Miss Manners: I can’t deal with my colleagues pooping next to me


Dear Miss Manners: My place of work has recently relocated into a different building, and the ladies’ restroom is not a “single user” like we had at our previous location. There are two toilet stalls next to each other, which means that one can no longer do their business in assured privacy.

The other day, I walked into the restroom just as a gentlewoman colleague was furiously unleashing an unpleasant barrage of waste from her bowels. It was both noisy and aromatic.

I immediately turned around and left the restroom, returning a few minutes later, when I was sure this colleague had finished and departed the restroom.

But I fear if the tables were turned — if I were the one to “explode” into the toilet — that a colleague would not offer me the same privacy.

I’ve been to sporting events, concerts and airports that have a bank of 20 or more stalls in the ladies’ room, and that does not bother me as much because those restrooms are noisy — toilets flushing, women talking, faucets running, etc. And even when those restrooms are not so active and noisy, you can at least select a stall that’s not directly next to an occupied one. You can distance yourself.

But in a two-stall restroom, this is not possible, so what is proper in this situation? I am tempted to ask a higher-up about putting some sort of lock on the inside (perhaps a simple hook and eye) so a user has an option to “do their business” in privacy.

Welp. There goes breakfast. And not, Miss Manners reluctantly assures you, by the same means as your unnecessarily graphic description.

Etiquette dictates that one works as hard as possible not to notice bodily functions — especially when they are already being taken care of in the proper facilities. But sure, ask your supervisor for a lock. Just please spare them the vivid descriptions that you unduly leashed on Miss Manners and her hapless readers.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a good friend who sent me a present for my birthday. The note with it said, “Here is a gift, I hope you like it! You may already have it, so I am sending the gift receipt!”

I thanked the friend in a text, and said I would wait to open it until my birthday. She replied, “I hope you don’t have it already!” When I opened it later, I did, in fact, have it already. I sent her a text, thanking her for the lovely present, and telling her it was perfect.

Her response, “Did you already have it?” I would have preferred not to answer, as I neither wanted to lie nor disappoint her. But her insistence forced me to choose. Which response would Miss Manners advise?

The response may be relayed politely, as in, “Yes, but I am excited to have two scalp massagers. I can put one in the bathroom and one in the living room.”

Or, Miss Manners points out, “I can certainly use both” can refer to your using it in your regifting collection.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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