office hours

Do Not Fear Pooping at Work

Be free.
Be free. Photo: Laurence Dutton/Getty Images

When visiting a house where a young child resides, it is common to find the book Everyone Poops resting among strewn toys and building blocks. This book brings out in adults the most uncomfortable and coy of giggles: “Heh,” one tends to say upon encountering it. “Everyone does poop. You see this book? Heh. Funny joke. Heh.” But in the 15 years since the book came out, few seem to have internalized the lesson. Sure, Everyone Poops but … does everyone really poop?

General consensus still dictates that there are still places that one must refrain from pooping, lest someone realize that we all do it. Don’t poop at the house of the girl you’re dating, don’t poop at a fancy dinner party. And never poop at the office. The only safe space to poop is in the privacy of your own home, in the middle of the night, without anyone around to hear you. In the shelter of your bathroom in darkness, it is safe to do the one thing we can guarantee everyone else does, too.

If we haven’t learned yet from the nearly 20-year-old children’s book, we are further behind in our progress as Americans than we even thought. There have been calls to action before for women to start pooping at work, and even one intrepid woman has begun leaving Squatty Potties in the bathrooms at her office. But anecdotal and field evidence prove that women and men still remain constipated by the idea of letting loose in an office bathroom stall. This has gone on long enough: We must finally cast aside the undue stress of pooping in places we feel are not fit or acceptable for pooping. And where better to begin jettisoning this stigma than at our jobs? We cannot be a people governed by fear. We must feel at ease with our waste.

Here’s the thing about poop: It smells bad, it’s a little bit weird, it makes sounds coming out of your butt. There are many disgusting things about the human body that are not also slimy or weirdly colored or on a bad day smell worse than the Gowanus Canal, but poop is the one universally disgusting thing that we know we all do, and you will in no way benefit from holding it in. She who lives in a house made of poop should not throw poop. Why are you throwing poop at Lauren from sales? It’s not her fault she’s comfortable in her own body.

Americans spend an enormous portion of their lives at their offices: Recent surveys say we tend to clock about seven more hours than the 40 hours we believe we’re spending there. If we feel uncomfortable at the thought of disposing of our perfectly human and perfectly natural waste during a nine- to ten-hour shift, imagine what that does to our ability to happily function all day. While we all act differently at home than we do at work, there is some necessary crossover. You may not bring your slovenly posture or your sailor fucking mouth to the office, but that’s because those things are choices. Pooping is an essential function of the human body. And it feels great to do it, no matter where you are. So hey — why not poop? And poop often?

If the thought of pooping at work scares you — “What if it smells bad? What if someone hears me? What if I see my boss upon exiting the stall?” — consider once again, a book written for children titled Everyone Poops. Enter the bathroom with the calm and composed mind of a Zen master. You are merely doing the deed that your body is requesting of you, the thing that will enable you to eat more pizza later, the task that allows you to continue living day in and day out. Don’t worry about how it smells or sounds. Donald Trump could become president: Don’t we have bigger things to worry about right now?

And to the women I’ve spoken to who refuse to poop at work out of fear of appearing un-dainty or inelegant, think of it this way: We don’t get equal pay, we don’t get universal paid family leave, we don’t get promoted or trusted in positions of power. Think of every poop you take at work as your small, silent protest against The Man. It’ll come out easier that way.

Do Not Fear Pooping at Work