Most people agree that it’s good to be comfortable at work. You should feel like you can be yourself (within professional bounds) and that you can move about freely without fearing you’ll piss someone off. But what happens when you get too comfortable? Is there such a thing?
I’d argue there is and that when you reach that level of comfort, you end up crossing a line for which there’s no going back.
I recently had this unfortunate experience with a woman at work.
She isn’t employed with our company and I don’t see her every day, but she uses the women’s restroom on our floor and until recently she and I had been friendly. We didn’t have full-on conversations over the sinks but we at least acknowledged each other with a smile and a, “Hi,” every now and then.
Which, as a side bar, is really rare in women’s restrooms. Everyone scuttles in and out of the stalls like they’re committing some shameful act and then they regard the witnesses with equal parts contempt and disgust.
It’s ok people! Haven’t you heard? Everybody poops.
But this chick was different. She wore cute shoes; she seemed bubbly and happy and judging by her dress and demeanor I thought we could be friends…if we ever ran into each other outside the bathroom…which never happened but I was convinced it could.
Until she caught me washing my boobs in the sink.
Stop judging. It’s not that weird.
The incident occurred last week when at 6:30pm I had come back to the office after a run and was changing to take Muni home. I’d been doing this once a week for about three years and in all that time, I had never seen anyone in the bathroom that late.
6pm, sure. But 6:30? These ladies were downing their first glass of wine by then.
And since I’d been doing this for three years, I had a ritual. I removed my sweaty sports bra and shirt in the handicapped bathroom, I put on my running jacket but left it unzipped and then I took my face wash to the sink and washed my face and chest. Then I changed into a clean sports bra and shirt.
I’d tried skipping the step where I washed my face and chest, but I ended up with little red bumps and clogged pores and then had to spend a gagillion dollars on a facial. So I chose to do the weird thing and wash everything in the sink.
On the night in question I was unreasonably hungry and was thus in a hurry to get home. I had even considered not putting on the running jacket to save time but then thought What if today’s the day someone walks in?
So I threw it on but left my duffle bag open in the handicapped bathroom with my work clothes, clean clothes and undergarments spilling out of it. I rushed to the sink and slopped water everywhere as I wet my face and chest.
Ugh, now I have to clean that up too.
I lathered my skin, rinsed, started drying with paper towels, realized I hadn’t rinsed enough and went back to the sink to splash a little more water on my chest. It was then, as I was wiping my left boob that the bathroom door opened and in walked my potential friend.
I snapped my jacket closed and made awkward noises like, “Uhhh, errr, ummmm,” as I searched for an explanation. But she was so disturbed that she half turned around as if to leave but then probably realized she had to go to the bathroom too badly so she turned back around and stared at the ground as she scurried into the handicapped stall. Where all my clothes were.
Well, this is awkward.
I zipped up my jacket and considered leaving my clothes there—just writing them off and never going to the bathroom at work again– but then I realized two things: 1) my wallet was in the duffel bag and without it I couldn’t get home, and 2) there wasn’t a single sound coming from the handicapped stall. So while I was staring at vanilla colored stall door wondering what to do, she was staring at my pile of clothes chewing on the same question.
Only hers probably went something like, “What the fuck was that? Should I report her to building security?”
After what felt like a year of silence I started to get lightheaded from hunger.
Oh my gawd…this is so awkward…whatever. Fuck it.
“Hey…I’m so sorry to bother you,” is that a weird thing to say right now? “But I…I left my clothes in there and…”
Without saying a word she got up from the toilet and used her foot to scoot my bag and all of its overflowing items under the stall door.
“Thanks. Again, I’m really sorry.”
She didn’t respond but as I was repacking everything I noticed that one item was missing—my bra.
Oh for fucksake.
“Hey, sorry again…but..” as I was searching for the words, “You forgot my bra,” the nude undergarment came sailing over the door and hit me in the face.
I left as quickly as possible and completely forgot to clean up the giant puddles of water around the sinks. Which makes me not only the strangest bathroom mate, but also the least considerate.
And I should probably never enter that restroom again out of consideration for its users.
But at 10am the next day I was doing the pee pee dance at my desk, trying to decide if I could make it to the Peet’s Coffee on the bottom floor without leaking in my pants.
What’re the odds that she’s in the bathroom right this minute? Bad, right? I mean, they’re probably the same odds as her liking a mid-morning latte… She looks like a latte person. Yea, I bet she’s down at Peet’s right now! I should just go to the bathroom up here.
I had never once seen this woman outside the restroom but it took me less than five minutes to create a schedule for her. A schedule, judging by the previous evening, was bound to be wrong. I went anyways.
And as I was zipping up my pants I saw a familiar pair of shoes walk in with a bubbly gate and sit in the stall next to me.