I read this Q&A on Dear Prudence today and I thought it wonderful advice. I hope plenty of people read it and take it to heart! One less person in the world harrassing people in need of some time to have a bowel movement.
I am one of five women at my office. Roughly three out of five mornings, the one man we work with spends the first 10 to 15 minutes of the day in the (single, shared) bathroom. We work in a small office where we need to be available to any current or potential clients who call or drop in, so it does affect the rest of us if someone disappears mysteriously since, obviously, he doesn't announce that he's heading off to the can. I feel that if something is happening on such a regular basis, he should be able to take care of it at home before he comes to work. (He has only a half-hour commute.) My two-part question for you is: Is it worth saying something to him about it? And, presumably this would be a job for our manager, but what would be the best way of going about this? She usually hasn't arrived by that point in the morning, and so is not aware of this tendency.
—Waiting for the Can
How would you approach this with your manager? "Sue, I believe Dick starts his day with a bowel movement at the office. Could you please tell him to coordinate his bodily functions better so we don't have to cover for him for the first 10 minutes of work?" Maybe you could talk to Dick and tell him that if he's going to be doing something beside No. 1, he should announce it so the rest of you can plan your morning accordingly. Or maybe Dick is in the bathroom checking his insulin, maybe he has irritable bowel syndrome, or maybe it's hard to imagine that there is anything more inappropriate for you to say anything to anyone about.
The full column: http://www.slate.com/id/2167794/
I wrote Prudence and thanked her for recognizing that there were people with IBS in the world and that they need to go to the bathroom when they need to go to the bathroom, and that most of us are already embarrassed about going #2 in public, and to be called out for it, as this woman wanted to do, would be the ultimate in humiliation, and that people have quit their jobs for being so harrassed.