The one thing no woman wants to do at work.


The interwebs has churned out at least two stories this week, which offer tips on how to make pooping at work easier. And a further search (don’t ask me what I was originally googling that meant I ended up there) reveals thousands more posts on the subject.

Now. I know what most of you are thinking.


What is the big freaking deal about the splash (or plop, as it were) sound that occurs when water and waste collide? Why on earth does it cause so much anxiety?

There are no easy answers – but since I’m a serious journalist who specialises in hard-hitting news, I’ve naturally decided to investigate this phenomenon further.

Confession time: I do completely understand the anxiety that surrounds pooping at work. Hell, my flatmate and I have issues pooping at home. He plays Birdy’s cover of Skinny Love whenever he’s doing number twos in the bathroom. It’s a bizarre effort in misdirection that I completely understand and wholeheartedly empathise with. Unfortunately, all it has managed to actually achieve is the reprogramming of my brain to associate Birdy with my flatmate struggling to push out a stubborn one.

You think that’s bad? Keep reading.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m pretty new here at Mamamia. And while I LOVE my new job and am thrilled to come into work every day, there’s one thing that I’ve struggled with: The bathroom is in really close proximity to the editorial office. Like, next door kind of proximity. Like, sometimes I wait until everyone is having a really loud conversation before I decide to do my business. If all else fails, I turn on the tap. Or hold it.

I know, I KNOW – it’s ridiculous. But there are thousands of us who have the same anxiety. Maybe millions. We should start a foundation.

An article on The Blush this week offered some handy pointers for those of us afflicted with work poop anxiety. Here’s some highlights:

Unravel that toilet paper! The idea is to make it sound like you’re wiping as realistically as possible. What are you actually doing? You’re placing a tad bit of toilet paper into the toilet to prevent any splashing noises.  And don’t use too much toilet paper, or you’ll clog the toilet! LEAVE NO EVIDENCE!

As silently as you can manage, do your business. Breathe through your mouth to avoid making awkward noises, work slowly, and work with, not against, the noises around you. (Someone else flushes, GO!)

Make use of the toilet paper roll. Unraveling is a waste, so just twirl it around! “This girl loves to wipe! She’s so clean! Give her a promotion at once!

Now, wipe for real! You did good, kid.

But the brilliant Lindy West from Jezebel thought that was the Disney version of poo tips. She countered with her own pointers. Here’s a couple:

I’d like to posit that the Blush piece leaves way too much room for error. Just rustle the toilet paper really loud? Please! Don’t they understand that our eternal souls are on the line? And that Sheila from accounting might find out that we are animals with digestive tracts and highly evolved waste elimination systems? No. This won’t do. We need to get way more hardcore.

Idea 1: The Old-Fashioned

Diapers. Duh.

Idea 5: Get Political

Do women in America even do poops anymore? I thought everything was outsourced. OBAMA.

I think her best tip though, was this one:

Idea 10: Oh My God, Just Get Over It Already

Honestly, do you care if you hear somebody else pooping? Don’t you have quarterly reports to finish or something? Are you 12? Are you hanging out in the bathroom with one of those old-timey ear horns? Honestly, people. Honestly.

I think that West is right, I really do – it’s a first world problem and there’s work to be done (like writing posts about pooping). But after reading countless articles this week about women who can’t do number 2’s at work, I’ve come to realise I’m not alone. That for many of us, getting over it will be far easier said than done.

But I’m going to try, damn it. I’m going to try. Because I’m an adult. And this is all pretty ridiculous.

So… do you have this kind of, um… problem at work (or at someone else’s place)? Or do you think it’s just silly to get public poop anxiety?