asking an exec to stop using the only gender-neutral bathroom, new manager loves ice-breakers, and more

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

1. Can I ask a high-level exec to stop using the one gender-neutral bathroom?

I work in academia and am an admin with my college, fairly low level. We work in a recently renovated building, but there’s still only one-gender neutral washroom per floor and it also doubles as the wheelchair accessible washroom (in theory, the door is very heavy) and the washroom that has a change table.

As far as I know, I’m the only non-binary person in my college. I have to wait on other people to vacate the single use washroom as it’s the only washroom that isn’t gendered. Technically I can use the other ones but it gives me major dysphoria lately. I’ve seen our dean (my boss’s boss’s boss) coming in or out of that washroom lately and she is not using any visible disability aids.

I recognize a lot of people use single stall washrooms because it’s a bit more private, but I am really tired of waiting to pee because someone wants to not be in the shared washroom (which for context, the women’s beside the single stall has all of two stalls in it, and the men’s I’m not sure). Is there a polite way I can ask her to stop? It feels weird to comment on washroom habits but standing and waiting wastes so much time.

As an aside, I really wish places would stop trying to cram gender diverse, disabled, and parents all into sharing one washroom. And I’m even physically disabled! Just not in a way that affects washroom access.

I don’t think you should! You can’t know that someone doesn’t have a disability just because one isn’t visible … and for that matter, you can’t assume anything about what might be going on with her gender identity. However, you could ask HR or your facilities people to issue a general reminder that people should leave those bathrooms free for people who can’t use the others. (removed upon input from commenters)

2. New manager loves ice-breakers

I work from home and I am located in the different state than everyone else I work with. This is excellent for me as I am very introverted and on the spectrum. I happy going to work, doing my job, and occasionally chatting with the people I work directly with.

I have a new manager, who seems nice and is extremely outgoing. I know she has a hard situation trying to learn all about her new team while we are all virtual. She has set a weekly meeting where she sometimes gives us work information but mostly asks things like what our favorite food is or our favorite place to vacation. She writes it all down to make sure she hears from everyone. She also has a monthly one-on-one meeting with all of us, where she asks the same sort of questions, similar to questions that elementary school teachers might ask on the first day. Is there a way to kindly tell her how difficult things like this are for me?

What on earth! It’s one thing to do this stuff as a short ice-breaker at the start of a meeting (although writing down everyone’s answers is weird) but in one-on-ones too? Why?!

When she starts in the next one-on-one you could say, “These sorts of personal trivia questions are really hard for me. Could we dive straight into our work agenda instead?” Once you see how she responds to that, you could add, “Since we’re discussing it, I’d appreciate making it more optional in our team meetings too. I’d be grateful if you’d give us the option to pass if we prefer to.”

If she’s trying to get to know her new team, this feedback exactly the sort of info she should want to hear! But if she seems put off, you could say, “I want to be sure it’s clear that I love my job and our whole set-up here. I’m just not one for this sort of sharing and I can tell you’re putting a lot of effort into people feeling comfortable and included, so I thought you’d want to know.”

3. Should I do an optional work thing that would involve a ton of driving and a terrible ex-friend?

I work at one major city branch of an international company. I moved branches during the pandemic thanks to new opportunities popping up, about two hours away. Our branch has announced a non-mandatory collaboration with my previous branch, and it looks like it would be a really fun opportunity, except for two things: it would require me to travel down to my former branch pretty much every weekend until early July (our biannual conference), and in my absence, my terrible ex-friend was hired by our former branch.

It was a toxic relationship that ended really badly a few years ago: we had a whirlwind six months of “wow, this person is amazing!” that degraded into her badmouthing my friends, attempting to isolate me, talking behind my back, and attempting to use me for my industry connections. Things didn’t end so much with a bang as with a whimper, when she failed me so badly that I just blocked her on everything and ceased contact. (I may be slow to learn, but I do learn eventually.) It was both dramatic and traumatic for me, and I kind of planned on just giving her the cut direct any time I saw her at industry functions–I never planned to work with her again.

On one hand, this project could be really rewarding. On the other hand, there will be opportunities for me to get involved in the future that don’t involve basically giving up my weekends, putting insane milage on my car, and having to work with someone whose guts I hate. Thoughts?

I feel like you already know the answer: you don’t want to do it. Don’t do it! It’s a bunch of driving, lost weekends, and potential drama, and there will be other opportunities that don’t involve any of those things. Pass!

Read an update to this letter here

4. When a job candidate responds to a scheduling email with their calendar link

I’m currently hiring for a customer service/success manager, and had four candidates I wanted to move into the next round. I emailed all with wide windows and dates that worked for all decision-makers (and made sure there was very little overlap between each of the windows in case someone came back with the same time, keeping in mind people’s local time zones).

One candidate replied that the times I provided weren’t going to work with his current job’s schedule (which is understandable, and I mentioned that they could propose different times and we would do our best to accommodate). Instead of offering a different time, he sent his Calendly link (allows people to schedule appointments with people without the back and forth emails). I was put off – but am I out of line? The times that were available started at 2 am, which is obviously ridiculous, and so I’m not even certain he keeps it updated.

This is making me want to withdraw him from the interview process completely, but maybe I’m being a fuddy duddy.

This is an interesting twist on the question about calendar links last month (#4 here). That writer felt like the person requesting their time should take on the burden of the scheduling (not just offer a link and leave it to the other person to take from there), which I disagreed with … but in this case, I agree with you that something feels more off about you offering specific time windows to a job candidate and him coming back with “here’s my calendar.” I think it’s because you went out of your way to offer lots of options and he’s not returning the same level of effort, but I also suspect it’s tied into power dynamics that we shouldn’t be defending (like that it’s more about expecting deference from a job candidate — because would you have the same reaction if it were a different type of meeting?).

In any case, I definitely wouldn’t reject him over it! If there’s not an obvious time on his calendar that works, I’d just write back, “Could you propose a few blocks of time that would work for you? That’s easiest on my end.” (That said, given that you’re juggling a lot of schedules, just looking at his link really might be the easiest way to do it.)

5. Company rejected me, then said they thought there was a place for me there

I used to work for Company A from 2011-2016 and had three different roles with that company while I was there. The last role was a terrible fit for me, I was dealing with some personal issues, and they gave me the option to resign with severance and they wouldn’t fight my unemployment claim. So I did that, took some time, and a year later went to work for Company B, where I’ve been until recently. I’ve been job hunting and saw a role with Company A that looked perfect for me – I’ve changed career focus since leaving them and the new role was something I was *very* well suited for. Anyway, long story short, I had a full interview loop but didn’t get the job. The hiring manager did connect with me on LinkedIn after rejecting me, but I figured that was just a formality.

But I heard from Company A again yesterday. They said basically, “While the role you interviewed for may not have been a good fit, we do think there’s a place for you at Company A, please let us know if you’re still interested in roles and we’ll work with you.” I’m not interested; I accepted a new role in the time between them rejecting me and contacting me now, and wrote back with a polite note saying that.

I’ve never had a company that rejected me then reach out and say “We think you might still be a fit here” and I don’t know what to make of it or if I should read anything into it at all. It just struck me as odd and I was wondering what you thought.

It’s not odd! Sometimes there’s a candidate who doesn’t get the job but is still really appealing (either for a similar role or a totally different one). Sometimes it’s because you’re a strong candidate for the role but so is someone else and they only have one slot. Sometimes it’s because you weren’t quite right for the role they were interviewing for but you’d be great for something else. Hell, I’ve said to rejected candidates, “We think you’re great and want to work with you, and while we don’t know exactly what the right role is, we’re trying to figure it out and please expect to hear from us again soon.” It’s really just what it says at face value.

{ 652 comments… read them below }

  1. Wildcat*

    If the women’s restroom only has two stalls, there’s a good chance you might end up waiting there anyway. No way you can ask the Dean to stop using a bathroom. You have no idea why and it would be very rude to ask. Could you try going to another floor?

    1. Casper Lives*

      Yes, 2 stalls is better than 1 but it’s not a ton. The dean could even be going to the single use because there’s a line and no one is in the single use. Not that it matters.

      I’m trying to understand LW’s frustration. Would it help to think the dean has a disability, or is embarrassed by IBS, or needed to use any open bathroom urgently? How many times a day are you really encountering this?

      1. Loulou*

        Yeah, it sort of sounds like OP thinks the bathroom should normally be free since they are the only nonbinary person there, but that doesn’t really make sense. It’s not a nonbinary bathroom, it’s a gender neutral one, meaning it’s NOT reserved for people of a specific gender. I think they might have a different understanding.

        1. Julia*

          I think they understand how it works. It’s just that when there’s only one bathroom you can use, but other people seem to have more options, you wish they wouldn’t take up your only option. It’s sort of like how vegetarians may reasonably get peeved if omnivores eat all the cheese pizza, or disabled people may get annoyed if an able-bodied person is occupying the only handicapped stall. Unfortunately I agree there’s not much LW can do in this case, particularly as the Dean could well have very good reasons for using the single-stall restroom.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            Pizza is a finite resource, bathrooms are not. Even if the LW could use all the available bathrooms, there would be times at which they would have to wait anyway.

            1. Office Lobster DJ*

              To torture the metaphor, this isn’t like all the cheese pizza being eaten, it’s more like another round of cheese pizza will be coming in 5-10 minutes.

              1. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

                And that maybe the non-vegetarian eating the cheese pizza does eat pepperoni, but the pepperoni pizza also has mushrooms and they’re allergic to mushrooms. People have multiple reasons for needing the same accommodation.

                1. Alice's Rabbit*

                  And the vegetarian didn’t buy the cheese pizza and bring it just for herself; it was provided by the hosts. She doesn’t own that pizza.
                  There are a number of reasons why a non-vegetarian cannot eat pepperoni. Heartburn, for one; pepperoni is super greasy, and sets off my husband’s heartburn, despite him loving meat. So he can’t eat it.
                  Similarly, this bathroom is not just gender neutral. It’s also the disabled stall, the bathroom with a changing table, and the only private toilet there. Perhaps the Dean has a nervous bladder, which makes using public restrooms torturous. Or maybe she’s grossed out by the sound of other people’s bodily functions, so she needs the privacy if she doesn’t want to be nauseated for the next hour. Or she has a slight balance issue that isn’t noticeable to the untrained eye, but requires the grab bar if she is having a rough time with the blood pressure change after relieving her bowels (seriously, that’s a real thing). Or a thousand other possible reasons that are none of her coworkers’ business. The Letter Writer doesn’t own that bathroom, and has no business policing who uses it.

          2. Lesseen*

            Literally any customary restroom-related activity is more than enough reason for the Dean to be using the restroom. The end.

          3. MBK*

            Even the pizza example requires letting go and moving on. It might be that the carnivore in question keeps kosher so can’t have meat on pizza. Or they love a good steak but just don’t care for meat on pizza.

            There are many, many needs and choices that aren’t (and don’t need to be) publicly stated.

            1. Loulou*

              Right, I would absolutely not be happy if a coworker wrote to Alison and said “my coworker Loulou ate a slice of plain instead of sausage but I saw her eat a hamburger last week. Can I ask her to leave the cheese for me?” No! If your company isn’t ordering enough plain pizza, take it up with them (but it sounds like there really are enough bathrooms here).

                1. Hats Are Great*

                  Or it’s a Friday in Lent, and they don’t eat meat on Fridays in Lent! Cheeseburger Thursday, cheese pizza Friday, story of every Catholic kid with strict parents :)

              1. Julia*

                My guess, though, is that LW would have a lot more defenders in going to management about the problem if they were a vegetarian writing in about their coworkers eating all the cheese pizza. Of course I could be wrong, but I’ve been part of this community for several years and I feel like I have a handle on its opinions on food issues. It’s by no means a perfect parallel, but it’s interesting to contemplate why that might be.

                1. Loulou*

                  But in that case they’d be going to management to say next time they need to order more vegetarian pizzas, not to ask them to remind omnivores not to eat the vegetarian options. The latter would be unreasonable and is the analogous situation to OP’s.

                2. BabyElephantWalk*

                  Maybe. But part of the problem here is the ordering more cheese pizza is an easy fix, building more single user bathrooms is trickier.

                  And OP has an inherent assumption about the dean in their question (“not visibly disabled”) that may or may not be true. Also the assumption that they are the only person using the washroom due to body dysphoria strikes me as odd. Other trans, nonbinary and questioning folx just may not be out yet. Some nonbinary people have presentations that seem gendered and it’s not obvious.

              2. Boof*

                But the problem isn’t that someone else who MAYBE had less of a need consumed the thing; the problem is that there isn’t enough of the thing. Ideally there would be more pizza/bathrooms/etc that meet everyone’s needs. But policing about whether someone else “needs” a specific bathroom enough to use it is probably not the way to go unless there is a SEVERE shortage, then perhaps it’s a temporary stopgap until they put in another appropriate bathroom

                1. LittleMarshmallow*

                  Ok… so how many times a day is this happening that it’s an issue? Like they said the women’s bathroom has two stalls (we will leave the men out cuz we don’t know how big their bathroom is); I’m assuming there are more than 2 females at this office so it feels like LW is implying that they think they should have one bathroom all to themselves not just have a non gendered bathroom relatively reasonably available (and if they’re only worried about one specific person using that bathroom then it sounds like they do have that)… unless there’s only like 1-2 women on staff, the ratios just don’t work out to insist that everyone leave this bathroom available at all times just so LW can use it without waiting.

                  Where I work, we have 2 stalls in our women’s restroom and the men’s has one stall and 2 urinals (I’m female – but my special talent is getting broken keys out of keyholes so I’ve been in there to fix the paper towel dispenser so I have seen it). We also have a gender neutral one-seater upstairs. The upstairs gender neutral bathroom gets used by people using the upstairs office (4 desks) and the upstairs conf room which holds up to 12 people. If we had to go all the way to the downstairs bathroom when you there because we had one person that wanted the one-seater all to them selves for any reason there would just be mutiny. Also… if I’m upstairs and want to use the restroom you can bet that I’ll wait a couple min if it’s occupied before I’ll drag my ass all the way downstairs. The upstairs bathroom is also dubbed the poopin’ room cuz we are all adults… but that’s neither here nor there. For ratio reference, we have typically about 5-7 women and 8-12 men on-site at any given time (that doesn’t count our maintenance contractors that are almost exclusively men … we can have anywhere from 1-10 of them on-site daily). So yeah… in short it doesn’t make sense to insist that a bathroom be reserved for one person.

            2. Anon4This*

              As a mom who has seen their vegetarian kid go hungry at a school party because there was only one vegetarian dish and the non-vegetarian kids grabbed all of it before the vegetarian kid(s) could get to it, I have a lot of feels about this. I realize that kids at school coworkers at a job, but yeah it makes me upset to see people without dietary restrictions consume all of the limited amount of food available for people with dietary restrictions.

              And yes, after the event in question I made sure to a) donate multiple vegetarian food options and b) attend future events to set up a vegetarian/vegan table separate from the rest of the food so the vegetarian kids could queue up separately.

              1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

                I totally get the protectiveness you feel as a parent…but that scenario is the fault of the party organizers, not the non-vegetarian kids “grabbing” food that they also presumably want to eat (and, based on dietary restrictions that you wouldn’t necessarily be aware of, might be their only option too).

                1. Nanani*

                  Well said.
                  The bettwr answer is for there to be more vegetarian food in the first place, or in the letter, to have more non-gendered bathrooms, not for people who need the resource to grumble at each other.

                2. Canadian Librarian #72*

                  Yep. I keep kosher, so the only pizzas I can eat are vegetarian. (The laws of kashrut prohibit mixing meat and dairy products in the same dish or meal.) The experience Anon4This describes is very familiar to me and it does suck, but as a Jew, I’m pretty used to just sucking it up in the moment – I’ve been called whiny and entitled for making an issue of my “personal choices”.

                  Bottom line: you cannot assume you know what other people’s needs are. If this is a big enough or consistent issue, it’s on you to advocate for yourself at the right moment – that looks like getting in touch with organizers ahead of time to ensure there’s food that you/your kid can eat, not assuming they’ll magically intuit your needs or stop children from taking food they have no way of knowing they “shouldn’t”.

              2. Springtime*

                This is just something that people often don’t consider when serving a buffet. The more options you offer, the more total food you need to provide, because the human impulse is to take some of each, even if you’re taking more food in consequence. As a vegetarian for most of my life, I also find it frustrating, but not it’s a good solution to expect other people to consider that food essentially served to them isn’t for them. It just works best when meals are served pre-portioned–box lunches, sit-down service, or even family-style works better.

                1. MarsJenkar*

                  Or, like at my workplace, those with dietary restrictions are given priority. While it means people like me have to wait longer, it does give those who have to be more careful with their selections a good chance to have a decent meal. I think it’s entirely fair.

                2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                  it’s fair until it isn’t, MarsJenkar. Like when waiting a little longer creates an issue for someone on time managed medication that needs to be taken with food, or it turns out that someone’s food restrictions aren’t known or considered valid, and then they don’t get the consideration of others.

                  Food is complex. Individual meals may require a bit more planning, but they make everything a lot simpler to divvy up, and the question mainly comes down to whether you trust the kitchen providing the food. Though there’s always the occasional issue with someone ordering a large 4 cheese pizza, and getting given 4 large cheese pizzas (faxed/emailed orders are your friend!)

                3. Rainy*

                  Some years back I had two coworkers who were notorious for taking all the gluten free whatevers, especially in cases where taking it meant that our three (!!) celiac coworkers would have absolutely nothing to eat. It was like they couldn’t see a small bowl of special gluten-free pasta next to a giant hotel pan of standard pasta and NOT take some standard and half the gluten free. Listen, if you’re curious about the gluten-free pasta, go eat it on your own time, not when it’s going to be hard for the celiacs to get a lunch they can eat safely if you take it all!

                  The best part was when one of said greedyguts said “I’m eating the gluten-free pastries because they’re low-carb, and I’m on a diet”. Lady, none of that means what you think it does.

              3. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                As someone who is veganish, I really don’t get why people don’t stock more vegetarian and vegan options at parties/get togethers/work functions–a lot of vegetarian/vegan food is delicious and also can be eaten by more people in a given get together. Why not have more of the food that more people can eat?

                1. quill*

                  It really often helps cut the religious food restriction and food sensitivity gordian knot as well. Meat and animal body byproducts are the foods with the most religious restrictions, and a vegan option cuts out dairy and egg sensitivities.

                2. Nanani*

                  This really would be the ideal!

                  I suspect the answer is often a combination of “but we always get pepperoni pizza,” some nebulous concern about special food being too expensive (even if it’s not actually), and decision makers being at best oblivious and at worst hostile to veggie food options.

                3. Jules the 3rd*

                  Hummus is, like, *the best* and yet it’s never one of the dip options. So short sighted.

                4. Rainy*

                  Ironically, I’ve spent the last 15 years in work environments where a lot of people are vegetarian and vegan, and because of my food allergies, that means that I am almost always restricted to one or two things at best. Individual meals really are best, imo.

                  I put together a work event once where, for reasons of who could sign for what, someone else had to arrange the catering, and while I could and did offer requests and recommendations, that person was the one who put in the final order. As a result, at my event I could only eat the bread and drink water or coffee. The drinks were all artificially sweetened, the protein and veg sides were all stuff I was allergic to, and the dessert had a fruit I’m allergic to in it.

                5. LittleMarshmallow*

                  I second this! I’m not vegetarian, but I do have texture issues that make me very choosy about the meats I choose to eat which means usually if there’s a vegetarian option available I prefer that because I don’t have to pick around the meat (unless it has tofu… cuz texture…). That said, I do usually check if people are actually vegetarian or have other issues before choosing the veggie option because while I prefer not to, I can eat meat and things that touched meat. More veggie options people! But no tofu… tofu is icky.

                6. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

                  Vegetarian/vegan food at catered events I’ve been to are MORE likely to be stuffed full of wheat flour, carbs, and mushrooms/yeast/Quorn, all of which I am sensitive to! Why do people always equate food restrictions with animal products and not allergies/intolerances/sensitivities?

              4. Brett*

                Like someone mentioned up above… you also don’t know the situation going on there.
                I’m not vegetarian at all nor is any member of our family. But we are all pork intolerant. Unfortunately, pork intolerance is not considered a dietary restriction (go look at any lists, no matter how detailed, and you will almost never find it). But pork is commonly blended into meats, so much so that it is not dependable to just ask whether or not a meat dish contains pork. So, in that situation, we will always take the vegetarian/kosher/halal meal because that is the one guaranteed not to contain pork.

                1. Rainy*

                  My sister and I both have poultry intolerances, which she has managed by going vegetarian, which is not available to me because of all my other allergies. I’ve had people say “but I’ve seen you eat pepperoni pizza, why aren’t you eating this pepperoni?”

                  Because I only eat pepperoni pizza when I can check the ingredients and make sure the pork isn’t bulked out with chicken goo. Trust me when I say that NOBODY wants me to have a chicken reaction at work.

              5. Ridiculous Penguin*

                Yes, especially since people ordering food generally think most people will want meat-based food! I can’t tell you how many times I have had to not eat because everyone else in front of me on line took all of the cheese pizza / salad / veggie sandwiches / etc.

                My kids encounter / have encountered the same thing, even in school cafeterias. The logical thing to do would just be to offer fewer meat-based food (and more vegetarian food) options since it’s clear that there’s a lot of demand for the latter, but somehow no one ever thinks that way.

              6. anon for this today as well*

                I agree with Brett, though. This (the letter) could be instead “there was (pork) pepperoni pizza and (pork) sausage pizza and then vegetarian pizza, and the veggie was not enough to feed all the kids who needed it,” or any number of other considerations. As someone with a gluten intolerance who will simply not eat rather than eat wheat, I totally feel for you on the food ordering thing — but I’m also someone who prefers using a menstrual cup and I *love* having a bathroom where I can rinse it if needed, for instance.

                The letter-writer is getting close to “your disability/need is only real if I can see it and judge it sufficient”, which I don’t think is intentional but is a side effect of their current point of view. There are many needs that are not visible to others who have not shared that life experience or been adjacent to it. We should all always order enough vegetarian pizza and be willing to wait a moment for the bathroom if someone else is benefitting in their own way, while advocating for more “one-holers” as we say up here!

                1. Not your typical admin*

                  Yes to the menstrual cup! So much easier to manage than in a single stall bathroom.

                2. BabyElephantWalk*

                  Also getting the “my marginalization is more valid than yours” vibe in addition to the “disability only counts if it I can see it” one. Why would LW assume that there are no other nonbinary or trans people on campus? Why automatically assume that there aren’t other valid reasons to use that washroom that you can’t see?

              7. The Rules are Made Up*

                It definitely sucks, but the issue there is the event organizers not ordering enough of the vegetarian dish, not the kids. You don’t know what their restrictions are. I eat meat but I don’t eat pork (and some days I don’t eat meat at all depending on how my body has been reacting to it that day/week/month). So if I was one of those kids and the option was cheese or pepperoni, I’d be taking a cheese slice too, so would some parent say “Well I’ve seen that kid eat meat before so they should eat it now!” that isn’t a reasonable request. “You eat meat sometimes therefore you must eat it whenever it’s offered or else you’re taking food from someone.” isn’t how it works.

                Same with OP. The issue is there is them having only 1 gender neutral bathroom, not that their dean is using an available bathroom when it’s available.

                1. UKDancer*

                  This so much. I eat meat but pepperoni doesn’t agree with me so if it’s a catered event with a choice of cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza I will go for the cheese because I prefer not to feel ill from my dinner. My company always used to run out of cheese pizza because it was far more popular. So they increased the ratio of cheese to pepperoni to make sure it met the needs of the attendees.

            3. Dust Bunny*

              Or they’re allergic to the spices or preservatives that are in the types of meat usually found on pizza. There are a ton of legitimate reasons for otherwise-meat eaters to choose the cheese pizza.

              1. Clorinda*

                The cheese pizza looks good.
                You eat meat, but not at every meal.
                You just feel like it.
                Solution: Next time, order more cheese (or even ALL cheese).

              2. Amber*

                Yup I technically eat meat but only in small amounts that my stomach can handle. I will usually go for cheese over sausage so I don’t end up hogging the bathroom in a hour.

            4. Allison*

              This. I love meat, but I’m not a big fan of pepperoni pizza, and I often find meat-lovers pizzas to be too greasy. I do like Hawaiian pizza but that’s not always one of the options at company pizza parties. I would be pissed if someone told me the cheese pizza was only for vegetarians.

              1. Noblepower*

                yes, if the vegetarian option looks/smells more appealing, even if I eat meat I might choose it anyway. And honestly, no one should have to eat something that they technically can eat but won’t enjoy, right? It sort of sounds to me like everyone should be ordering far more vegetarian or meatless options. ;-)

                1. Rose*

                  As a vegetarian, if more people did this there would be more demand for vegetarian food, people would be less stubbornly averse to having meals that don’t revolve around meat, and things might work out better long term. For now, I know if options are limited I can’t be shy about asking others if they’d mind leaving some of X because I can’t eat anything else. No one has ever taken offense or been snarky about it.

          4. nelliebelle1197*

            Except OP does not know the reasons others choose that room. The dean may have health issues not visible and none of OP’s business or some personal emotional issues that make her prefer privacy. OP probably should withhold judgement on this because it is impossible to know another’s situation unless it is freely offered.

          5. OhNo*

            As someone who is in a very similar situation to the OP right now (for different reasons), there really is nothing you can do but wait. Does it suck? Of course! Especially when you have bathroom-related issues that make waiting difficult. But it’s just part of working with and around other people.

            It might help the OP (or anyone else running into this problem) to reframe it in their mind. The dean isn’t using your bathroom, you and the dean share the accessible gender neutral bathroom. Sometimes that means you end up waiting, and sometime that means they end up waiting. It goes both ways.

          6. Not going to happen, let's move on...*

            I wonder if the most reasonable solution isn’t simply for the OP to train themselves to use the facilities before it becomes an urgent situation (or so inconvenient to wait that it causes frustration). This is a good health practice in general, as ignoring nature’s call regularly can eventually cause problems.

            Bathroom facilities that are open to everyone in a group (whether one gender or otherwise) are just that, a shared resource. Sometimes you wait, sometimes it’s available immediately. Change what you can (your own behavior and attitude) and let go of the rest.

          7. TRexx*

            Non-vegetarians can eat cheese pizza too. Maybe they’re fasting that day? I don’t get why someone would be peeved by this.

          8. Paperdill*

            I can really understand this.
            I was staying in a hospital accomodation that only had a gender neutral bathroom. There was only one, out of 5 stalls that had a sanitary bin. For some reason 2 elderly men staying there, also, always ALWAYS, seemed to use that stall (even when I’d move the bin). So, I’d have to wait. Frustrating.

        2. Airy*

          Plus they can’t actually *tell* if anyone else is nonbinary, or binary transgender, or anything else that depends on someone’s inner feelings about themselves. The whole damn building could be teeming with nonbinary people who just haven’t confided in OP about it.

          1. MBK*

            Yes. It’s one thing to assert that you’re the only *openly* [adjective] person on campus, but it’s something else entirely to claim to be the only [adjective] person at all.

            But even if the Dean is 100% cis female, she may have plenty of other legitimate reasons to need or prefer a single-stall bathroom.

            1. Another One Bites the Dust*

              IBused to wear incontinence underwear (adult diapers) . I changed them every time I went to the restroom, which involved removing my shoes, pants, and underpants. Since American stalls start so high off the floor, anyone in the room could easily see what I was doing. I didn’t want anyone to know; who wants to be diaper lady? *****For anyone who has even minor leaking issues, there is a simple surgery that corrected my problem at least 95%. It’s same day surgery with 1 day recovery time and no damned oncologist mentioned it to me for FIVE YEARS. Contact a urinary gynecologist about a urethral sling. This is not just a normal part of being female, having children, or being overweight. *****

              1. Bacon Pancakes*

                Thank you for normalizing this! I spoke with my Dr about a PT referral this week and I am so relieved to find out I have options.

                1. Nettle*

                  If you can find a pelvic floor physical therapist specifically, that will be your best bet! I found pelvic floor therapy to be life-changing and it solved some dysfunction I didn’t realize I had been having since childhood.

                2. Emmy Noether*

                  In my country it’s usual to have a few sessions of pelvic floor reeducation after giving birth – I was thinking the whole time that a lot of what I learned would be so useful for anyone, not just after childbirth! I had been woefully uneducated about my pelvic floor before.

              2. Boof*

                yeah I was thinking; ever since giving birth and having some tearing, there’s rare occasions where I need to do some, uh, cleanup and the single stall bathrooms are pretty much the best place to do it as the sink etc is all accessible privately. It does suck because that can take a little bit of time and I’m sure a lot of people need to use the bathroom, but I also need to maintain this hygiene?? Honestly the bathrooms are so useful they should probably just be in a habit of installing more. Especially given the people who specifically need them may need to take a while (ie, disability, dependents who need help, needing more cleanup than the usual stall bathroom easily allows for) there should probably be at least two at any given location.

                1. tessa*

                  So true! I was once in an airport and forgive me for being unable to remember which one, but every single stall had its own sink. Talk about equity! I was really thankful.

              3. Boof*

                Sorry I meant to respond to the procedure comment too; gotta admit as a med onc it took me a while to figure out WHO to refer to for incontinence; if they’d already seen a urologist (because of the type of cancer they have) I’d usually ask them first; gyn could be another source, but I’m usually less connected with them; there’s also pelvic floor PT specialists. Now we’re fortunate to have a sort of plastics/reconstructive urologist who really focuses on things like incontinence, fistulas, etc, so they are my go to. You’re correct a good doctor will try to address anything that’s a significant issue, even if it’s not necessarily their focus hopefully they can ask around and figure out who you should see. That does sometimes take a bit of work though (not that I don’t like doing it just sometimes it can pile up and be hard to do everything you’d like to do within the constructs of anything approaching a sane working schedule) – plus I hate sending people to places that WON’T help them because I appreciate seeing a medical specialist is at the least a chunk of time and effort, and often some kind of monetary cost, so I like to make sure it’s actually going to be a helpful visit rather than a fob. So I guess just saying it’s good to advocate and ask (sometimes repeatedly) about these things too; in an ideal world wouldn’t have to but we are all human.

              1. Alabaster Halibutt*

                LOL, My first thought, too.
                That show would never make it on the air theses days. I’m sorry, but the LW seems to be somewhat ‘self absorbed’.

            2. JamminOnMyPlanner*

              Yes, I have some “gastrointestinal difficulties” stemming from having my gallbladder removed, and it just works best for everyone if I’m in the single-stall, gender neutral/disabled bathroom. TRUST ME, no one wants to bear witness to that!

          2. Allornone*

            True. When I was still in retail, I worked with someone who was non-binary. But, they were assigned male at birth and, at work, typically presented as male, so a stranger would have no idea.

            Incidentally, I felt awful because it was clear they presented as male typically to avoid ignorant conversations with customers, yet they had to sit through one anyway when one of our bosses finally figured it out. She wasn’t coming from a side of hate, just genuinely curious (very sheltered individual), but asking all types of questions, in the break room and in front of others no less, that were just NOT OKAY. The coworker was gracious and those in the room tried to shut the manager down, but it was hella awkward, and my coworker would have been well in their rights to file a complaint.

          3. Dust Bunny*

            I was just getting on here to say this: That someone presents as one sex or the other doesn’t mean they aren’t nonbinary.

            1. unpleased*

              This is so true. My spouse asked me what “nonbinary” meant v. “gender neutral.” When I explained it, he said he was nonbinary; he had just never known it could apply to him because he presents as a cisgender man. “Masculine” or “feminine” are classifications that don’t matter to him. I may be the only person who knows that because he happened to ask me during a conversation about something else.

              1. Theo*

                This has happened to me when explaining my nonbinary identity. I suspect way more people feel this way than we realize.

                1. Evelyn Carnahan*

                  My sibling came out to me as nonbinary a few months ago. It was kind of funny because the both of us had been going through a lot of the same thoughts for at least a year (without telling the other one), just with different outcomes. I think if more people understood what NB means or that you don’t have to be 100% feminine or 100% masculine, people would talk about it more.

              2. Kal*

                Me and my partner present as a cis heterosexual couple – but both of us are nonbinary and queer. Because of my bust size, its pretty hard to do anything to make me be seen by others as more masculine, so I’ve just learned to accept my body as it is and that it doesn’t mean anything about my actual gender. My partner meanwhile often still wears masculine clothes because they’re cheaper and easier (womens sizes suck, y’all), and it helps with safety in their workplace.

                OP should be aware of the difficulties they face by being what seems to be the first openly nonbinary person in the workplace, and know that not everyone is ready to take on the extra work and risks that comes from being known as out that way. And that’s only even applicable for people who already know they are non-binary or trans, where there may be people who are currently experiencing genderfeels and feel more comfortable about using the gender neutral washroom even though they aren’t sure why yet. And nevermind the wide range of invisible disabilities or other needs where a single stall bathroom is a godsend.

                If the wait for the bathroom is truly a growing problem, then perhaps its something that OP can flag – maybe even get the help of the dean on it since she’ll have more pull. My alma mater recently tried to add gender neutral washrooms where they could, and though they couldn’t renovate all the buildings on campus, they did do some imperfect but still better solutions like making one of the previous mens or womens washrooms into a gender neutral washroom, so that there could be multiple gender neutral stalls in that washroom and the single room washrooms could be less busy for people who need a single room washroom specifically. In some buildings that means that now if you need a gendered bathroom they are only on every other floor so you may have to go up or down a floor, but its still better than before. Plus there is some benefit if cis people use gender neutral bathrooms too so that using one doesn’t explicitly out people as trans and/or nonbinary. There are way more options out there than just being unhappy with one particular person who uses a particular bathroom.

                1. Qwerty*

                  Wait – yes! If there’s something to ask HR or facilities or management about, it’s deciding to turn the stall bathrooms into gender neutral bathrooms, too. I’m starting to see that happen in my city plenty. If the problem is that the single use one has become too popular… then make the others available to all as well.

              3. Non-binary-anon*

                I realized I was non-binary when I got interested in trans health in med school. Had gone my whole life without realizing there were not only words for my kind of gender experience but an entire bunch of other people in the world like me.

              4. Cedrus Libani*

                I also suspect that the “cis by default” bucket is much larger than people realize. If your appearance is such that you’re always gendered one way, and you’re fine with that, you’re unlikely to notice that being gendered the other way would also be fine.

                I come from a family of tall people, the “sir” is a fact of life when you’re over 6′ and wearing a coat, and it was clear that some of us women had more chill about it than others. Still took me until I was ~30 to realize that it wasn’t just internalized sexism at play. I’m on the side of “why would I possibly care if some random cashier thinks I’m a dude” – but some of my loved ones, smart and reasonable people whose feminist credentials I trust, have what I can only describe as a dysphoria reaction to that sort of thing.

          4. Theo*

            I was also thinking this! I’m nonbinary, and was not out at work for any of the EIGHT pre-pandemic years I worked there, though I am now, and I used the gender-neutral/single-stall bathroom religiously and solely. I would be extremely angry if I found out that someone was monitoring my bathroom usage and then deciding whether or not I was allowed to use it because of how I looked. OP1, you have no *idea* how your Dean identifies. Nonbinary and trans people look all sorts of ways.

            Sometimes you have to wait for the bathroom. That’s life.

            1. Umiel12*

              Someone was monitoring other people’s bathroom usage recently where I work, and they were leaving messages on the bathroom door. It didn’t go over well with leadership, and we put a stop to it. No one responds well to the bathroom police.

          5. Sparkles McFadden*

            Yes. OP, please just reframe this as the exec being another person who has a need for this bathroom. It wouldn’t be right if someone said to you “Hey, I need that bathroom for a medical issue. Could you stop using it?” You shouldn’t have to justify your use of the bathroom and neither should the exec.

        3. Ted Mosby*

          In graduate school there was a single gender-neutral restroom on our floor, and I was experiencing pretty severe anxiety during my final year. Frankly, I would go in there to calm myself down when I felt a panic attack coming on. I always felt a little guilty using it for that purpose, especially when I would leave the bathroom and someone who was presumably nonbinary would be waiting on me, but I now figure a medical reason is just as good as any other to use the most private bathroom available.

          1. emm*

            It’s really not. That sucks, but you can panic anywhere private. There are lots of medical reasons to need a bathroom urgently. If I pee myself waiting in line for someone who was using the bathroom for bathroom reasons (and I have) I’m upset with the situation but can’t be mad at them. If I found out you’d been having a panic attack and could have been using a regular stall I would be furious.

              1. emm*

                You missed my word “private”. All private spaces are private, not all private spaces have bathrooms.

                Ted Mosby doesn’t have to worry about being arrested for having a panic attack in public.

                1. Ace in the Hole*

                  Some schools and workplaces have no private spaces other than the bathroom.

                  For example at my work there are no private offices, no door on the break room, and even the storage room has people regularly accessing it. If you want privacy you have to use the bathroom or completely leave the facility. This is not unusual… it’s been this way at everyplace I’ve ever worked.

                2. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

                  What other private places are available to students at schools? There was a lab I had access to that was somewhat private, but everyone in my (small) program had a code, so there was rarely fewer than two people in there. You don’t know if a classroom is going to be in use in just a few minutes (and they might be locked anyway).

                  Even in a dorm (probably not applicable in graduate school), your room was the most private place, and most people had roommates.

                3. Daisy Gamgee*

                  Ted Mosby doesn’t have to worry about being arrested for having a panic attack in public.

                  If he’s Black he does.

            1. Noblepower*

              I’m not sure a regular stall is as private as you think it is – if they were hyperventilating or vocalizing, I’m sure I’d be able to hear that if I were in the next stall, and they’d be able to hear me doing… whatever, and that could put additional unhelpful pressure on them.

          2. Goldenrod*

            “Frankly, I would go in there to calm myself down when I felt a panic attack coming on.”

            Me too! Sadly, it was the only safe place where I could cry when I was at my last, very toxic job.

            And what about the changing table, which is mentioned in passing? Couldn’t someone needing to use that be just as annoyed at the gender neutral person who is selfishly using “their” bathroom?

        4. June*

          It’s for anyone. All the single stall bathrooms are gender neutral where I work. Up for grabs for anyone.

        5. Satriale's*

          “It’s not a nonbinary bathroom, it’s a gender neutral one”

          This is the crux of the matter. The dean is absolutely within his rights to use this restroom, even if only because he feels it’s more private than using a stall.

      2. MK*

        What I don’t understand is why the OP is focusing on this person. I can understand being frustrated if the stall is always occupied when they need it, but is the dean actually the one creating the problem? How often does it happen that she and the OP need the bathroom at the same time?

        1. Wendy*

          The only thing I can think of is if the dean is a bathroom hog, i.e. uses the single-stall restroom as private break time for fiddling on their phone or daydreaming rather than doing their business and getting out. In that case, it still wouldn’t be okay to bring up the issue to them… but it might be prudent to start checking out where the non-gendered restrooms on other floors are.

          1. Accountant*

            I doubt the dean of anything needs to hide in the bathroom to fiddle with their phone. They have an office door they can close.

            1. Anon all day*

              Now I’m picturing Dean Pelton from Community hiding in a bathroom to play on his phone.

              1. Dust Bunny*

                I saw “fiddling” and my folk-musician brain literally pictured somebody playing the fiddle in the bathroom. Which would be problematic for several reasons even beyond hogging the bathroom.

                1. HotSauce*

                  You know, I’d welcome a bathroom fiddle player. It would certainly be more pleasant to listen to in contrast to the typical bathroom sounds.

                2. Philosophia*

                  But the acoustics are so lively! (By the way, in case non-musicians are wondering, that is not a typo for “lovely.” Live acoustics can sometimes be too much of a good thing.) That’s why people like to sing in the shower.

                3. Support your local street cats.*

                  And as most musicians know, just about every instrument sounds better in the bathroom. My wife knows there’s gonna be trouble when she sees me grab a bass and head to the head.

          2. MusicWithRocksIn*

            There are plenty of medical reasons one would need to be in the bathroom for a while. And people that have them are plenty self conscious about it. I have ulcerative colitis and I will 100% use the single person bathroom when I’m not feeling well. The stress of breaking the girl code and pooping in a multi stall bathroom would make my condition way worse. I know that sounds like a joke, but stress makes my condition way worse when I’m in a flare up, and even the idea of someone walking into the multi stall bathroom while I’m doing that is horrifying to me. If I knew someone else was upset about that, then I would start going to another floor (if I could make it) but I would not stop using the single person bathroom.

            1. lizesq*

              What’s the “girl code” around pooping in a bathroom? Literally never heard of that.

              1. Brandine*

                Perpetuating the myth that women don’t poop. I am guilty of this myself, waiting until my neighbor flushes to let loose if at all possible. NORMALIZE POOP SOUNDS!

                To be fair I have no idea if men do this or not. But it does seem gendered.

                1. How About That*

                  Uh, you can flush yourself to mask the sound if you are self-conscious about it. No need to wait for somebody else. I don’t get this at all. I flush simultaneously to keep odors down.

                  OP, sorry but no, you can’t control who uses any of the restrooms. It’s like folks monitoring who uses a handicapped parking space and judging if the person should be using it, without knowing a damn thing about the person getting out the car, except they don’t “appear” disabled. As a person with an invisible disability, this really grinds my gears. Don’t be like that.

                2. Worldwalker*

                  @HowAboutThat; PooPoirri really works as advertised. When I eat lots of fried onions (which I love) I can clear the bathroom. I tried the stuff in a used book store’s tiny little bathroom, which asked poopers to use the supplied bottle, and went home and bought some. They even sell little travel-sized bottles. It’s not cheap but it lasts because you don’t use much.

                3. BR Talk*

                  I think there’s a general idea that you don’t want other people (co-workers) to know that much about your business, whether it’s men or women.
                  So I can’t know what other men are thinking, but I certainly try to avoid excessive sounds/smells when other men are in the same multi-stall restroom. I also try to avoid leaving the stall when someone is in the restroom, because that person may have heard what poop sounds I had made.
                  So I don’t think this is necessarily gendered at all.

                4. Coconutty*

                  Um, no thank you. You don’t need to pretend you’re not in a public bathroom to use the bathroom, but we do not need to “normalize poop sounds.”

                5. STG*

                  Men do this as well. I dunno how common it is in either group though but checking in as a man who also does this.

                6. Observer*

                  @Coconutty I totally disagree with You don’t need to pretend you’re not in a public bathroom to use the bathroom, but we do not need to “normalize poop sounds.”

                  In the BATHROOM? Yes, normalize poop sounds.

                7. Burger Bob*

                  Clearly we all need the fancy Japanese-style toilets with the buttons you can press to make fun sounds to conceal your own not-fun sounds. (I’m also fine with just normalizing pooping sounds and respecting the code of privacy in the bathroom: I pretend you’re not there, you pretend I’m not there, and we never speak of whatever we may have heard or smelled. But the fun toilets are fun.)

              2. Covered in Bees*

                I heard of it once when a coworker complained that someone had pooped in the women’s room. There was no mess or anything but she was appalled that someone would use a public toilet to poop. Maybe she could poop on a specific schedule, but I found it very strange. We had no single use bathrooms.

                1. Anon4This*

                  Personally I have so many issues around bathroom stuff that I literally can’t poop in public bathrooms, even hotel rooms. Which causes other problems if I’m away from home for more than a day or so.

                2. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

                  Right??? I’ve also heard coworkers complain about people pooping in the bathroom. As long as they pooped in the actual toilet, that’s literally what it’s for.

                3. Cactus*

                  I have met people who schedule their poops, and are very proud of this fact. It’s a level of optimization that I have no desire to ever think about.

              3. SportyYoda*

                There’s girl code around pooping in public? I, a cis woman, have always just… pooped in public bathrooms. I’m usually a little self conscious about most things, but as the ancient words foretold, everybody poops, and it’s not worth the… unique feeling of holding it in.

                1. Anonym*

                  Yeah, same. I will never ever ever cause myself physical discomfort and hold it because… IDK, someone thinks bathrooms shouldn’t smell? This is very uncool and people should stop expecting anyone to not poop in bathrooms (!).

                2. Dust Bunny*

                  Right? I’m apparently missing a lot of cultural stuff.

                  I do like a one-holer because sometimes there are, um, noises, but it IS a bathroom, after all.

                3. Social Commentator*

                  Agreed. This is not a “code” I had even heard of, and I assure you that it is not universal!

                4. KayDeeAye*

                  I – a woman in her 60s – literally just heard about this particular “rule” in the girl code only a couple of years ago. I can understand being self conscious about diarrhea or another…unusual bowl movement, but ordinary pooping? Nah. The way I look at it, that’s what toilets are for. If a person doesn’t want to hear another person using the toilet as it is intended to be used, then it seems to me that person should be the one to avoid public toilets, not me.

                5. nelliebelle1197*

                  There is no girl code and the whole idea of a “girl code” is at its heart just another box of gendered nonsense.

                6. Boof*

                  While I’m generally female and haven’t head of any official girl code (although I am not at all girly), I think it’s understandable to be a bit self conscious about making LOTS OF BATHROOM SOUNDS around other people, even if it’s in a bathroom. I think the level of sensitivity varies, and perhaps it’s a bit gendered, but I’m sure it varies wildly by individual; I thought I’d heard in Japan don’t they sometimes have stuff you can run to make a noise so people don’t hear you peeing; I think I heard about it in relation to a women’s bathroom, but IDK – long story short do what you got to do

                7. DiplomaJill*

                  Living in a dorm with a floorwide shared bathroom broke me of the “girl code.” If there’s toilet paper, I can take a crap anywhere. Some people find it impressive even.

                8. Airy*

                  I used to hold it in when I had to go on sailing trips with my family because the on-board toilet did not meet my minimum standards (I won’t go into detail) but I wouldn’t expect or require the same of anybody. If you need to poo, you should feel free to poo. Anyone in the vicinity should politely pretend they hear nothing.

            2. nope*

              I also have UC and, fortunately, it has been pretty well-controlled in last couple of years. However, it was the first thing I thought of, of course. It is a debilitating illness, at times, and I 100% would try to use the single bathroom during a flare. I hope you are doing well.

            3. Salad Daisy*

              Absolutely! And those “delicate digestive issues” are not apparent when someone looks at you.

            4. Hidden Medical Condition*

              This is so true. I have a form of cancer that requires regular treatment to avoid progression. I have not shared this in my workplace. If you saw me, you would never suspect I have cancer (no hair loss, weight loss, etc.), but one of the effects is that my bathroom needs are unpredictable, could be unpleasant for others, and may be embarrassing. I would definitely be using the single-person bathroom.

            5. JamminOnMyPlanner*

              I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with me, but YES. I think it’s issues stemming from having my gallbladder removed, and I’m trying medications for it, but absolutely NO ONE wants to witness what can happen to me in the bathroom. And sometimes I think I’m just in there to pee and SURPRISE. I’m not one to usually be embarrassed by “bathroom things” but what happens in there is BEYOND “bathroom things.”

              So I always use the gender neutral “family” bathroom at work. I would be absolutely furious if someone tried to tell me I can’t.

            6. Ace in the Hole*

              “The stress of breaking the girl code and pooping in a multi stall bathroom would make my condition way worse.”

              I’m confused by this… I’m a cis woman and I’ve never heard of any code against pooping in a public bathroom. That’s what they’re for. I know some people get self-conscious especially if t but there’s no unspoken rule about never doing it.

              I always thought the girl code meant giving a pad/tampon to anyone who needs one.

            7. Observer*

              The stress of breaking the girl code and pooping in a multi stall bathroom

              I’m not going to tell you what to do or how to use (or not use) public restrooms, so long as you’re not leaving a mess or staying longer than you need to. BUT I am going to push back on the whole “girl code” nonsense. And, it IS nonsense!

              I’ve grown up in the US, and I’ve been out of my neighborhood many, many times. The only time I’ve ever heard of this so called code was actually on this site, when someone mentioned it. And when some women pushed back on the idea, insisted that it WAS a “rule” and that all of us women who said we’d never heard of it either were not being honest or simply don’t know what we are talking about.

              I’ve been in more than one multi-stall bathroom, and I’ve heard enough sound effects to know that whatever people may think about this, they certainly don’t ABIDE by such a “code”.

              So, let’s not call it a “code”. And maybe not imply that people who actually use the bathrooms for their intended use are somehow doing something inappropriate.

              I get that this probably won’t do much for your stress. (And I’m not suggesting that you need to stop using the single use stall if one is available.) But if people refrained from talking this way, that MIGHT eventually help. And it would certainly just be a healthier way of dealing with bathroom usage on a societal level.

        2. Not Australian*

          I think Dean Occupying Bathroom is probably the new Bitch Eating Crackers; it’s inoffensive in itself but has hit the OP on a raw nerve and now they just can’t ignore it. (It’s Bug On Windshield for me…)

          1. MK*

            That was my thought. The OP says “I have to wait on other people to vacate the single use washroom” but also “I’ve seen our dean (my boss’s boss’s boss) coming in or out of that washroom lately”. It doesn’t sound as if the OP is being made to wait only because the dean specifically uses the stall.

        3. Myrin*

          Yeah, I don’t see anything in the letter explaining why the dean is the one thorn in OP’s side.

          They say “I have to wait on other people to vacate the single use washroom” and I’m not sure if that’s a general statement in the sense of “if there’s only one of X and two people want to use X, one of them have to wait” or if these “other people” are real, existing people who aren’t OP or the dean who also use the washroom. But in any case… well, yeah. That’s how that usually works. If there are more people needing to use the toilet than there are toilets, those who arrived last will have to wait.

          But back to my original point, the only thing OP says regarding the dean specifically is “I’ve seen [her] coming in or out of that washroom lately” which sounds like they might not even have crossed paths in the sense that one of them stopped the other from being able to use the room? OP simply saw her? So?

          I can only assume that either literally no one but OP has used this room before and they now regard it as “theirs” (doubtful but who knows) or that OP’s mention of “[the dean] is not using any visible disability aids” means that everyone else using the room has some “OP-sanctioned” reason to do so (like a wheelchair) whereas they can’t find one such reason with the dean. That’s of course very misguided but it’s the only reason I can see for this zeroing-in on the dean specifically.

          1. Safetykats*

            I’m kind of mystified (or maybe entertained) by “I have to wait on other people” (plural) to vacate the washroom. Like, there are groups of people in the the single-use restroom together? Groups of people coming out of the single-use restroom together? If so, maybe it could be an excessive wait. Is the dean in there alone, or with other people? Is everyone in the single-use restroom together without me???

        4. All Het Up About It*

          It’s possible that this Dean and the OP happen to be on the same bathroom “schedule” so to speak. I can think of several individuals over my past employment where it seems like we would see each other in the restrooms several times a day. So if their bodies happen to process liquids at a similar rate and they both use this particular bathroom, it would be easy for the OP to focus on this one individual.

        5. Tupac Coachella*

          I do have a coworker who I regularly see in two places: the sink (to fill our coffee caraffes) and the restroom. (Coincidence? I think not!) If we were using a single use restroom, one of us would have to wait for the other at least a few times a week. A potential solution that doesn’t involve making assumptions about anyone else’s needs could be for OP to try to adjust their bathroom schedule- moving their usual morning beverage by an hour, waking up a little earlier or later to shake up their timing, etc. It’s not going to be a reasonable solution for everyone, but if OP functions on a consistent routine, shaking that up could be an easy fix.

        6. Allison*

          My guess? The dean is an authority figure, he’s in a position of power, and it probably irks OP when people in power seem to hog or exploit resources that aren’t meant for them, in a way that seeing their peers just trying to exist might not bug them as much. The perception could be that the big man in charge is doing whatever he wants with no consideration for the people he views as “beneath” him. To be fair, it’s not a grat look, but I do think OP is making a lot of assumptions here, things might not be as they seem.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        OP, I have a two-word response for why you should say nothing: colostomy bag.

        1. Jade*

          Yes. I don’t have a CB, but I do wear two connected medical devices that keep me from dying and are not generally visible to my colleagues. Sometimes I need to change out or replace the devices during work hours – a painful process that produces a lot of medical trash. If there were a single occupancy bathroom at work that’s where I would head to deal with this, without a doubt.

          1. Lydia*

            Saaaaame. And if you don’t know what’s going on when someone is switching out devices, it can feel weird. I’ve been using this particular kind of device for a really long time and I still don’t want other people to see what I’m doing. A single person bathroom is a great way to avoid weird looks and questions.

            I’m a little surprised OP has decided they’re the only non-binary person. I feel like they should know better.

        2. Clandra*

          I have two more: nunaya bidniss. I’m not sure why, but this one really irks me, perhaps because it directed ly contrary to the spirit of gender neutral bathrooms. Stay out of other people’s bathroom business. JFC.

        3. Bathroom invader*

          Seeking second childhood hits an excellent point. I have an ostomy appliance. TMI: The easiest way to empty and change it in a bathroom is to kneel on the floor in front of the toilet. I have been asked by complete strangers if I am okay because they observe my knees from under the stall wall. single bathrooms are my friend.

          1. quill*

            Mine wer “period poop” but I like yours better. (And mine only applies to the ‘hey why does it take so long’ angle.)

        4. Kjolis*

          former colostomy bag wearer here. Best way to clap back at someone who wondered why I needed extra time/handicap stall/etc was to lift my shirt and point.

        5. Ice and Indigo*

          Another one for the list: misophonia. Especially if there are hand dryers. If that’s a fear for someone, shared bathrooms can be like peeing next to a shock prod.

          OP, I honestly don’t want to pile on you; if other bathrooms cause dysphoria issues for you, I can understand why this is stressful. And I get how maddening it can be when someone seems to be casually hogging a resource you can’t do without! All I can say is that when I go on the assumption ‘Lots of people are struggling with something’, it isn’t just about being woke; it’s less lonely. xx

      4. peasblossom*

        As a genderqueer academic who’s been working to get more gender neutral bathrooms on our campus, my first thought was that this level of frustration might be a good barometer for how frustrated the OP is feeling generally about their administration’s support of their identity. OP, any chance this is about both waiting to pee *and* feeling under supported by your institution? Especially if you feel isolated (you mention feeling like your the only (visible?) nonbinary person on campus), this frustration might be being compounded by other structural issues. It might be worth sitting down and thinking about what other resources and support you need as well as who you can talk to about getting that support.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          +1, this seems like a classic example of the straw that broke the camel’s back more than an actual bathroom problem.

        2. Zach*

          Yeah, this is the thing keeping me from being completely dismissive of OP’s complaint, because people do have to wait in bathroom lines even when they are binary

          1. Worldwalker*

            Cis female here. I was stuck in a bathroom line at an airport yesterday when I’d just gotten off a plane (I was fine until I stood up, then it was “bathroom NOW!” from my body) and I was desperate. It happens.

            That’s fairly common, because they plan for the same square footage for male- and female-designated restrooms, but more males can be accommodated simultaneously and take less time. So there’s always a line.

            1. Nanani*

              Yep, a flagrant example where one thing being the same (the room size) does not equate equal service – the men’s has X urinals + Y stalls but the women’s only has Y stalls. The one with the stalls needs to be bigger! But it rarely ever is

              1. Littorally*

                The men’s typically has fewer stalls than the women’s, but overall you’re right — urinals take up less space than stalls so there’s accommodation for more people at once.

                1. calonkat*

                  Women also typically take a bit longer. There’s just more clothing involved, more, umm, hidden areas to clean, possibly more functions (period related), etc. So the turnover rate is also lower than men’s restrooms.

                2. Not a mouse*

                  I was at an event one time and there was a line for the men’s room but no line for the women’s. Had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Then I realized what that was saying about the people in my profession. But normally, yeah, you need more women’s bathrooms to actually have equal access. (It was Interop in the early 90s if anyone’s wondering.)

          2. Observer*

            Yeah, this is the thing keeping me from being completely dismissive of OP’s complaint, because people do have to wait in bathroom lines even when they are binary

            So? I do think that @peasblossom has a really good point, and it would probably be worth OP’s while to think about that. Because given that the building is recently renovated, the fact that there is ONE single user stall on the floor seems to be a hint that maybe the campus is not really great on diversity.

            That still doesn’t make the OP’s approach to the Dean in any way reasonable.

        3. OhNo*

          This is an excellent point, and very much worth considering. And just because it’s worth saying, OP, it’s okay if the only answer you can think of right now is “more gender neutral bathrooms!”. Sometimes the problem that’s bothering us most is the only thing that comes to mind. But it’s worth keeping an eye out in case any other examples come up during your day-to-day.

        4. JamminOnMyPlanner*

          Thanks for pointing this out… it’s helping me be a little more gracious to LW! As someone who has to use the gender neutral/”family” bathroom at work due to my “gastrointestinal difficulties,” I was finding OP a bit on the entitled side.

          It’s frustrating to think that someone might be policing my bathroom use because of my health issues that aren’t anyone’s business.

        5. Observer*

          As a genderqueer academic who’s been working to get more gender neutral bathrooms on our campus, my first thought was that this level of frustration might be a good barometer for how frustrated the OP is feeling generally about their administration’s support of their identity.

          This is a very good point. OP, exploring this might be a much healthier use of your time. Even if you don’t come up with a good solution – which I hope you can do.

        6. marvin the paranoid android*

          I am fairly sympathetic to the LW’s plight, as a fellow under-bathroomed non-binary person. I think they’re operating from a scarcity mindset, which can happen when you only have one gender neutral stall available, which also doubles as the only accessible stall and only private stall. Still, it’s not cool to police other people’s bathroom use, of course! At my organization, I’m trying to make this issue a bit more visible to our EDI team. I think it’s easy to see a single stall as a gesture of inclusivity, but for those of us who need to actually use it multiple times a day, that gesture only goes so far.

      5. Polar Vortex*

        Also something to think about:
        Is the user overweight? In my experience bathroom stalls in old academic buildings are tiny because their allowable footprint from the days of yore when the building was built is tiny. Not great for anyone who’s a larger person.
        Is the user claustrophobic? (Same reason as above there, tiny bathroom stalls even make me uncomfortable)
        Are there people on your floor who love to use the bathroom as chatting space and therefore people escape to the only bathroom that you can avoid having weird conversations while you’re sitting on a toilet?
        Does someone take up the women’s bathroom as a hair/makeup place in the morning and nobody wants to do loud bodily functions while someone primps? (true story from my work)

        I mean, I feel you, I’m transmasc and fought to get the few GN bathrooms at my work added and it can be bothersome when they’re full. But as the good book says: Everyone Poops.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          Is the dean tall? Tiny stalls are really tough for some people who are above the average height.
          Or really short? My best friend gets really sick of being teased in the bathroom because her feet don’t quite touch the floor while she’s sitting.

    2. Loulou*

      Right, it sounds like you’ll occasionally be waiting no matter what (but also like there is actually a pretty good number of bathrooms there — 1 or more for every gender per floor is way more than I’ve seen a lot of places).

    3. Snuck*

      I don’t think you can police the use of this. It sounds like there’s limited stalls in other bathrooms, so this is more a general ‘not enough toilets’ issue.

      If there were plenty of toilets I would still suggest you can’t really police it as you will never know if another person has an invisible disability that means they need to use the accessible toilet. Policing access to toilets rarely creates positive change from what I have seen, generally people just get upset but continue doing what they were doing already anyway. After all they are already ‘breaking the gentle guidelines’ of the toilet by active choice, so pointing it out means you are asking to rescind the socially constructed decision they’ve already made to avoid their ‘gender specific’ toilet.

      Throw in the fact that this is a fairly senior person, who may well have back to back meetings and literally two minutes to dash to the toilet in between them, and cannot wait for a stall to come available, and you might appear tone deaf. (They might not too, they might have an invisible issue – bowel problems that require additional self care in the toilet, issues with sensory stimulation and find the banging of toilet doors disruptive, a background of abuse and find using toilets in rooms with others confronting – there are many reasons a fully ambulatory person may need to use a more private bathroom without it being “I don’t want to poop with others around”)

      My suggestion is to leave this well alone. And go to the toilet earlier so you have time to wait (assuming this is possible for you. If it’s not, then the issue of access is less about it being gender neutral, and more about there not being enough toilets for you to access).

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Literally nothing good comes from policing anyone’s need to use a restroom. Especially if it’s an authority figure, good god.

        1. Nettle*

          “Literally nothing good comes from policing anyone’s need to use a restroom.”

          Well said!

      2. L'étrangere*

        What boggles my mind is the assumption that LW should have exclusive use of an entire bathroom, while the whole rest of the office battles it out for the 2 other stalls. Go full remote if you need exclusive use of your own bathroom! Just because a bathroom is -suitable- for disabled or non-binary or whatever use does not mean you have to be on that list to use it, it works perfectly well for everyone else too. By all means give priority to the disabled person who’d have trouble waiting, or the person with the squirmy small child, or the sulky genderqueer character, but that doesn’t mean others can’t use it too

    4. Dust Bunny*

      I went to a college where it was customary for each dorm floor to vote on coed or single-sex bathrooms every year. The most conservative vote won so people wouldn’t be forced into coed bathrooms, but most people voted for coed simply because it was more convenient and you didn’t actually run into that many people in the bathroom, anyway. (All the dorm floors were coed except for a few dorms that had floors with only one bathroom. These floors were single-sex but still voted on bathrooms so a lot of them had coed bathrooms despite not being coed floors. If they did vote for single-sex and you weren’t that sex, you just went to the floor above or below to pee.)

      I had one floor where there was a bathroom with two toilets and one shower, and the second bathroom had three toilets and two showers. Somebody wanted single-sex bathrooms so the smaller bathroom was women-only and the bigger one was coed. Once in awhile, yes, a guy had to wait for the coed bathroom because the women on that end of the floor still often used the coed one, but it wasn’t a big problem. Sometimes you just have to wait for the restroom.

    5. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      It sounds to me like the place has restroom issues period! 2 stalls is not enough to accommodate the number of employees, which is why they’re using other specific designated restrooms.

      My company faced a similar problem when we moved offices. There was 1 main woman’s restroom for our entire company of 200+ with 4 stalls. Constantly a line to pee and God forbid you had to do something else!

    6. Rose*

      Right. If op things they’re the only non-binary person, then they think they should have a bathroom all to themselves? It’s just not a reasonable ask. If it’s a small floor, say 10 men and 10 women, all 10 women have to share 2 stalls and you get one all to yourself? You can’t claim a public resource that way.

      If the issue is mainly this one person, and the rest of the staff is using gendered bathrooms, then unless it’s a very, very small floor that shares the bathrooms OP is prob waiting as little or less than anyone else. OP says they are fairly junior, maybe they don’t realize that having to wait a few minutes to pee at work is not unusual.

    7. BabyElephantWalk*

      And for all OP knows there is a legitimate reason that he is using that washroom instead of other ones. Yes many people who do not need them use these washrooms for privacy, but there are lots of people who do need them and it may not be obvious. I’m sympathetic to the situation of not having enough single stall washrooms, but this take on it like somehow others are not allowed to use it because OP needs it more is pretty problematic.

    8. Summer*

      I absolutely agree it would be extremely rude to say anything at all and LW should definitely not comment on it. Even the handicap-accessible stalls are not solely reserved for people with handicaps the way a parking spot is. I would also prefer to use, and would use, the single stall bathroom. It is not for the sole use of LW or anyone else – it is available for all and LW doesn’t have more of a claim to using it.

  2. Jessica*

    I disagree with Alison’s answer to #1 and think the LW is being unreasonable. There are so VERY many reasons why people might want to use the private bathroom (and I do agree with LW that more single-occupancy units would be the way to go!). If HR starts issuing guidance that only qualified people who have actual need should use the single, it’ll just be encouraging everyone to pass judgment on each other, and that’s not a path you want to go down. If LW doesn’t want to wait or come back, sounds like there’s an option on the next floor.

    1. Avril Ludgateau*

      Agreed. I see Alison has already modified her answer so this may be moot. Still, as somebody with a couple different “invisible disabilities”, one of which directly and immediately affects my bathroom habits (and another which may, if nausea becomes emesis), the idea of my colleagues policing my bathroom habits because they’ve decided I’m healthy (and I do generally “look healthy”) puts me on edge. Bathroom habits are so private to begin with! I’m not comfortable with disclosing my health history to my entire office to get them to stop gossiping about whether or not I’m entitled to the single stall. I feel for OP, but I don’t think anybody should be obligated to go that far.

      OP, imagine if you were not out with your gender identity; a request that e.g. HR “enforce” bathroom courtesies would open you up to unwarranted scrutiny from your peers. i.e. “Why is OP using the gender neutral bathroom? As far as I know they are [gender].” Suffice it to say, this isn’t a can of worms you want to open nor, frankly, a conversation you want to encourage in the workplace.

      (Thankfully, though I’m now WFH, our office had enough single stall, handicap-accessible bathrooms to avoid trouble. We are behind on gender neutrality, however. The law/regulation where I am specifically dictates there must be an equal number of male-designated and female-designated bathrooms to serve the office, but there are typically disproportionately more women working here than men. This means the single stalls have been treated as gender neutral since long before I started, although they are still labeled for men or women.)

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        We have a similar issue with gendered bathrooms in workplace with massive gender disparity (for many years I was the only woman in a department of 20 people).

        We handled it by making all bathrooms officially gender neutral since they were all single-stall anyways. Now there’s just the gender neutral bathrooms with urinals and the gender neutral bathrooms with purse hooks.

      2. Rose*

        Same. I have a medical issue that’s caused me to be frequently accused of bulimia in the past, which has affected my work life significantly. Sometimes I need the single bathroom. I don’t love the idea that you should be forced either to defend your gender/medical needs or proclaim your gender/medical needs publicly to have a nice private puke or pee.

        Gender neutral =/= non binary only. It means gender-neutral. You can’t claim an entire bathroom for yourself, and it’s particularly annoying to try to do so when you think the entire rest of the office is sharing four stalls.

    2. name*

      yeah I have ~stomach issues~ and would much prefer a private bathroom, but you probably wouldn’t assume anything is wrong with me just by looking at me.

      1. JamminOnMyPlanner*

        Me too! Yay for unspecified ~stomach issues~ but yes I would be furious if someone tried to tell me I couldn’t use my work’s gender neutral/accessible/”family” restroom.

        Trust me, NO ONE wants to witness what can happen to me in there if I’m in a multi-stall and someone comes in. I’m not easily embarrassed by bathroom stuff but it’s…beyond that.

    3. OhNo*

      I have to agree, and I’m glad Alison adjusted her answer to remove that. There’s already a lot of judgement passed on people with disabilities, and people with invisible disabilities in particular, and that sort of guidance would probably just lead to more.

    4. Here we go again*

      I’m a mom potty training a little boy right now. Those bathrooms are easier to help someone who needs assistance, especially when it’s two opposite genders. Husband and wife, mom and son, etc… A bathroom stall isn’t meant for two.
      Or they have some issues where a private bathroom is better (like a colostomy bag) I would just assume your coworker needs to use the private restroom. Or maybe they just really had to pee and the standard bathrooms are occupied or too far. It’s not your business.

  3. Come On Eileen*

    Regarding question #1: Alison suggests a reminder “that people should leave those bathrooms free for people who can’t use the others.” I’ve always followed the principle that a bathroom designed to accommodates a specific user – disabled, nonbinary – is simply an accommodation, and not reserved exclusively for those individuals. Am I wrong in that guiding principle?

    1. Anon all day*

      From what I’ve heard, if you have multiple options to choose from, and you can avoid using the specialized option, that’s best, but if that’s the only option that’s left, you’re usually okay to use it. Like, in a multi stall bathroom, don’t use the larger accessible stall if others are open and you can use them, but if that’s the only one left, it’s okay to use it.

      1. quill*

        Yes. It’s always been my understanding that you use all stalls to make the line manageable but also the wheelchair accessible one is the last to fill in case someone needs it

    2. Casper Lives*

      That’s how I’ve always seen it as well. If there’s another open bathroom that doesn’t accommodate, I default to using that one. But I’d find it unusual to have a line of people at the bathroom with no one using the accommodating stall.

      1. Kate*

        LW seems perturbed at the idea that they may have to wait a short while for a toilet to become free. Surely this is standard with any sort of public toilet provision, there’s a fairly good chance you may need to wait for one to become available. Being non-binary doesn’t protect you from that.

        1. Momma Bear*

          This is what I was thinking. The line for the women’s restroom is often way longer than the one for the men (or the family restroom – which is so much fun when you’re potty training a kid). Waiting to use a restroom seems…normal? OP should go to another floor if available or wait. I think this is one of those things where the people using the restroom are not doing x “at you” but it’s annoying to you for other reasons.

          1. Bad Memories*

            Yes I always think of the ‘accessibility’ or ‘consideration’ option means that you have to HAVE A WAY to use the restroom, but it doesn’t need to be immediately available ‘on demand.’

    3. AcademiaNut*

      It’s also a function of numbers. If there are 20 stalls in a bathroom, one of which is accessible, then it makes sense to leave the accessible one available for those who need it, otherwise they will a much longer wait that other people. If there’s two stalls, one of which is accessible, both are in full use. I don’t know the total population of the building, but five stalls per a floor (I’m assuming a toilet and a urinal in the men’s room) could easily be in the realm where all stalls are in regular use.

      It’s a moot point, though, because making someone personally justify why they need to use the single-stall washroom is a bad idea in general, and confronting your boss’s boss’s boss to do so is a supremely bad idea professionally.

      1. Artemesia*

        The rule I have seen followed in large bathrooms with multiple stalls, is that the disabled person is allowed to go to the head of the line to take the handicap stall when it becomes available — but others can use it if no one with need is in line. This is tricky for invisible handicaps that might still use the stall, but then they either have to announce they need it or wait their turn.

        1. Lydia*

          This is how I understand it’s supposed to be handled. There’s a theater in Ashland, OR that has a sign on the accessible bathroom that if a person who needs it shows up, they go to the front of the line. Only more succinctly than that.

    4. Snuck*

      It depends!

      For a number of years I was a breastfeeding mother, and for some reason the “parents room” (most large shopping centres in Australia have a room with child sized toilets, pram space, change tables, couches to sit on and breastfeed etc)… the adult toilet was taken up by young men wanting to poop about 80% of the time. Sitting there, breast feeding my sons, wafting last nights beer and kebab and curry poop was always such a pleasure.

      Even now, with 9 & 11 year old boys, we use the ‘family bathroom’ a lot in public. I’m not quite ready to let them march into the ‘mens’ toilets on their own (one has developmental challenges which has reduced his social maturity), and particularly not when we’re at a swimming pools etc, but they are reaching a size/age where taking them to the ‘womens’ isn’t always appropriate either (in areas people are likely to be changing). In this situation again I am frustrated to stand with two shivering kids outside the ‘family/disabled room’ to find a middle aged person saunter out of it after 15 minutes.

      I’d say they are ‘optional use’ when there isn’t high demand for them (as in the OPs letter, it sounds like not many people ‘need’ this specific one over the course of a day). If it’s smack in the middle of swimming lesson time then there needs to be some consideration for cis adults to change their opposite gender children etc. If you are only going in their to crap in peace don’t do it where people (babies) eat… go somewhere else.

      But if there’s a queue snaking out of the ‘womens’ toilets and none for the ‘mens’ I’m well capable of dashing into the mens instead. And I’d also duck into the disabled in the same situation.

      1. Snuck*

        (I’ve realised in the US it might be more likely the disabled access toilet is in the gendered bathrooms as a larger stall? In Australia it is more common it is a separate room to the side, non gendered, and about three to four times the size of a stall. The door opens directly into the room, and it’s a single user room (or family if you want to toilet little people as you generally can’t do that in a stall without having the door stay open)

        1. Wendy*

          You are correct – pretty much any US bathroom that has more than one stall will have at least one with hand rails and a wider door, even in places where that was pretty obviously not the original design of the room. Often this means there’s one nice, roomy stall and one tiny one where you have to practically stand on the toilet seat to close the door and you’re half in the dark because the ceiling light isn’t centered properly. Not surprisingly, the larger stall tends to get the most use in smaller bathrooms (especially ones that theoretically have 2-3 stalls but usually only ever have one user at a time).

          In places where there are large bathrooms, like airports, you’ll often find an additional “family restroom” like you describe – there will still be handicap stalls in the regular restrooms too, but the single-occupancy restroom is usually pretty large and has a changing table too. It’s nice for parents with opposite-gendered children, adults who need caretakers to attend to their hygiene needs, and anyone for whom a gendered restroom presents a problem. Some places are starting to take their two small gendered restrooms and changing them both to single-occupancy non-gendered areas, but that’s still pretty uncommon.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            I’ve seen small older buildings in the US have single-stall unisex handicap restrooms instead of handicap stalls in the gendered multi-toilet restrooms. However, my understanding is that this is only legal if it’s not feasible to retrofit an accessible stall into existing multi-toilet restrooms. Normally the legal requirement is at least one stall in each restroom and/or at least half of single-toilet restrooms.

          2. How About That*

            Those larger stalls are commonly referred to as the handicapped stall and allow for wheelchair access. While the smaller stalls may not be the most comfortable, it is impossible to get a wheelchair in there. Sometimes the wheelchair bound person needs a helper too.

        2. Karia*

          Yeah. This is often how they are in the UK too. And misuse of them by able bodied people has led to many being restricted to people with a special radar key, which can either be bought or requested from the venue owner.

          1. Ice and Indigo*

            Who frustratingly often aren’t on hand when you need the key! Especially on motorway stops. If you’re visiting the UK and you need access to the disabled loos, I recommend you to buy your own radar key, just a tip.

      2. guest*

        About ” If you are only going in their to crap in peace don’t do it where people (babies) eat… go somewhere else.” I’ve even seen a couple of female-only restrooms (one in a university, one in a library) where the changing table and sofa (to sit in while nursing?) are set aside in a sort-of lobby of the restroom.

        I’ve also worked in two places with a separate “privacy room” (pre-pandemic), usable from anything from pumping breast milk to prayer (for example, observing the 5 daily prayers of Islam and having a work day overlap with at least one) to talking off one’s pants for emergency button sewing. These rooms do have a sink and small fridge and do *not* have a toilet or urinal.

        Then there’s the gender-neutral office washroom I’ve seen: wheelchair-accessible toilet, wheelchair-accessible shower stall (for cyclists and who knows maybe an athletic wheelchair user could work up a sweat on the way to work too so why not), wheelchair-inaccessible door, big counter with enough room for makeup bag away from water, lighting making sure that if you look at your face in the mirror a shadow will be cast over it, etc. The architect tried so hard and still missed some key details!

      3. Roeslein*

        Our of curiosity, what are these places where it’s not acceptable to just breastfeed (discreetly) in public? (So I know not to go there next time I’m breastfeeding!) I had my son three years ago, travelled quite a bit when he was small etc. and here in Europe it never even crossed my mind to feed him in a public bathroom. (Who wants to eat in the bathroom really?)

        1. doreen*

          It doesn’t necessarily have to be a matter of it not being acceptable to breastfeed in public – my daughter goes to another room even if I’m the only person around, there is no way she’s going to feed the baby in public. Which is very possibly why she hasn’t traveled except by car since the first baby.

          1. JamminOnMyPlanner*

            That’s fine, but it’s super entitled to say that other people shouldn’t use that bathroom because a breastfeeding mom might want to use it. They can breastfeed anywhere legally…. I’m not comfortable having my “severe stomach issues” in a stall-filled bathroom. I’m going to use the family bathroom if I’m having issues and there’s one available.

        2. Nettle*

          It is legal to breastfeed in public everywhere in the US, but in some places in the US, people can be real jerks about public breastfeeding, and given the sexualization of breasts, some people feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in front of others.

          In my personal experience doing so, it wasn’t an issue. I never used a cover and really, with my baby feeding I was all covered up anyhow. The only time it was an issue was actually when I was in France! I was on a bench, a guy catcalled me from his bike and honked his bike horn, and my daughter was so startled that she BIT me. Ouch!

        3. Lizianna*

          For what it’s worth, I hit a point with my son that “discreet” breastfeeding was no longer an option, any cover I tried to use was unceremoniously yanked off while he did acrobatics while eating.

          I do like that more spaces are creating a quiet/private space that doesn’t have a toilet it in. Last time I flew (pre-pandemic) I noticed our airport had installed small pods throughout the concourse with a locking door, usually next to the family restrooms.

        4. Snuck*

          Breast feeding is generally widely accepted in Australia, sure there’s a small range of places it’s not (inside a pub?) but generally society is accepting.

          These rooms provide a place for those who want it, and are particularly helpful for parents with multiple small children so they are contained to run around as you sit in quiet to feed a newborn. They are also helpful when toilet training as the toilets are quiet and small.

      4. prof*

        You seem to be forgetting that healthy looking middle aged people can be disabled. And that disabilities include things like UC and IBS that means you might be taking a while to poop. I’m 40 and I have Crohn’s- I’m absolutely using that space if I’m having a flare up. And yeah, I might take a few minutes.

        1. JamminOnMyPlanner*

          Absolutely! I’m not sure what I have, and I’m working with a doctor on it, but it might be IBS. Sorry for the babies that might have to eat in the bathroom after I’m done, but you can legally breastfeed anywhere. I get that people aren’t comfortable doing it in public, but it’s super entitled to think that people shouldn’t poop in the place you think should be used to feed your kid. It’s not there only for you….

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            I think Snuck’s point was that if you’re a hungover bro, it’s dick move to do your post drinking poo in the room that is also specifically designed for breastfeeding mothers (remember Snuck is talking about a designated parents’ room with parking for strollers and stuff, not just a gender neutral restroom). And just because you *can* breastfeed in public doesn’t mean it’s the best place — neither of my kids would breastfeed in public because there was too much to look at; they literally HAD to be in a more closed off space.

          2. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Remember that Snuck is talking about a room that is designed for parents — stroller parking, kid sized toilets, couches for breastfeeding — so it *is* in their case a place meant for feeding your child. And while it certainly is legal to breastfeed anywhere, that doesn’t mean your kid is going to eat in public; both of mine HAD to be in a more private space to eat when breastfeeding.

            Also, I think there’s a distinct difference between hungover bro doing his post-drinking poo in the parents room (again, in this case literally designed to include a breastfeeding space) and adult with stomach issues — the former is a dick move, the latter is not.

          3. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Ok, but at least in the instance Snuck is referring to, they don’t *think* it should be used to feed their kid, it is literally designed for that to be a function of the room. And while you can legally breastfeed anywhere (or poop in any bathroom?), that doesn’t mean it actually works — both of my kids were too busy looking at stuff in public to breastfeed, so it wasn’t something I was ever able to do.

            FWIW, I think there’s a distinct difference between hungover bro using the parents’ room (remember, kid sized toilets, stroller parking, etc) for their post-drinking poo and someone with GI issues using it — the former is a dick move, the latter is not.

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              OMG, so sorry about the million comments. I don’t know what heck was going on with my browser that none of them showed for an hour. Going to go disappear into the earth now.

          4. Snuck*

            These rooms are not in an easily found place, they are usually tucked deep in behind children’s wear or similar, or down a long alley past a bunch of general toilets in a shopping centre. They have lounge chairs and low lighting and a microwave to heat bottles, an area for changing babies, a play area caged off with a toddler wall etc. They are blatantly designed to be a ‘when you need to settle and mind small children’ space. They generally have two toilets – a child sized one, and an adult one, both in larger spaces so that multiple people can be in the room (or prams) at a time. They are not generally designated ‘disability’ toilets, and while the space is very much gender neutral they are not ‘gender neutral toilets’ either – the toilet is secondary there, and generally as a helpful tool for people who are having to manage small children and need the quiet zone to do this AND need a toilet. It’s usually not a well sign posted space, but known to parents of small children. There is NO REASON to go in there unless you are accompanying a small child, and usually you’ve walked past many other toilets or had to head to an area of the shop you wouldn’t unless you are shopping for small children.

            If you have issues with IBS it sucks (I know, I have!) but please don’t just automatically use the parents toilet. Try the other options first. These parent rooms are really for feeding small children and giving them a quiet zone to calm down. They are not ‘public toilets’ in the same sense as others. Their primary purpose is to provide a low sensory environment for calm feeding and calm down time for small people. (Yes breastfeeding is legal and possible everywhere. Many small humans go through phases where they need feeding in quieter areas – they are too distracted, or too tired or cranky etc, and a low stimulation environment without many faces, without lots of noise etc is needed to calm them and get them to feed. Not all children. Not all children all the time. Many. On occasion. Toss in parents with multiple children under 4yrs and you really need a quiet zone if you are out for a few hours!)

      5. JamminOnMyPlanner*

        Sorry, if my stomach issues are acting up, I’m using the family restroom. It’s not worth the stress and embarrassment of everyone hearing exactly what’s going on with my body if there’s another option.

      6. Rose*

        I’ve always thought it was stupid that some changing rooms have a toilet in them too. A lot near me are separate (so just a room with a changing table and a chair.

        I’m sure it’s annoying to have to breastfeed and then get a toddler (or yourself!) to a secondary location to pee, but it seems far preferable to having to feed your baby/eat your breast milk in the midst of a poo-smell cloud. I guess that leaves the issue of in-between-aged kids.

    5. Mehitabel*

      Not entirely wrong, but using a handicap or non-gendered bathroom when access is not an issue for you, and when by doing so you are making someone wait who does have access issues, is a dick move. I am disabled and in an old job worked in a building where there was one disabled-access stall per floor. One day I went in to the bathroom right behind a woman who I knew slightly, who was carrying a duffle bag. She looked at me, looked at my cane, said “I’ll just be a minute” and went into the disabled stall and proceeded to use it to change her clothes. I had to stand and wait for probably five minutes while she did that. Dick. Move. And you can bet I talked to the building manager about it afterward.

      General rule of thumb: If you’re not disabled or otherwise in need of a special restroom, avoid using them.

      1. L-squared*

        I think this is context and situation dependent.

        In your story, yes, dick move, because she saw you waiting there. BUT, if there was no one in line and she wanted more than 3×3 to change clothes, I also don’t think you need to leave the stall open indefinitely in the small chance that in the 5 minutes there someone else will come by.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          That’s how I see it too. The accesible stall is much larger than a normal one and provides privacy for a more robust activity like changing clothes. If I walked into an empty bathroom with my duffel bag, I’d almost certainly use the employ accesible stall to change. If I walked in with someone else, especially someone with a clear need for the accesible stall, I’d wait or just change in the normal stall of it was possible.

        2. Rose*

          I’m curious how people who need the stall for accessibility issues feel about this. My old work had the tiniest stalls ever, so if the bathroom was empty I’d change in the accessible stall due to a traumatic incident involving my bra and public toilet water… I always felt kind of dickish, which at least got me to change quickly.

      2. Come On Eileen*

        Agree that context matters! Your example sounds like an inconsiderate person being inconsiderate. In normal everyday bathroom use, when there’s no one waiting for a special stall and I need to go, I will use it and won’t feel bad about it.

    6. Legs crossed*

      Speaking from personal experience as a person with a disability and as a career for someone who needs help to use the accessible bathroom, it is helpful if only those who specifically need it are using that background. For many people with disabilities there is a greater time cost to get to the bathroom in the first place (e.g. if a physical impairment is in play movement takes longer, the only bathroom is a lot further away), and for some there will be additional time needed in the bathroom (transfers, or orientating to space, clean up and redressing, or time needed to empty a catheter bag, or to administer medication). These additional time costs can be substantial for some, and it is a relief not to have to add in the extra time for waiting for someone else to finish in that room. Of course, if I meet you coming out of an accessible bathroom, I won’t tell you any of this because I know that many disabilities are hidden and I will assume that you personally have a reason to make the choice you just made.

    7. Asenath*

      I’d agree with Come On Eileen. A public toilet may be used by anyone, even if it is designed for a specific category of person. But it obviously can be a controversial point – one gym I frequent has put up signs ranging from “don’t use the (large) cubicles intended for disabled people to change clothes” to “Don’t assume that someone using the (large) cubicles doesn’t have an invisible disability” so management must have had toilet cubicles used as changing cubicles AND people objecting to them being used for the intended purpose by someone who didn’t look disabled enough, but who in fact needed them.

    8. Karia*

      Yeah, no, that’s not a good guiding principle. You can (theoretically) use any bathroom corresponding with your gender identity. Many disabled people *cannot* use a regular bathroom, and several disabilities involve bathroom urgency. Likewise, a parent can *only* really change their baby in a bathroom with a table. Finally, there are, sadly, places where trans people are legally restricted to gender neutral bathrooms, or see them as their only safe option due to the risk of violence. Please stick to the regular bathroom if you can get there.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Side request to business owners: please don’t put the diaper changing table in the handicap accessible bathroom. I’ve seen it more than once, and it’s a really bad idea.

        1. Sleepless in Cincinnati*

          If I have use the restroom, I have to bring my toddler into the stall with me because he’s not responsible enough to wait outside the stall. Many regular stalls are too tiny for an adult and child. It makes more sense for us to both go into the largest stall and for me to change him there after I go.

          1. Lexie*

            Or if you have an infant in a stroller you can’t really park the stroller outside of the stall while you use the toilet.

          2. Kim*

            But then it would make more sense to have a parent-child stall separate from the disabled people stall. Both changing a child and going to the toilet while disabled generally take more time and I’ve heard of many instances where parents and people who had to wait for the disabled access stall had a clash.

          3. A*

            Yup. And if your travelling with kids + luggage? Literally no other option. I will always allow anyone else waiting for a larger stall to go ahead of me as I recognize that for me it’s a logistical issue vs medical/other accommodation – but once it’s free and there’s no one else going for it, I have not choice but to use the larger stall. Hate the game, not the players!

        2. Takki*

          There should absolutely be a changing table in the accessible bathrooms. Parents come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their kids. Being a parent and needing accessibility facilities is hard, as is being a parent with children that need them.

          That said, the accessible bathrooms should not have the only changing tables.

          1. Observer*

            I think that the point was that the accessible stall should not be the designated baby changing stall. So, sure put a changing table in there, but make sure that there is a changing table somewhere else as well. Otherwise disabled folks are going to be stuck waiting for baby changes.

        3. MusicWithRocksIn*

          In the perfect world it would be great if there was a handicap bathroom and a parents bathroom and a non-binary bathroom and absolutely none of the stupid American stalls where you have to pretend you can’t see everything people are doing. But there is in most cases just a limit to the space most buildings can dedicate to bathrooms. Most businesses just use the minimum required by law, because they want to dedicate space to their actual business that makes them money. It is easy and space efficient to make two bathrooms with multiple cheap ass stalls that are tiny, and throw one larger stall in there for everyone else because they have to. Expecting there to always be a stall open and ready for the handicap and also another stall always open and ready for toddlers is just unrealistic. And when the baby changing station is in the main area of the bathroom people complain that they don’t want to see you changing your baby.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            Or if you’re like my town and most businesses are in 100+ year old buildings, it may not be possible to add more bathrooms without spending a gazillion dollars on renovations and going through an arduous permitting process.

        4. BethDH*

          There are sometimes good reasons to do this, as someone already commented, but they are sometimes very poorly placed within that space, probably by people who wanted to say they had the facilities rather than make them actually useful.
          My husband and I had a rule that he changed the kids’ diapers anywhere where the men’s room had a changing table (this got noticeably more common even over 2 years!). I have to admit I really hoped they were all in the large stall after one he told me about where they’d wedged a changing table in so that the baby’s head was about four inches from the line of urinals.

          1. snack queen*

            Some states and municipalities require all newly constructed public buildings to include baby changing stations in all restrooms. I’m an interior designer and at my firm we always try to include them even if it’s not required.

            New plumbing codes are being written and adopted all the time. In many places previously, let’s say you were required to have 1 male and 1 female restroom. If the client would rather have 2 non-gendered restrooms you’d have to file for a variance (or the owner can just..change the signs later). New code says you can go ahead and just design it genderless from the start.

            1. doreen*

              The code where I live has made a 180 degree change changed – a few years ago , if two restrooms were required one had to be labeled male and one female even if they were both single occupancy. That changed to a gender neutral label requirement for single occupancy in 2021 – but I never could understand why single occupancy toilets needed a gender label to begin with.

        5. Insert Clever Name Here*

          I think there should be diaper changing tables in every single bathroom — men’s, women’s, accessible, and gender neutral.

          But agreed that the times the diaper changing table was in the accessible stall, I was always afraid that would be the time my child would either have A Massive Diaper and need a full outfit change or otherwise be difficult and make it take forever, and we’d come out of the stall and find someone in need of it waiting there and then I would want the earth to open and swallow me whole.

          1. Lydia*

            My sister’s partner was just talking about this. We can all assume there’s a changing table in the women’s bathroom, but it’s such a crapshoot for the men’s that you won’t know until he goes in to use it.

          1. Nanani*

            Oh come on, that’s not what anyone is saying.
            Freeing the accessible stall by having a change table not be in it does not in any way prevent a parent with disabilities from usign a room that has a change table and no toilet.

    9. Emi*

      I think it’s kind of obnoxious to take up the only more-accessible bathroom or stall when there are alternatives free and you don’t have any real reason to choose that one, but the specific reasons the designers originally had in mind aren’t the only reasons that count. For example, the ADA-accessible stall was made to be big enough to maneuver a wheelchair, but that also sometimes makes it the only stall you can reasonably bring a little kid into.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yeah, “accessible” design is generally just…BETTER design overall. Like those buttons to open a door for a wheelchair also are helpful when you have your arms full of groceries, and the curb cuts to allow wheelchairs to get on and off sidewalks are also helpful when you’re rolling a suitcase or stroller. I wish we could see a move to make accessible design the standard as opposed to throwing it in on the side.

      2. Wonderer*

        There’s also a lot of examples where ADA requirements have led to improvements for everyone – especially parents. One obvious example is the “curb cut” or “curb ramp” at intersections that makes it easier to get a stroller/pram across the street. Those are everywhere now, but the original intention was for wheelchairs.

        Requiring larger bathroom stalls helps a lot of people, but obviously the priority always should be for the person that needs it most urgently. Although it sounds terrible, a kid that is about to fill their pants in a public place could sometimes be more urgent than someone with a cane that just doesn’t *want* to wait. “Who should go first?” does not always have an obvious and clear-cut answer.

        1. Lydia*

          Isn’t it weird how making things more accessible for one group of people seems to have an overall effect of improving things for a lot of other people, too? It’s almost as if improving life for people is generally just a good thing.

    10. Architect*

      At least in the US, code requires one accessible toilet/shower per restroom (in anything built in the last 15-20 years – older building may have different conditions). But those are included in your required number of toilets for the building.
      So, if all you had were single-occupant restrooms, they would all have to be accessible, and it would be unreasonable to leave them all for folks with disabilities. Conversely, if you had two restrooms with 10 stalls each, each only having one accessible stall, it would be polite to let someone who needs that stall to go first.
      But, they are an expensive, finite resource in buildings, and can’t just be left open and waiting only for use by people who need accommodations – they have to be shared. Some owners/developers are willing to go above and beyond code and provide additional single-occupant or gender neutral restrooms, but most aren’t. Many jurisdictions don’t actively require a dedicated gender neutral restroom, although that is changing.

    11. Allison*

      Yes. I do think this is super nuanced, but my take is that if a bathroom, or bathroom stall, or any other resource that’s meant as an accommodation, the considerate thing to do is to avoid using it unless you need it, so that it’s available to anyone who might need it. In other words, don’t just use the accessible stall because it’s clearly the superior place to have a poo, if there are other stalls available to you that you can use just as well. But sometimes you do need it, and sometimes it’s the only one available, and if that’s the case it’s okay to use it as long as you don’t dilly-dally; go in, do what you need to do, and then boogey on out of there.

      1. How About That*

        I’m a senior citizen. Handicapped toilets are often higher and much easier for me to use. Grab bars are helpful too. Don’t forget about the elderly, some of us go out and do things too.

    12. Non-binary-anon*

      As both a non-binary person and a physically disabled person, any bathroom is for anyone who needs it. It’s not like accessible parking where you have to qualify and have a permit. I don’t expect people to leave the accessible stall/bathroom open at all times in case I need to use it, if it’s in use, they’ll be out in a few minutes and it’s fine.

    13. Tiger Snake*

      Its about recognising supply and demand – its thoughtful to ensure there’s supply for others if you can. Its thoughtful to recognise when you can use the option with greater resources (one disability accessible staff vs multiple gendered stalls), and allowing the priority of those groups that have the higher demand for that one source (disabled staff) when possible.

      But that’s prioritisation, not exclusivity. Anyone can still use it, and are not wrong or rude to do so. Waiting to use a bathroom is just a part of life.

      Added onto that, I greatly disagree with #1’s logic that they should be considered priority for it because they’re non-binary; disregarding they have no way of knowing anyone else’s dysphoria feelings, its a non-gendered bathroom, not a ‘non-binary occupant’ bathroom – its by design and intent meant to be usable by anyone who needs a bathroom. Trying to say its only accessible by non-binary or disabled people contradicts with its intended objective.

  4. Loulou*

    I don’t love the suggestion to have HR send out a reminder to only use the gender neutral restroom if you “need” it, which I think would make a lot of people feel uncomfortably scrutinized and self conscious. And it’s likely to confuse people based on the understanding most people have about gender neutral bathrooms, which is that people of any gender can use them.

    Has OP checked if the bathrooms in the other floors are usually free? If so, it might save them time to just go up or down a floor instead of waiting for boss. But I’d really encourage them to stop trying to personally determine who should and shouldn’t be using specific bathrooms.

    1. Blueberry Girl*

      Yeah. I have recently had a very specific type of brain surgery. I use no mobility aids and my hair has grown over my scar, but I need a handicapped bathroom. Standing from sitting is super dangerous for me right now, so those bars are protecting me from a catastrophic fall. Who needs or doesn’t need a specific type of bathroom is not something anyone should be trying to assess, because there’s so much you can not possibly know about someone. Let this one go, OP.

      1. MistOrMister*

        This makes me think of how people can get so mad when they see someone who looks able bodied parking in a handicap spot. In the past, before I realized there are so many invisible disabilities, I was guilty of giving those sorts of people un ugly look (from my car where they couldn’t see me) and assuming they gamed the system to get a pass they didn’t need or borrowed the car/pass of someone actually disabled. Now when I see it I have a brief thought of, oh I guess that person has some sort of invisible disability and it probably sucks if it’s enough to warrant a parking tag. You really just never know what is going on with someone.

        1. Violet Fox*

          The whole thing for me is assume that people know their own bodies, and err on the side of kindness. You never know what’s going on with people.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        You’d be perfectly safe in the regular stalls at my office. They’re so narrow, you couldn’t fall, you’d just lean on the wall. :-/

      3. Worldwalker*

        I have a bum knee. When it’s bad, it will buckle when I try to sit. I would prefer not to be abruptly dumped into the toilet. I’d be strongly in favor of grab bars in all stalls.

    2. Normeme*

      Agree. OP seems to think it’s a non-binary bathroom. It’s not. It’s a gender neutral bathroom.

    3. CowWhisperer*

      Yup. I have mild cerebral palsy. I don’t use any mobility aids to walk – but when I’m struggling with an injury or resulting muscle tightness, a vertical grab bar makes sitting and standing up from the toilet much safer.

  5. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

    A situation like #5 is actually how my spouse found his job. He interviewed for job A, but they said, “no thanks- but we have another job we think you’d be a great fit for.” He interviewed for job B and got it. 5 years later he is still very happy in it.

    1. Anon all day*

      Yup, that’s how my mom got hers. She got turned down for a job, but they told her they might have an opening several months later and they would reach out. They did, and she got hired.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m about to probably be in this hiring manager’s position – I have several identical positions open and two promising applicants, but we don’t have the bandwidth or resources to train more than one at a time, so it’s very likely that I’m going to have to tell one of them that due to logistics, I’d love to make them an offer, but won’t be able to do so for four or five months.

      2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        Especially for roles that companies need a lot of (software developers at a software company, teapot makers at a teapot company, etc) it’s pretty common to need one, interview five good people for the one role, then keep the other four resumes for the inevitable next need.

        I’d say that more often than not if you get to the final round of interviews, we *would* have hired you and been perfectly happy with the choice. We just liked someone else slightly better. If the first choice doesn’t work out or a similar role opens up, sure, we’ll contact that strong second choice. Much easier (if it works out) than going through a whole separate hiring process.

        1. Leela*

          Almost certainly more likely that we would have hired a person who made it to the interview stage for sure. Sometimes we liked someone else slightly better, sometimes there was absolutely *nothing* to make the distinction for us but one had to be made so someone else’s 2 years of irrelevant photoshop experience that could potentially pan out into…something, maybe…or 1 more year in very relevant software might make the call, because we just have to make the decision but people were so extremely neck -and-neck

    2. Frally*

      Same here. I was interviewing for a job that I didn’t get (and I’m so glad I didn’t, it turns out I would have hated it). The interviewer said that with my skills, I would probably be better suited to a different department. She called someone she knew there, I had an interview and got the job- which I love. I’ll always be grateful to her, I sent her a thank you plant in appreciation.

    3. UKDancer*

      Been there done that. I interviewed for a job in a company and did well but wasn’t appointed. Three months later they got in touch to say that a very similar job in a related part of the company had opened up if I was interested. It was a great job so I took it.

      Apparently I was a close second at the interview so they were keen to offer me something when it came up.

    4. Liz*

      Same here. I interviewed for a role, spent a good long while chatting with the panel, and while we mutually agreed that the role wasn’t right for me, they encouraged me to apply for other departments and stay in touch. I applied for 3 more jobs, kept them in the loop, and one of the managers recommended they shortlist me. I got that job and I’ve been with the organisation 3 and a half years.

    5. allathian*

      Yeah. Our team is expanding and currently hiring a lot, we’ve had 10 new hires, including our current manager, since the start of the pandemic. Our team’s expanded from 15 to 22 employees, 2 people have retired and one’s going to do so next month, and one’s going on maternity leave. We have long maternity/parental leave, so when my coworker announced that she was going on leave, someone they’d already interviewed for another job but who didn’t quite make the cut was offered the maternity leave substitute position, and took it.

      My current coworker was originally hired as a maternity leave substitute, but my former coworker took the maximum allowed 3 years and decided not to come back, because by that time her substitute had held the position for longer than she had before she went on maternity leave (we’re eligible for full maternity leave benefits after 1 year).

    6. LDN Layabout*

      Yup, friend got to the final two in a very competitive process and two weeks later got pulled into other job interviews with the same company because they really liked her, even if the other person had just edged ahead on consideration.

    7. N.J.*

      I got an old job this way too. I interviewed, but they ended up selecting somebody else. They told me to keep in touch and they reached out a few months later when another of the same position opened up.

    8. Avril Ludgateau*

      This happened to me with a previous job, and then that previous job led to my current job, so even though I was disappointed to be passed over, it worked out for the best. (Truth told I was underqualified for the role I applied for, but I was clever and brazen, which my eventual boss evidently appreciated enough to push for them to hire me in another capacity. I will always be grateful to her for that!)

    9. Christina*

      My husband got his that way as well. It was one of those highly competitive prestigious jobs where you spend months in the interview process. He was recruited to apply, spent months going through the process, and they picked “the other guy” – a week later they called him and asked him to apply for a different job. They streamlined the interview process for him so it was two months instead of six. He has been really happy, although it took some talking from me to get him over the “but they rejected me and I don’t like them” hump to get him to apply for job #2. It didn’t help that the first recruiter he worked with was horrible, they got a different recruiter for #2. And he ended up in a role that is much better for him, and says that the other guy is a better fit for that first role.

    10. Mike S*

      I’ve been in this position on the hiring side. We interviewed someone who we would not hire, but he seemed a great fit for another team. We gave them his resume, and he’s been with us ever since.

    11. Nessun*

      I was offered a resume from a colleague when looking for a new hire – the colleague didn’t hire her as she didn’t fit their needs, but I interviewed her and I hired her and she is a ROCK STAR on my team. I appreciated my colleague sending her my way, and I think she’s found that my team was a great fit for her in ways the other position wasn’t. She’s been with us now for more than 5 years, and has helped with further hiring to improve our team.

    12. fposte*

      One of my best staffers was somebody we rejected for job #1 but notified when we had an opening for job #2. They later said, once they saw what the day to day of job #1 was like, that they’d have found it overwhelming and was glad to have ended up with job #2 instead.

    13. LZ*

      Yes, this is me too. I applied for job A and was rejected. Then the company contacted me, said I would be a good candidate for job B and should apply, AND opened the job up to North America (I’m in the US, job B was initially only posted in Canada) so I could apply. Got the job and have been here for 6 months. Knowing what I know now I definitely *could* have done job A but B is actually a better fit for me and where I currently am in my career.

    14. OP #5*

      I’m the OP and what’s really funny is that when I originally got hired by Company A, it took two rounds of interviews. I interviewed for a role in May, but end of fiscal year meant the position went away. They wanted me, they just didn’t have a role. A few months later I touched base with the recruiter who said “Hey, we have something” and ended up getting hired.
      I don’t know if I want to work for Company A again but it was a nice boost for them to reach out I guess?

    15. christy7h*

      I’ve been both people in this situation. It’s how I got one of my first jobs (interviewed for LlamaGroomer, they filled that but encouraged me (in the interview) to apply for LlamaTrainer). Applied and got the other job.
      Also, I’ve been the manager in the scenario. Where we interviewed someone great, but had a different position in mind for them. Let them know, posted, interviewed for the other position and they were hired.

    16. Rocket*

      Same. I’m not at the job anymore, but one of my favorite jobs I ever had I got after applying for something else at the same company.

    17. Lalchi11*

      This is also how I found my job that I love. And we recently did this for another person who interviewed for an open role on my team, who we loved, but was just slightly weird out by another candidate. Another team had an open role coming up and we recommended him to them, and they ended up hiring him!

  6. Tsunade*

    LW #1: Please, please, PLEASE do not police this person’s bathroom usage! You never know what someone else is going through.

    Also… I’ve worked in academia before, and I winced at Alison’s suggestion to contact HR. Maybe I’ve worked in particularly political work environments, but this just seems like something that would blow up in your face!

    1. Unaccountably*

      #4: I had the same sort of knee-jerk reaction to Calendly, but on thinking about it I’m not sure why it’s any different from looking at people’s schedules in Outlook to schedule a meeting, which I do all the time. It’s just a visual representation of “I’m available from 10-3 on Monday and after 11 on Thursday” instead of a textual one.

      #1: Are you sure you want to go down the road of policing other people’s bathroom usage because you believe they don’t present appropriately? I mean, are you really, REALLY sure?

    2. Sloanicota*

      I am so mystified by this new-to-me assumption that nongendered bathrooms are specifically for and should be prioritized for nonbinary people! I really have never encountered this before.

        1. shuu_iam*

          I agree too! And letting people of all genders use it means that genderqueer people can use it without outing themselves.

      1. Laika*

        My province’s building code doesn’t even tie them to gender, they’re just called “universal washrooms”, which I think is appropriate–they’re washrooms for everyone! Universally!

      2. marvin the paranoid android*

        I don’t think that is a general assumption, but it may be worth considering that gender-specific washrooms can be pretty stressful, dysphoric or dangerous places for trans, non-binary and gender diverse people. Obviously there are plenty of other people who have need of more private/accessible spaces as well, but I’d say that as a general rule, if you’re able to comfortably use a more general and abundant washroom option, it’s the considerate thing to do. Just speaking from my personal experience, I have to dedicate an unfortunate amount of time and energy to planning out public bathrooms I can use, so I appreciate when others who don’t have the same constraints are considerate of that.

  7. Neon*

    In regards to #1; Gender neutral means you don’t need to be a certain gender to use that bathroom, meaning anyone of any gender is allowed to use them. I would not contact HR about the issue, especially since the main problem you seem to be having with it is that you now have to wait in line – unlike disabled bathrooms, gender neutral ones do not exist to help cut down wait time.

    1. Snuck*

      Good pickup on the “Gender neutral means any gender can use them”. There was something niggling at me, and you’ve nailed it well. They are “non gendered”!

      (In Australia disabled bathrooms generally have extra handrails, significantly more space to allow for mobility aids and greater movement, often have higher/specially designed toilets and altered handles on taps etc)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        In my state in the US, full stall bathrooms have the support rails and emergency-call pull cord.
        (But I’ve lost count of how many times I have untied a cord to make it accessible to someone who has fallen.)

    2. Anon for this*

      Most people who see me would not say it, but I am very much non-binary. The thing is: being non-binary doesn’t have a certain gender expression: some people look androgynous, but you can also look masculine or feminine and that is just as valid. Same goes for pronouns. So just because the dean here uses she/her pronouns and dress feminine doesn’t mean she is not non-binary. (Apart from any non-visible disabilities she has.)

      I prefer all gender/non-gendered bathrooms above the bathrooms where I am currently supposed to go. No one would ever kicked me out of those last ones, but I really, really dislike this idea of being gendered . So whenever I see a gender-neutral bathroom, I use it.

      1. Lily*

        Genuinely asking from a place of curiosity: if I use female pronouns, dress and present in a feminine way, how am I still non-binary?

        1. Nanani*

          1) Google is your friend.
          2) Very short answer: It boils down to identity being more than just how other people see you. Non-binary does nto mean “androgynous.” Some non-binary people may dress feminine one day and not another day. You do not know by looking, and you never know who is binary vs not OUT as non-binary to you in particular.

        2. Squidlet*

          Perhaps you are not out to everyone. A certain presentation may be specific to an environment or situation.

          One of my kids is questioning their gender but isn’t yet sure about a lot of things, such as what name & pronouns they want to use, or who they feel comfortable disclosing it to. They dress in a fairly neutral way: jeans, T shirts. Most people see them as a girl.

        3. anonagoose*

          If I serve you a really cool cake that has been decorated to look like a very realistic carrot, and I tell you you’re eating a carrot, you’re still eating a cake. Pronouns and presentation are like the decorations on a cake. Sure, they are an important part of the experience, and a nonbinary person who presents a certain way and uses certain pronouns because that feels right to them will probably tell you that those are part of their gender expression…but just because you, at a glance, look at someone and think “boy” or “girl” does not mean that you’re actually recognizing the real substance of their gender, just like I might look at a really well decorated piece of cake art and think “carrot” when it’s actually a cake.

          1. Trymeline*

            So what is the carrot, then? What actually constitutes carrotness? I am not trying to be snarky, but this analogy would not survive five minutes in my 100 level Rhetoric class. If you want it to be persuasive, it needs quite a bit of refining.

            1. Admin Lackey*

              This isn’t your debate club or philosophy class and non-binary people aren’t responsible for “persuading” anybody. This is Queerness 101 level stuff and if you don’t get it, that’s on you

            2. Daisy Gamgee*

              Nonbinary people do not need your permission in order to exist.

              On the remote chance that you’re actually not trying to be snarky my next comment contains a useful link.

            3. anonagoose*

              Not trying to be snarky, but I’ve used that analogy with five year olds and they’ve gotten it. If academic type explanations are absolutely necessary for your understanding, I encourage you to do your own research and find those, which can easily be googled. I respect that the standards are different for formal rhetoric, but this is not a formal rhetoric class, and non-binary people don’t need to be trained in debate to explain their existence.

              Also: if this wasn’t you trying to be snarky, and you’re genuinely trying to be helpful, you might consider researching better allyship methods. Your approach needs quite a bit of refining.

        4. Leela*

          I use female pronouns and dress and present in a feminine way, and am non-binary.

          1) I have a body that most would consider very female (Large breasts, large hips/butt, small waist) and thus,clothes made for cis women are about the only thing that really works on my body. Men’s clothes looks sloppy because of all the shapeless sagging around the stomach area, or I can get something that fits me there and then it’s mashing my breasts and hips down in a way I can hardly breathe and certainly doesn’t look professional.

          2) Professionally, it’s not always safe to come out as non-binary. Especially if you already have as bisexual and Autistic and had to deal with all the stigma and eye rolls and incessant unasked for questions and guesses from other people. I’m not doing it for more parts of my identity too, not until companies are actually good about it and don’t just put the onus on *nonstandard* (non- straight, white, cishet able-bodies people) to have our presence in a space magically make it inclusive

          3) Some parts of a country are much, MUCH safer to be out in than others. Being bi on the west coast hasn’t landed as anything more than an FYI to other people, but I got bricks and bottles thrown at me in the midwest when I came out as bi. So I don’t always throw out they/them or she/they pronouns. Even if I’m in one of the safer parts of the country /world I still have the trauma from coming out and don’t feel I need to put myself in that danger again

          4) “feminine” is whatever people have agreed it is, really. I actually don’t think that I present in a “feminine” way but society does because they’ve decided certain things are feminine. I also got accused of being “masculine” a lot because I like games, action/horror movies, and metal, but I don’t consider any of those things to be masculine at all. Other people do though, and love to inform me of that!

        5. Ev*

          The thing that people perceive you as is not necessarily the thing that you are. Gender can be expressed externally, but external expression isn’t necessary for an internal experience of gender to be true. If a person experiences their gender in a nonbinary way, they don’t stop being nonbinary just because their presentation reads as gendered to another person.

        6. Laika*

          Hello! I am very feminine-presenting and, until very recently, went exclusively by she/her pronouns. You would be hard-pressed to look at my body and think of it as anything but female. In the last year I’ve started moving to they/she pronouns. Both are viable options for me, but I am very much a non-binary human. I’ve been non-binary my whole life; the fact that I went by she/her until very recently doesn’t really change that. I’m just in a better position now to start asking people to recognize that (“coming out”, I guess).

        7. Liz T*

          Perhaps the way one dresses and presents is “feminine” to some, but clothes are clothes.

          For a lot of people (myself included) it would take actual work to look recognizably “androgynous.” I don’t feel like putting in a lot of effort every day just because some people feel I need a “nonbinary” costume in order to count. Different nonbinary people have different relationships to, you know, the binary? So dress + lipstick = feminine may or may not even feel true to a given nonbinary person.

        8. Liz T*

          I think you might be falling into the trap of thinking of nonbinary as a “third gender.” Which to some people it might kind of be! (I identify most closely with the term “demigirl.”) But as an umbrella term it’s not a specific flavor of gender– it just means not adhering to the Only Two Flavors model of gender.

        9. Divergent*

          To add to some of the other responses: some folks on the agender part of the gender spectra (or other folks, for various reasons) will use whatever pronouns people default to but still use universal bathrooms, because it’s a lot harder to change people’s use of pronouns than it is to enter a room that (theoretically) isn’t being policed.

    3. MistOrMister*

      To he fair, OP said the gender neutral bathroom also doubles as the disabled bathroom. That being said, there are only 2 stalls in the women’s room. So of course people are going to also use the single occupancy bathroom if there is a wait. Unless the dean is spending an inordinate amount of time in there and clearly not using the toilet, there is really no place of anyone to say anything. Granted, if she went in there every day and came out 2 hours later having changed into a ball gown, curled her hair and put on a full face of makeup, then yes, it would be reasonable for someone to say something. But if she’s in there for a “normal” amount of time, well then this is just part of life when you work with others.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And even if the dean comes out looking professionally put together after being in there a long time, there’s no saying they weren’t in there for an invisible medical need.

        1. Lexie*

          Exactly. I have IBS. There are times that when I need the bathroom I need it right then, waiting is not an option. There are also times when I’m going to be in there for what many people would consider an excessive amount of time but I really do need to be in there. But just looking at me isn’t going to show you a problem and I’d rather not go through the humiliation of explaining why I why I can’t wait.

          1. Calibri Hater*

            Came here to say something like this. There are LOT of “invisible illnesses” that might require use of a single bathroom: IC, Crohn’s, Celiac, IBS…someone could also have an ostomy bag they need to empty in private. Oh, and I personally would prefer to use one when I have my period!

            It would be so invasive to reach out to HR and police this situation.

            1. dontusuallypost*

              Agree! It can be as simple as having a period. I used to use one to clean my Mooncup – not so easy in a communal bathroom.

              1. JamminOnMyPlanner*

                Yes, this is a good point! I always forget to bring wipes with me, but I’m also not about to march out to the communal sink with my literal cup of blood to dump out! But it feels gross to put it back in when there’s still blood on it, and I’m always afraid the cheap toilet paper is going to leave residue.

              2. Anon this time*

                I was thinking the same thing. My office has two single-person gender neutral restrooms downstairs. I comfortably identify as cis female, so I usually use the women’s restroom closer to my desk most of the time, but when I need to empty my menstrual cup, I go to one of the gender neutral ones. The chance of making a mess is reduced, and it allows me to clean my cup properly without risking having to stand next to someone else while I wash my cup. That’s not comfortable for either of us.

    4. AnonInCanada*

      This. Sounds like OP#1’s issue is not as much about “gender neutral = non-binary” but “now I have to wait a minute to go do my business.” If OP#1 feels self-conscious about using a gender-specific washroom, as suggested elsewhere, they can go up or down a floor in the building to find whether or not the gender-neutral washroom there is free. They should keep their nose out of the Dean’s “business,” and definitely not go to HR about it.

  8. Junior*

    Watching TikTok last night and a creator shared that they use a catheter. Nothing ‘external’ about them would necessarily indicate why they might need to use a larger bathroom or have more privacy.
    A dear mentor of mine in college suffered IBS, and would use the single stall bathroom for comfort, privacy, and respect.
    LW 1, you really have no idea why the dean uses the gender neutral bathroom, so please don’t talk to them about it.
    My universities had terrible bathroom access, so maybe bringing it up as a campus-wide issue might be your best bet in the long (long) run.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I’ve had to self-catheterize. I’m young, able-bodied and I can fit the self-catheter into my pockets. (Worth mentioning that many bathroom aids are designed to be discrete.)

      It would be much more awkward to do in a stall, so I would absolutely use the disabled toilets when doing that.

    2. Moonlight*

      I was thinking the same. I know a few people with things like colostomy bags due to having ulcerative colitis and stuff, and that’s rough. Or maybe they have diabetes and don’t want to be dealing with their pump where others can see them. Or maybe they have an eating disorder… shall I go on?

    3. Ostomate*

      I self-cath and have had an ostomy bag since I was 4 years old. While I *can* use a regular public stall, the greater privacy and space afforded by an accessible stall or gender-neutral single stall bathroom can make things a lot easier.

      From the outside I just look overweight.

    4. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      As someone who will soon be using an nephrostomy tube/bag to bypass my bladder for a few weeks after surgery, YES.

      I’m told it won’t be visible if I don’t want it to be because there are ways to secure it to my body under my clothes. There is no way I’d opt to use a shared space to empty the urine from the bag if a single, larger stall where I’m able to move abound easier was available.

  9. Jen*

    I don’t even understand the suggestion to contact HR to send out a reminder. A gender neutral bathroom does not mean it’s for use by binary folks only, just that it’s not specified to one gender. I think the LW misunderstands the designation, honestly, and addressing the dean would be…omg, it would be SO bad.

    1. Normeme*

      It would be so bad that I almost want it to happen. Yes, please, try to police the dean’s bathroom use and see how that goes. Report back. I’ll make the popcorn.

  10. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    OP 1 – it sounds like what they really need is to possibly designate MORE of the bathrooms to gender neutral bathrooms. If you were to go to HR (I know Alison removed that specific advice), but perhaps you could do it more from a place of – “I’ve noticed my wait times increased, and it seems like these bathrooms are needed by a lot of people, could we change some of the current bathrooms into gender neutral bathrooms?”

    Perhaps you could change one more on every floor or every other floor to increase access. Maybe you are the only non-binary person and maybe you’re just the only one that you know about.

    1. Your genderqueer dad*

      I really like this suggestion. I appreciate commenters pointing out the reasons the dean could be using the GN restroom, and at the same time I sympathize with LW1 because resources for non binary people are very limited and bathrooms can provoke a particular kind of dysphoria. Addressing that there’s a desire for more accessible, gender neutral, single stall restrooms is a great path.

      1. Amaranth*

        Regarding LW’s complaint about multi-use bathrooms, most businesses or schools can’t just add rooms and plumbing on a whim, so I’m wondering if these used to be ‘family’ or handicapped bathrooms which were essentially relabeled.

        1. FloralWraith*

          There’s also local zoning to consider, there are some (IMO outdated) zoning laws that specify the number of specific gendered toilet stalls.

        2. Princess Xena*

          Zoning laws aside, I’ll note that at my university in one of the older buildings the basement bathroom got converted to be gender-neutral. It was the women’s (no urinal) but it was as simple as replacing the old stall doors with ones that cover more of the stall and changing the sign. No new plumbing. Worked well.

          Urinals would probably be harder to work around

          1. Kal*

            My alma mater chose some former women’s bathrooms and some former men’s bathrooms to turn into gender neutral ones, and did nothing else beyond changing the signs for them. So now there are gender neutral ones with urinals and ones without (and I think they are signed to indicate that). From what I’ve heard from a couple current students, they’ve never seen the urinals in them be used, but they’re still there and functional – some people choose not to use the bathrooms with urinals for their own comfort and others don’t care. Its not a perfect solution, but full renovations on all of the buildings isn’t a realistic option so it does a good job of immediately opening more access so people have the option to choose for themselves.

        3. fposte*

          I’ve definitely seen that happen.

          And I think the OP may not realize that the code that requires a certain number of bathrooms for the space *includes* those bathrooms–it’s assumed that all bathrooms are in regular use. It’s not like handicapped parking, where the whole point is to keep them empty in case somebody does need them. People wait for bathroom access; it’s just a thing that happens with bathrooms.

    2. SW*

      I’ve been facing a similar dilemma to the OP, with the added bonus that all of the gender-neutral bathrooms in my building are in great demand. So it seems like the problem is that people in general want more privacy when using the restroom and if there were more single-occupant restrooms, there would be less of a problem of having to wait in general, regardless of the reason why they’re looking to use the restroom.
      The situation is like how if only some curbs get curb cuts, it becomes obvious how useful they are and how much people quickly come to rely on them. Having some gender neutral restrooms without having all restrooms be gender neutral results in situations like the OP’s and mine.

      1. Peppermints*

        I had colon cancer at 35 and lost my colon (good riddance to bad plumbing). I have an ostomy, and I guarantee that if you were to judge by my appearance, you would have no idea. Please don’t assume that you are the only one in need of a single-occupant bathroom.

        1. Snuck*

          I am not sure if the US has a “changing places” system? In Australia there is a set of locked toilets in many spaces (including some University campuses) that are adults sized change rooms that include the equipment to fully change a wheelchair bound adult including an adult sized change table and access equipment etc. they aren’t as prevalent as the ubiquitous disabled Toilets but they are key locked with only registered users getting a key. The criteria to get a key is somewhat liberal currently but may change as more users sign up. The benefit is for those who need a long time in a disabled bathroom, or biowaste cleanup etc the facilities are there, reducing pressure on the simpler disabled bathrooms

          1. Batgirl*

            I’ve known places that have locked extra toilets, it’s useful for disabled visitors for example, because you know the locked toilet is free and clean. I could see the OP getting a key if she was never able to use the one suitable toilet, but they aren’t going to care she is waiting for one person. Cutting off access to others who haven’t disclosed why they are using it, probably won’t be worth it for that. I think the OP is more annoyed than inconvenienced, by the perceived insensitivity from someone who could use the ladies; however OP can’t really know that.

          2. Asenath*

            I’ve never seen a public toilet space large enough for a adult to be changed. I have seen, very frequently, toilets in rooms large enough to accommodate a wheelchair and often a changing table for infants, although that may be in a separate even larger space. Such single-person toilets were often originally in pairs, one for women and one men, but now are almost invariably marked with the series of symbols indicating that anyone can use them (not that the signs really stopped any woman who wanted to use the men’s room standing empty when the women’s was in use, or presumably anyone binary from using either). But they’re only practical as the only solution if public traffic isn’t too high – if it is, we tend to have lots of smaller cubicles plus a “disabled” one in the mens/womens rooms and a very large “family” one in a common area, which is now for more than families. There may still be a wait for the facility you prefer or need, though, if it’s busy.

            But if you need to get a key to access the toilets, it’s generally because the management has had trouble with vandalism or drug use there, not because the facilities need to be reserved for a certain type of customer.

          3. Lizzy May*

            Just a heads up that “wheelchair bound” is not the preferred term in the disability community. Most wheelchair users have expressed that they aren’t bound to a mobility device, rather that it’s freeing.

            1. Well Here's The Thing, Janet*

              Interesting! My partner prefers “wheelchair bound” along with “disabled” (and despises “differently abled”) because he believes saying that he can do what everyone else can do isn’t helping himself or the disabled community, which needs specific and thoughtful accommodations rather than pretending (his words) “I can do whatever you can do.” Being told that his mobility devices are “freeing” irritates him, he compares it to someone who’s 5 feet and can’t see over a 5.5 foot fence being given a 1 foot box to stand on and being told “now you’re tall”.

              1. Kal*

                Differently abled, and other similar terms like special needs and handicapable, are absolutely a horrid term for exactly those reasons.

                For me, though, I am not “wheelchair bound”, because without the wheelchair I can’t leave home at all, with it I at least have the freedom to go outside sometimes. So mobility aids don’t free you to be able to do everything that an abled person can do, they just let you do more than you could do without the wheelchair.

                But! Whether he sees his wheelchair as freeing or may not even be relevant, since the preferred term by the community is “wheelchair user”, and it would be hard to argue that he isn’t using the wheelchair when he’s… using it. Its a much more neutral term that doesn’t make any presumptions about the opinions or feelings of users or those around them – it neither presumes that the user sees it as freeing nor that the user is a poor wretched soul punished by harsh fate to be forcefully attached to this horrid device, which is the (admittedly highly dramatic) way it comes across to me when someone says I am “wheelchair bound”.

                The other benefit of “wheelchair user” is that it removes the presumption that there are no ambulatory wheelchair users. I am also not bound to my wheelchair because I can get up and walk around – I just can’t do it for long or I’ll seriously hurt myself. “Wheelchair bound” being used as the default term includes the presumption that anyone who ever stands up out of wheelchair must be faking their disability, which has obvious harmful effects for anyone who is an ambulatory wheelchair user.

                AND now that I’ve written way too much, I’ll add that none of this means that your husband has to suddenly change to preferring “wheelchair user” for himself – he can still choose which term he wants for himself. Its more that if you’re talking about the category of wheelchair users in general or someone who you don’t know the preferences of, its best to default to “wheelchair user”.

              1. Lucien Nova*

                Wheelchair user – just like you’d say someone who walks with a cane is a cane user, someone who needs supports or bracing is a brace user. It’s a mobility aid same as any of those. :)

    3. Well...*

      This is what I was thinking… It sounds like there needs to be more gender neutral bathrooms.

      In our union contract, grad students had an explicit right to access gender neutral bathrooms. There was a constant debate over what “access” meant (admin thought one bathroom a 15 minute walk away counted). I found the whole thing wild because in undergrad, the vast majority of us living in dorms had coed bathrooms with many stalls, but it was such a struggle at the time to move that access over to the workplace. The gender neutral ones had to be one stall for pretty weak reasons, and there was never any space.

      1. Christina*

        Though a lot of University buildings are older and not easily replumbed. Bathrooms are expensive to put in, and if the current gendered ones are getting used, you can’t just make a stalled bathroom gender neutral and expect the cis men and cis women to be happy about it.

        1. Parakeet*

          I’ve seen “make a stalled bathroom gender neutral” done as a single-event thing in venues for certain conferences and conventions – just sticking gender-neutral signs over the usual labels. And not just LGBTQ ones, but, for example, a sci-fi/fantasy fandom convention. It wasn’t a big deal.

          1. Christina*

            I’ve seen it become a very big deal if there are not adequate women and men’s bathrooms to start with. And I’m assuming with a mere two stalls in the women’s room, there aren’t an overwhelming number of restrooms in the building to start with. Cis women don’t like being in stalled bathrooms with cis men any more than trans people want to use a misgendered bathroom. Those issues that people have issues with that require a single bathroom – there are a lot more that you are socialized to be fine with if its your gender but not if its mixed gender (like changing in the ladies room – or dealing with that time of the month).

            Sci-Fi Fantasy conventions are not the workplace and have a different culture (my first SF convention was in 1984).

            1. HelloHello*

              I’m a cis woman who is perfectly fine using a multi-stall bathroom with people of any gender. Sure there are cis women who don’t like it, but it’s not a universal feeling.

              1. Foila*

                Yup, same, cis lady here who is totally happy sharing a stalled bathroom with all comers, though I also recognize the valid discomfort of others around the idea.

            2. zillah*

              yeah, as a ciswoman, i’m uncomfortable sharing bathroom space with cis men, and would personally avoid stalled gender neutral bathrooms for that reason.

          2. Nanani*

            I’ve seen that too, but only in VERY old buildings where the bathrooms were made for men only – like every bathroom had urinals – because back in the whatever times only men used this building.

            1. Asenath*

              I remember one historic building like that! The men’s toilets were on the main floor. The women’s were downstairs in the basement, but quite large and modern when you finally found them. I assume they’ve now got toilets for people who can’t handle stairs, since it’s used as a performing arts space instead of the men’s-only society building it was constructed as.

              Actually, older buildings often have their public toilets – all of them – in odd places. I can only assume back in the day no on ever used a public toilet around here. Maybe they all went behind bushes or something. They surely didn’t wait until they got to the toilet (or outhouse) back home!

        2. HelloHello*

          I’d argue that you could absolutely make a stalled bathroom gender neutral. I’ve been in many situations where that was the case (college, conferences, offices) and it wasn’t a problem. I’m not saying people never dislike it, but gender neutral multi-stalled bathrooms certainly can and do exist.

          1. Christina*

            You can, but what will happen is that EVERYONE who isn’t comfortable with gender and bathroom issues will use the single bathroom, making the OPs problem worse. For every person who is fine with it, there are people – like the letter writer themselves – who wants some gender definition and/or privacy due to gender issues. So you don’t solve their problem, but create more problems. Now Mary isn’t only using the single bathroom due to her IBS and Eli because of their non binary nature, but Sarah is using it because men in the bathroom doesn’t feel safe (and she might have VERY good reasons), and Cora because “women don’t poop” is in place whenever men are in the mix.

            Ideally, you’d just put in a lot of single bathrooms without stalls, but that isn’t a practical cost effective thing for most offices.

            And I’m one of those CIS women who sometimes cares and sometimes doesn’t. I really don’t want to be dealing with a menstrual oops in a gender neutral stalled bathroom – or change clothes in one. But I have no issues with a quick toilet trip and have used gender neutral bathrooms in those circumstances. But if I need to change a pad – with that ripping sound – I’m going to be using the single bathroom rather than a gender neutral one.

    4. Forrest*

      Yes, if OP is regularly waiting to use the bathroom and that’s a significant burden for them— you don’t have enough bathrooms!

      The thing that comes up over and over again is that MOST PEOPLE prefer single stall, gender-neutral toilets with lots of space— we straight up need more of them!

    5. WS*

      I have Crohn’s and have related arthritis which sometimes restricts my mobility (especially when sitting and standing up) so personally I would find it very frustrating that the only gender neutral toilet is also the only disabled toilet.

      Amy Farrah Fowler is correct that there are not enough bathrooms if the uses are conflicting!

      1. Turtle Duck*

        I spent about 2 secondes trying to figure out which episode of The Big Bang Theory that was in before I got it

    6. L-squared*

      Does that really help though? You aren’t adding bathrooms, you are just making more of them neutral, but keeping the same amount of toilets for the same number of people.

      And honestly, my guess is if you are taking out urinals for me to add toilets, that will just increase waits for everyone.

      I know bars aren’t a great example. But in my experience, bars with gender neutral bathrooms aren’t actually any faster for moving lines.

    7. LRL*

      THIS!

      Please let HR, and/or your schools D&I and/or Accesibility committees, and/or facilities department know that you appreciate the gender-neutral bathrooms and you have noticed many people using them. While they may not be willing or able to do anything about it today, it may help in the future. Gender-neutral bathrooms are still often thought of as special accommodations (with a side of scoff), and letting people know that they see a lot of use will help normalize their inclusion in facilities planning.

  11. Language Lover*

    lw#4

    It’s interesting because I too might bristle at being given a calendar link even though it’d probably make my job easier to look at someone’s calendar for an open space that matches my (or my team’s) open availability and select it instead of going back and forth. It’s sometimes hard to shake the “but this isn’t the way this is supposed to work” feelings.

    However, if you choose a reasonable business-hours time that he has open (so not 2 a.m.) and he rejects the time because something wasn’t on his calendar, then I might move on. If that’s how he wants to present his open time, fine, but it’d better be updated.

    1. Snuck*

      I would look at his calendar, see if there was anything ‘business reasonable’ that matched up with my invitees, and if so schedule an appointment. If there wasn’t then I’d email him back, say “I am sorry, but could not find a mutually agreeable time. If you would like to interview with us you’ll need to find some time to do that. I have the following time slots available, and will hold them for a day or so for you.”

      Business reasonable = reasonable hours, and a reasonable window of time into the future to hold interviews based on the hiring timeline. And I’d write it like that because if he’s not interested enough to clear some of his calendar then he’s not interested enough in the job. If his calendar is wiiiiide open and not up to date, and he cannot attend the time you propose then that is useful information about him too – he has said “this calendar is an accurate reflection of my work availability” and you can assume if he’s too disorganised to update it that this will show up somewhere at your own work too if you hire him (may not be a deal breaker).

      Sending the calendar link is a bit curt, but we don’t know anything about this person. I share my calendar link with people at times as I am juggling work, study, family commitments (including medically complex child with multiple weekly appointments) and sometimes it’s just easier to share. I don’t miss any of those commitments in there, it’s just too complicated to find a spot sometimes without it being a phone call, or a share.

    2. Wendy*

      I would find having to schedule myself on someone else’s calendar stressful, honestly, especially if it was a stranger. Oh, they have a 10:00 meeting? Can I schedule for 11:00, or is that too soon? Do they have a regular lunch plan? If I schedule for 12:30, would they find that incredibly rude? Am I supposed to just *know* that they take their lunch from 12-1, and they leave it off their calendar because they kinda sorta theoretically would change it if there was a good enough reason? I frequently have chunks of time that are technically free but would be significantly less convenient to me than others – and the power differential between the OP and the interviewee would make this especially difficult.

      1. Graeme*

        That’s the definition of “not your problem”. If they want to use this system, it’s their responsibility to make sure the calendar is accurate – including keeping meetings to the allocated length and either blocking off lunch breaks or being flexible with them.

      2. J*

        If the person is using the software correctly they already have their lunch hour excluded, and if they wanted to they have also set it to create a buffer between meetings. So for mine, if I am sending out a link it is automatically pulling availability from my Outlook calendar, preserving a lunch hour, excluding 8am and 4:30pm time slots, and putting a 15-minute buffer between meetings.

      3. Alice*

        I will add that, while I don’t schedule work meetings during lunch time or outside of work hours in general, I’m more than happy to schedule interviews during lunch or at odd times like 6am or 9pm! (*) I have many meetings during the day that I can’t move at short notice without raising red flags, so I’m mindful that I’ll need to accommodate whatever time works for me and the interviewer. Surely the kind interpretation in this case is that the candidate was trying to be helpful in providing as many slots as they could, especially given that none of the original times proposed would work!

        (* Provided that the interviewers are in a different time zone or have stated they are okay with interviewing or if office hours, of course)

      4. L-squared*

        That isn’t really how that stuff works though. You just see times they have available, not their full calendar. For example, my calendar doesn’t let someone schedule something to within 15 minutes to another appointment. So if I have an 11:00 meeting, you can’t schedule anything wiht me to end past 10:45. Those are settings built in, and I have my lunch blocked off. so you really don’t have to worry about that, because if it is available, it means its available.

      5. ecnaseener*

        With Calendly you’re not seeing their other meetings, you’re seeing time blocks that they specifically chose to make available. So that part shouldn’t factor in.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yes, I think this is it exactly. It does tend to make the scheduling much easier so overall it should be a good thing (although I can understand why it feels weird). But given that he initiated this form of scheduling, he needs to make sure the calendar is updated.

      1. Love to WFH*

        I always LOVE to get scheduling link!m. It’s so much easier than going back & forth with times!

        I cannot fathom why anyone would find it objectionable. They’re telling you “when” they are available.

        1. Covered in Bees*

          Same! This is especially true when I had access to put things on other people’s calendar but so did they. It happened more than once that in between offering an outside party times and that party getting back to me, the availability was gone. I would put holds in their schedule but it didn’t always work.

        2. Tech Worker*

          Totally agree, Love to WFH. I LOVE when people send me Calendly links regardless of if they’re the one initiating the conversation or me. It just makes things so much easier on both ends. It’s very easy to accidentally write down the wrong time when jotting down a list of times, often you have to write down a ton of different options because you don’t know how much flexibility the other person has, meetings get scheduled in the middle of this back and forth making previous available times no longer available, etc. This is especially true if you’re going through multiple interview processes at the same time. You might be free all day for an interview but if you tell that to both companies you’re interviewing for, they may request the same slot.

    4. Rolly*

      All this.

      He is making things easier – take it. If if what you take doesn’t work, reject him.

    5. anonymous73*

      It would bother me because it seems lazy. The candidate has applied for a job and they’re expecting YOU to find time on their calendar to schedule a second interview. I wouldn’t necessarily reject them because of it, but it would stick in the back of my mind as a potential issue. I schedule meetings frequently in my job, and have often had people come back and tell me a time didn’t work even though their calendar showed them as free, which in turn makes my job more difficult. And this is with people I already work with regularly. So this would bug me…a lot.

      1. wondermint*

        I work in tech where calendly links are incredible common. The canidate sending over their calendly wouldn’t phase me at all.

        LW didn’t explain why they were put off, just that they were. I may be overreaching, but perhaps LW felt that they were owed respect? “*You* schedule with *me*, not the other way around.”

        Whether subconscious or not, there’s a power dynamic in interviews, it would be ridiculous to withdraw someone over using an app to schedule. Especially given the hot job market.

        1. Blarn*

          Yes, but tech is known for being a sector where people prioritize…tech. In a high context industry or workplace culture, getting a calendar link from an applicant would come off as a red flag to me, because it indicates the sender isn’t aware of industry norms of courtesy. Calendar apps are for scheduling clients or intra-office scheduling. Sending one to an interviewer comes off as high-handed and tone deaf.

        2. BethDH*

          I feel a bit odd any time someone changes the mode of scheduling mid-process. If I’m scheduling multiple interviews, I want to do them all the same way. I wouldn’t mind telling all the candidates to send me their calendar links if they all used them.
          In this case I might not mind because it sounds like the candidate did at least respond with an answer to the initial availability question but I would absolutely be annoyed if I sent them a list of choices and they responded by telling me to look at their calendar.

          1. ceiswyn*

            Sure, but that’s not what happened. OP asked the candidate for a list of possible times.

            IF the candidate’s calendar is actually accurate, then why would it be better for them to transcribe the information on it than to just send the link?

      2. ceiswyn*

        The candidate only knows one person’s schedule; their own. Would you really prefer them to choose a single time that works best for them but may be awful for you?

        Or would you rather they sent a list of times they have free – and if that, then why not a calendar link?

        1. Blarn*

          Because it just feels rude. It just does. It’s presumptuous of a relationship that does not exist, or does not yet exist.

      3. londonedit*

        I’m definitely not in tech, and it just seems…really dismissive to me. Like if the candidate had waved their hand and said ‘talk to my people’. Maybe it’s normal in some industries/interactions, but if I was trying to organise a meeting with someone, I’d said ‘Would you be free on Tuesday at 11, or alternatively Wednesday at 4?’ and they responded with nothing but a calendar, it would definitely feel rude to me. The response I’d expect – and this definitely isn’t about me thinking I’m superior to a job applicant, this is the response I’d expect from anyone – would at least be ‘Sorry but I’m tied up on Tuesday and Wednesday – I’m attaching a link to my calendar, please feel free to choose any time that would work for you’. Not just a link – to me that says ‘I’m not even going to do the bare minimum here, you figure it out’.

        1. LW4 (long time reader, first time writer!)*

          LW4 here! So a bit more context (I kept it brief for purposes of the original question). I do work in tech, and also personally use Calendly both internally and with established clients. But…that being said…the clients this individual would be working with (managing our customer service and training teams on a software we have built) are typically not tech-savvy, and many times tech-resistant. So, in reflecting (I just sent this question in yesterday, so it’s highly top-of-mind) – I think it was less that I would have to do the ‘work’ to find a time with him (although that could definitely have played into it), and more that I wouldn’t want that to be the attitude with the clients. He was very process-oriented in his interview, which I admire and is a part of the role, but also a great deal needs to be client-facing and help them gain confidence with the software. I get that his communication with me isn’t necessarily indicative of his communication with clients, but I think that was more what was driving me to consider removing him from the contention.

          1. wondermint*

            Fellow tech worker here again. Seems like the expectation of communicating with clients could be part of his onboarding rather easily. Right now he’s communicating with you, a peer.

            I don’t think I need to remind you how blazing hot tech job market it at the moment. Removing his candidacy for this sole (minor, at most) reason would be, frankly, out of touch.

            A caveat is unless he’ll be working in partnerships and should know better at this stage. If he’s SWD, UXD, or even PM then consider leeway.

          2. Alice*

            But that’s just another reason to schedule a second interview… You have no idea if that’s really how they would act with the clients. For example, people may use technical language while talking to a manager or peer, but switch to simpler terms when explaining to a client. Their communication with you is not an indication of their communication with clients, necessarily, unless they were rude or something like that. If you have doubts that they will be effective in communicating with non-tech savvy people, just ask them during the interview.

            1. Snuck*

              Agree. If you really like the candidate then you want to see if this is the case.

              Ask them about it! Even better ask to speak to someone who can be a reference for them in this specific situation – either in a current/previous work role, or if that’s not possible then ask them to come down and have a look at the work you are doing on site, and ask them how they’d handle a couple of the scenarios that come up.

              It sounds like the calendar isn’t the issue, it’s the possibly technical approach, so unpack that.

          3. Jack Russell Terrier*

            I think that what’s missing here in my mind is this:

            I know you’ve sent possible interview times that work for *multiple people* at your end. That is what would have stood out for me.

            When that didn’t work for me, I would have sent you my calendar link with the meat of the note saying ‘Unfortunately those times don’t work for me. Since I know you’re co-ordinating several people’s schedules, perhaps it’s easier if you see my schedule so you can just block off a time on it that works for everyone at your end? {link}.

            So … I see what you’re getting at with ‘soft skills’.

      4. Loulouise*

        Goodness, that seems awfully uncharitable. I work a rotating shift schedule – days to nights to days and nights, evenings and weekends and everything inbetween. Trying to break out of that and get a nice, regular, 9-5 is incredibly hard because everyone else is on a much more regular schedule! If, after a little back and forth we couldn’t find a time that worked for both of us, I would absolutely offer them a calendar of my shifts so they could find a working time (I even gave my realtor a calendar of my schedule unprompted for this very reason). It sounds like the issue isn’t so much the calendar but the attitude the candidate approached the question with: offering a calendar link sounds very convenient (for me, at least, that would be a delight) but there is a big difference between simply sending a link with little to no context and a “Hmm, I can’t make those times work, but I can give you a link to my Calendly, and if you see an open time in there anywhere feel free to book it!”

      5. Language Lover*

        It’s not lazy; it’s efficient.

        They tried the “do these times work for you” method and it didn’t work.

      6. KB*

        Sure, but in this case LW’s company has a need to speak to as many qualified candidates as possible, and it’s outdated to frame the hiring process as them holding all of the power in the situation. They’re not doing candidates a favor by interviewing them, they’re setting up a potentially mutually beneficial meeting.

    6. emm*

      I wouldn’t assume the 2AM time slots wouldn’t work for him. My first thought was that he is used to working with people on different time zones and can make that work if needed. Obviously the manager shouldn’t consider then, but it’s not proof that they’re being sloppy.

  12. Kelly*

    #3, that adds up to probably about 30 hours of solid driving, assuming that you’re not stuck in traffic or bad weather. That alone sounds like torture, let alone a dealing with a toxic person as well. Don’t do it!

    1. Aggretsuko*

      And think of the gas prices going way up now. I am definitely gonna limit my driving these days now.

    2. Karo*

      LW3 here! This has been my main dilemma. I was really jazzed about the project itself, but that amount of driving and then the “reward” of having to see/deal with one of the worst people I know? Oof. I’m taking this as a wake-up call!

  13. Pam*

    Besides the who can use the bathroom issue, I saw another problem .

    I got a heavy, difficult to open door fixed by having students complain to our disability center.

    1. Wendy*

      My university had an entire QUAD inaccessible because of a door. I lived on the “way out in the middle of nowhere” quad (which I loved – it was quiet!) and the school decided to tear down the lovely wooded pathways from us to the main campus and put up a new dorm instead. The only way to get to our quad from the main campus was to enter the new dorm on the 4th floor (ground level from the east), go down the elevator, then out these MASSIVE heavy doors on the 1st floor (ground level from the west). The doors theoretically had one of those push buttons to automatically open them, but they were so heavy the push buttons broke constantly. The single elevator was out of order fairly frequently, too. The handful of students I knew with mobility issues all opted not to live on our quad anymore :-\

      1. Becky*

        That’s a pretty steep grade if you enter on the fourth floor on one side and first floor on the other–how did those with mobility issues navigate the former pathways?

        On my campus there was a terraced garden that had cobbled switchbacks and ramps but eventually gave way to stairs. They then removed the terraced garden and replaced it with a new building with first floor access on the south and fourth floor access on the north. There was a more accessible route a few blocks west–wide paved path that curves up the hill–that nearly everyone who lives south of campus uses, so it didn’t impact those with mobility issues.

    2. Momma Bear*

      I think this is worth addressing – a heavy door matters when you have limited mobility/are trying to maneuver in a wheelchair or with crutches or something.

    3. Observer*

      That’s a really good point. And I think that it points to broader issues with how decision makers think about accommodations – or possibly don’t think.

  14. Artemesia*

    #3. It takes some of us a long time to realize that we do not need to accept ‘opportunities’ just because they are offered. It is a gift to yourself to learn to be able to say ‘No, I actually don’t WANT to do this.’ and then not do it. I wish I had learned this a lot earlier than I did.

    1. Snuck*

      Agree! And just because something is offered does not always mean it will be good for your career.

      It might be wise to avoid this situation to protect your reputation and career. You don’t have to say that, you can just say “Oh it’s a great opportunity but I have a few other commitments on those weekends and don’t want to let the team down, I’ll participate later in the other ways instead!” With a smile.

      If toxic ex friend is there and going to make you feel unbalanced this might well bleed into your professionalism. Best to avoid completely.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      A while back someone introduced me to the concept of being strategic about what I take on. It’s fine, OP, to give an opportunity a bit of a “stress test”. Does this opportunity benefit you in some manner? Is it reasonably doable for you?

      And the biggie I like to think about is, am I actually going to have some success or am I setting myself up to fail? In your example here OP, driving for me would be an issue. Rural area everything is far apart and it can get stressful for unforeseen reasons. Then once I get there I have to deal with Toxic Person! So I am pushing myself along to get to a place where the battles just don’t stop. Then I get to drive home. I am getting tired just thinking about this.

      Remove the Toxic Person and my conclusion *might* be different, or not. My next consideration would be do I have the extra time right now for all that driving?

      The thing I am trying to uncover here is that “I don’t wanna” isn’t really all that is going on here. If you break this down, it doesn’t sound like it makes sense to do it. And this is what I learned, I learned that when I hit that “I don’t wanna”, dig a bit deeper and try to figure out if the task even makes sense for me to be doing.

      Just because opportunities exist does not mean *I* need to take it on.

      1. Karo (LW3)*

        You’re very right! The project itself sounded like it was exactly my kind of thing, which is why all the angst over it (and writing into Ask A Manager). Like, it’s the sort of project I dreamed of doing when I embarked on this career. Part of the issue was that I would absolutely suffer through the driving for it if my awful ex-friend wasn’t there, just because I know I’d love it, and I don’t necessarily want to let my ex-friend ruin it for me.

        But you put it correctly: all that driving, lost time, and then having to deal with a terrible toxic person on top of it all is really why I’m wondering if I should just, y’know, pass this one by and wait it out for the next one (ideally either sans the drive or sans the awful person).

        (There also aren’t any real negatives to not doing it. I’ll get a few questions re: “but I thought you were dying to do [x project] and you seemed so psyched to be doing it in 2020,” but no real consequences.)

        1. Snuck*

          Can you just shrug and say “Yes, I am keen! But I just can’t make this one work around some other commitments that have come up. I am keen to do the next one though!” And that should answer it fine.

    3. Covered in Bees*

      Yeah. As much as they’d enjoy doing the work, LW doesn’t mention any actual negatives to not doing it.

    4. Dragon*

      And say an unequivocal “No”. I didn’t when I was asked to work with a boss who no admin liked. I clearly expressed my dislike and unwillingness, at which the admin manager confessed he’d told the boss he was sure I’d be willing to take him.

      I might have gotten stuck with this boss anyway, but I should have made them stick it to me.

  15. Nonnie*

    “Gender neutral” bathroom means open to use by people of all genders, not reserved for those who identify as non-binary (or openly present as non-binary, like you seem to be suggesting). Neither gender identity nor disability have to be visible and no one is required to disclose either to coworkers to justify their use of a bathroom. Don’t assume that the Dean or anyone else doesn’t have good reason to use the single-stall bathroom. If there’s one on every floor, try one on the next floor up or down when you don’t want to wait.

    1. Christina*

      Heck on a college campus you can often dart over to the next building. Think of it as “getting your steps in.”

  16. JenB*

    It’s not often talked about, except by continence nurses like me, but it’s thought that about 25% of working age people have incontinence in some form. Be kind (and fast!) about toilets folks!

  17. J*

    I would like to remind LW #1 that while they themselves may be comfortable identifying as non-binary there are still many people who are questioning and navigating a very complicated aspect of their identity.

    I’ve known people who presented as their assigned gender for many years even while they were privately trying to understand who they truly were. I can imagine at least one of them having their gender dysmorphia triggered as the result of someone questioning their bathroom usage. That is an unkindness that I’m sure LW#1 would not appreciate for themselves.

    The gender dysphoria they are protecting themselves from could also be something this executive is protecting themselves from. (We don’t know— and isn’t the purpose of gender neutral bathrooms is to keep this private choice private and these spaces safe? This safety should extend to everyone— not just executives.)

  18. Jasmi*

    OP 1, you might not know this but people with a stoma bag, for example, need more space than in a regular stall. Also, this person might have other issues such as IBS so they might prefer to have more privacy when using the bathroom or not be able to wait, or have any number of other reasons for needing to use a single stall bathroom. If course it could also be that they just happen to have a preference for this particular bathroom or that they’ve just got into the habit of using that one, but you’ve no way of knowing either way and I think it’s good to be mindful of that. I totally understand it’s frustrating and I think I’d feel a similar way in your shoes – but maybe reframing it in your head that there could be a reason for them needing to use that bathroom could help!

    1. Silmaril*

      Yes, absolutely agree with this!

      Three real-life examples off the top of my head:

      1) My sister was in a car accident and had injuries which left her in a whole-torso cast for several months. It wasn’t obvious to a casual observer, because she wore layers of loose fitting clothes over the cast, but it was impossible for her to use a toilet without handrails – she couldn’t transfer from standing to sitting without these. She was verbally abused several times by people who assumed she was wrongfully using the accessible toilets – this was so stressful that she stopped leaving home as much.

      2) A friend of mine has to self catheterise. Again, you can’t tell it to look at her, but she needs a stall with its own wash hand basin, like people with stoma bags.

      3) Another friend is non binary. They’re not yet out at work, but they get dysphoria using the mens room. They would absolutely be using a gender neutral restroom if they had access to one.

      Please try reframing this, it will reduce your frustration.

      It’s not the Dean’s “fault” that you can’t access this bathroom whenever you need to. It does sound like more gender neutral bathrooms would be useful, and perhaps you could advocate for this in your workplace. Otherwise, I’m afraid you might need to either accept an occasional wait or else suss out whether the ones on the adjacent floors are more likely to be empty than the one closest to you…

      1. Ayla*

        At various times in my past, I have had vertigo so extreme I could not safely move from sitting to standing without handrails, a panic disorder that made multi-stall bathrooms impossible to use, incontinence that required I have the space to change adult diapers as needed, and pregnancy mobility issues that make standing up without handrails excruciatingly painful. None of it was visible! Stuff happens. It’s better to assume that others have their reasons for making their restroom choices.

      2. Covered in Bees*

        I had a string of pregnancy losses such that I was pregnant 4 times in 14 months (luckily #4 worked out). That was a lot of bathroom time, especially vomiting and I was so grateful for single use bathrooms. I didn’t want to share my issues with my colleagues and some of them might also have been sympathetic vomiters.

        Because I wanted to keep the issue private, no one ever knew a thing about it. It was such a relief to have a party of my life that didn’t remind me of what was going on. If I had been approached by a colleague questioning my bathroom usage, I would have probably gone to pieces.

    2. londonedit*

      Yep, my sister has an ‘invisible’ health condition that often means she simply needs to use the nearest toilet ASAP. She’d be mortified if she thought people at work were monitoring which toilet she used because she doesn’t look like she ‘needs’ to use the disabled loo that’s closest to her desk.

  19. CreepyPaper*

    ‘Not using any visible disability aids’… they could still be disabled! I love how everyone still assumes that you have to be in a wheelchair to count as ‘disabled’. Sorry that’s really riled me up, as someone with an invisible disability.

    Here in the UK there are some bathrooms that do state ‘not every disability is visible’. I still get yelled at for using them because outwardly I look like your average able bodied girl but inside, different story. Roll on the surgery for my stoma bag so I can just lift my jumper to show people…

  20. Varthema*

    For LW 5, I just want to re-emphasize something which Alison has said here and elsewhere, that sometimes at the end of a hiring process there are genuinely two or even several people who are equally good. As a job candidate I know it can be hard to believe, but I promise it happens. At that stage, reasons for selecting one over the other can be very, very small. We always try to make sure that final tiebreaker is more objective than subjective for DEI reasons, but in the end, you HAVE to pick just one. And we will often give similar feedback to the rejected candidates, which is genuine.

    1. Jora Malli*

      I think it’s important to keep in mind that Company A in the scenario didn’t actually “reject” the OP. They just weren’t selected for one particular job opening at one particular time. That’s not a referendum on the candidate as a person, it just means they weren’t the most qualified person in that group of applicants. I’ve had recruitments where I was only able to hire one person, but had a second candidate who was wonderful and who I wished I could find a place for.

      1. Doctors Whom*

        YES. My peer managers and I pass along resumes all the time. I recently interviewed someone who had some great skills, and some green ones. The places where they were green meant that they were not a good fit for the projects I needed to bring someone on board to work – but their strengths would make them a great member of another team that could give them opportunities to grow in those green areas and places to hit the ground running and immediately apply their strengths. And they will be a great collaborator for my team. Another manager is working now on developing position descriptions for near term hiring and already has her resume on his desk and views her as a strong candidate.

      2. OP #5*

        I thought I was the second choice, but the listing remained up and promoted for a couple months after, so I’m not sure, honestly. I keep thinking there’s something in how I left Company A that jinxed my application, but the way I left them made me eligible for re-hire after 2 years and it’s been 5.
        Either way, I landed a really solid role after two interviews and start Monday, so it all worked out for me in the end, I guess!

    2. Momma Bear*

      I had an interview once where there were x number of open positions and I didn’t get one, but when they expanded their team, they reached out again. It might be the case here. I think it’s good that OP made such an impression that they were kept in mind by the company. (I took that job and it was fine. They didn’t dislike me but just for the first round they took the strongest candidates.)

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      100%. There are times my org would happily hire more candidates than there are spots.

  21. A.N. O'Nyme*

    LW1, gender dysphoria and being non-binary aren’t visible either, so technically you can’t prove you need that bathroom either. I know this makes me sound like a jerk, and I’m not questioning your identity, just offering you a different perspective here. Would you like your use of the bathroom be questioned?

    At any rate, I think you’re focussing on the wrong issue here. The issue isn’t so much the Dean(unless she’s a bathroom hog, but that’s not something you bring up in the letter so I’m assuming she isn’t), it’s that there are apparently not enough accessible/gender neutral bathrooms, so I would focus on that if you do decide to raise the issue.

    1. doreen*

      It’s not even clear to me from the letter that there aren’t enough accessible/gender neutral restrooms. It seems that the LW feels they should never have to wait (because they assume they are the only person who needs it) – but that’s not really the reason those single-stall restrooms exist. It’s just a side effect – nobody would say that an office of five people, all of whom legitimately need a handicapped or gender neutral restroom needs to have five separate restrooms so no one ever has to wait.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I think that notion is getting a little buried–that waiting for a bathroom is a common part of life in a lot of workplaces, and if there are only two stalls for women some people are likely waiting around by that door too.

    2. WindmillArms*

      This stood out to me, too! I’m an openly (and I think quite visibly) transgender person, and my stress and trauma around bathrooms means I wouldn’t dream of questioning someone else for their bathroom choices. Surely people who have experienced being shamed and yelled at about their bathroom choice would have a little empathy?

  22. Anita Easton*

    LW1’s question has made me quite uncomfortable, and I feel like it’s worth talking about why.

    To look at me you wouldn’t noticed, but I have a balance disorder. One of the things that is challenging for me on bad days is the motion of standing from sitting. In meeting rooms or at my desk I do it by putting my hand on the flat surface in front of me so I know where I am in space and where up and down are. On bad days I choose to use toilets which have grabrails – these are typically only found in disability bathrooms. I wish they put them in stalls, but they don’t.

    It makes me utterly miserable to think someone might be watching me use the gender neutral and disability friendly bathroom and resenting me and judging me for doing so. I have enough challenges without colleague and strangers being weird and judgmental, let alone monitoring my toilet visits.

    If you want to do something, advocate for more disability friendly and gender neutral bathrooms! Advocate for all bathrooms to be disability friendly and gender neutral. Maybe they can’t all be, maybe some will remain limited to people who stand to pee, maybe some won’t fit a wheelchair, but more acceptance, more accessibility, less judgment please.

  23. Frally*

    Same here. I was interviewing for a job that I didn’t get (and I’m so glad I didn’t, it turns out I would have hated it). The interviewer said that with my skills, I would probably be better suited to a different department. She called someone she knew there, I had an interview and got the job- which I love. I’ll always be grateful to her, I sent her a thank you plant in appreciation.

  24. Apples*

    4. What’s really the difference between a candidate replying with “I am only free 3-5 on Tuesday and 5-6 on Wednesday” vs a calendar link where you can immediately see that? I think it does convey a sense of “I’m in demand and you want to hire me more than I want to work for you, so YOU work around ME”… but I also think turning down all of a company’s suggested dates to prioritise another job has already conveyed that. It’s not a reason to reject, but I would be surprised that they’re putting their current job first.

    1. Iworktherenow*

      Why should we be surprised they are putting the current job first? I mean, yes, the candidate wants the new job but if this interview doesn’t lead to an offer they have to keep going back to old job. As a candidate I hate the seeming expectation that my time infinity available or limitless. If I’m interviewing I expect to have to cover that at work but I can’t take endless amounts of time off or on very short notice or it rapidly becomes obvious I might be trying to leave. He should prioritize his current job right up until he onboards at new job.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Agreed; I wouldn’t want to hire someone who breaks commitments at his current job to interview! You want to hire people who you can count on to show up to scheduled meetings!

      2. Apples*

        I guess my mindset when interviewing is that I AM trying to leave, so it doesn’t matter if somebody suspects that I am. I would prioritise interviews and my future position, even if that means rescheduling existing commitments, rather than prioritising an existing position that I’m no longer invested in. Maybe if the candidate is just “shopping around” it makes sense to prioritise an existing job. Personally I have never liked doing that as it just seems to take up a lot of the candidate’s and interviewers’ time without much chance of committing to anything, but other opinions may vary!

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Or perhaps the candidate doesn’t have the luxury of risking their current job to take another one because they have bills to pay?

          1. Apples*

            Yes, that’s a possibility. In my experience it’s strongly unlikely that a customer success manager could or would be fired/put at risk for declining, rescheduling or delegating a few meetings, but it may be a possibility where the letter writer is.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              True, but your example was saying you wouldn’t mind people suspecting that you’re leaving. For a lot of people, all that would do is introduce stress or fear into their lives.

              1. Momma Bear*

                I have generally not had jobs where I wanted them to know I was on the way out – I needed to keep my job/insurance as long as possible. It can take months to find a suitable new position.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I guess my mindset when interviewing is that I AM trying to leave, so it doesn’t matter if somebody suspects that I am.

          You are probably the exception, not the norm.

    2. L-squared*

      Of course they are putting their current job first, because they don’t have an offer yet. So yes, the person is going to keep doing what they are being paid for right now.

    3. Boof*

      I think the biggest difference is there is an extra step to get information; clicking and looking through the link, instead of having it right there in the email.
      I posit the politest thing is to both suggest 2-3 times that would work AND including a link to dig more if those don’t work (thus sparing further back and forth; at that point the link is likely more convenient)

  25. SavedFromLorna*

    #4 The candidate IS communicating what times they have free, though. In a way that is convenient and takes only a couple of clicks, as opposed to incessant back-and-forth emailing. This isn’t unusual, nor is it rude. To be honest, if I were this candidate and received a reply indicating that my wishes—and perhaps even needs; I don’t know this interviewee’s life—were being dismissed this way, I’d think twice about interviewing.

    1. Rolly*

      The whole thing is much ado about nothing. I don’t think it’s every worth thinking about – the OP should just pick a time and move on.

      Now, if the applicant comes back and says that time doesn’t work, after the OP uses the calendar provided, then it’s a thing. It’s an issue. But at the moment it’s a non-issue. Just pick a time and move on.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t understand why offering your entire calendar is considered insufficiently accommodating. I mean, here! Here is all my time! Pick whatever works for you! How is that demanding?

      1. londonedit*

        For me it isn’t the calendar, it’s the lack of accompanying pleasantries. I said this a bit further up but if I’d said ‘Would Tuesday at 11, or Wednesday at 4, work for you?’ and someone came back with nothing but a calendar link, I’d feel like it was rude. Or at least dismissive, like they were saying ‘I don’t care, you sort it out’. If they’d at least said ‘Sorry but Tuesday and Wednesday are really busy – here’s a link to my calendar, please feel free to choose any available time that works for you’ then fine.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          True, if that’s *all* he did, it would be offputting. I assumed he said something along the lines of what you suggested, but the letter doesn’t make it clear.

        2. Rolly*

          ‘I don’t care, you sort it out’ = ‘I’m very flexible – pick what works best for you’

        3. Waiting on the bus*

          But the candidate didn’t just send the link. They said that they couldn’t do the time slots suggested by LW AND send the calendar link. So exactly what you’re saying would be fine with you.

          The letter is interesting to me because it seems quite a few commenters who dislike the calendar idea come for it from a “it’s rude to just send a link to your calendar!” stance when that’s not what’s in the letter at all. Which makes me think that people are bothered by the calendar in general, but don’t want to admit it so the strawman comes out.

          (For the record, my first instinct was also to go that it’s rude. But then I remembered how tedious scheduling things via email is and now I’m very much in favour.)

          1. calonkat*

            And if the only open time on the calendar during the interview window is at 2am, then a simple reply about no open times matching up, sorry, and move on to other candidates.

            I really don’t understand all the drama and offense, if you don’t want to mess with it, then ignore the calendar and request 4 possible days/times from the calendar as a final try. But the candidate was doing something that in their mind would make it easier. If you don’t find it so, then use your words to say that. I don’t know that applying was EVER supposed to be as a supplicant to a higher power, but that sure seems the way it’s been interpreted.

  26. Audrey Puffins*

    Rule of thumb: if you ever see someone using a particular facility, and you think they shouldn’t be using it and are wondering if you should say something, the answer is (almost always*) no. Where a toilet is clearly labelled, you have to assume that the person using it is fully aware of what the facility is and that it is therefore appropriate for their needs. This applies to both gender and disability.

    *some toilets are less clearly labelled than others; there are some theatres in London that – correctly! – want to ensure they are welcoming and inclusive to people who aren’t or who don’t appear to be gender-conforming, and their less-traditional toilet signage can cause confusion for some of their audience members who’ve never really had a lot of cause to think a great deal about gender. I will say something to those people, but even then, it’s not “should you be in here?”, it’s “that sign means that this particular facility is cubicles only/trans-inclusive/open to all genders”.

    1. Lizcase*

      We changed the bathrooms in our tiny community theatre from Mens (large single use, a ccessible) and Womens (two stalls, one which was accessible) to Single and Double, both gender-neutral. It was done in response to a non-binary person’s suggestion, but has also worked better for those of us who need bathrooms quickly, and women who wanted/needed more privacy or room.

  27. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    Yeah I applied for a job that really wasn’t suited for me, as admin assistant, just because I was desperate for a proper job rather than being paid by the hour with hours here and there. I did my valiant best but was ultimately not suited for such a role. While nobody complained, one of the people I reported to suggested moving me to another, more creative role, where I had the best fun ever in any job.

  28. Emilu*

    LW1, I hope this doesn’t come off as jerkish, because I don’t mean it to. That said:
    1) You can be disabled without “looking” disabled.
    2) You can be non-binary/have gender dysphoria/not want to use a cis-gendered bathroom without it being physically visible why you want to do that.
    3) I may be generalising, but I’m pretty sure that most people – cis, enby, disabled, otherwise – have had to wait for a loo before as well.

  29. File Herder*

    I can walk quite briskly without my stick most of the time. Right now I’m sitting in the “impaired mobility” seat on the bus because I still need the extra legroom and support rail to get in and out of a bus seat without falling over or twisting my ankle so badly I’ll need the stick to walk when I get off the bus.

    A couple of years after I got to the point where I could be certain I wouldn’t need the toilet with rails in an unfamiliar building, I was back to using them for an entirely different reason. My new medication was giving me heart attack symptoms, and I needed to use the toilet with the emergency alarm cord. (I’m on different medication now.)

    I can understand OP’s frustration. I feel it too when I see people who aren’t visibly disabled using disabled facilities because they’re more convenient. But a) disabilities can be invisible, or only visible to people familiar with the effects, b) it sounds as if this is the disability toilet, and is gender-neutral as a by-product of that, not the other way around. That means OP is saying that they should be given priority over the people it is actually intended for. It’s not a good look, even though I agree that if someone is caused severe psychological distress by using the gendered toilets that counts as an invisible disability in this context.

  30. Kate*

    LW seems perturbed at the idea that they may have to wait a short while for a toilet to become free. Surely this is standard with any sort of public toilet provision, there’s a fairly good chance you may need to wait for one to become available. Being non-binary doesn’t protect you from that.

      1. Filosofickle*

        And even private life! Unless you have one bathroom for every person in your household, sometimes you have to wait.

  31. MistOrMister*

    I think what bugs me about the situation with OP4 is that the candidate doesn’t seem to have really made an effort to give them another time. I don’t think so much that it’s the power dynamics, either. Just that if someone says, here are 5 (or 10or however many) times we have available, please let us know, you expect more than just “here’s my calendar, figure it out.” I think if the candidate had written back saying none of the times were good for them but then suggested some other possibilities as well as linking their calendar in case none of them worked for everyone, it would have gone down better. In fact, I would think someone doing that was being extra conscientious.

    1. Myrin*

      I think you’ve put your finger on what’s been niggling at me with that letter; it’s exactly the “you figure it out” attitude you mention (which might not have been intended that way at all but it would come across to me like that).

      1. Claire*

        I use scheduling software, and it’s not at all a “you figure it out” kind of deal. On my end, I have to figure out what kinds of meetings to offer via the calendar, how long they should be, which days/times I going to make available, how long of a buffer I need to set up between meetings, set up an automatic reminder email, possibly set up a zoom link to correspond to the meeting… I do all that work up front to save the other party (as well as me) from the incessant back-and-forth emailing it takes to do it the old way.

    2. KRM*

      See, I think this is good. The candidate is trying to avoid any “I’m free X, Y, and Z” and then getting an email back saying “those don’t work how about L and K?” and then them having to say no, etc etc. Remember that the interviewer may have said “oh I have these six times free” but if the candidate is not the first back and the times they can do are gone, then it’s just more back and forth. This way, the interviewers can see where the candidate is free and match it up to the slots they have remaining.

    3. name goes here*

      As someone who uses a booking calendar, though, sending the calendar IS suggesting other times that work for me. It would be redundant and/or not possible to suggest time slots that either were already on the calendar, or are not free. The calendar is my available time slots. If a time is not on the calendar, I am not free.

    4. Wisteria*

      “the candidate doesn’t seem to have really made an effort to give them another time.”

      Providing a calendar link *is* giving the OP other times. It’s just that the times are on a calendar instead of written in an email. They *are* being extra conscientious.

  32. Bookworm*

    #1: I don’t think you can make such an ask, because you don’t know why she’s using that particular washroom. Is it difficult to use one on a different floor? Sure, it may look weird but you can always say that the ones on your floor are being used and you really had to use the bathroom or whatever and it’s not likely someone will *really* verify that.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I really don’t think LW is ever going to be asked. You see someone going to the bathroom who you happen to know works on another floor, you assume they’re either here because their usual floor’s bathrooms are full or because they happened to be on this floor for another reason. You don’t have any reason to care enough to ask them for confirmation.

      1. Lizzianna*

        I used to use restrooms on other floors because I was trying to get my steps in. Going to a different wing on a different floor a couple times a day gave me an excuse to get away from my desk for a few minutes. No one ever said a thing. I honestly doubt anyone noticed, typically people aren’t tracking others’ bathroom habits (which is another reason why it would be super awkward and inappropriate for LW to say anything).

  33. rr*

    I understand that, but for someone like me, scheduling interviews is really, really hard. I don’t have any private space at work, I get 30 minutes for lunch, I am paid by the hour, and I have very limited vacation time. And yes, my boss expects excuses when I miss work/am late and I don’t love lying. So, yes, I want to leave, but finding the time to interview is stressful and hard. If an interview can be scheduled 1st thing or last thing in the day, it provides me with a bit more ability to maneuver things. But people rarely schedule of offer blocks like that. Which I understand too. But it doesn’t make it easy. Also, yes, however much I don’t like my job, it provides me with income and insurance, both of which I need. So, yes, I prioritize it. I don’t understand why that means I don’t want the job I’m interviewing for – isn’t that showing I’d do the same for the new job and a good thing?

    1. Karia*

      Yes. At one job I had I was lucky the hiring manager agreed to meet me after work, otherwise the interview never would have happened. I hope they can extend you a bit of grace.

    2. Apples*

      Yes, fair points. I’m (of course) biased towards thinking of my own role/industry, where I’ve always been able to get away for short periods without anyone caring. The success managers I’ve worked with have also been able to do so, but that may well not be the case for everyone. Your role definitely sounds like it would be hard to schedule around!

      As an interviewer I wouldn’t consider this scheduling stuff against the candidate (as I’d argue the OP shouldn’t either). I would contain my surprise to me as a person, not me as an interviewer :)

    3. Anon4anon*

      I’m in the same boat! I’ve taken multiple interviews in my car over lunch, and I’m none too pleased about first-call “Can we do video interview?”

      However, I’m absolutely getting over my anti-lie stance when it comes to my manager, and I have a habit of tight-lipping everything. “Oh I have an appointment, it okay if I leave at 4/wfh today?”

  34. LDN Layabout*

    Privacy is also something that is helped by a single use bathroom, vs. stalls, especially if the stalls are built with the gaps around the doors. While they might be common, there are going to be people who are fundamentally uncomfortable with them.

    1. Anonynon*

      What I am understanding is that there are exactly two people using this one bathroom. I can’t imagine that one other person who uses the bathroom is in it all the time. Where I work, we have two bathrooms, one is a single and the other, by way of Covid, has become a single in that only one can occupy it at a time though there are two stalls. I also work with 7 other people who could be potentially using these bathrooms so there are times when I just have to wait, that’s part of life.

        1. SportyYoda*

          That’s… odd. I get that it’s seldom an all-or-none scenario, but what is it about the Dean in particular that bugs LW? Why is it fine if Linda from HR or Wakeen from purchasing or Joaquin from front desk uses it, but not the Dean? I’m sure there are details that LW neglected; but it’s just odd that there’s only that one person in particular that bugs them so much.

  35. Suzie SW*

    #4 – I found calendly a great option when scheduling interviews from the employer side. It’s the most efficient way to align schedules in real time without any of the, “Oh, I’ve just had something come up and now that time won’t work,” people requesting the same time, or having to hold multiple blocks of time for one thing.

    I admit that I might have had the same initial reaction to it as you if the request came from a candidate, but I don’t think it’s an easily justifiable one. You asked him to provide some availability and he did…just not in the format you expected.

    1. ES*

      This this this. I started using Calendly during the pandemic so my wife and I could put holds on each other’s calendars when one of us had a critically important meeting and the other needed to be with the kids’ online schooling. It’s turned into a terrific tool, and scheduling a job candidate is one of the best use cases. The recruiter (assuming they’re in-house) has access to all the staff’s Outlook schedules but not the candidate’s, so they can use a Calendly to visually coordinate without back and forth. I’m a journalist and podcast host so I offer mine to PR people and sources’ assistants who are scheduling interviews.

      I’ve never grokked the supposed power dynamics of being the one to send a Calendly. If anything, I see offering a Calendly as a lower-status move because it says “I’m opening up all my availability to you — you pick the time you want that works for you.”

      Either way, no one in 2022 should interpret sending a Calendly as rude or a power play.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yes, definitely. I had the same gut reaction reading the letter, but then I thought about it for five seconds and realized how much easier scheduling interviews would be if everyone did that.

      A great moment to dissect our biases towards the norm.

  36. L-squared*

    #1. I may be wading into something here, but isn’t the idea of “gender neutral” is that ANYONE, however the identify, disability status, whatever, can use it at any time. Like, if a place has it, ideally its just an option. I don’t see how you can really expect someone not to use it if its available. Like it just seems like OP thinks they should NEVER have to wait for a bathroom, which, frankly, I’m not sure is a fair expectation to have in a work environment.

    #2. I don’t mind ice breakers personally. But I do wonder how you expect a new manager to get to know you otherwise, when she is only seeing you every so often on zoom? I can tell you that, for me, the managers I like are the ones who tend to care about me as a person, not just based on my work output. While I can understand being a bit put off if she is asking the same questions in group and one on one meetings, just asking getting to know you questions while she is getting to know you seems fairly normal.

    #4. If you are trying to schedule something with this guy during the workday, I’m not really seeing why this is a problem. The times you gave don’t work for him, since he has a job, so he is giving you access to all the times that DO work for him. As Alison said, I think you are just expecting a bit more deference from him since you want to hold the power here. Is him writing it in a list really that much different?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Re #2: there are definitely better ways to get to know a colleague than asking them about their favorite things. Is a list of favorite color, favorite food, favorite vacation spot really supposed to help this manager care about LW as a person?

      The parts of my personality that I want colleagues and managers to know will be the ones I choose to show – during idle chit chat (very different from structured interviews!) and during work conversations.

      1. L-squared*

        If you are in person at an office, I totally agree. I’ve been back in the office a couple days a week for a while, and you definitely get to know people in more casual ways. For people I may interact with twice a week, its going to be harder, and yeah, some of those questions can lead to good discussions, at least in my opinion. It also depends on how its done.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I’m fully remote and stand by what I said. I get to know new colleagues by chatting with them, not by collecting a list of their favorite things!

          Occasional lunchtime or “coffee break” zoom chitchats are great. Logging on a few minutes early to a meeting so you can ask about each other’s weekends is also great. A laundry list of boring questions is not great.

    2. Antilles*

      The first time I interact with somebody brand new at work, there’ll usually be a couple minutes of chat to get to know each other a little – what’s your background/skillset, how long you’ve been with the company, maybe a brief chit-chat of “oh you used to work at X? did you ever interact with John Doe?”, etc. And as part of that, there’s usually a little bit of personal discussions about idk, the fact that I’m married and a proud Ohio State sports fan, or the fact that you have a kid in college or whatever.
      But that’s just getting I can’t imagine starting off every meeting like that – and stuff like “favorite food” or “favorite vacation spot” has always struck me as not really getting to know you in any meaningful way.

      1. Icebreakers*

        Sorry everyone it looks like I wasn’t very clear in my letter. These weekly meetings are generally 2 minutes of work related talk and 30 or more minutes of ice breakers. Several of the meetings have had 0 work related items at all just entirely ice breakers. Which unfortunately means asking if we can dive straight into work won’t really work because at this point the entire point of the meetings is icebreakers. We also went from a meeting every other week to multiple meetings every week.

        1. Colette*

          That sounds excruciating.

          You might be able to have a conversation with your manager saying “We’ve been spending a lot of time on non-work meetings, which is cutting into my time to get work done. Can we cut down on those meetings, or is it OK for me to skip them when I’m busy?”

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          That is definitely weird. The whole point of an icebreaker is that it’s something you do for 5-10 minutes before moving onto the actual meeting topic. I have 2 hour-long meetings with my team every week and we have 3 minutes max of personal chat at the start.
          I’m not quite sure what the point of all-personal meetings with your boss might be – I could understand having a small number of these to get to know the team at first, but so much personal chat so frequently just seems like a waste of time.

        3. Rolly*

          “Which unfortunately means asking if we can dive straight into work won’t really work because at this point the entire point of the meetings is icebreakers.”

          “Hi, I really don’t enjoy these sessions and we have quite a lot of work to do. I hope you’ll agree that we stop having them. I’m going to take them off the calendar”

        4. Apples*

          Now I’m really curious how these meetings end! It’s really funny to me imagining your boss going “oh lovely, your favourite meal is pizza, I’ll write that down. Well that’s all we have time for, let’s get together next week to continue this discussion…” as if it was a legitimate work meeting with outcomes!

    3. Anon for this one*

      If a manager insisted on “getting to know me” through infantile ice-breakers rather than normal conversation, they’d be out of luck, because I would be job-hunting pronto. “How was your weekend” is fine. “What famous person would you most want to have dinner with” is not. I despise icebreakers. I always feel as though I’m being judged based on my answers, and I have been known to show up 10 minutes late to large workshop-type meetings that I knew would start with them.

      1. Rolly*

        “I would be job-hunting pronto”

        Rather than job hunting, how about saying “I’d rather not have these kind of conversations; we’ve got a big agenda, so could we start the meeting?”

        Try that, at least a few times, before jumping ship. It’s a lot easier.

          1. Icebreakers*

            I have tried to avoid participating and she looks at her list of everyone’s favorite color and realizes I haven’t answered. Since she is the manager I really can’t tell her that her meetings are useless and take them off the calander as you suggested above. And it’s true I haven’t tried to end them, that’s the whole reason I wrote in was to see if it would be acceptable to ask that. Being on the spectrum things I think would be acceptable aren’t always so I wanted her opinion, unfortunately since these meetings are just ice breakers her advice doesn’t apply but it does look like it would be acceptable to try to find another way.

          2. Anon for this one*

            I was responding to a commentator who seemed to think ice-breakers were the only possible way to get to know someone.

      2. Splendid Colors*

        I hate ice-breakers too. I get the impression that whoever tosses these questions out has NO IDEA that the answers can be fraught with implications. Class, politics, religion, special interests… so many potential wrong answers. Mention an author nobody in the room has heard of and look like a snob. Mention a civil rights icon and look “woke.” Mention a Star Trek character or actor and look like a childish geek. Quick, who can I pick that everyone likes? Maybe the late Betty White? If you’re in a mixed group where you don’t know other peoples’ backgrounds, it’s easy to put your foot in your mouth or to learn things about your coworkers you wish you didn’t know.

        Vacation questions are also fraught with social implications. “My family piled into our underpowered VW MicroBus and went to a national park every year” tells a far different story than “My family always flew on my father’s corporate jet to our private villa near Naples.”

        One of the multiple reasons I quit a sliding scale occupational therapy “clinic” was that we spent more time making half-hour craft projects and doing ice-breakers with the other participants than we did actually discussing our individual OT. (The program was advertised as being about organization and time management, not social skills. Boo.) And somehow, I ended up being partnered several times with the 2 guys who think the mask goes under the nose, adding COVID stress to social stress.

    4. Rolly*

      “As Alison said, I think you are just expecting a bit more deference from him since you want to hold the power here. Is him writing it in a list really that much different?”

      Yup

  37. Similar*

    I have Crohn’s Disease. I always use the one bathroom because of privacy. Anyone seeing me leave would assume I don’t have any reason to use it. Though I don’t think anyone needs a reason.

  38. LawBee*

    LW4 – I think this is pretty smart, actually. Instead of a long list of availability that can be misread, you’ve got his entire schedule and can book yourself at whatever works for you.

    Embrace it!

  39. Choggy*

    A bathroom is a bathroom, if there are other options, why not use them instead of making yourself feel worse for waiting? Remove any gendering at all, I don’t think the bathroom would mind. I’m really not being obnoxious about this, just trying to cut through to use some logic around the situation. I don’t enjoy using public bathrooms at all, but will use whatever is available in a pinch.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      I’m really not being obnoxious about this

      People have reasons they prefer to use one bathroom over the other, as both Alison and a wealth of people commenting have explained. Belittling the LW’s own preferences by saying they aren’t logical is both obnoxious and unhelpful regarding their question.

    2. Claire*

      “A bathroom is a bathroom,” except when bathrooms have been politicized to oppress trans folks. Also gendered bathrooms don’t align with a world where the gender binary is being deconstructed. So it’s not that simple.

    3. Alice*

      “if there are other options, why not use them instead of making yourself feel worse for waiting?”

      If you’re a cis woman, would you use the men’s bathroom if all of the women’s stalls are occupied? If you are a cis man, would you use the women’s bathroom? Would it be appropriate and comfortable, and a good long term solution?

      Just make all bathrooms gender neutral. Then we can really say “a bathroom is a bathroom” and avoid all of this.

      1. Nela*

        “If you’re a cis woman, would you use the men’s bathroom if all of the women’s stalls are occupied?”

        Absolutely, I have done it countless times. Men usually do a double-take and wonder if they’re in the wrong one, but I just wave it off and say the women’s was occupied.

        I don’t know if the other way around would cause more of an issue (I suppose it depends on the culture, my country is pretty chill), but unless you’re in a male-dominated environment, that’s far less likely to happen.

        I am 100% in favor of gender neutral bathrooms.

        1. Daisy Gamgee*

          The US is largely not chill, unfortunately. I currently live in a liberal-ish East Coast city. One day I was just coming out of the stall in a public women’s bathroom to wash my hands when a man with a cane opened the door and asked if he could use the bathroom because he didn’t feel he could make it to the men’s bathroom, which was at the other end of a long hallway. Just as I said “of course” the woman who was currently washing her hands said, “absolutely not”. I pointed out to her that she was about to leave, and it was all in all way more of a big deal than it needed to be, but at least he got to use the bathroom.

          But the thing is, I’m not surprised it was a big deal in anywhere in the US, and in many places here it might have been a MUCH bigger deal. Plus, many people really seem opposed to gender neutral bathrooms. Until this country develops some chill (o hoped for day!) it’s still risky for people to use the bathroom they’re not “assigned” to. And I haven’t even talked about the dangers, often enshrined in law and ordinance, for trans and other gender variant people. I really wish it were as simple as “use any bathroom” but in the US it’s not yet.

  40. Clueless #26*

    Lw#1 You really have no idea how a person identifies or if they have a disability. In the nicest way possible, its simply none of your business.

  41. After 33 years ...*

    LW #2: I knew someone who did this, with the friendliest intent. They would ask what your favourite food was, and then tell you about theirs – cue 5 minute+ conversation. If they didn’t recognize the food you mentioned, cue 5 minute+ conversation about how it’s made, what its culture of origin was, where you could buy the ingredients…

    Alison’s scripts probably wouldn’t have worked as well with this person. They were naturally curious, interacted this way with everyone (as far as I could tell), and would be miffed with what might appear to them as a rebuff of a friendly overture. The best approach seemed to be to answer the question, and then rapidly move to business before they could engage further. “I really like twice-baked lasagna with anchovies. I’m really concerned that we may be on the wrong track with Project Y for {reasons}….”

    1. Icebreakers*

      Unfortunately this manager holds these meetings specifically for the icebreakers. Sometimes there are a few minutes of work related talk but usually nothing but chit chat.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        If the meetings are all icebreaker and no substance, I would find that difficult and unproductive to sit through. Hopefully, once the ice is smashed, your new manager can move on to actual work-related conversations in future meetings. Good luck.

      2. Rolly*

        Have you said you don’t want to have these meetings? If not, try saying you don’t want to have these meetings.

  42. Anon for this*

    I am not legally physically handicapped, but since an injury in high school, there are days when I really need the handicapped stall with the bar and higher seat Nobody would know it to look at me, I just have really bad knees and some days it makes it painful to use a regular toilet. You never know what’s going on with people.

    (I know many don’t like the term handicapped, and I’m not going to debate it, but I personally hate the term ‘disabled’ because it means not able… so I’m not using it for discussing myself. Of course, I use whatever term a person prefers when referring to their own situation.)

  43. Fern*

    Is it possible the Dean is using it on purpose to destigmatise gender neutral bathrooms? Because the very definition is that anyone can use it, she may be trying to show solidarity with something that is dishearteningly seen as controvercial in many areas. So long as it’s not prohibitive for non binary people, I guess I assumed cis gendered people using gender neutral bathrooms helps destigmatise it. Can someone who’s nonbinary weigh in on this?

    1. Nancy*

      It’s single use and those tend to be more popular because people like having more privacy.

      1. Nancy*

        Of course, this is in addition to it being more popular for having a change table, wheelchair access, and being gender neutral.

    2. Courageous cat*

      This is a reeeeal stretch.

      I don’t think we need to make up potential stories or context here. The ultimate point that it’s none of OP’s business is really all that matters.

  44. The Lexus Lawyer*

    OP1 – you’re tired of waiting to pee, but your boss’s boss’s boss can’t be?

    Sounds like you think the bathroom should be reserved for your exclusive use, when even your boss’s boss’s boss doesn’t have an exclusive one in their office for their use.

    I think you should let this go, or go to another floor to go if the bathroom is occupied when you need to go.

  45. Gnome*

    #5

    I have done this from the hiring side. I had two excellent candidates, but one was unlikely to stay happy in the role for long. They were more senior and taking a junior position due to a career pivot and it was clear they could do the job but it wasn’t going to offer growth in the way they wanted. So I emailed other managers in the company as well as our internal recruiting, and said I thought the person rocked and would be good for X or Y type positions and I wish I had one to offer. Three managers followed up with the candidate. They started a few weeks ago in a position that is a better fit than the one I had.

    Now, would I do that for any good candidate? No. HR keeps track of our interview notes and will pass around resumes from folks who applied to other positions if they are good, but not best. This candidate was stellar in all the untrainable ways (attitude and integrity in particular) and clearly had an ability to learn the technical.

    So, this very much does happen.

    1. Gnome*

      They would have been in the resume pool for the other positions regardless, so as a baseline that’s how it works in my company, but my email went a step above that and put them in the interview short-list directly for other positions.

  46. DataSci*

    The solution to “there is a line for one type of bathroom and not for the others” is not to gender-police (or disability-police) who is using the bathroom with a line. It is to expand the availability of that type of bathroom. Frankly, saying “this is my own private bathroom because I’m the only nonbinary person here” is a little ridiculous.

    “More gender-neutral bathrooms” is obviously not an immediate solution to OP1’s problem, assuming there aren’t single-stall gendered bathrooms that can be easily converted. But there are invisible disabilities, and you don’t always know people’s gender identification.

    (As an aside, I’ve never interpreted “gender-neutral” as “nonbinary-only” in a bathroom context. I’ve read it very literally – anyone can use this! As an obvious example, a lot of trans people who aren’t nonbinary but who don’t always feel safe in the gendered bathroom also benefit from them.)

  47. CatPerson*

    Ice breakers are so ridiculous. One that I had to endure was “If you were ice cream what flavor would you be?” Since that is an idiotic question, everyone basically said what their favorite flavor was. It took 10 minutes to get around the table and no one was the wiser about anyone than they were before the ice breaker. Why do companies insist on treating their employees like children?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t think the goal is to treat employees like children. I think the goal is to facilitate casual conversation – something that has gotten much harder in the virtual world – and people just don’t know how to do that so they google it and get bad ideas. The actual goal of being more comfortable with your colleagues is a perfectly adult goal, the execution is just lacking.

    2. Icebreakers*

      I agree it feels very childish and makes it so I feel behind for the rest of the day. If you’re going to treat me like a child then you can at least send a juice box and some goldfish crackers so I can enjoy myself.

      1. Wisteria*

        Can you re-frame how you think about it so you don’t see it as childish? In my experience, ice breakers don’t end in kindergarten. Adults use them, too. They might not be your preferred method of interaction, which is fine. But jumping from “I don’t prefer ice breakers” to “bc they are childish” is causing you at least as much stress as the ice breaker itself is. Just saying a flavor of ice cream (or whatever) would probably get you less attention than your current strategy of sitting out and having your manager call on you does.

        I don’t think you have any room to request that your manager stop holding ice breakers in group meetings. Your best strategy to reduce how painful they are is to reframe them as 1) an adult activity and 2) an activity that is helpful to your manager, even if it is not helpful to you.

        The one-on-ones are different, though. The function of the ice breaker is to get to know each other. So, ask her if she would be willing to try something different in order to get to know you, and have a few suggestions. That is actually part of the getting to know each other process. Maybe you prefer to get to know people by working on something together, just for an example. Tell her that, and ask whether you could work on something together.

        1. Anon for this one*

          I’m somewhat socially awkward and self-conscious about it – I also am not at all up on pop culture. So while “what’s your favorite flavor of ice cream” is fine, “what celebrity would you want to have dinner with” is not. Total judgement central. I am very good at my job. Forcing me to also be good at acting like a socially adept, up-on-pop-culture-trivia person as part of my job? Well, that’s a big change in the job description! As an occasional “this is the first meeting for this particular working group”, fine, whatever, I’ll roll my eyes. But for that to be the main thing that takes place in meetings and the main way of getting to know people indicates a fundamental culture clash that means I’d be happier elsewhere.

      2. Gibberish*

        I… may slip that in my back pocket for apt use at work, “If you’re going to treat me like a child then you can at least send a juice box and some goldfish crackers so I can enjoy myself.”

        +1000

    3. Nanani*

      There’s a lot of bad advice floating around out there, plus some people have a hard time grasping the ways in which social things and work things are different.
      Plus I think some people actually like these things? hard to imagine but I think it’s true

  48. Emi*

    For #5, I think they’re also proactively trying to make it clear that they aren’t holding the issues with your last job against you — like “yes, we did kind of kick you out, but not with prejudice so please don’t be generally discouraged!”

    1. OP #5*

      When I resigned from them, they were actually really decent about it. The HR guy was like “We’re not saying you’re a bad employee, we’re saying this isn’t the right fit. Take some time, work elsewhere for a while, and after two years if you want to come back, you can start looking.” And I will always appreciate they gave me the chance to resign instead of terminating me without severance.
      But in any event I landed a really solid position and start Monday, so it all worked out for me in the end!

  49. Forensic13*

    I have to say to letter writer #1–and forgive me if I’m extrapolating—I’m betting that bathrooms are not THE issue you have with this university, but one of MANY issues. Sure, it’s nice that they’re doing something, but I know a lot of places (including academia) give lip service to providing services in this way and then do so half-heartedly. Bathrooms are a concrete expression of this, but I’m betting they’re not the only issue. It just can be easy to focus on or bring up this visible thing, and t or the hundred other ways you’re made to feel uncomfortable.

  50. it's me*

    Of course you cannot ask anyone to stop using any bathroom. You wanted a society where no one can be questioned as to why they are in a certain facility — you got it.

    1. Me Too*

      I have to agree. I’m sorry, this will come across rude and I really don’t mean it to be at all, I truly don’t. But, I can’t question folks who come into the women’s room that don’t visibly look like women. So OP, you cannot question people who use the gender neutral bathroom as to what their reasons are for using it. It’s not your business. Everyone pushed for a society where we can’t question anyone (not saying it’s right or wrong, just saying). So now we have it.

      Sorry LW1, gender neutral bathrooms aren’t just for you. They’re for people of any gender to use at any time they need to go. I’m a cis female and I can use a gender neutral bathroom if I would like to. If anyone at work questioned me as to why I was using it, they would get an earful, then I would go to my manager. And like others here have said, you have no idea if the dean is also non-binary but just doesn’t feel comfortable coming out yet at work. Focus on yourself, not other’s bathroom habits.

      1. Anonymous Now*

        No, you can’t question folks who come into the women’s room who don’t meet your preconception of what women look like, though it sounds like you very much want to. So, as a tallish short-haired cis woman who hasn’t worn a skirt since middle school and who still has less than a tenth of the bathroom issues of any trans person, cut it the heck out. You do not get to question ANYONE who comes into the bathroom.

    2. unaccountably*

      I’m a cisgender woman and I want that society too, to be honest. I’m glad we’re moving in that direction. So I don’t see this as a “Ha ha you wanted it but now you don’t like it” situation at all, partly because that’s mean-spirited, but also because a lot more people than nonbinary persons are sick of self-righteous people policing bathroom use based on how someone presents.

      Which is why I can’t quite get my head around why OP1, a nonbinary person… wants to police bathroom use based on how someone presents.

  51. Not really a Waitress*

    #2 Forced Ice-breakers. My team does something fun. WE are not WFH but are at different sites across the country. On Fridays, in our team chat, we do a fun question. We take turns asking one, no one is scheduled or forced to ask a question or participate. And they are fun questions like what food could you not live without, or where would your dream vacation be. There is no forced participation and it isn’t obvious when someone doesn’t.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This fell off over time but earlier in the pandemic we made a point to have all staff lunches virtually with some kind of question like this to facilitate conversation so we weren’t staring at each other eating sandwiches. We made a teams channel for question ideas and got some pretty good ones! No forced participation is key, actual questions that are interesting to talk about is also key.

      I think people who do ice breakers generally have good intentions but whew do a lot of people do them poorly.

  52. anonymous73*

    #3 – you have listed 1 pro in your letter for taking this opportunity, and it’s a weak pro at that. You say it “could” be rewarding. The driving alone would be a big no for me, but add a toxic former friend to the mix and it would become a hell no. It seems clear to me from your letter that you don’t want to do it, so don’t do it.

  53. Sleepless KJ*

    #1 re the bathroom. Don’t do it! You are assuming that she does r have a physical issue that makes it uncomfortable for her to use the “regular” bathroom but you really have no idea and it’s none of your business. (Maybe she has a colostomy for instance.)

  54. Dasein9*

    One of the points of resistance to all-gender restrooms has been that organizations claim nobody uses them because people don’t want to be seen going in and out, thus potentially outing themselves as trans/non-binary or leading others to believe they’re trans/non-binary when they’re not.

    So the dean, high in the hierarchy of the school, uses that restroom, possibly because they are trans/non-binary, possibly because it’s more convenient, or possibly in an act supportive of the existence of public all-gender restrooms, and thus of trans/non-binary members of the campus community.

  55. Katie*

    I don’t see anything wrong with someone sending you their calendar. It avoids additional back and forth. If this person is busy, it is much easier to give all times available.

  56. Sleepless KJ*

    #5 it’s not at all unusual and is actually a pretty great thing (meaning that you were good and they remembered you!) My daughter is hiring right now and has already reached back out to a couple of candidates that weren’t the right fit for the jobs they had originally interviewed for, but would be excellent for the positions she is now trying to fill. She is excited about being able to possibly place them. Obviously she’s hopeful that they might still be available but has no expectation that they didn’t find something else in the meantime. It’s a compliment that you’re being contacted now.

  57. Call me St. Vincent*

    #1 Although this wasn’t the basis of the question, the OP mentioned that the door to the accessible bathroom is heavy. Please ask someone to adjust the door pressure! The door should not require more than 5 lbs of force (measurable with a door pressure gauge) and it is so so easy for a maintenance person to adjust this. It would be a real service to persons with disabilities who need to use that bathroom. You can tell the powers that be that the heaviness of the door is a violation of the ADA and must be fixed! Thank you for noticing that. I am sorry for your problem in having to wait to pee, that stinks!

  58. Badatnames*

    Asking me to choose from a list of appointments might strike me the wrong way too at first but I’d have to remind myself that my feelings on it were a little irrational.

    My current scheduling pet peeve is when we’ve chosen a time and the other person says, “I’ll send you a Zoom link” and then pastes it into the body of a regular email rather than sending a calendar invite. Now I have to make my own appointment and paste the information in myself rather than just clicking “accept” and being done. Somehow so annoying despite being utterly minor! Maybe someone here has an explanation so I can stop feeling mildly resentful when this happens.

    1. Claire*

      Maybe they are hoping you will contribute the calendar invitation, and they will contribute the zoom link.

    2. Pippa K*

      Not everyone uses Outlook calendars. I send zoom links in the email when I’m corresponding with students or with anyone outside my own institution. Even with some colleagues, I know they’re likelier to search for the email to click the link than to open their calendar, which they may or may not be using, especially if they’re doing the zoom from a phone.

  59. bell*

    “not using any visible disability aids”

    this is some serious disability gatekeeping. Please, stop.

  60. GenXisReal!*

    1. I am begging for accessible, gender neutral bathrooms with floor to ceiling doors without gaps. Begging.

    2. This reads like the manager is trying to force a friendly relationship instead of letting it happen organically. Meanwhile LW is good with “cordial”.

  61. voluptuousfire*

    OP#4, I schedule candidate interviews for a living and a candidate sending me their Calendly link is always welcome. It eliminates a lot of back and forth. I can match it up with the interviewer’s calendar and get it done. Don’t stress it. One thing you need to keep in mind with hiring is that you need to be flexible. Rejecting candidates for arbitrary stuff like that is not the way to go. With hiring, you’ll always run into candidates that make you go “ugh, really?” but unless it’s really egregious, just roll with it.

  62. Three Goblins in a Trench Coat*

    Alison’s answer for #2:

    “…. I can tell you’re putting a lot of effort into people feeling comfortable and included, so I thought you’d want to know.”

    Damn. That’s good. I can think of a few times I might employ that turn of phrase.

  63. That One Person*

    I think one of the bigger issues for #1 is the lack of bathrooms unless these are behind staff only areas or something…and even then I’m side-eyeing it. Two stalls for a women’s in a building that can be highly populated at times is dumb – it’s up there with having 7 or so minutes to get to a locker, get your stuff, get to a bathroom, use it, and then to your next class while trying to find the right current in the hallway in high school. And this was an open setup, but those locker hallways were unfortunate choke points. Maybe it was feasible “back in the day” (however back in the day that might be), but it sounds like something that could use some updating and expansion to me.

    I’m pleased to hear that they have one per floor however as that means there’s more than one even if it requires some extra travel time as I believe multiple (at least two) of such rooms should definitely be the norm. As someone who sometimes has to go desperately spontaneously and thus fast walk to the other side of the building with all the hope in the world, you have my sympathy for any travel time delays.

    1. Koala dreams*

      Yes, I feel this points to a bigger accessibility issue. Often the “accessible” bathroom is gender neutral because otherwise you would need to make two of them and people think that’s unnecessary. Then it turns out that the accessible bathroom has the highest use of all the bathrooms because a lot of people can’t physically use the non-accessible bathrooms, and it also doubles as parent-child bathroom which means everyone with small children need to use the same bathroom, and so on.

  64. windsofwinter*

    I don’t have a disability and I’m not non-binary, but I am a cis woman who menstruates. I use a menstrual cup, and single bathrooms are my best friend when I have my period. I scope them out wherever I go. My current job only has one, in the lobby that’s closed due to COVID. Emptying my cup in a multi stall bathroom sucks. I would unapologetically use this restroom when I needed it. I’d venture to say that just about all bathroom needs are invisible and no one else’s business.

    1. PookieLou*

      You bring up a good point about menstrual cups. I (cisgender, non-disabled) have also had times where a meeting runs long and I’ve been holding it in for way too long, and I’m going straight to whichever bathroom won’t make me wait. Also true when last night’s questionable food choices suddenly come back to haunt me in a public place. Even people who don’t need accommodations most of the time, or usually have no issue waiting can have exceptional circumstances.

  65. Funbud*

    Re: Icebreakers
    I had a boss who asked everyone in our relatively small dept to create a “Me In a Minute” slide about themselves. The rules were loose, but most everyone included a photo, info on their hometown and/or university attended, pets, favorite sports teams or hobbies or travel destinations. Some people included spouses, children and family but not all.
    He would include one or two in the monthly staff meetings and ask the employee to describe their slide.

    I thought it was a relatively low impact way to learn a little something about your fellow employees. Since the rules were few, I don’t think anyone felt pressured to get too personal. But the info gleaned did help casual conversations as in “Hey, I see you enjoy traveling to Mexico. What’s your favorite place?”

    He otherwise was rather a lousy boss. I think he’d gotten this idea from a previous workplace where he had been criticized for not taking enough interest in his subordinate’s lives.

    1. Ccjr*

      This is a great point. I had the exact same situation. It also gives me an idea. Could Icebreakers/LW#2 push back by suggesting an alternative “get to you approach,” that might be more comfortable for them, and hopefully more efficient? It could come across as more collaborative than critical. LW could bring it up during the on-on-one: “I had an idea for the Icebreakers. Sometimes it’s hard to answer on the spot. Could we do a [me in a minute slide, get to know you meeting, preset questions, whatever] instead?”

      That could also start a conversation on the topic, and maybe then you could more organically and tactfully bring up your concerns (mainly the waste of work time). Or at least you could understand the motivation better.

      May not work, but just a brainstorm since this is a tricky problem!

  66. Pinkbasil*

    A new guy in our group has started putting low-stakes personal questions into our slack every Friday – like what’s your favorite albums, movies, etc. People can opt in, not respond, just like someone else’s comment – it’s a good way to accommodate different levels of desire to share.

  67. Vox Experientia*

    reading the exec bathroom question i basically interpret it as “there’s a single user bathroom – my reasons for using it matter, but this other person who is using it (for reasons i am completely oblivious to) don’t matter. very self centered. there are any number of reasons the exec may be electing to use that facility – maybe they have serious anxiety about sharing a restroom. maybe they’ve been a victim of a crime in a shared restroom. maybe they have IBS or other digestive issues and dont want anyone else to have to hear the sounds and be uncomfortable. who knows?

  68. learnedthehardway*

    #4 – I disagree with Allison here – I use my online calendar ALL the time, and if I’m giving it out to someone, it is literally because it is FAR easier to use it than for either of us to wade through when I am and am not available. There are days when I have blocks of time scattered throughout the day – it’s not worth my or their time for me to list them out individually. Also, since I use my online calendar so much for other people to book me, someone may have booked a meeting on it before the person I’m emailing has a chance to book their meeting in my list of open time slots – and then we’re back to square 1 of trying to figure out when we’re both available.

    I also appreciate it when someone gives me their online calendar, because it is a lot easier for me to look at a visual representation of their availability than to sort through whether my and their calendar line up at any point on several days in which there are different windows available.

    My online calendar literally saves me hours of time per week in scheduling. It’s so much more efficient than the alternative!!

    If the person’s calendar says they’re available at 2 AM, I would email them back and ask if they are in the same time zone or if their calendar is set up wrong.

    1. Rolly*

      “If the person’s calendar says they’re available at 2 AM, I would email them back and ask if they are in the same time zone or if their calendar is set up wrong.”

      Good point.

  69. Square Peg*

    LW 5,

    I applied to my current organization 3 or 4 different times over a few years. I really wanted to work there (here). I never got a call back from any of my applications, but one day the CEO (who I knew from work collaborations) called me and said they had some work that might be up my alley (they had not even posted a position).

    I jumped on the opportunity and have been very fulfilled. In retrospect, I would have been a terrible fit for those other positions, now that I know about them from being at the org. I am glad the CEO worked to find the right fit. It’s worth at least exploring the conversation with company A.

    1. OP #5*

      In the time between being rejected from the job and Company A reaching out, I landed a really solid position at Company C and start Monday, so it’s a moot point right now. But I’m keeping it in mind in case Company C turns out to be horrible or something!

  70. MCR*

    While I think the frequency of icebreakers in LW #2’s workplace are over-the-top, I also think Allison’s suggest response will come off as super cold and off-putting. It goes further than necessary because it’s not limited to “I don’t like these kinds of questions,” but rather “I do not want to engage in small talk with you.” If your manager is outgoing and wants to get to know you, you will need to put up with some small talk. I would just wait until the next time she asks the question in a one-on-one and laugh and say “I’m actually so bad at these kinds of questions, I can never think of an answer in the moment! Can I tell you about [what I did last weekend/what book I’m reading/my lunch plans for today] instead?” If you can’t stand the idea of small talk at all, it’s possible that this isn’t the right role for you after all.

    1. pivot*

      They’re autistic. Suggesting they need to find a new job instead of making a reasonable accommodation request (which I as a manager who cares about my team would be happy to accommodate, btw) is awfully ableist.

      1. MCR*

        I re-read OP’s post and you’re right that it’s possible that “no small talk” could be a reasonable accommodation based on the nature of OP’s role. But that’s not what OP said – they said they were specifically uncomfortable with trivia-type questions. If it is the case that OP is uncomfortable with all small talk, then the response needs to be calibrated with context to convey that. Something more along the lines of “Hey, it’s really difficult for me to have these kinds of personal conversations at work. I know you mean well and just want to get to know me, so please don’t take it personally – it’s a “me” thing and it’s why I chose a remote position that can be done largely on my own,” or something like that. But Allison’s suggested response will come off as “I don’t want to talk to you unless I absolutely have to for work-related purposes,” which is super off-putting to most. For better or worse, small talk is normal and expected in most professional environments and a flat-out rejection of it without context looks like a personal snub.

      2. Icebreakers*

        I just wanted to say thank you, perhaps I should have found a way to make this part more obvious in my original letter but you’re the only one to acknowledge this particular part of my struggle.

        1. Wisteria*

          The thing is, even autistic people have to find a new job if they can’t find a way to make things work with their manager. “I don’t want to get to know people at work at all” is a common sentiment in the comment section, but it is not a reasonable expectation in any environment, either from the legal or the colloquial sense of the word “reasonable.”

          Both autistic people and allistic people have to find ways to work effectively with other people. Nobody knows by looking how you prefer to interact–that is part of the getting to know you process. Even telling your manager that you are autistic isn’t going to tell them how you prefer to interact. You are going to have to use your words to tell them, “Hey, I’ve tried this ice breaker thing, it’s super awkward for me, can we do something else?” If getting those words together is hard for you, you will have to find the support that you need. That might be a therapist, it might be a coach, it might be an HR partner. But your desired approach of just not interacting is not reasonable for anyone.

      3. Splendid Colors*

        Thank you.

        The job requirement of “engage in weekly bouts of ice-breaker personal trivia” is not essential for the position, either to do OP’s actual job or as a way for Boss to get to know them better. This is absolutely not a standard way of getting to know the people who report to you, and I bet nobody actually likes it; it just has disparate impact on OP because they’re Autistic and it’s harder to process these silly questions in real-time. I’ve been through half an hour of this twice a week for a month, luckily not in a workplace, but I quit because it wasn’t what the program advertised.

    2. Meridian*

      I’m glad I’m not the only person who thought this. I think your script would be received much better than the one that was suggested in the letter.

  71. KWu*

    Another vote for “sending a calendar of availability seems like just the more efficient way to communicate the same information that would’ve taken longer to convey in writing.” It’s a reasonable concern that perhaps the candidate set it up incorrectly, but doesn’t seem to cost very much to take them at their word to pick a time if there’s one that can work and then adjust as needed if it had been wrong.

  72. Just another queer reader*

    LW1, any chance you can push for more all-gender or single-stall restrooms? It sounds like there’s a need.

    I know it’s typically a long and expensive process, but going rogue can be an option.

    A friend of mine worked with other grad students in their department and made one of the restrooms all-gender using a homemade sign and some shower curtains. Facilities looked the other way and let it stay.

  73. 4eyedlibrarian*

    Letter writer #1, I present as a woman but I am nonbinary. Just because someone looks like they are a cis woman/man, doesn’t mean they are (and on that note, people of the LGBTQA+ or any other groups don’t have to look a certain way. You know what they say about assumptions). Plus, transmen who still have periods may feel uncomfortable using men’s bathrooms on their periods if they use tampons or pads (noise, disposing of it, people might not know they are a transman at all, etc.). And if they need one, not all men’s bathrooms are equipped with menstrual products, but all gender bathrooms might be. I understand your frustration, but people utilizing the gender neutral bathrooms normalizes it and increases the chances of additional ones following in its place

  74. Moonlight*

    OP1 LW1 #1 (whichever it is)
    I think that different people have different ideas of who should go into a non-gendered / gender neutral bathroom; I come from a “community” (think: activist community with overlapping settings) where the neutral bathroom is supposed to be prioritized for people who’re disabled/nonbinary/trans, so I totally get why it might feel like they’re breaching what feels like a commonly understood rule. Like I get the perception/worry about what happens if everyone starts doing that “just because” while someone like you doesn’t really have a backup option.

    I would still try to leave it alone though. For one, having to wait isn’t the end of the world; sure, if there’s a line up/you’re waiting for 10 minutes, that sucks, but that’s more of a facilities issue than a breach of social contract issue.

    Moreover, you don’t know that they’re not (not sick). The exec could have diabetes and need to do something with a pump and wants to do so privately, maybe they have a colostomy bag, or maybe they are recovering from an eating disorder; when I had anorexia/was recovering, the last thing I wanted was for people to see me in the bathroom or to be seeing myself in a mirror, the panic/anxiety was so bad that I’d take a gender neutral bathroom just to lessen it, but it wouldn’t have sounded rational to anyone else so I just hoped that it would get left alone.

  75. Not Sure*

    I agree that sending the calendar link feels off-putting from a job candidate – but doesn’t that make it much easier for OP? It ends all the back and forth, and you can see all his availability at once and choose the slot that works best for you.

  76. JLMP*

    OP1 here – rather than reply to all the comments I’m just going to make one post to address a few comments/inaccuracies.

    I wrote my letter figuring the answer was likely not, but thought perhaps there might be some good or gentle messaging I could use to suggest not using that washroom if the other ones are available. It sounds like not, I’ll leave it be, easy peasy. I recognize some of my frustration is in having to walk nearly 4x further than when I was working from home to use the facilities, and we got our current dean during the pandemic so this wasn’t happening in the before times.

    Yes other people do use this washroom, but 3/4 times I’ve had to wait in the last week it’s been our dean coming out of the washroom. That’s really what spawned this, was the frequency compared to waiting at other times. The gendered washrooms are beside the gender neutral one, and rarely have folks waiting to use them (there are other gendered washrooms on this floor in other areas, and we’re closer to office space than lecture space) . And I quite like my dean so it’s not bec-status stuff here.

    Several readers have suggested I go to another floor. I specifically stated I am physically disabled – I already have to walk fairly far (for me) to the one gender neutral washroom on our floor and doing stairs on top of that or walking even further to the elevator is really difficult, even on days I have my cane with me.

    I do not think this washroom is just for me out of all people who traverse this floor of our building. I do wish people would let designated-use spaces be made available for people who need them (i.e. if you don’t need the extra space and are a woman who feels safe using women’s washrooms, don’t use those spaces). Just like I don’t use accessible parking spots on days where I’m not dealing with a health flare – I don’t need that help that day. I *really* wish we had more than one single stall available on our floor because there are so many reasons people could be using them, but we don’t and construction isn’t going to start just because I asked for another washroom.

    I did not say there was no chance my dean was dealing with a disability, I said she did not use visible mobility aids to give some context.

    anywho, tldr not trying to be a jerk, won’t say anything, please don’t assume I’m trying to judge others… just let me pee.

    1. JLMP*

      oh and all the folks talking about presentation and still being non binary – I still present very femme and get misgendered regularly so I get it. I’m not some magical androgynous being, I face those same hecking issues.

      1. Ri*

        I agree with you and I just want to add (not for you you probably know just for the general readership) just as non binary people may present very femme or very masculine, a lot of cis people may present androgynous especially as gender norms for clothing are blurring. My cis woman sister has short hair and wears pant suits to work, she comes across very andrognyous becaause she likes the look but she’s identifies as female and I’ve known cis men who wear make up and more “feminine” clothes. So even if someone appears andrognyous it doesn’t mean they are non binary.

        The only definitively accurate way to know someone’s gender identity is if they tell you. And for reasons discussed in other comments they may not wish to do that.

      2. anonagoose*

        This is true, but your original letter certainly implied that the dean is somehow not included in the category of people for whom the gender neutral bathroom is meant for. You seem to imply that the dean uses the neutral bathroom out of a desire to avoid a shared one, which of course is an assumption you’re making…probably based on the fact that she presents femme. It’s disingenuous for you to say you know you that a person can present femme, be assumed female and still be nonbinary, and then also assume that your boss is one of those people unfairly using the gender neutral bathroom without knowing definitively whether or not she is cisgender.