Smile Politely

Squatter’s rights

Going to the bathroom can be a supernal experience, but it can also be stressful, especially when you have to go at work. Now I’m not talking about your casual, run-of-the- mill urination, but the more important and sometimes time consuming #2. I am not sure about you, but I have never had a job that allowed me the complete comfort and freedom to go #2 without worrying about someone timing me, then giving me a smirk when I walk back to my office ten minutes later.

I once had a job where the head secretary’s desk faced the men’s bathroom. Every time I walked in and out of the bathroom, I could tell that she was keeping track. There were times when I took longer than expected, only to exit the bathroom to find her smiling and shaking her head from side to side. I remember that she even pointed at her watch once, which was highly inappropriate.


Now, in my current job, I work with twenty five employees in my department, and twenty four of them are women. I would say that most of them act as surrogate mothers and sisters to me, with the exception of my male counterpart. They typically keep watch over me, offering advice, asking me about my love life and teasing me about my inability to cook when we have a potluck day. Let’s just say that they all keep a close eye on me. Therefore, I have to be elusive when I use the bathroom at work.

The bathroom setup that we have at my place of work is awkward in and of itself. My company leases office space in a large building, but our location is isolated from the other businesses, so the bathroom isn’t a public restroom. The men’s room actually shares a vent with the ladies’ room. I’m not sure if the women know this or not, but the vent isn’t soundproofed at all, which is another problem altogether. I have never set foot in their comfort room, which I’m sure is like the Kubla Khan of bathrooms, but the men’s washroom is very modest. It contains one urinal and one handicap-accessible toilet. There isn’t a lock on the bathroom door, because it swings open, but there is a lock on the stall. Therefore, two people can use the bathroom at the same time. For some reason, there are three sinks, but only two of them work, so that makes a little sense to me. There are no perfumes, lotions, People magazines, or hand towels. It is just clean and utilitarian.

Regardless of the bathroom environment, having only one toilet within 500 feet to poop in can be somewhat of a problem, depending on the timing. My male coworker (Brian) and I have this process down to a science. The best way for us to know when the stall has a green light is when we walk by each other’s offices. If one of us is on the phone or in a meeting, then that means that it is the other one can go poop in peace. Rarely do we ever run into each other in the bathroom.

All was tranquil in our little world until the roofers came to the building to do repairs. For three weeks Brian and I were distraught. Our once serene bathroom was turned into a truck stop. The smell was rancid and the sinks were covered with dirt and possibly chewing tobacco. When they finished the job, we both smiled, because we knew the bathroom was ours again. A couple of weeks went by, our routine was established, and we figured that we had our porcelain palace back to ourselves, but we were wrong.

For the past two weeks now we have what appears to be a bathroom squatter. I’m not talking about your thirty minute pooper, like the guy who will read Golf Digest from front to back in an entire sitting, but more like a cousin Eddie who is bound and determined to make the toilet his home. I’m not kidding either. This guy is in the bathroom anywhere from two to four hours at a time. I don’t know if he’s knitting a sweater or giving birth. There have been days when I have had to make an excuse to run across the street just to have a BM. You can’t imagine how frustrating it is to find the stall locked for nearly the entire day. Not only is it aggravating, but it can be painful too.

At first, we figured that someone spread the word throughout the land that there is a nice, clean, air-conditioned men’s bathroom to use that provides great solace in a man’s desperate time of need. Brian and I even assumed that the toilet might have grown legendary, much like the janitor’s roof top “Epiphany Toilet” that was featured on Scrubs. However, since we are able to see the feet of the alleged squatter, it appears to be the same person over and over again, because he usually has on brown dress shoes.

However, one day the stall door was closed and there were sounds coming from the stall that enabled me to presume it was being used by the squatter. When I crouched down to see if I could see his shoes, I was left speechless, because no feet could be seen at all. I went back and I told Brian, who also went in to take a look. He couldn’t explain it either. We figured that either the guy was really trying to work one out, so much so that he had to put his feet on the door to exert pressure, or we maybe one of our female coworkers was using our sacred toilet. We will never know who was on the toilet that day. My last theory is that the squatter finally purchased one of those invisibility cloaks from JK Rowling.

The next day, when I was going to use the bathroom, Brian informed me that I shouldn’t enter, because the squatter was back. He told me that he had been trying to go all morning and he then had Mexican for lunch, so naturally he seemed very irritated by his dilemma. He informed me that he would be going home early and I told him that I completely understood. I also told him that I am running out of ideas and that I am getting frustrated wasting trips to the bathroom unnecessarily.

Since I work with so many women who seem to always know where I am and for how long, you can imagine the type of quagmire that I’m in now. I can only make so many excuses in a week to attempt to use the bathroom. I have tried everything from needing to make a phone call, forgetting my wallet in my car, needing to go to the post office, or leaving the coffee pot on at home. There have even been days when I have chugged glass after glass of water so that my attempts to use the bathroom were at least validated by a steady stream of pee. However, you can only make so many trips to the bathroom in an hour before your coworkers start asking you if you need Avodart.

Brian and I don’t know what to do with our space. We have thought about putting Saran Wrap over the toilet, coating the seat with Icy Hot, removing the door, and even removing the seat altogether. Brian thinks we need either a retinal scanner or a fingerprint scanner at a minimum to grant access to the throne, but we don’t have that type money in the budget for that type of improvement. I really don’t know what to do anymore about our squatter, and I figure that with time, the toilet will eventually become the mystery pooper’s property.

I did some research on squatter’s rights and this is apparently all it takes to win: 1) Maintain actual possession of the real estate at issue for the legally required period of time, 2) Use the property in an open and notorious manner, 3) Establish exclusive use of the real estate, 4) Use the property in a manner that is counter to the interests of the individual or business who has technical legal title to the property, 5) Make use of the property in a continuous and uninterrupted fashion.

As far as I can tell, whoever is using the toilet for an extended period of time is well on his way to actually establishing squatter’s rights. I think the last step would be for him to actually show his face, but that is what I’m afraid of the most. Do you recall the scene from the film Mulholland Dr. when the young man describes an encounter with a hideous figure out back of the coffee shop, and when he goes to see if the man is real, this grotesque man appears from behind a dumpster causing the young man to collapse? Well, that’s what I think would happen if the squatter showed his face to me.

For now, all that I can do is hope and pray that our squatter eventually leaves to find a residence with more than just a toilet. In the meantime, instead of confronting the man, I’m thinking about getting on Activia so that I have military-like poops every morning at 5AM. Otherwise, I’m running out of options and I might have to hire a lawyer to remove the squatter altogether. I am open to any suggestions or comments that could help me out in this situation. In the meantime, I’ll just continue to hold it, and hopefully I don’t sneeze too hard.


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