There are so many joys when working in an office. Each day I am joined by a cast of cubicle characters who bring their own “charm” to theDon't Tread on the Toilet workplace. From Leslie (The Loud Talker) who develops an inner ear issue every time she puts on her headset and joins a conference call… to Brian (The Bore) who takes every opportunity to stand at my desk and tell me stories. Stories that always begin with, “To make a long story short,” but these stories are never short. Instead he insists that I let him “Start from the beginning.” Explaining to me why the Vikings lost in the Wild-Card round of the NFL playoffs shouldn’t take 45 minutes and include anecdotes from his dysfunctional childhood.

“My dad used to throw rocks at kids walking past our house and when the kids would stop and ask, ‘Who’s throwing rocks at us?’ He’d point at me and then run inside and lock the door. Then he’d crack open a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and watch from the kitchen window as they beat me up.”

Wow, that’s great Brian, but in lieu of boring me, you should utilize our company’s wonderful mental health benefits and share your “stories” with a trained professional who can diagnose and medicate for a $25 copay.

Often times a trip to the restroom is the only place where I get go and get away. I think of it as a sacred place where I am safe. It’s a wonderful place far away from my desk where no one will scream into a telephone headset or talk to me until I too feel abused. Lately; however, I have noticed that this sacred place is being abused. People have apparently forgotten that there are rules and etiquette when it comes to using a public restroom. And when these rules are broken, it disrupts natural law and causes great harm to all who venture onto its porcelain thrones.

Below is a list of the most common crimes that are committed against the public restroom. Please review this list carefully to make sure that you are not a guilty of such crimes against nature.

  • When there are a plethora of empty stalls available, do not use the one right next to me. When in the restroom, space is very important. Maybe you think you are flattering the person next to you by choosing to sit so close when so many other options are available, but you are not. Instead Don't Tread on the Toiletyou are equivalent to the random person on the plane who thinks, “I’m sure this stranger sitting next to me would love to hear all about my career as a traveling meat salesman.” No, we would not. Please be kind and rewind it back a few stalls.
  • Turn around and see if you’ve left anything behind. It’s a horrible feeling when you gleefully walk into a stall only to find that its previous occupant has left behind traces of their DNA. This isn’t Law & Order. No one wants to have to investigate in order to find out which “lady” has left doo doo residue at the scene of the crime.
  • In addition to what I’ve listed in number two. Yes, I said number two. Always flush. This is by far the most important thing to do before exiting the stall. Even if you think the toilet you have just used is one of those magical ones that can indicate when you are finished and flush itself. Even the automatic-flush toilets have a manual option. If you are having trouble finding it, call a friend, family member, the non-emergency police line for your county, the manufacturer of the toilet or your husband’s friend, “Jim the Plumber.” Whatever you do, don’t leave until the toilet is flushed and then flush again to prevent any clues that you were ever there. Heed my warning or you may be the recipient of a punishment that includes another restroom occupant rubbing your nose in the toilet bowl while pointing at you and saying, “No! Bad human! Very bad human.”
  • The public restroom is not a place to stand around and commiserate with Pam in Accounting about how Alexis in Tech Support hurt her feelings after she forgot to include her on the “FREE DONUTS in the kitchen” email. We are all in there for personal, private business. Having to hear you talking only ruins what should be a shameful yet Zen experience for everyone involved. If you want to complain, chat, gossip or cry with a fellow Don't Tread on the Toiletco-worker, start smoking cigarettes. Then head outside (at least 100,000 feet from any building, person, grass, car, baby, sidewalk or street) and talk until your lungs fall out.
  • Courtesy Flush. No one in the restroom wants to hear you. None of us are fans of a one person marching band. A courtesy flush can also eliminate odor. You can be green-friendly all you want in the privacy of your own home, but when it comes to the public restroom, flush away!
  • Absolutely no phone calls in the restroom. What kind of person takes a phone call while on the potty? I’ll tell you who – the same person who takes phone calls and ignores the cashier while checking out at the grocery store or gas station. The same person who thinks it’s perfectly okay to walk around the holy land, Target, while on the phone discussing her husband’s alleged affair. If you do not respect people while they are at their place of worship, you’re probably not respecting the covenant of marriage and now your husband’s infidelities make sense. If you must use the phone in a public place, find a corner, hunch down very low, put your head between your legs and whisper to the person on the other end, “I don’t want to be the worst person in the world so I’ll have call you back.”
  • Wash your hands. Just because you have chosen to live a disgusting lifestyle, does not mean the rest of us should suffer. You are the reason people have resorted to putting a handful of paper towels between themselves and the door handle. You are also to blame for the woman who thinks that flushing the toilet with her foot, is perfectly acceptable behavior. It’s just soap and water. It doesn’t hurt. Many of you are married, have birthed children or will be paying back student loans long after Medicare kicks in and all of these things are far more painful than merely washing your hands.