Can't We All Be Adults Here, Folks? / by vanessa

Look, I know it's been a while.   I won't whine about how only the stepchildren flavors of kombucha are left on the shelves (Passionberry, Guava), nor casually mention the beautiful, polished, exquisitely designed, new MacBook Pro I *just* got!  Instead, I'll seek your ear with a topic I normally avoid like 99c stores:  bathroom stuff.  Specifically, bathroom stuff as it relates to the workplace. Of late there have been two recurring events so egregious I'm at a loss for how to approach.  Reader, that's rare.  (I wanted write to Dear Brutal Truth, but rumor has it those wenches drained the DBT coffers and retired to some unpronounceable exotic location where they're now sipping Chi Chis and bringing back child labor.)  The first involves conference calls.  In the bathroom.  In a stall.  On SPEAKERPHONE.  UNMUTED.  [shaking my head in disbelief]  I'm begging you to think about this, woman!

I can't even figure out what bothers me most.  That...

1. I already get stage fright, and knowing that some guys in India are listening to me pee feels like the time I found out that the Korean restaurant I frequented got busted for installing a peephole in the women's bathroom 2. The people on the conference calls with whom she is talking never interrupt her to ask why they hear toilets flushing 3. The phone, which at some point she must hold close to her mouth, has been within inches of a fairly public commode, which at times smells like a port-a-potty at a music festival

I have considered posting official-looking signs in all of the stalls declaring, "In case it's not completely obviously, cell phone use is strictly prohibited." I'd add a footnote:   This means you, lady.   Everyone knows italics and footnotes are the linguistic equivalents of finger wagging.

Secondly, I work in a fairly open area.  I am surrounded by guys, most of whom I've been working next to for the last several years.  I like these guys.  In the last month or two, new people have moved in.  I'm assuming there's a correlation between our new neighbors and what I'm about to tell you, since this is a fairly recent development:  Someone has murderously foul gas that they find acceptable in sharing with everyone within a 30-ft radius on a daily basis.  I am incapacitated when it strikes.

I don't know what to do.  It's not like their rotgut carries sound so that it can be traced.  The cubicle walls are high enough that I'm unable to study the faces of those around me, searching for the shifty eyes of telltale guilt.  After audibly uttering "F*cking hell" the first few times to no avail, I tried broaching the subject with a nearby friend, to see if he had any ideas.  Like say, staging a homeowners association meeting.  I contacted him over IM, because, well, I'm a lady and I like to be delicate.

Me:  Is it me or is the smell f*cking rancid in here lately?  Suggestions?

Friend:  Well, it's so stressful around here, people are literally rotting from the inside out.

Me:  Well, don't I feel like a jerk.

Friend:  Don't feel like a jerk.  You're trying to kind by addressing this over IM.  I'm just sharing what some in our group are experiencing.  Not sure if it's related.

Me:  I still feel like a jerk.

Friend:  Okay.

[IM silence]

Friend:  I guess we should all agree that we all share a space and we should respect the common space.

Me:  Yeah.

Friend:  Air seems like a good definition of common space.

Me:  Yeah.

Friend:  So that includes things like phone calls.

Me:  [clueless]Yeah.

Friend:  Everyone can hear each other's phone calls.

Me:  [clued...] Uhhh, I think I'm guilty of that.

Friend:  Yeah.

[long pause]

Friend:  We all are.

I frowned to myself.  I hate when I'm impeachable.  Even still, isn't gas WAY worse than annoying phone calls?  I mean, really?  Regardless, after my friend and I had that exchange last week, I spent the next few days believing that there was a connection between my phone calls and the noxious odors.   I embarked on a practice of stellar behavior.  And for a time, it was quiet.  (Well, I mean, it's always quiet, but it didn't smell.)  Then, yesterday it returned as if it were making up for lost opportunity.   I'm basically in a war zone.

So there you go.  I'm teetering on the edge of sanity at this point, and I eagerly welcome any suggestions.  If you submit the winning solution, I will buy you a car.

It is the virtues, not the faults...which constitute one's true legacy. -- Gandhi