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Thursday, 2 September 2010


When I worked in an office, probably the thing I hated the most, more than filthy kitchens or women who sprayed too much perfume around. was going to the loo. For #2.

For blokes this is no big deal. They don't care if they are at home, at work, on the golf course, in the boat, making love or visiting another bloke. If you gotta go, well, you just go. "Back in a sec fellas."

I once went out with a guy who had actually removed the door of his ensuite because it gave him more room. Yep - took it right off its hinges and shunted it into the garage. I'd come sailing into his bedroom in the morning with mugs of tea, take one look at him on his perch and sail back out.

For women, we think it's a huge deal. A bathroom break is sacrosanct. Private. Borderline embarrassing. It's fine at home. Still almost fine when visiting mum. And something that is never undertaken under the public scrutiny of the office, or in an environment as obscene as a shopping mall. And never ever ever at a new boyfriend's place.

One Saturday afternoon a few years ago, I cheerio-ed a girlfriend who was going for her first sleepover with her new man. The following morning, I sent her a text asking how it was going, aka did she need rescuing.

Her reply was succinct. She was having a great time, they were getting on fabulously, but right now she'd pay $1000 for a bathroom break. He wanted to take her to Sunday brunch but her need for bathroom privacy far outweighed the delight of a public outing with him. She was home before 10am.

Same happened to me. Except I was at Byron Bay. Had driven down there to a new-ish sweetheart at his fab-by-the-water holiday retreat.

As the new morning dawned, I realised I'd have to physically remove myself from Byron to gain some physical relief.

"Hey darl," I cooed, "I've got lots to do back in Brissy, so I might leave now."

"No worries," was his calm reply, "I've got a few things to do as well; I'll follow you back." Wherein I spent 90 minutes squirming around in the driver's seat while I squirmed my car around the Pacific Highway.

If I'd pulled over at a servo, I would face a dual dilemma - the horror of using roadside conveniences meeting the horror of him knowing what I was doing. After all, it takes a smidge longer than the standard 30 second pee. Not counting the time it takes to sterilise the seat ... of course.

Anyway, back at work, I inched my way bravely towards the door bearing the sign "Ladies". As luck would have it, I barrelled straight into a colleague, standing innocently at the mirror, putting on make up.

Now if I was a bloke, I'd do a "g'day mate" number, wave the sports section of the paper at him, swing into a cubicle and proceed. Blokes don’t care about noise.

But I'm a woman. There was no way I could do that. Already I could see myself in the starring role of "Most Embarrassing Bathroom Break Moments", scripted by John Cleese, narrated by Russell Coight, directed by Baz Luhrmann and produced by Sorbent.

Sometimes I've borne aural witness to my colleagues' bathroom breaks. I've shuddered with equal mortification and empathy. I've even tried to hide my feet in case other occupants are the type to take a sneaky peak under the cubicle partition to see who is in the witness box.

Ever walked into a lavatory at work and seem the previous occupant's calling card still in the bowl? I usually shriek and rush into another cubicle. What's worse than having to subject myself to being near such vileness is the fear that the subsequent user may think it was me who did it. Aarrggh!

It didn’t take me long to sort it out. A bit of sniffing around heralded a ladies loo buried three floors below ground level. It seemed that no one else in the building knows of its existence, apart from me. It became my escape pod. So when things got desperate, I’d tell everyone in the office I was going to a meeting and hit the "B3" button on the lift.

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