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Advice | Miss Manners: I can’t stand my colleagues taking a shit next to me


Dear Ms. Manners,: My workplace recently moved to another building and the powder room is not a “single user” like we had at our previous location. There are two toilet cubicles next to each other, so that people can no longer do their business in assured privacy.

Recently I walked into the toilet just as a female colleague furiously released an unpleasant barrage of waste from her bowels. It was both noisy and aromatic.

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

But I fear that if the tables were turned – if I were the one to “explode” in the toilet – a colleague wouldn’t offer me the same privacy.

I’ve been to sporting events, concerts, and airports with a bank of 20 or more stalls in the ladies’ room, and it doesn’t really bother me because those toilets are noisy – toilets flushing, women talking, taps running, etc. And even if those toilets are not so active and noisy, you can at least choose a toilet that is not right next to an occupied toilet. You can distance yourself.

But in a toilet with two cubicles this is not possible, so what is appropriate in this situation? I’m tempted to ask a higher up about putting some kind of lock on the inside (perhaps a simple hook and eye) so that a user has the option to “go about their business” in privacy.

Well. There goes breakfast. And not, Miss Manners reluctantly assures you, in the same way as your unnecessarily explicit description.

Etiquette dictates working as hard as possible not to notice bodily functions, especially when they are already cared for in proper facilities. But sure, ask your supervisor for a lock. Please spare them the vivid descriptions you have unnecessarily leashed to Miss Manners and her hapless readers.

Dear Ms. Manners,: I have a good friend who sent me a present for my birthday. The note read, “Here’s a gift, I hope you like it! You may already have it, so I’m sending you the gift card!”

I thanked the friend in a text and said I would wait to open until my birthday. She replied, “I hope you haven’t got it yet!” When I opened it later, I did indeed already have it. I texted her, thanked her for the beautiful gift, and told her it was perfect.

Her response: “Have you got it yet?” I would have preferred not to answer because I didn’t want to lie or disappoint her. But her insistence forced me to choose. What answer would Miss Manners advise?

The reaction is allowed politely passed off, as in, “Yeah, but I’m 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 use of them in your regifting collection.

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

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