Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Center Stall

There are three stalls in the bathroom at work. Unless your name is Larry Craig, why would you ever use the one in the middle?

Once a rarity, it seems like more often than not the middle stall is occupied when I've found myself needing to use the facilites at work. Since I have no real bathroom at home going on about 25 days now, this is a more common occurrence than it used to be.

Statistically, this is impossible. Here are the possible scenarios when you enter the bathroom.

All three stalls are free. By far the most common situation. If you use one of the two end ones, anyone who happens to come in after you will not have to sit right next to you, three feet away, in plain view of your shoes and dropped trousers and uncomfortably close to whatever you are producing in there. What you do: take one of the end ones. I prefer the spacious and luxurious handicapped stall.

One of the end stalls is occupied. No brainer. You take the other end stall, leaving a comfortable "neutral zone" between you and the other individual whom you pretend is not there.

This covers 99% of all bathroom situations. In those rare situations when you need to use the toilet and the two end stalls are occupied, the only civilized option is to go away and come back later.

So why would the middle stall ever be the only stall occupied? The only conceivable sitation is that someone came into the bathroom, found the two end stalls occupied, was desperate and had no choice but to sandwich themselves next to not one but two other people, as if they were in an airport or at Woodstock. Then, making this situation mind-bogglingly unlikely to occur in the wild, both end-stall users would have had to leave before you showed up to find the single, unfortunate individual using the center stall.

The series of events that are required to create this situation naturally are only theoretically possible. If it happened once, I might believe it, much like I believe that life on Earth began with a perfect confluence of events. But that took billions of years. This happens every other day. There is only one conclusion that can be reached.

There are evil, horrible people in the world. There are center stall choosers. These are sick, twisted individuals who fearlessly march into the bathroom, all thee stalls available, and decide that they will use the one in the middle. They are ensuring that the next person who walks in will have no choice but to awkwardly sit next to them and listen to them making all manner of noises that one would rather not hear another person making. They will guarantee that someone, a person with whom they probably work, will look at their shoes while suffering through the ordeal of using the stall next to them. An ordeal that is absolutely avoidable.

There is a frequent center stall user in my office. I have identified them by their shoes. All that is left for me to do now is figure out the appropriate course of action. I ask you, gentle readers, for your help.

Intervention, assassination, or vandalism?

My concern is that if confronted, this individual will simply deny everything, and continue their fetish unabated. Or worse, they may crack like a 30-year veteran postal worker. But my alternative is little better - while I am no killer, I don't know how much more of this constant psychological and gastroenterological torment I can take.

The final option is to disable the center stall. I could lock the door from the inside, or pour a bag of cement into the toilet bowl. While this might be effective, it would undoubtedly be only temporary. It seems little more than a band-aid, an analgesic that merely masks the underlying cancer.

This menace must be stopped. Center stall abuse cannot not be tolerated.


Lemmonex said...

My office only has two stalls. Makes for awkward situations.

lacochran said...

If you know that nobody else uses the center stall, doesn't that make it the cleanest?

Like your own personal sanctuary from the nastiness around you?

Jamie said...

@Lemmonex, you might as only have one stall then.

@Lacochran, I've heard other theories about using the cleanest stall. I think that applies more to airports than offices. The bathrooms where I work are usually very clean be it handicapped or center stall (not that I would know how clean the center stall is...)

Anyway usually shoot for an AM visit, when they've all been recently cleaned anyway. And if you saw the "bathroom" (=toilet bolted to the concrete floor in my unfinished basement) I am now using in my house during the renovation... well.. enough said.

Anonymous said...

Why in the hell can't we just be like other countries and offer floor/ceiling walls and doors on our stalls? Are we as a culture still so afraid of Larry Craig and junkies that we would sacrifice the sanctity of basic bodily functions??

Malnurtured Snay said...

My work also has three stalls (we also share a restroom with the office on the other end of the floor). There is an individual (I think he sneaks down from the 4th floor) who pees all over the toilet seat. So, unfortunately, I will often choose the middle stall because I don't want to have to clean up the pee-splattered toilet.

jackie said...

I recognize this evil. You must remove the toilet, demolish the tile down to the joists, and keep Jerry out of this bathroom too.

Jamie said...

@jackie, true, that is my solution to most problems.

Anonymous said...

I choose a middle one (we have 4) at my office because they have the brightest lighting so I can see how clean things are. One of the end ones is sluggish. The other end one is oft-visited by people sneaking from other floors to read.

Alex said...

This is hilarious. And true.

Drew said...

i can give you this insight:
1. All retail displays have a center (middle) focus unit which displays the newness because it is central and also what people will see when they look from a distance We are all naturally drawn to a center. This will continue to be explained...
3. Look at Grocery store setups. The 2 lower end brands are on sides but most expensive is in the center. Example: Cheese at Giant: Generic Cheese, Seargento Cheese, Giant Cheese. They know you look in the center so you will buy that 1st. Next most people look to the right next (right handed people) and will buy their brand.
3. When you look at a painting, you look from the center out, you don't scan 1 side to the next. When you look at a newspaper, it's the CENTER spread. It's how the brain works. We look to the center 1st. We look to the toilets and see the Center free and so we use it.

I could list more but I have one question:
If you are making such a big deal that the center stall is being used, perhaps maybe you want to use it? Do you want to be like Larry Craig?

Anonymous said...

Do what I did - "black" them out! As I left the restroom I shut off the lights. When the person yelled out, I simply said - this is your punishment for being a center staller. Have you ever tried to find your way around in a room with no windows - not fun. In the following two years that I worked on that floor, I never again encountered the center staller. I think he learned his lesson!