than none.

    1. allathian*

      They don’t use the same bathroom at home, he uses an outhouse. They’re apparently still quite common in more rural parts of Australia. But still, it’s completely incomprehensible.

      1. M*

        They’re not *that* common, even in rural areas. You have to be seriously offgrid for them to be something you’d expect to come across still in-use. Like, someone started an effort to track down remaining ones to preserve some as a part of history a few years back, and only managed to rummage up 120 or so that were still intact, and the vast majority of those weren’t still in *use*. (https://urbanutilities.com.au/backyarddunny)

        They almost certainly had to install one for him. The entire situation is ridiculous.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      He must *stink* too. No way he can leave that much mess without getting it on himself or his clothing.

    3. TimeCat*

      I seriously wonder if there’s something OP isn’t mentioning like a drug or alcohol problem.

      1. WellRed*

        Or a deep seated childhood or other issue. Not diagnosing, but this is where my mind goes when we see these letters ( sadly this isn’t the first poo letter Alison has answered).

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      People put up with a whole hell of a lot, being berated, beaten and treated as slave labor in their marriages.

      I feel bad for his wife. Many still think that once you marry someone, you stay with them, no matter what awful stuff they happen to do or be into that you may not have known before marriage. I’m hesitant to judge her and think she’s gross too, she’s a victim of this pooper.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Actually my first reaction, was to judge her. So that’s not the correct way to put it. I was fast to judge but then actually letting it “sink in” a bit, I started to sympathize for his wife.

  9. Zombeyonce*

    OP #2, Alison is right that plenty of people will think you’ve had the nose piercing all along. People just don’t notice as much as it feels like they do! You may feel like a change like this is glaringly obvious, but we’re just oblivious creatures.

    Heck, I see my coworkers once a week on a video call and I could probably only tell you for sure that one of them wears glasses when there are probably several that do and I’ve worked with them for years. All those jokes about people not noticing major haircuts are based in reality, and a nose piercing is no different. Wear it with pride!

    1. whingedrinking*

      I once came to substitute at a school where they knew me quite well but I hadn’t been there for a few weeks. I caught the receptionist squinting at me, in that “was her very long hair blue and purple the last time she was here?” kind of way. (I teach adults, so wild-coloured hair is a bit outside the norm but not utterly forbidden in my context.)

      1. Katrinka*

        i work in a public school system and it’s not forbidden in any of our schools.

        1. Lancelottie*

          I worked in a public school and it was similarly fine; in fact, one of my students was allowed to choose my hair color once a month if he kept up with his homework. We went through green, turquoise, purple, and fire engine red.

          1. peachie*

            I LOVE this. I’m also go-with-the-flow about my hair color and often ask my stylist if there’s any new colors she’s been wanting to try out. There’s something freeing about letting someone else pick your hair color!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Good point about haircuts — I once cut off my butt-length hair and came in with a bob and the woman across the hall didn’t notice until a week later when someone else mentioned it in a meeting.

      1. UKDancer*

        Also tattoos. One of my colleagues had a tatt done on his forearm. It took my boss several weeks to clock the fact and I only knew because Tom had told me he was having it done and then asked me what I thought of the end product.

        People don’t notice things when they see someone every day. Most people aren’t that observant. The only person at work who does notice when I get my hair cut is a chap who used to be in the police and that’s because he’s trained to spot things.

    3. MK*

      Also, polite people do exist who will pretend not to notice and keep their mouths shut if they don’t like the change. I dislike tattoos, so if I saw a coworker/aquaintance etc. had gotten one, I would pretend not to notice. Same with a haircut or any other change in appearence that I wasn’t inclined to compliment.

    4. CheeseGirl*

      This reminds me of the episode of The Office where the whole office was split on whether or not Stanley had a mustache. But no one was sure lol.

    5. LQ*

      I think the people don’t notice as much as you think is a really good point. I’d worked with folks for about 8 years, same people, saw me every day. One day I showed up with glasses. No one noticed. About a month later someone commented that I’d gotten a different pair of glasses. Then argued with me that I’d always worn glasses. Just act naturally like it’s not a thing and people will absolutely think it’s not a thing.

      1. Karo*

        I switch back and forth between contacts and glasses pretty regularly. On the days I’m wearing contacts, people are shocked if they find out I need corrective lenses. On the days I’m wearing glasses, people will occasionally ask if I’ve ever tried contacts. shrug People just don’t pay as close of attention to each other as we pay to ourselves.

    6. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I agree, most folks might not even notice. I worked with someone for a couple of years who had a nose stud and I kept forgetting it was there, then I would randomly notice it.

      They were my direct report for a little while, too, so it’s not like we didn’t see each other regularly.

  10. Squidhead*

    LW 2, are you concerned that people will ask if you broke quarantine to get the piercing? Or just concerned that the piercing itself will attract attention/questions? If it’s the former…what’s done is done. You can disclose as much or little about that as you want; in my state all such businesses are still closed but this might not have been the case in yours. Or perhaps you did it yourself or had an SO/roommate do it. If your concern is the latter…you can make it boring and normal (“Is that a new piercing?” “Sure is. Here’s the report you wanted.”) Or make it exciting and normal (“The one good thing about quarantine was I could make sure it was healed and clean before I came back to work! I’ve wanted this for a long time!”).

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      This. If the former … I’d act like it was the latter! If anyone asks, I would just say, “oh, I’ve had this for a while!” That will be the truth, because it’s nobody’s business how long “a while” is. “A while” might be 48 hours.

      But seriously, most people will just think you’ve had it forever and they just never noticed, or maybe you’ve had it forever and you hadn’t been wearing the jewelry.

      Then, more to the point, most people really won’t care that much when they do notice. When I notice people’s (maybe new) tattoos or piercings, I think, “huh,” not “WUTOMGWTFBBQ!!!!!!”

  11. nnn*

    A bit of a messaging adjustment for #1: Maybe instead of “until upper management/staff feel that it is safe”, you could go with something more like “Until we’re confident that it’s safe for our clients.” Really put a “our clients’ safety is our top priority” sort of messaging.

    Your organization’s concern for staff and management well-being is, of course, good and right (and will protect your clients as well), but complainers are less likely to find it compelling. They may well also take issue with “our clients’ safety is our top priority” because there are people who will take issue with anything, but it is harder to argue with (and is far less likely to alienate potential clients).

    1. OP#1*

      Thanks so much! That is a good script! I knew Alison and the commenters here would have good advice!

    2. BetsyTacy*

      OP#1 – So much empathy. I agree that focusing it on ‘for the safety of our clients’ and keeping the script short and consistent is best. Don’t use the emotional energy of actually explaining to somebody who’s ranting – just use the script. Wash, rinse, repeat if desired.

      Slightly different, but I’m in a hard hit area and a foster parent. For safety reasons (including the fact that kiddo’s biological parents are aggressively noncompliant with any safety recommendations like ‘kid needs to be in a carseat’… let alone COVID specific things like ‘wear a mask’) we have been doing video calls rather than in person contact.

      I didn’t make this decision. I do agree with it, but even if I didn’t, it’s not my call. It’s exhausting to try and help people understand that your organization didn’t close ‘at’ them. I also don’t know the population you’re working with, but often I’ve found that people who are so used to living in danger and crisis are literally incapable of realizing that the rest of us generally assume safety and health as a bottom line expectation.

      “Yeah, crazy times. I’m just so glad they’re prioritizing keeping kiddo safe.” That’s literally what i say now. That’s it. Easier for me, no different for them.

    3. kathS*

      The problem is, if they’re the client, it leaves room for pushback along the lines of “well I’m not worried about it, so if you’re doing this for my benefit just go ahead and open up!”

      If you push the blame to management you indicate that it’s out of your hands and further pushing for re-opening can’t work on you.

      1. boo bot*

        Yeah, for this reason, I would say, “until it’s safe for our clients and staff,” which is a good reminder that there are two sets of people whose health matters here.

        1. OP #1*

          I have actually gotten that: “If I’m comfortable, you should be too.” Or the “I’m not sick so I won’t get you sick.” But some people will just argue no matter what and I need to focus not on convincing them we are right to stay closed but just to get out of the conversation politely.

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      If there are any regulatory bodies your organization works with on this kind of thing, can you borrow some of their authority when you’re talking to people? My library’s not open to the public right now and we’re getting similar phone calls and emails. I typically reply that the library administrators are working with the public health department to make a reopening plan that will be safe for both customers and staff. I don’t bother telling them that the plan they’re working on means we’ll be open in a matter of months rather than a matter of weeks, because honestly none of us has any idea at all when it will be safe to reopen, so why even open that can of worms?

      1. OP #1*

        That’s a good idea. Because we have offices in so many cities, I have no idea if our upper management is working with public health departments in just the state where headquarters is or if they are in contact with ones here in Georgia, but it doesn’t matter for the purposes of ending these conversations. “Leadership is contact with public health professionals to determine when it’s safe. We will contact you when the office reopens.”

        1. Is It Performance Art*

          I’ve found that when I’m telling someone no for safety reasons, sometimes it’s helpful to bring up insurance, as in “our insurer would cancel our policy so fast they’d break the sound barrier” or “do you have any idea what that would do to to our insurance rate?” Everyone knows that insurance is necessary to do business and insurance companies are very risk-averse. (Insurers did offer pandemic insurance and it was very expensive just for that reason.) I’ve also found that it’s more persuasive when you’re dealing with people who are skeptical of the government because an insurance company is in the private sector.

        2. drpuma*

          I’ve had good luck with “I wish I could give you a different answer.” Empathetic while also being clear it’s not my call.

    5. Artemesia*

      Always good advice. Who can argue with ‘safety of our clients.’ (besides someone coming primed to argue regardless). Same in asking for something at work. If asking for an office, a better office, a new computer — anything taking effort by the organization always couch it in terms of productivity and business need (I once got the boss to literally build me a new office after a re-org had me in a tiny tiny office after having had one with a conference table — huge. Our division changed departments and they shoehorned us into available (and thus the worst) space. For me it was perceived loss of status but I got a decent office by outlining to the boss why more space was necessary for the function I performed for the department. (also true but not as important as my feefees.). People respond better to ‘I need this to serve you and your interests’. than ‘I want this’ or ‘this is better for me.’

    6. Mr. Shark*

      You can include both clients and employees, and I like the idea of saying that your company’s administration is working with local health services to determine when it is able to be opened. Putting the solution out of your hands is the only way to get people to keep from bothering you.

    7. Larz*

      One of the ways we’ve dealt with a similar issue is basically saying we don’t know when we’ll be cleared to re-open, and to call back in June. If we don’t know more by then, we’ll change it to ‘call back in July.” Voicemail can also include it, to discourage people from leaving messages that just ask when we’re re-opening.

      1. OP #1*

        We had for a while “we’ll reopen on May 8” and then people would call and try to schedule for that morning, so I changed it to “we hope to reopen some time in June.”

    8. Curmudgeon in California*

      How about “We are staying closed until we are confident that we can re-open in a way that is safe for both our staff and our clients. We thank you for your patience in this mater.”

  12. nnn*

    My first thought about reading #3 is to wonder who cleans the bathroom. I’m assuming it’s getting cleaned up somehow as opposed to having years and years worth of poo on the walls?

    Then it occurred to me this might be a way to address it. “You’re pooing wrong and grossing everyone out” is a difficult conversation. “We need to add a bathroom cleaning shift” is a much easier conversation. “Employees are reporting fecal matter on the toilet seats and the walls, and don’t feel that they can safely use the bathroom during their workday.” No names named, just a problem to be solved, like if employees are reporting there’s no toilet paper half the time.

    You could also use the pandemic as an excuse to level up cleaning around the building – including at least one extra bathroom clean that occurs shortly after the boss usually has his big bathroom visit of the day. And, of course, budget for paying anyone involved in cleaning more, since they’re doing work that’s so essential to public health in these uncertain times!

    To be clear, I’m not saying it’s totally okay and cool and reasonable that someone is cleaning your boss’s poo off the walls. He should be keeping everything in the toilet so no one has to clean his poo off the walls. They don’t get paid enough for that shit.

    But the status quo is someone is cleaning it up. And you might be able to get a less worse outcome by adjusting when that cleaning is done.

    1. Tabby*

      Yeahh… boss would be getting his feral behind marched back to the bathroom to clean his own crap up by me. What’s the worst he could do, fire me? Please, do that. I’d also be reporting him to the proper agency in charge of making sure people are not exposed to this kind of nastiness.

      I mean, I clean up dog poop for a living, but the dogs, at least, have an excuse: They’re animals! And, oddly, it’s super rare for one to paint the walls with its own feces. They tend to not want to step in it.

      1. willow for now*

        -So Tabby, tell us, why did you leave your last job?

        -I got fired after I made my boss clean his own poop off the bathroom walls and floor and toilet.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. “Proactive, has rational boundaries, is able to take charge in difficult situations.” ;)

    2. Emilia Bedelia*

      I think this is the best way for someone to approach the issue if they are hesitant about approaching the boss because of how awkward it is. I like the idea of coming to the boss, deeply concerned about a mystery bathroom savage who keeps leaving it disastrously dirty, and does he have any ideas about how we can make sure that it’s sufficiently clean all day?

      Maybe the boss really does want to pay for a cleaning service to follow him and clean the bathroom after every use. Still weird and gross, but for OP and coworkers, having a bathroom cleaned 5 times a day is better than having a bathroom covered in poop.

    3. Artemesia*

      ‘Well, Jeff, since you have pointed this out, let’s have you do a bathroom clean at 11 and again at 3 — that should take care of it.’ (or worse yet, ‘you, Janice’) He wants to inflict this on the subordinates — don’t invite him to make you his cleaning crew.

  13. LGC*

    …and letter 3 is why I should never read the letters before going to bed. LW3, you’ll be in my prayers. Unfortunately, your boss will most likely be in my nightmares.

    LW1: like, the one thing I’ve learned through this epic mess is that we really tend to focus on the outliers, and that’s something I’m trying to do less of. I’m glad that your nonprofit (and a lot of Georgia businesses) are trying to do what’s right for everyone, despite pressure to just go back to The Way Things Were, and that’s all you can do, really. Has your organization given guidance on what to say? If not, that might be something to ask for.

    LW2: Change your name to Melissa. Change your outfits midway through every Zoom call. Dramatically alter your appearance and disappear when your boss slightly hints they’ve noticed your impromptu makeovers.

    (To be fair, this is advice I would give any letter writer, so I’m not sure how much this applies to your situation.)

    LW4: Someone (shout out mrs___peel) recommended “Bright Sided” by Barbara Ehrenreich in the comments for whether interviewers will ask about what skills you learned during the pandemic, and…I’m probably going to get it, and it sounds like something you might be interested in.

    LW5: I’d honestly…consider trying something new one year, just because you don’t know either way! It feels relatively low stakes, in that you’re just changing the way the meetings go. Perhaps have half of them delivered by you and half delivered by the non-fiction manager, and be upfront about it. But on the other hand…it seems like there isn’t really a problem to fix here.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Thirding Brightsided. An excellent book, and Ehrenreich is a writer both funny and scathing to read.

    1. OP#1*

      Thanks! I have been trying to focus on what I can control but it’s definitely a challenge. And I think management has been so focused on the loan and figuring out how we can safely open that they haven’t given guidance on how specifically to respond. When I texted my colleagues with “I got a question answered on Ask a Manager! My life is complete!” and they read it, one of them suggested sending the link to all staff so that everyone would have these scripts.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        I’d blame management as if you have no control.

        Client: blah blah blah blah
        You: I don’t make these decisions it is upper management.

        Client: blah blah blah blah
        You: yup, but it is not my decision. I am just the messenger.

        1. LGC*

          Eh, I wouldn’t use that precise wording in this case – it kind of throws management under the bus, and honestly OP shouldn’t have to hide her support. The difference is that Alison’s wording sounds more like you’re in agreement with the org’s decision.

          That said…I was wondering if national had suggested guidelines to deal with pushy clients! I can imagine that the local is busy putting together plans, but since OP1 mentioned that they’re part of a national organization, they might have a media/public relations arm and they might have standard wording. Thankfully (and hopefully) the people who seem to be this entitled are still a minority, but…it almost seems inevitable to me that some people would take Georgia’s “reopening” to mean that Governor Kemp canceled the coronavirus and mandated everything go back to BC (before corona). (Which…1) he did not, because 2) he cannot.)

          1. virago*

            “it almost seems inevitable to me that some people would take Georgia’s ‘reopening’ to mean that Governor Kemp canceled the coronavirus …”

            This gives me insight into what’s going on in *my* state (not Georgia), where the governor has been getting molto pushback for not reopening fast enough. I’m wondering if the people doing the pushing see a full reopening as a declaration that coronavirus has been “canceled.”

            1. OP #1*

              Yeah, that’s pretty much it. My chiropractor just announced she’s no longer going to wear a mask (except for high risk patients) since she decided the virus is now gone since things are being reopened. I’m not going back to her.

    2. OP #5*

      Thanks LGC! You’re right in that it’s not really a problem. Was just looking for some outside perspective on our process. :) Have a great day!

      1. LGC*

        No problem! It’s actually something I’ve usually had to deal with in a different version – I’ve usually co-supervised (right now I’m solo), and we’ve just split the reviews. So my co-supervisor would do half of them, and I’d do the other half.

    3. Timothy (TRiG)*

      I’ve read Barbara Rhenreich’s book (published as Smile or Die on this side of the Atlantic), and it’s brilliant. Not only is it a fascinating topic, but it’s also very well written: clear and straightforward and a very well argued thesis.

    4. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

      This is a very libra vibe and I’m here for it. I also had a quick call w/ my supervisor’s boss and he did not seem to notice and definitely said zero things! Nonchalance is working.

  14. Ellie*

    I’d just like to get this out there…. I’m Australian, and I’ve never heard of anyone having to use an outdoor toilet at home. Toilet blocks at a campsite or a remote station maybe…. but they are proper buildings. This person must live on a farm or a mining facility, which goes some way to explain the behaviour I guess, but it still sounds terrible.

    The boss is feral either way, and I’d band together with my co-workers to have another toilet block built. In the meantime, yes, let the men use the women’s bathrooms, but you’ll have to have the conversation to make it clear the boss is not welcome. If he won’t do it, you could report it to fair work.

    1. PollyQ*

      I think his having to use outdoor toilets at home is purely because his wife no longer permits him to use their standard indoor toilets, due to his disgusting behavior.

      1. Tilly*

        That’s what I thought too. Ive seen suburban properties in both Brisbane and Sydney that still have outhouses, but they now sit disused, as there’s now indoor toilets as well.
        The one at my grandparents house no ones used in like 40 years. I wouldnt go near it. Pretty sure it’s full of spiders and/or snakes.

        For someone to be banished out there, there’d have to be a pretty good reason not to want them in the house. (Which it sounds like there very well is, in the case of OP’s boss)

    2. Megan*

      I’m also Australian and second this! I too was picturing a very remote farm property as houses in metro areas do not have outhouses!

      1. Jon*

        They were the norm even in many inner city houses until the 50s or 60s – Brisbane didn’t have a sewage system outside of the CBD till the 60s, and the norm was still to have an outhouse up against the back fence – properties had service lanes running between the backs of two rows of houses and the outhouse tub was emptied early in the morning by a waste collector. Many of these outhouses were converted to flushing toilets when the sewer system was hooked up. Most of them are long gone now but a number still remain in older properties – I have one in my yard.

        1. londonedit*

          Similar in the UK. Many towns and cities have a lot of terraced housing, with the houses built in long rows all adjoining each other, most of which were built in the 19th/early 20th century. Originally they all had outside toilets and no bathroom at all – people would fill a tin bath with hot water and wash in front of the fire, even well into the last 50 years or so. Obviously in recent decades most of the outside loos have been moved indoors, but most of the time there’s no way to put the bathroom upstairs, so people built a small extension on the back of the kitchen and put the bathroom there, on the ground floor. Nowadays, people object more to bathrooms being downstairs, but it’s a very standard layout for that sort of housing in many UK towns and cities.

          1. Bonky*

            My parents’ house in the UK was built around 1900; it’s a large house on a posh street in a small town. It still has a set of outbuildings that used to be a stable, a coach house and a workshop – and has an outdoor toilet as part of that setup. When we were kids it was great to be able to get to the loo without having to go indoors and navigate around our parents. Lots of spiders, though.

            1. Carlie*

              I recently watched a documentary on service work in England that said as the middle class increased in the early-mid 1900s, the boom of semi-detached housing included an outdoor toilet on each for the one servant they could afford to have. It was a class marker if anything.

              1. London Calling*

                My grandparents owned an Edwardian semi-detached house in South London, built around the mid to end of the 19c when anyone who could afford it had some domestic help, even if it was a teenage girl from the workhouse. It had an outside toilet off the scullery, which I always assumed was for the maid. The odd thing was her room was right at the top of the house, so if she needed it in the middle of the night either she had to traipse all the way through the house or more likely, used an under the bed commode.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Entirely possible that at least some family members kept using the commode too — but that it was healthier for the neighborhood to have the servants empty it into the loo.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            It’s also cheap to have all the plumbing in one small area of downstairs. Building regulations mean you have to have two doors between a kitchen and a bathroom, but the plumbing can all be achieved within a few metres on the ground floor, which saves on materials and labour.

            1. MayLou*

              If this is the case in the UK, it must be a fairly recent change. My old house had the bathroom open directly off the kitchen (so did the stairs) and I’ve seen many where you go through the kitchen to get to the bathroom. As you say, easier to plumb.

              1. Media Monkey*

                we lived in a victorian terrace and you should have 2 doors between the kitchen and bathroom so they are often configured with a little passageway down the side with a door at each end. often one of the doors has been taken off to make space in the kitchen but it could be there.

              2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                I looked it up as it was something I knew from student accommodation HOW LONG?! ago. It’s actually an old rule now relaxed: you have to have two doors between a toilet and a kitchen UNLESS there’s handwashing facilities in the room with the toilet. If it’s a full bathroom then it would be weird not to install a basin!

                If your old house had been built or converted before the “two door” rule or after the relaxation/clarification, no problem.

                1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  For non-UK readers: yes, it is not uncommon for the room containing the actual physical toilet not to contain a sink for handwashing, like a little cubicle. Very few people tolerate that nowadays so they’re dying out. Still, if you share bathrooms it’s quite nice not to have your children literally peeing right there while you’re in the bath, but just coming in at the end to wash their hands …

                2. UKDancer*

                  Yes my grandfather’s terraced house had an upstairs bathroom but the toilet was in a separate room from the sink and the bath. When he became elderly we had the partition knocked down to have it amalgamated into one room with one of those walk in baths they put in for elderly people. Grandad was always rather suspicious of this newfangled technology and I’m not entirely convinced he ever used it. I think he tended to prefer a bowl of hot water and a sponge for the vital areas.

            2. Potatoes gonna potate*

              I wonder if this explains why some apartments in NYC have bathrooms right in/by the kitchen. I always wondered about this.

          3. UKDancer*

            Yes my godmother lived in this sort of small house for many years with a bathroom off the kitchen. She had converted the outdoor toilet building into a very nice little shed. I’ve a friend who is an estate agent and she says they’re a lot harder to sell at the moment because people don’t like having to go downstairs to the bath but they’re very common in period properties.

          4. MsSolo*

            Most of the houses I’ve lived in in the UK had an outhouse at some point – it was a bit of a coup if your student house still had a functional one! Almost everything built from the mid nineteenth century to the mid twentieth would have had one, from densely packed terrace slums to posh houses where it was one of several outbuildings, but most were either converted to bike sheds or attached to the house with a small extension. My current house is unusual for its age in that doesn’t have one, because the street was built with a block of toilets at the end of the row instead, which have subsequently been demolished (it does show this was proper slum housing at one time, if you didn’t even get your own loo).

          5. Anon Anon*

            The school I went to in the 80’s still used outhouses. We didn’t get indoor toilets until 1988.

          6. iliketoknit*

            My grandparents in the UK lived in exactly that kind of terraced housing, and when I was visiting them in the 70s/80s there was at least one indoor bathroom, but there was also a bathroom attached to the house, but accessible only via an outside door in the garden. As a small kind I found this kind of scary and off-putting, but nowhere near as bad as a true outhouse!

    3. Michaela*

      Another Australian who has yet to hear of outdoor toilet using – I mean I live in an old Victorian terrace house which likely used to have an outhouse, but I’m pretty sure the majority had indoor toilet renos by the 1960s or earlier.

      I also know of a guy who pooped in his shower on a mine site and was fired, after the cleaners complained. They don’t tolerate that sort of thing with multiple people having to live in close quarters.

    4. Tim Tam Girl*

      Outside toilets* are still surprisingly common in the inner suburbs** of Sydney: they were the standard when many houses here were built, and while most houses now have indoor toilets as their primary, lots of people left the outdoor toilets in place as a secondary. Hell, I knew someone in a very trendy area as recently as 10 years ago who still hadn’t bothered to install an indoor toilet, so the outside one was the only option.

      Notes for US readers:
      * ‘Toilet’ in this case means bathroom, not just the toilet itself
      ** ‘Inner suburbs’ = neighbourhoods; ‘outer suburbs’ = suburbs

    5. Sinea*

      They’re pretty common in Sydney, and various other places in NSW – not sure about other states.

    6. Not Australian*

      I’m betting on a smallholding or hobby farm where the boss’s outside dunny is helping to create the compost. If his wife’s got any sense (and she clearly has!) that would be the way to sell it to him.

    7. SS Express*

      I live in Sydney and I’ve seen heaps of houses with outdoor toilets. They’re not outhouses, just a normal little tiled room with a toilet and sometimes a sink – generally attached to the back of the house rather than a stand-alone structure. You normally see them in houses that also have an external laundry (sometimes it’s just one laundry/bathroom).

      But it’s not usual for people to be so disgusting that they’re only allowed to use the outside toilet. Usually it’s just to avoid making puddles through the house when you jump out of the pool to go to the bathroom, or for the convenience of guests at backyard parties.

    8. Airy*

      Change the door signs, “Staff Toilet” and “EXECUTIVE Toilet.”
      Trick is, Executive Toilet never gets cleaned.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s actually not a bad idea, if there’s not a urinal/no-urinal issue.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I mean, yes, but there are people who are not comfortable using unisex toilet facilities (if the cubicles aren’t fully enclosed, for example) so there’s potential for causing a problem to solve a problem – and it doesn’t even solve the problem, just reduce it.

    9. DyneinWalking*

      Well, he doesn’t have to use it in the way that there are no other options… his wife “makes him use it”; i.e. there’s another one – likely a proper indoor toilet – that she has declared permissible for well-behaved bathroom users only (her and guests, presumably).

      1. willow for now*

        How do you even explain that at a dinner party? “Why is Poopsie going outside to use the facilities? Are we supposed to? Is that the guest bathroom? I’m confused.”

      2. Charley*

        I want to know how the other employees know that he uses an outdoor toilet at home. Has someone had a conversation with the wife? Has the boss mentioned it? If so, boss must be aware he’s disgusting, and is choosing not to change his behaviour.

    10. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      I’ve seen a few, even in the inner suburbs. They’re often fully plumbed and functional, and attached to another structure such as a shed, garage or laundry. Most places do also have one inside, but if I had to live with someone like this boss I’d sure be sending him outside too!

    11. WS*

      I’m in a rural area and it’s super common if the house was built before about 1950, and lots of people have an outdoor dunny by the shed so they don’t have to come all the way back to the house. But I’ve never heard of someone doing this to their toilet and having to be banished outside! (Except for extremely drunk people, who then apologised and cleaned up).

  15. Erin*

    Sounds like the Tomato juice, honey, jam & butter sandwiches don’t agree with the boss?

  16. Megan*

    Also I will never not associate out houses with Moses in The Office when Jim and Pam stay at the BnB overnight and hear a constant banging and they investigate and it’s Moses in an outhouse *laugh emoji*

  17. Jdc*

    LW I put a small stud in my noise years ago and no on even noticed. But wait. My friend noticed and made me feel so bad about it that I took it out. It wasn’t a huge deal but it made made feel like i was complying to something my workplace did not care about and I wanted. So a few years later I put it back in. No one even seems to notice it.

    1. A*

      I’m so sorry you had to go through that! It really isn’t a big deal outside of a few more formal industries / work environments. I’ve had a nose stud my entire adult life. I had fully expected to need to remove it for professional reasons upon graduation – but ten years later, and I still have it and it’s never been an issue I am aware of. I figure if an employer does pass me over as a result, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyways.

      I am regularly surprised at how much of a non-issue it is (thankfully, and as it should be!). At my last place of employment one of our VPs got a septum piercing over a long weekend as a pre-retirement gift to herself. Now THAT was a bit surprising!

      1. Jdc*

        Oh wow. That would be prettty noticeable. I love my tiny diamond stud and as someone who hated my nose most of my younger life and almost had surgery it’s nice to embrace my nose as it is and smile when I see the little diamond. I find a lot more people have nose piercings these days. Seems to be the most accepted.

  18. annab53*

    LW#2: Just say you’ve had the piercing for a while but would usually only wear the ring/stud during off-hours and you just decided to wear it more often. No big deal if your office is fine with facial piercings. Don’t make it more of a big deal than necessary.

    1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

      I appreciate this!!! I’ve been trying to not call attention to it, and just, not over thinking it (much like not overthinking a needle in my nose) is the best bet. It’s hard to feel cavalier in the moment but like, a small nose stud isn’t that big of a deal unless I freak out about it at work.

    2. Adele*

      This is the right answer; I think Alison got it wrong because she didn’t think through the implications of getting a piercing during this time. I have a nose ring and have nothing at all against them, but I would not trust the judgment of a colleague that engaged in the type of close contact required for a procedure like that during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s an unnecessary and irresponsible risk.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m unsure if you missed the update that OP2 updated as “I did in fact pierce my own nose” ….so the procedure did not require any kind of contact.
        Bravery yes*. Interpersonal contact no.
        (*I had a hard enough time putting the 2nd hole in one ear after graduation… I can’t imagine doing a spot that I could actually see.)

        1. Quill*

          There is zero way I’m getting my second set of piercings until after Covid is over.

  19. There are two of them????*

    #3 – your boss isn’t an expat pom is he? Because I worked with a guy who was this bad. All over the bowl, the seat, the wall… I have no explanation for the splatter radius. In the end they put up a bunch of signs about how the cleaners were finding that lavatory hard to clean (!) but it didn’t change his behaviour one bit. He just seemed mildly puzzled by the signs, like they weren’t any of his business.

    And – to the commenter who assumed he wipes afterwards? Speaking as someone who sat in closed meeting rooms with him on hot days…. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t.

    1. Charley*

      There are 3 of them! I had a housemate like this (both of us are English too haha), thankfully I had my own little bathroom but it had no shower so every morning I had to dodge past the faeces-splattered toilet to use the shower. Yuck.

    2. KR*

      My husband had a roommate like this on one of his last work trips (american military). Like, feces just on the toilet seat. The guy didn’t brush his teeth and they were sharing a very small room and bathroom together. Just general grossness. I don’t understand the cognitive dissonance, the people who can look at a disgusting toilet seat and not connect it with the fact that they were just in that room and on that toilet. I imagine it’s people who have never had to clean a toilet before. They’d get it all in the bowl if they were the ones cleaning it up.

  20. Kella*

    OP #3 Your boss is not oblivious. If he’s capable of intentionally avoiding his home bathroom and going outside to an outhouse instead, then he’s capable of cleaning up after himself. If he’s capable of washing his hands, then he’s capable of throwing his paper towels in the garbage.

    I really hate when people just work around someone like this. It’s actually kind of insulting *to him* to assume that he’s not capable of cleaning up after himself the way the vast majority people do.

    Honestly, I’d get together a group of coworkers and confront him together about it. Let him be super uncomfortable talking about his poop. I’m not on board with tolerating man-babies.

    1. Clorinda*

      Yes, he knows. And if you give permission for the other men to use the women’s bathroom, guess where Boss is going for his second eruption of the day?

  21. Not A Manager*

    “body modifications in quarantine may seem objectively crazy to my coworkers. Which, you know, it is.”

    It is not, but I love this line anyway.

    1. WellRed*

      Yeah, I was kind side eyeing the OPs judgment, but that line made it all better.

  22. Casper Lives*

    I’m feeling nauseous now. I can’t imagine living with that. G-dspeed, #3.

  23. Jarffe*

    For #2 I have a nose piercing and have had it for years. I will usually take it out for something, totally forget about it and leave it out for a few months then remember it and put it back in. Most people at work don’t care but some will always comment about how they didn’t know I had a piercing. I’ll just explain I’ve had it for ages and just havn’t been wearing it and that’s the end of the conversation. You could always try that especially if you havn’t been working at your current place too long or you could just say you don’t usually wear it at work. If you’re very worried about people seeing it on video meetings you could also put a bandaid(plaster) that matches your skin tone over it. Just cut a small piece or their are some small ones that are meant to go over pimples you could buy.

  24. Lady Heather*

    LW3, at least some parts of Australia have a law requiring the workplace to have “adequate facilities” that are “clean and hygienic”, such as found https://www.ohsrep.org.au/toilet_facilities_what_should_workplaces_have .

    Your boss isn’t oblivious. At worst, he likes creating this biohazard. At best, he doesn’t care to clean it up/avoid it while knowing the impact it has on the other employees.

    As Hershele Ostropoler put so eloquently at https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/07/31/readercon-harassment-etc/ :

    If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot.

    If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot.

    If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot.

    If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot.

    If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out.

    If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot.

    See, that’s why I don’t get the focus on classifying harassers and figuring out their motives. The victims are just as harassed either way.

    1. Zircon*

      I was just coming here to say that I am sure this would violate Australian Health & Safety laws – that Alison would not know about.
      OP#3. Look up your H&S laws around a safe and hygienic workplace. Use this information to talk with your boss about your concerns that “we are violating H&S code. We may be liable for fines of up to $xx,000. It is not the regular employee’s responsibility to clean human excrement, so I am going to organise to have a hygiene firm on call and available within a few minutes notice”…… or something along those lines. Make it a sort of “we” conversation, as in “we, the organisation”, but make sure you don’t make it a “we will clean up after you” conversation. And don’t give him any choice, or chance to make another arrangement. If you begin paying someone to clean his messes, it might make him change his behaviour.

      1. Batgirl*

        Is this like the UK where you can call in the health and safety inspector?
        I would be a bit torn as to whether to broach it with him first or just go straight to reporting it and letting him explain the mess to the H&S guy. It does sound like he needs shock tactics if he doesn’t listen to his wife.

    2. noahwynn*

      I know OP is Austrailian, but this would likely be a violation of OSHA requirements here in the US as well. You have to provide sanitary toilets. OSHA would likely invoke the general duty clause (employees have a right to a safe workplace) as well if an employer knowingly allowed this to continue.

    3. B.*

      It matters as a society to know that some people have a foot stepping disease and some people are foot stepping without even realizing it because then we can address it by getting medical help in place and raising awareness in order to reduce the amount of foot stepping in the future, despite the fact that there will still be plain jerks (though even then it’s usually more complex than that and most people want to be good people, so as a society, though not necessarily as individuals who need to protect themselves, we’d do well to try harder to address the cause rather than dismiss them as beyond help and that’s complicated again by the fact that it often reaches a point that’s hard to get them to see they need help, but it is better for society when we talk about and recognize the complex factors at play).

      In the meantime people whose feet are getting stepped on need that to stop regardless of the steppers motivation and have no obligation to be kind and understanding about it.

      As for OP I’m with the people who have a hard time believing that he can be that oblivious when it’s a problem with his wife as well. I don’t know why he’s doing it, if he’s power tripping or ignoring it out of embarrassment but there’s little chance he either just doesn’t see it or doesn’t realize it bothers people. (Could be dementia but I agree that it doesn’t sound like a recent thing as presented. Maybe his wife needs to take him to the doctor…)

  25. Ponytail*

    Letter 5 – having been in a position where my library staff were dotted-line/supervised by others in the course of their week, I would advise doing the appraisals by yourself. The assistants in my workplace were aware that we discussed their performance with anyone who supervised them, either for their everyday tasks (specialist ones that I had no responsibility for) or one-off projects, but when it came to having the meeting(s) and filling in the form, we would do it on a 1-2-1 basis. Occasionally I would include any compliments or positive remarks from others in the appraisal form, but make it clear that someone else had said this.
    Appraisals are taken really seriously in my workplace(s) and no-one having one would countenance having an extra person there. It’s meant to be a shared process between the appraiser and appraisee, so having a third person would throw off that balance. I’ve had appraisees argue about location of meetings, and I’ve kicked back over having a corporate-speak sentence about goals added to mine after the meeting, so something like adding a second person on the other side of the table would definitely not go down well.

    1. OP #5*

      Thanks for the thoughts Ponytail! Our appraisals are pretty low-key here but do put a very big focus on employee goals and development. The worry about throwing the conversation off balance is exactly what was making me re-consider our process. Thanks for your feedback!

      1. Dual Librarian*

        I work in a library and also report to an college at a university. Both of my supervisors have a viewpoint on my evaluation, but I only meet with the library supervisor. In my case, it mainly follows that the library funds my position. However, my office is out in the college and my boss there gives me more projects.

        Sometimes I wish that both of them would be part of my evaluation, since my supervisor in the library has downplayed the projects that I complete for my college.

        Another problem is that my evaluation cycle is mistimed between the two sides, so my boss in the college has required several reminders to send in input to my supervisor on the library side.

        Not sure if that helps, but gives a perspective from the employee side.

        1. OP #5*

          Dual Librarian, that’s a good point! Thanks for the staff perspective, I appreciate that.

    2. DragoCucina*

      We’ve done it both ways at my former library. Newer department heads felt like they weren’t delivering another’s critiques. It ended up being dropped mostly to save everyone time.

  26. Jemima Bond*

    OP 4, hopefully this isn’t more platitudes but I really feel for you and I hope Alison’s advice works. I bet you want to tell “aaaarrgggh I have enough positive attitude to sink a ship; what I need is a paying job!!” but you can because they mean well and you aren’t asking them for money, or indeed a job.

    Are you job searching if there’s no guarantee you’ll be recalled to your current post? Maybe Alison’s wider advice can also help you? Good luck either way.

      1. MsLipman*

        LW4 feels like a response to the very recent LW who wanted advice on how to word encouraging emails to a furloughed colleague who’d made it clear she wanted nothing to do with the LW.

  27. Jay Barry*

    #3 That’s definitely a health and safety concern. Unless there’s a miracle and the shitty boss shows enough self-awareness and desire to fix his ways, it needs to be reported. You and your coworkers are inaction enabling him to continue his crappy behaviour, and even if you leave someone else will be subjected to it.

    The absolutely abysmal tidiness standards in the kitchen are also a huge issue, but unless he’s spreading allergens or making slip hazards it’s not a health and safety problem. If his wife hasn’t made any progress you’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of doing any better.

    There are other things I’d like to suggest, but the level of passive aggressive they are wouldn’t go down well on someone who’s your superior.

  28. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    OP1, you will never be able to give an explanation that will satisfy the people who argue with you about the policy. I’d be willing to bet that there is a very large overlap between people who complain and argue about this and people who do things like demand a discount they aren’t entitled to, try to return items that are clearly heavily used as defective, go to restaurants seconds before closing and demand to be served, complain about any kind of policy or law that they don’t like whether it’s taxes or speed limits, etc etc.

    There is no way to stop their rants. The best you can do is politely explain that you are staying closed for now in order to ensure client safety and get them off the phone so you don’t have to listen to their rant.

    1. WellRed*

      I agree with all of this, especially the first entire graph. A former coworker referred to this as ignorant and entitled.

    2. OP#1*

      You are absolutely right. I am just at my wit’s end. With my in-laws/chiropractor/other random people, I can usually shut it down by pointing out that being closed helps since I don’t have to worry about childcare, which then let’s me deflect and ask about them. But when it’s a client calling to schedule, it’s hard to deflect. Alison’s scripts are really helpful.

      1. Shortstuff*

        I wonder whether you’ll have better luck presenting it as a bland ‘computer says no’ decision rather than providing reasons. The reasons might be prompting them to think that it’s a decision that’s open to change if they present other arguments (logical or otherwise), but it’s actually not.

        For sure, they’re going to think the organisation is wrong, and probably think that you’re wrong. As long as they get off the phone, and can’t honestly claim that you’re rude to them, it’s objective achieved.

      2. Sara without an H*

        Hi, OP#1 —
        I feel for you. I’m a librarian. Libraries attract all kinds of people, including those who will argue about anything. Advice I was given early in my career was to acknowledge whatever the client said, then blandly restate our policy, using “and,” rather than “but:” “I get that you’re very enthusiastic about romance novels! And our policy is to check out no more than 20 books at a time.” (This to somebody trying to check out about half the stock in a genre fiction section.)

        The utility of this script is that it can be adapted almost endlessly. For you, something like, “Our clients’ safety is our first priority! We’re eager to get back to serving you! We’ll send you a notice as soon as we’re ready to start scheduling appointments.” Repeat until they give up and go away.

        Good luck, and take care of yourself.

        1. Mimmy*

          I’ve heard that too about saying “and” rather than “but”, but I’m not clear on why, at least in this context.

          1. Clorinda*

            “But” implies that something is conditional–this thing that you want would happen “if only” said condition were different, which enables the person to argue for an exception to the condition–whereas “and” simply states a second fact. This thing that you want will not happen “AND” this is a condition that exists. It doesn’t give you an opening into negotiation the way “but” does.

            1. Allonge*

              This is a total aside but thanks for that explanation! I was always told just to use and as it is less… confrontational? And that never made a lot of sense as such.

        2. OP #1*

          Thanks so much! I used to be a librarian and I wish I had gotten that advice then.

  29. Rex Jacobus*

    A gross co-worker story.

    I worked in IT in London. Every six months I had to visit the Glasgow office for a week. There was one guy who just didn’t understand hygiene and social norms in general.

    While I was there a woman came back from a beach holiday. As a treat she had brought the office a bag of taffy which she had taken the twisty off of and let us dive in. Everyone (about 8 of us) are gathered around her desk and she is showing us some pics. Smelly guy absent-mindedly picks up the twist tie and cleans out his ear with it. At the least second he was about to put it back with the taffy when the woman sees him about to lay the twisty (with an orange glob on it) back on her desk and just yells, “WHAT THE F%#K DO YE THINK YE’RE DOING?!?”

    The guy slunk back to his own desk. I remember thinking you couldn’t shout that in the London office but it was acceptable in Glasgow.

    1. Mimmy*

      I’m trying my darnedest to stifle my laughter while hubby is on a work call!!! I love that woman’s response!!

    2. Sally*

      I never know what to do in situations where people violate norms they should know about and that everyone else follows. Seems like saying what I’m thinking is the way to go! I’d rather do that than keep silent and feel powerless and angry about it.

  30. Katie's Cryin'*

    I’ll say this as respectfully as I can, but getting a nose piercing is about as prominent a body mod as you can get. It’s literally in the middle of your face, so if OP2 isn’t able to handle the idea of people noticing it and/or commenting on it, and has to come up with a cover story for how/when/why it was done, I feel they’ve made a rash decision.

    Please OP2 – just own it. It’s a fairly minor thing. Many will notice it and say nothing. If others do comment there’s little reason to say anything other than the most straightforward response you can give to their questions or comments.

  31. Bagpuss*

    OP#3 – Has anyone explicitly spoken to the Boss and asked him directly to ensure that the bathroom s left clean and that he ensures that papertowels etc go in the bin?

    If not, that would me my first step – ask the manager to have that conversation and to be clear that while the office may have cleaners, it is not normal or reasonable to leave faeces on the walls or floor, or to leave dirty paper anywhere but in the bin (or flushed away, as appropriate) .

    I think the manager expressly needs to state that the condition the boss is leaving the room in is unacceptable and that it is not reasonable to expect anyone to use it in that state, or indeed to clean it, and that it puts the company in breach of Health & Safety rules.

    Its an awkward conversation to have, but I think that needs to be step one.
    If any of the male employees feel able to do so, I l also think it would be reasonable and appropriate for them to raise it with him directly – e.g.”I just went into the bathroom after you were in there – maybe you didn’t realise, but you left a mess with shit on the wall and dirty paper on the floor – can you clear up your mess, as no-one else will be able to use the bathroom in the state you left it in”

    Hard though it is to believe, he may not see it as a big issue so may not realise others would care, or alternatively he may be under the deluded assumption that no one knows it is him

    ( I have a morbid desire to know more about he outside loo at his home. Does he clean it himself, does his wife clean it, or does it just get left to fester, and he doesn’t care?

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, all through reading the letter, that was the question in my head – has anyone ever let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and actually confronted the boss about his disgusting bathroom habits? Or maybe “confronted” is too strong a word but just spoken about it out loud to the guy? It seems like this would be the best first step because whatever the hell is going on there, it relies at least in some part on no one ever actually saying anything. It’s pretty likely that boss won’t care or will come up with some harebrained excuse or just deny everything or whatever, but it’s at least possible that people in his professional circle commenting on it might actually change something (again, I doubt it, but I don’t even have enough imagination to come up with a credible explanation for this other than that he wants to be as gross as possible so my brain is somewhat hitting a dead end here and one might end up being surprised!).

    2. Jennifer*

      I’m assuming his wife lets him handle it since she has banished him from the indoor bathrooms.

    3. Amy Sly*

      My guess is that the outside bathroom was built in such a way that once you take out the toilet paper, you can just hose the whole thing down. At least, if I were designing an outdoor bathroom, that would be a key design consideration.

  32. RecentAAMfan*

    This poop boss business. Hard to believe it’s unintentional or due to cluelessness.
    I’m thinking it’s some weird shit/power fetish and he’s getting off on knowing he’s inflicting it on everyone else.
    I’d be interested in what Dan Savage would think about it

  33. Fikly*

    If anyone discovers a magic way to get people to stop ranting to you over the phone about things you cannot change, please let me know, or just sit back and enjoy the millions of dollars you will make sharing this magic.

    1. OP#1*

      I wrote because I figured if anyone had that magic formula, it would be Alison and the commenters.

      Barring that though, it helps to have some scripts to pull out and to reframe it as not having to convince people I’m right (though I really want to) but just up end the conversation without ranting myself.

      1. EPLawyer*

        That’s all you can do. You will never convince a ranter that you are right. Because they are alreadyd convinced they are right. You can’t change a closed mind. All you can do is save your own energy and time for wha you can do. Which is your job as best as you can right now. Your job is NOT convincing the ranters you are right. Your job is whatever your assigned tasks are.

        FWIW, I stand 100% behind the companies that are delaying openings despite what others are pushing. The science says no right now.

      2. Blueberry*

        No, no, you’re absolutely right, but as others have said, you will never convince someone who is so certain of their position AND so entitled and unkind as to berate a stranger.

        When I get a ranter I try to make “listening noises” until they come up for breath, then say something noncommittal like, “I understand your point” or “that makes sense” (though it doesn’t) then restate what the position is. I like the detail mentioned by a librarian upthread, to use “and” rather than “but”, and will adopt it.

        Good luck. I’m sorry you’re stuck with so many fellow citizens who are actively angered by public health efforts.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Pretty much this. Let them rant, and read something else while they bitch. I got told at work to NOT interrupt under any circumstances, really, or else they get more upset.

  34. Fikly*

    Ok, so a kitten my sister was fostering got poo a foot up the wall, but the kitten had a disorder that meant she had trouble coordinating her limbs, and would stumble and fall over, particularly when excited. And she was always excited, as she was a kitten.

    Your boss is not a kitten. If this is somehow not voluntary, it’s still his responsibility. You are not fostering your boss.

  35. Jennifer*

    Re: Disgusting boss

    I wonder if you could out him to the building management somehow. Someone has to clean up that mess every night and I’d be surprised if there haven’t been any complaints. If they approach him about it and maybe let him know that he is in violation of the company’s lease, he may be motivated to change. People like this rarely change unless there’s something in it for them.

    Side note – I really wonder why this wasn’t a deal-breaker for the wife? “Must use outdoor toilet” definitely would be for me.

    I hope you have been letting the poor other men there use the ladies’ restroom all this time.

  36. nep*

    Brilliant response to #1.
    I would pare it down even more.
    “Because our work requires close contact, we’ll be closed until our management and staff feel it’s safe to re-open.”

    1. OP#1*

      I agree with your point. I personally don’t want to reopen until Dr. Fauci tells me it’s safe but I’m afraid saying those exact words will get me into a political discussion I’d rather avoid.

      1. Sylvan*

        I agree with you — but reopening is your company’s owners’ decision, not yours, right? You don’t really need to explain it or engage in arguments about it. I think if you get into debates about this with argumentative customers, they have the impression that arguing with you will change your company’s decision about opening, but that’s not the case. I think it might be best to say the company’s closed for now and change subjects as quickly as possible.

      2. Gaia*

        It really warms my heart to see someone explicitly say they want to wait for Dr Fauci to say it is safe.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          In Fauci I Trust (though I recognize he’s facing political pressures that may affect his word choices).

    2. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes definitely don’t cite anyone “feeling “like it’s safe to reopen, that just gives fuel to the idea that this is a fear-based response, rather than an intellect-based sensible response waiting for the consensus of experts.

      1. OP #1*

        That’s a really good point. I tend to try to use softening language but you are right. It’s not based on a feeling at all; it’s based on the science.

  37. Cordoba*

    For #1 it seems like this might be a good time to fall back on the “I just work here, management makes that call and didn’t ask for my opinion” routine.

    LW is not under any obligation to defend/explain their employer’s policies to some telephone rando, especially when they didn’t make those policies in the first place.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      +1 Unless you’re part of the crisis comitee, it’s not your decision. I would totally throw the blame to upper management and nothing else.

      1. OP#1*

        That’s a good point. And might be the easiest way to just get out of the conversation.

    2. Amy Sly*

      Seriously. Explaining to irate customers that the store policies inconveniencing them will not be changed in reaction to their ranting is 50% of customer service. Either cut them off early or just wait patiently for them to rant themselves out; the latter is fun because it seems to piss them off even more. “Are you even going to respond to me?!” “Sir, I was just waiting for you to finish.” — you can just hear the impotent anger coming over the phone line.

    3. KR*

      Yup this – “I wasn’t involved in the decision making process here.” “I understand your concerns but frankly, they didn’t ask me what I thought of this and aren’t seeking input.” “I will pass along your concerns.” (you don’t have to mention that whoever you’re passing them along to isn’t likely to listen). “I understand your point but unfortunately can’t change that policy. Now let’s get onto your issue and see how we can help you.”

  38. Batgirl*

    I would be really interested to know how OP3 knows about the boss’s home situation. Is this information that he has actually volunteered? If so, I think he’s vastly underestimating the embarrassment factor, or as the OP says, he’s “oblivious”. If he’s been called on the bathroom mess and responded with something that at least places blame on himself: “Haha yes, I’m terrible; I’m not allowed to poop indoors at home!” Then it might be worth going slightly more serious and saying “Yeah, the guys can’t use the same bathroom as you here either, they’ve tried but often it’s too messy so we need to look at bathroom allocation”. If however he thinks his wife is overreacting (she must have tried to insist he gets house trained and has seemingly been blown off) and has said something like “Yeah I’m not the neatest but wife is really fussy about it” then that might be a warning sign that he’s deaf to reason and blames the messenger.

    1. OP 3 Poopageddon*

      OP # – your first statement is correct. Oblivious and shameless “Haha yes, I’m terrible; I’m not allowed to poop indoors at home!” might actually be a quote.

  39. Data Analyst*

    Op #1 – my armchair analysis is that, since what they’re grumbling about and insisting on is something that could risk your lives and those of your clients, the feeling of wanting them to understand where you’re coming from is more freighted because the underlying feeling is “can’t you acknowledge our shared humanity and stop insisting that I risk lives simply because it would be more convenient to you?” So the stakes of the conversation feel very high. But they just don’t get it, and giving up on trying to get them to understand will probably be freeing. As Captain Awkward says, “reasons are for reasonable people.”

    1. OP#1*

      Yes, that’s it exactly. I’m already frustrated dealing with my in-laws who are going to restaurants , my chiropractor who just announced she won’t be wearing a mask, people at the grocery store who don’t follow the one way signs and want everyone to recognize our shared humanity. You are right that I just need to let it go and focus on what I can control.

  40. I'm just here for the cats*

    Letter 3 it sounds like this may be a smaller company, since the LW knows the boss’s wife makes him use an outside toilet. Perhaps the LW could have a conversation with the wife?

    1. Batgirl*

      I see where you’re going as there’s no one ‘above’ the boss, but unless she’s a co-owner and boss, I don’t think so. What can the boss’s wife do about his work life if she can’t get him to use an indoor toilet properly at home? I also think this might be breaking the “thou shalt not treat a spouse/parent as a helpful management extension of a colleague” rule. Not to mention asking a woman to do the emotional labour of getting a privileged guy up to basic standards of personhood. I think there’s too many landmines there.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      That would accomplish nothing since the wife hasn’t even gotten him to not be nasty at home – she just banished him to another location that she doesn’t have to see or use herself.

      1. leapingLemur*

        Well, if she could do that at work, too, maybe add a porta potty outside that he can use, wouldn’t that solve the problem?

  41. Data Analyst*

    Op #3 – I’m hung up on the outdoor toilet situation. Makes sense why his wife would make him do that, but then…does it just never get cleaned? And if no, does that mean he just…sits down on the old poop smears next time? Or does he notice them then, and wipe them up? I know you would not actually be privy (ha!) to those details so I guess same question for the office toilet! What happens during subsequent bathroom trips?!?

    1. Batgirl*

      I assumed that as an outhouse it was easier to hose down but that still begs the question of who hoses it down…

    2. Aggretsuko*

      He sounds like a literal biohazard and I would not want to share a home, food, bed. etc. with him. How is she not divorced? Is he a multi-millionaire?

  42. Red haired Kitty*

    OP1, I feel you. I also work in such an organization (very K12 based) in a state that is reopening some things. I’ve reframed the anger from the clients about us not opening as their own stress manifesting. I can not control that, but I can show them grace because they are suffering.

    1. OP#1*

      That’s a good way to frame it. In my zoom conversations with my therapist, I’ve been focusing on trying to extend grace.

  43. jay*

    Hey #2! I have three nose piercings (five visible facial piercings total) and until I changed them all out to BRIGHT turquoise jewelry, literally no one at work ever commented or even noticed they were there. I would be shocked if anyone could see it on a webcam (and if so, I want your webcam, legit, because that is some good video quality), for example.

    I work in finance, which is a very conservative environment most of the time, and I see people here with adorable lil gold and silver studs all the time. I am guessing that your office doesn’t have rules about facial piercings, because you didn’t say so in your letter, but either way, nose piercings are REALLY unobtrusive. The usual nose piercing size is 16/18g which is slightly larger (and therefore more stable) than a standard ear piercing, and the “end” (the visible part) can be as small as 1-2mm. You can get a flat matte stud or retainer at a place like Body Art Forms which makes it even more invisible — before I changed my jewelry (I was healing the third piercing and wanted to match them all at once), my other two nose piercings were a matte steel color that blended right in, and when I was working in the office and commuting I saw people every single day who had tiny tiny silver or gold studs that I only noticed because I was looking for them! I would bet there’s some people in your office who have something similar and it just never caught your eye.

    Now with that said, I am contractually obligated to be That Friend for a moment: I am assuming that you did your best to pierce yourself in a sterile environment and that you’ve probably read some stuff on the internet about aftercare, saline soaks, etc (if not, Elayne Angel has a website/book called The Piercing Bible that has tons of good advice). I am also assuming you don’t have any other facial piercings. Please feel free to ignore any of this if that’s not true/doesn’t help or apply to you (also, anyone who is grossed out by piercings, I’m sorry!):

    if you pierced your nostril with a ring or a standard butterfly-back earring, please watch it like a HAWK. Nose piercings are usually pretty forgiving, but especially if you didn’t use a needle, it’s a process that is traumatic to your tissue and can cause scarring and damage. I almost lost mine by (wait for it) getting on an airplane; the pressure change made my nose swell up so bad that it almost “ate” the jewelry entirely and I nearly had to have them surgically removed. Anything else that makes your nose angry (dust, allergens, etc.) can have a similar effect. Your main concerns will be (a) if you used a ring, there’s a chance that the fistula will heal in the shape of the ring and not just, ya know, as a hole, and that can make it difficult and painful to change jewelry later on and is not great for you. If you used a regular earring, you need to make sure the back of the earring doesn’t get embedded — leave WAY more space than you think you need, but not enough that the loose earring could, for example, get caught on your glasses etc..

    Normally I would say, go to a piercer and get them to replace it with proper piercing jewelry ASAP but that is def not an option; if it seems to be healing calmly in a few months (and I mean at least three unless it’s so angry that you’re worried about it embedding and you can’t), you might be able to swap it out for more appropriate jewelry, but especially with the more popular (and imo safer) threadless styles, you’ll want pro help (you might be able to ask someone to help you over webcam, perhaps).

    PS. I dyed my hair bright purple recently (my dog died and tbh I just needed to do SOMETHING) because my company has banned all video chat for bandwidth reasons unless you have special approval (ex. the president makes a company-wide announcement). Guess who has to be on a video chat panel in two weeks! I’m sticking with it, though; a LOT of folks I know have shaved their heads or done interesting hair things and I’m not committing any kind of dress code violation. If you walk into the room and are confident about it, most people won’t even give it a second glance. And now you’ll be on the lookout for sneaky nose piercings everywhere :)

    1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

      Ty for the advice! I used a 18g catheter needle but due to some differences in sizing standards, I think I had to go down to a 14g needle so the titanium nose screw would fit, so I definitely have some additional nose trauma that wouldn’t have happened if I went to a piercer. Also, in the stuff I read about catheter needles you should be able to use the plastic casing to help get your jewelry in but I couldn’t make that work so I definitely had some trial and error during the process leading me to take the needle out and either size up, or pulling out the needle and taking the plastic bit off, so the re-entry thing probably doesn’t help. I do have environmental allergies so that’s a good thing to know!!

  44. A non non non nonnie*

    Op3- TBH I would probably make a very large sign to be hung in the bathroom calling out his disgusting behavior. If that doesn’t work, escalate to whatever type of health organization would handle this in Australia. I don’t know how bad things there are with CO-VID right now, but I have a feeling here it may get shelved until CO-VID settles down. Right now are health departments (at least in my city) are so overworked handling CO-VID stuff, I am not sure they could handle it right now.

    1. OP 3 Poopageddon*

      There is a sign, unfortunately. Also, I doubt a health authority is gonna care about “excessive skid marks”. He also makes the area 20m around the loo unbearable to walk through.

  45. Anononon*

    #4 – as an attorney, I often deal with people who want to argue with me on the phone, especially pro se parties on the other side. I’ve found one effective tactic is to just say, “okay.” It really takes the winds out of their sales because there’s no way to continuing arguing with that. I’m obviously not agreeing, but I’m not giving them anything to go off of.

    (This is a somewhat adversarial response, so it’s probably not the best to use for customers/clients, but for other situations it works great.)

    1. Cordoba*

      “I understand” also works well for shutting down these sorts of folks.

      I like it because you’re not even expressing agreement, just acknowledging that their message has been received and comprehended.

  46. Buttons*

    There is no way poop boss isn’t doing that on purpose as some weird display of dominance. You don’t get poop on the walls from being careless or oblivious. He is disgusting and not mentally stable.

  47. Buttons*

    When people are trying to convince me to do something that has already been decided or isn’t up to me I don’t argue. I let them rant and rave and mansplain and tell me how wrong I am and then I simply say “Okay.” or “thank you.” or “I understand.” and then move on. That’s it. I don’t argue, I don’t need to convince them I am right, their opinion has zero impact on the decisions being made. Say “okay.” then move right on to what it is you can do for them or what they are asking of you.
    Good luck!

    1. Sylvan*

      Yep. That’s worked for me, too.

      I used to have a job that involved a lot of customer service, and a lot of people just wanted to feel heard. I obviously couldn’t do anything about, say, the newspaper’s choice in water-based or oil-based ink. I could listen and then move on to whatever problem could actually be solved for the caller.

    2. KR*

      Yup, this. Or even, “I will pass along your concerns/input.” I would say this when I worked customer service, and if I thought it worth it I might tell my supervisor at the end of the day that people were in general really annoyed about x, y, and z just so they know where the customers minds are.

      1. KR*

        And for the customers who are really insistent I have a answer for them, I’m honest with them. “They did not involve me in the decision making process for this. I understand your concerns but this is outside my area of expertise.” I basically try to find some way to remind them that I am but a small cog and am not a decision maker.

      2. OP#1*

        I’ve used “I will pass that along” in other contexts before and that’s a good idea as well.

  48. Lisa*

    The first one is so familiar I’m slightly scared its someone from my organization – I’m one of the people at headquarters. We’re working on a re-opening plan! It doesn’t make sense to open yet!

    1. an infinite number of monkeys*

      I think that’s a heck of a lot of organizations, though. I follow the Facebook feed of one I work closely with, and dear God, so many people are just awful. Awful. Awful. I assume a lot of workers in a lot of places are having to deal with OP1’s situation, sadly enough.

      1. OP#1*

        Yeah, basically everyone I know whose job is not something that can be done 100% from home is getting this in one way or another. I used to be a librarian and all the librarians I know are getting a lot of “I can get my haircut, why can’t I come check out a book?”

  49. Lol*

    #3 These are the kinds of stories that make me self conscious about being single. Even this guy found a SO?!?! That STAYS WITH HIM despite this disgusting behavior?!? AHHH!

    1. QCI*

      Right? Seeing the worst examples of human beings, and seeing them with an SO, is a special kind of kick in the nuts to single people.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Pardon me, but I’m not sure why … someone like this dude having a wife means that her standards are super low. I’m sure anyone whose standards accept a marginally toilet trained partner could find someone, and I’m sure the kind of person who would accept a marginally toilet trained partner isn’t exactly a someone most people would want as a partner for themselves either.

        Now granted, if there’s anything I’ve learned in 18 years of marriage it’s that there is no such thing as the perfect spouse, just people who would be easier or harder to live with. And frankly, a lot of the things that people insist their potential spouse must have keep them from noticing people who would make fine spouses. But “completely housebroken” is a reasonable requirement to insist upon, and the person willing to relax that requirement (without a reasonable justification, like being a paraplegic) is not someone to envy this guy for having. Just because this shit-filled pot found a lid willing to stay with him doesn’t mean that you would want to touch that lid with a 39.5 ft pole.

        1. virago*

          “I’m sure anyone whose standards accept a marginally toilet trained partner could find someone, and I’m sure the kind of person who would accept a marginally toilet trained partner isn’t exactly a someone most people would want as a partner for themselves either.”

          Can we stop with the commentary on this guy’s wife? For all we know, Feral Boss impersonated a toilet-trained person before marriage and then later dropped the mask. There’s no reason to disparage the man’s spouse. She’s not the one who’s making the office men’s room unusable.

          1. Aggretsuko*

            Yeah, but I don’t get how she can stand to remain with a walking biohazard, even if he “let down the mask” after the wedding day.

        2. QCI*

          The guys total lack of common courtesy to those around him appears in more than just the bathroom, and according to OP is a core aspect of his character, and that’s why his relationship status is surprising.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        As a friend of mine has said, “A guy can be gross and everything and still find somebody.”

    2. KR*

      Yes!!! I don’t know how this man has not only been married but has found a wife that installed a portajohn outside her home to manage the mess instead of him figuring out how to take care of himself in the bathroom. The bar is so, so low.

      1. virago*

        “… has found a wife that installed a portajohn outside her home …”

        I repeat: For all we know, Feral Boss impersonated a toilet-trained person before marriage and then later dropped the mask. There’s no reason to belittle his wife — she’s not the one who regularly trashes the men’s room at his office.


        OP #3 and Feral Boss live in Australia, where outhouses were, according to commenter Jon,

        the norm even in many inner city houses until the 50s or 60s – Brisbane didn’t have a sewage system outside of the CBD till the 60s, and the norm was still to have an outhouse up against the back fence – properties had service lanes running between the backs of two rows of houses and the outhouse tub was emptied early in the morning by a waste collector. Many of these outhouses were converted to flushing toilets when the sewer system was hooked up. Most of them are long gone now but a number still remain in older properties – I have one in my yard.

    3. leapingLemur*

      Or maybe “I haven’t found someone to share my life with, but at least I’m not married to someone like that!!!”

      I’m surprised his wife is willing to stay married to him.

      1. Amy Sly*

        “Better to live in a wilderness than with a nagging and hot-tempered [spouse].” -Proverbs 21:19.

        That’s definitely a verse that applies across all sexes, genders, and orientations.

  50. BRR*

    #3 I forgot how wild AAM goes for bathroom questions. Another approach might be to use more neutral phrasing if that would make you more comfortable bringing it up. Instead of “you’re leaving the bathroom” go with “the bathroom is becoming unusable during the day.” I think as the manager, you have to bring it up on behalf of the three male employees.

  51. QCI*

    #3 Your boss is a sociopath. How else could someone be so oblivious and uncaring about how theirs actions (or inaction) affect other people?

  52. Dezzi*

    LW #2, I dyed my hair teal in quarantine, after putting WAY less thought into it than you did. A TON of people are doing things like this right now, so I really don’t think you need to worry about it :)

  53. Em*

    LW3 – I don’t want to blame you or put more on your plate. But it sounds like someone needs to return his awkwardness back to him. There’s no “one big conversation” that you can have with him that’s going to convince him to change.

    Why not try telling him every time he makes a mess, and having him clean it up? It’s a very effective potty training technique.

    “[Boss], you left feces on the toilet bowl / the wall / the toilet seat. No one else can use the bathroom until you clean it up.”

    1. What the What*

      Personally, I think this is the best advice and should be combined with handing him disinfectant and paper towels.

      One of the reasons people avoid awkwardness with their boss is that they’re afraid to be fired. In this case, I don’t know why people want to stay. It’s disgusting, he’s disgusting. A normal adult isn’t oblivious to the fact that they are spraying and wiping feces everywhere.

      It’s amazing to me what people teach themselves to tolerate. How do they not think of the feces being all over him every time he touches something? Because it’s not all over the bathroom and mysteriously not on him.

      So why not just… confront it? Like you would with a child who has made a mess in the bathroom.

      At least if you end up leaving your job over it, when the next employer asks why you left, you can say, “Oh, my previous boss was wiping his feces everywhere and refused to clean it up. Other than that, it was a great workplace.”

    2. KR*

      Yes, I completely agree with this. If OP doesn’t want to say feces, they can say “Boss, you left the bathroom a mess and no one else can use it now. Can you please tidy it up? OSHA/whatever the relevant labor code is in your country says we have to have a bathroom available for our employees all the time.”

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      This ignores the power differential – OP says that to their boss regularly, OP may be job hunting.

      1. Em*

        I mean yeah if your boss is going to fire you for telling them to clean their own feces off a toilet then please be job hunting as hard as you can.

        Another approach in that situation is to pretend like a ghost is doing it. “Male employees can’t use the men’s restroom right now because the toilet in there has feces on it. Where should I tell them to use the restroom?”

        “My male employees regularly can’t use the men’s restroom because there is feces on the toilet bowl, seat, and wall. What are we going to do to solve this?”

      2. What the What*

        Like I said, it amazes me what people will teach themselves to tolerate.

        What power differential is good enough for you that you are willing to tolerate a boss wiping and spraying their feces outside the toilet and then not cleaning it up?

        Is there no bar that is too low?

    4. Jennifer*

      I like that suggestion. I also think he doesn’t really care. I’m sure his wife tried to get him to clean up after himself too and he didn’t. And do you want to be the one that has to hand up the disinfectant every time? That just makes the OP his mom.

      1. Em*

        The goal isn’t to have him remember to do it, that’s unfortunately setting the bar too high. The goal is to have a toilet that the men can use. Secondary goal is to clean the men’s restroom.

  54. Retro*

    I hope Jolie Kerr from Ask a Clean Person never has to read #3. You can bleach a toilet, but you can’t bleach your mind of this letter.

  55. AmberEliza*

    LW #2 – I’ve had mine pierced for 15 years, honestly, most people don’t even notice! If it’s not some huge gaudy piece, I doubt anyone will even look twice. :)

  56. TomorrowTheWorld*

    #3: Ok, now I’m wondering if your boss has a prehensile rectum to manage to so thoroughly beray a bathroom stall.

  57. 867-5309*

    OP2, When I read the title of this post, I just pictured you sitting at home with a needle and shoving it through your nose. I know that’s not likely how it went down but I winced.

    I think you could actually have a little fun with this if asked… There are a lot memes and jokes about, “I did x just to feel something.” If that’s your humor, you could use one of those. Alternatively, you can also say, “Yes, I pierced my nose! I’ve always wanted to do it and being home gives it time to properly heal!”

    1. I did in fact pierce my own nose*

      Lol that is basically what happened, but gently. And I used a hollow needle and appropriate jewelry lmao.

    1. Blueberry*

      Out of curiosity, would your advice be different if the poopy coworker were on LW 3’s level rather than the boss and business owner? Is the advice that LW3 should give up on this job and not try any other tactics because employees have no standing to critique the business owner who is ‘above’ them, or because anyone who behaves in this manner is unlikely to change?

      1. WellRed*

        I think the behavior is unlikely change, but the fact that it’s the boss/owner means they have no recourse if indeed, it doesn’t change. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I mean, we’d fire someone doing this. Even if they had a medical condition causing it, you don’t have to accept literal shit everywhere as a “reasonable accommodation”. You have to clean up after yourself.

        So yeah, if it’s someone else, there’s usually disciplinary actions to be taken. I’d only advise to leave if it’s the owner, who makes the rules or management is refusing to fix it.

        They know he does this at home and the only option they came up was he uses an outhouse…

        I guess you could ask if you could get an outside toilet for him at the office too…but if the answer is no, then you quit.

  58. irene adler*

    #3- Thinking this company needs to take a cue from the wife and install an outdoor toilet for the boss-on company grounds. Maybe tuck it into a far corner of the property that is well away from customer exposure and employee space. Include a hose bib close by- to wash it down between uses.

  59. button*

    OP 2, aside from the issue of how you pierced it, I can tell you that I’ve had a smallish nose stud for over ten years now and I have people I have worked with for months suddenly look at me and say, “When did you get your nose pierced?” YMMV since I have small jewelry and a nose shape where it’s not obvious but people are honestly not that observant in my experience.

  60. Lobsterman*

    LW3 – your boss gets off on it. Document and please consider consulting a labor attorney.

  61. Librarian of SHIELD*

    Me too. I really, really don’t understand why some women still have the mindset of “Men don’t understand how cleaning works so I’ll just never make him clean up after himself.” Like, she makes him use the outhouse so she doesn’t have to clean up after him, and great. Good for her. But she’s still either preparing all his meals and snacks and drinks herself or walking around behind him with a mop and a dish towel, neither of which is an activity I’d willingly sign up to do on behalf of a husband.

  62. revueller*

    OP3: Honestly, I’d confront him and include pictures. “Boss, this is how the bathroom is supposed to look. This is how it looks after you use it. This is really not acceptable to everyone else who has to use that bathroom. What are we going to do about it?” At the very least, the pictures would let you point out exactly what’s wrong with this situation if he’s truly, genuinely oblivious to what he’s doing. I also would confront him because your employees have a decent case with your health department about not having a usable bathroom during the workday (at least, you can do that in the US).

    And I know we all have a bad habit of speculating beyond the words that LWs write, but I really don’t think that this is a passive act of obliviousness like leaving crumbs everywhere. I trust you that it’s not intentionally malicious, but something in his brain is telling him that leaving the bathroom in such a disgusting, unusable state is acceptable behavior. You, your employees, and most of the world agree that is not the case. You’re very unlikely to change that mindset for him at his (presumably) adult age, but if you haven’t talked to him about how blatantly unacceptable this behavior is, I’d make an attempt. There’s a chance that a miracle might occur.

    1. Batgirl*

      How do they keep on a cleaner? We teachers get told off because if we let one too many paper airplanes remain on the floor, the cleaners will charge extra.
      How is this not hurting him in the pocket?

  63. Gamymede*

    LW4: I’m someone who is involved in my local community’s assistance programme for those losing income due to CoVid. I very much hope that there are people doing similar work in your area that you can access.

    With regard to your well-meaning colleagues, could you try giving them the chance to exercise their good feeling in a practical way. I understand that you, as all of us, have your pride, but I would seriously consider dropping small facts about your situation into your communications with them. “Thanks for your good wishes, it *is* very hard feeding the family with no income” is not too strong. “Finding ways to eke out the store cupboard” “It’s a very worrying and difficult time for us”.

    A lot of unaffected people think they don’t know anyone who is suffering, and that’s not a useful state of affairs. Also, people who have plenty would like to help you – I know this from all the good people who have rallied round in my community. Emotionally, it is difficult, but if you were to bite the bullet and gently let people know the real nuts and bolts of the situation, you might be pleasantly surprised.

    1. LW4*

      Thank you, Gamymede. One of them did ask if there was anything practical she could do. I took a deep breath and asked if she would consider going through her pantry for any items nearing their use-by dates, because I would be grateful to take them off her hands. She assured me that I would be doing her a big favor. The next day a big box of groceries landed on my doorstep.

      None of them were remotely near their use-by dates.

  64. Barney*

    A lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric is racist in addition to being anti-Muslim which is why the two are often conflated. Stereotypes about English people are not racist and frankly, it’s pretty insulting to compare stereotypes about English people (people who have spent much of modern history colonizing and exploiting most of the rest of the world) to the actual racism and islamophobia that Muslims experience. 

  65. White Peonies*

    #3 I dated a guy once with what he referred to as exploding rectum it is something that runs in his family his mother has it as well. He was absolutely terrified to use the bathroom anywhere, and . He refused to eat after 9 pm so that his stomach would be empty while he was at work. He however always cleaned up after himself. Maybe have someone leave cleaning supplies in the bathroom, toilet paper and paper towels will not get that up.

  66. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

    Guys, am I the only one who teared up reading a good old-fashioned AMA story about an office pooper? The Before Times isn’t totally gone after all.

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Wait, are you saying there is an AskMeAnything on Reddit by an office pooper or did you perhaps mean AAM instead of AMA? Because if it is the former…..I….want to read it.

  67. My Brain Is Exploding*

    #3…(ha, there is #1 and #2 and maybe THIS is #3). The only time I’ve ever heard anything remotely like this was when a relative’s company built a manufacturing facility in an area of a country where facilities are almost all squatty potties. They put in regular toilets, then discovered the bathrooms were filthy, because the employees were squatting on the toilets. Side note, we have been in places where the “second toilet” (toilet and sink) with an entry just outside the back door, in a little add-on to the garage, full running water, etc.

  68. Clementine*

    As a mental health professional, barring disorders that affect motor function, I can tell you it’s near impossible to leave a toilet stall in this state by accident, especially if it’s been pointed out (which the wife obviously has.) It’s actually very common and usually it’s an intentional maladaptive coping strategy for a lot of internal anger and frustration that’s not finding a healthy release. It’s the same principle behind any other sort of vandalism. Almost every time, people know damn well that they’re doing it and know exactly what effect it has. They (correctly) assume no one will call them on it out of embarrassment. So while your boss isn’t a monster, it’s most likely also not correct to tell yourself he’s just oblivious and doesn’t know or see. He does. It’s very likely the boss needs mental help, which the LW is of course in no position to suggest.

    All this to say: this will NOT change. Plan accordingly.

  69. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I can understand smears on the toilet seat…but on the walls. WHAT THE ACTUAL…

    And you’re the sweetest, kindest, most generously thinking human in the entire frigging world, OP. You think he’s just happily oblivious! No. He’s a full grown man, who can own and operate an entire company. And yet he’s clearly not frigging potty-trained?!!?! *blinks*

    And the idea of marrying someone and being all “Yeah, Robert has to use the out-house because he can’t get his POOP in the BOWL.”

    I have to imagine him trying to not sit on the toilet or something and hover pooping. BUT HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW *sobs*

  70. Miss Muffet*

    Nose ring: I don’t know if you have something particularly unusual, but since you alluded to a stick-on as a ruse, I assume it’s a fairly normal piercing on the side of your nostril? I agree with Alison — you are vastly overthinking this. I just got mine done last summer and almost no one even noticed. Most people that did thought I had had it all along and they somehow were just now noticing it (I guess I must have always seemed like a nose-piercing kinda gal!)
    People likely can’t tell on video unless it’s huge, or you’re really close, and when you go back to work, people will be focused on other things and I’ll bet you won’t get more than one comment about it.

    1. lilsheba*

      Yup I have to agree. It’s not a big deal at all. Not important. Besides it’s your body and I”m a huge believer in doing what you want with it.

  71. boop the first*

    3. Sometimes I am a little surprised at how passive the advice gets here, and this is one! This should really qualify as a fireable offense if there’s just no attempt to be a basic civilized human in the workplace. It should at the very least trigger a medical accommodation request, because this man better be struggling to excuse this. It could be a simple fix of getting a raised seat adapter, which would make way more sense than forcing the entire office to tiptoe around and share one toilet. Imagine your first day and being told to avoid Bob’s “shit toilet” and don’t dare mention the minor disasters that follow in his wake! Talk about being privileged with that low bar.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yikes, calling people privileged when you didn’t read the letter right to catch that it’s the owner.

      If you’re going to call everyone out, make sure you re-read a few times first.

  72. GrayerThanDorian*

    My mom had a coworker who had the same problem as LW3. She had Chrohns disease. The office manager sat her down and told her they that she was being disgusting and she burst out crying and told her about having Chrohns. She said it wasn’t that she didn’t see the mess it was that her case was quite bad. She cleaned it up each time but didn’t see it all because it was such a large mess and to an extent you get use to it. What ended up happening is that employee had their own bathroom. It was cleaned daily by the employee herself and twice a week by a custodian after she finished cleaning it. My mom had not concept of what that disease is and was upset about the loss of a bathroom at work which is why I know about this. I have a good friend with it so I sort of filled her in on the disease. I think maybe the owner needs his own bathroom. The men in the office should not have to share. If the Owner is just gross he needs to use the an outhouse outside away from the rest of the office.

  73. JSPA*

    “We’re so deep in the community, people forget how large we are. We’re in X and Y and Z, and all kinds of places where things are different from here. [Company] is trying to set up procedures that will work system-wide. We don’t waste time locally arguing about it, because only the top brass has systemwide information.”

    [but, blah blah I can see with my own eyes]

    “Everyone’s welcome to an opinion, but again, it’s not relevant if something looks plain as the nose on my face or not. You and I see one part. That’s all we see. Our mission is essential; we can’t afford to fail. We need to be fair, and safe and money-wise so we can open everywhere that people need us.”

    [but YOU could / THEY can’t stop you]

    “Now, I know you’re not telling me that our office should go rogue. Get us shut down, and our licenses pulled?!? daaaaaang! I thought you wanted to make helpful suggestions. Nuh-unh. Not taking this further.”

    1. Mama Bear*

      I’d keep it very simple, very straightforward, and not argue with people. If you OP’s company can’t open, they can’t open. People will take any bit of wiggle room they can find. Be firm and have a “company line” so they can’t go down the line complaining looking for a loophole.

  74. lilsheba*

    Omg I’m sickened that a grown ass man would act this way. What is wrong with him? I would flat out refuse to work in that condition. And the janitorial staff, they did NOT sign up to clean massive amounts of shit every single day. This is one case where someone, or everyone, needs to put their foot down and refuse to work until he acts like a grownup.

  75. OP 3 Poopageddon*

    Ok, everyone. You are all concerned about the toilet issue. As far as I can tell, from the reports, the boss usually has… sludgey/sticky business (not a spray blasting problem) which leaves a lot of (large) skids, and then it seems that when he wipes, he smudges it on the seat, and occasionally some hand transfer happens with the wall. The outdoor toilet? This is intentionally built into their house because of this problem. There is a sign in the loo, that he knows is directed at him, but mess just doesn’t even cross his radar.

    The boss is a boomer from an all male family (bless his poor mother’s soul) of 6+, and has spent his entire life blind to mess and dirt. He is a miss the bin 2/3 times, leave half done projects/equipment laying around, use other people’s desks and leave crumbs in their keyboard, eat two – three times his share at a “potluck” and leave the dishes for someone else, can’t cook or clean or do his own washing, forgets his keys and wallet four times a week, left half his luggage in another country, kind of guy.

    He is also a really good boss. Only started work for his 2 months ago, and need two weeks off to look after sick kids? No worries, and you’ll be paid for it. Need to borrow a work vehicle to move house? Sure! Gotta knock off early to go to the dentist? Not a drama and your pay isn’t docked. Need a new – whatever- for your job/work comfort? Yeah, no worries. Bonuses every year, no reasonable pay raise request turned down. Doesn’t care if you slack off for the last hour of the day if all of your work is completed, will even send you home 2 hours early on full pay during quiet times.

    He’s not a bad person, he is just… a messy, messy person. We do have a casual guy who comes in to “pick up around the place” once or twice a week, but this doesn’t help when the boss uses the loo on Monday morning and the casual isn’t in until Wednesday arvo. And the guys can’t use my toilet (the female toilet) because it is located in my office, so I’d be gassed to death if 3-5 men started using it to avoid the boss’s mess.

    1. Claire*

      We’re all concerned about the toilet issue because it’s deeply disturbing. Messy is when he leaves crumbs on the keyboard. Feces smeared all over the seat and walls is something else.

      That said, the reason behind this behavior doesn’t matter. You say he’s great about provides things for your job/work comfort. Awesome! Could you ask him to have a second men’s bathroom installed–one that’s for his use only? You could also request a cleaner who comes in *every* day, not just a couple times a week.

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