On The Job: Faculty Bathroom Dynamics

How about a series that deals with various awkward aspects of the job, unrelated to teaching students?  Read on, intrepid ‘Podders.

There are so many aspects of teaching that no one ever saw fit to tell me about before I stepped in to my career.  I was reminded of this point the other day, as I sat in the faculty bathroom, diligently doing my duty.  Faculty bathrooms are an interesting place, and I am always reminded of the clip from the early “Simpson’s” where Homer is handed a key to the executive men’s room, and it is a paradise of placid joy.  Faculty men’s rooms in a public high school are not like that.  Most often, they are smaller-scale versions of the student facilities, kept neat and clean by the fact that they are frequented by teachers.  Even this qualification is no guarantee of sanitation, and I have witnessed some pretty atrocious leavings in the years that I have frequented the faculty facilities of the building where I work.

This is all ancillary to the point of this post.  What really made this particular time in the bathroom reiterative of the “so many things you don’t learn about” train of thought was that in the stall next to me was a gentleman (presumably), who, by the sound of things, was having a very bad day from a gastrointestinal perspective.  Given the cacophony of staccato bursts coming from the area, I even began to doubt the physical plausibility of what I was hearing.  Was there some other explanation for the sounds that I could not help but to experience?  After much consideration, I decided there was not.

I freely admit that when it comes to matters of digestive health, mine is not always the exemplar.  Frequently, I am beset by various forms of indigestion.  Almost entirely, these episodes take place in the master bedroom of my house, where there is no one to witness events, save an odd cat or two, and a thoroughly seasoned wife.  To have these issues transpire in the public sphere, in a building where one is an authority figure, and among professional colleagues is an different level of experience altogether.   

In point of fact, I have been in similar circumstances on several occasions during the time that I have been a teacher, and each time, the situation is resolved in similar fashion:    The bystanding party finishes their particulars, washes up, and goes on his merry way, while the afflicted does everything in his power to ensure that he will remain anonymous, walled up behind the stall door, until such time as all witnesses have left the room.  This was the case in this most recent circumstance, wherein upon leaving the bathroom, I immediately heard a flood of sound issuing forth from the still-occupied stall.  It seems that even with the rather remarkable release that I was party to, the gentleman in question was holding back on my account.

While there is more that could be said on this topic, I will end by noting that a situations like the one that I have described in this post are demonstrative of one of the more tangible benefits that come with being a building principal:  He has his own private bathroom.