In some of my more slacker days, I’ve worked a lot of corporate/office jobs. And as any good cubicle veteran can tell you; The bathroom is your friend.
I’m going to explain how to make a simple bathroom break, take up to an hour of your day, while avoiding work AND suspicion.
First off it’s best to explain that the bathroom is sacrosanct, it’s a place we have been taught to not mention, not talk about and not go into detail about. Sure a lot of us read, surf the web, text, or what-have-you, but we do not talk about our ‘business’ especially at work. This is what works to your advantage.
A simple straightforward bathroom break can take 2-5 minutes, just getting up, walking there, performing your task and coming back is generally a pretty quick and easy affair, but there’s so much more you can tack on to make this this take forever, getting you away from your desk, boss, responsibilities and accountability for huge chunks of the day. Here’s how it breaks down.
Step 1: The preparation.
For this step we’ll assume that you work at a desk with a computer. We’ll go over the details.
- Stand Up: This seems simple but it gives the impression that you’re about to leave or just arriving, most people see you standing at your desk they assume you’re halfway completed with something or about to leave.
- Click, Click, Click: Lean back down to your computer, someone who only has time to lean into their computer is obviously busy and on their way somewhere. Now that we’re down here, take some time to do some very simple things. Save your documents, check your email (especially to see if the boss has made a request), close any questionable windows, don’t minimize, CLOSE. There’s plenty of snooping managers that won’t balk at glancing at your computer to see if you’re up to anything you shouldn’t be. Be sure to put something work related and half-complete on the screen, implying you’ll be right back.
- Stretch: Now that you’ve prepped your computer do a full stretch, the idea here is that it add precious seconds to the forever-break. It’s normal to see that you are stretching as ergonomics and general workplace health is something we all have been taught is important. It could also be interpreted that you are just getting up to stretch and might sit back down
- H2Obfuscate: Place a water glass prominently on your desk, empty of all water, this will come into play later.
Step 2: The trip
Now that you’ve committed to actually heading to the bathroom the chase is on.
- The longest journey: depending on the size of your office this can be useful or not, I’ve worked one place where the bathroom is 20 feet from my desk and other places where it’s an actual trip across the building that can take up to 1-3 minutes to walk there. If you have a large office space, plot out a walking trip that takes the longest journey there. If you can avoid the bosses desk/office with this journey as well, all the better. Either way, walk slow, steady and with a firm eye forward that says “I know where I’m headed, and it’s important”.
- Non Essential Personell: This can depend on if you are okay with small talk or even like your co-workers. I don’t usually but they can be useful. Always wave and grin at anyone who is totally no threat to you. It will make you seem friendly and open up countless opportunities to stop and catch up for a second. It’s not ideal to get caught chatting all the time, so the key is to exchange a sentence or two and then say “I’m buried in work right now, but I’ll hit you up about that later” this way if you’re overheard, it’s saying that are “Busy”.
Step 3: The Zone
Now you’ve entered the inner sanctum that is the bathroom. There are a few key things to know
- King of the Hill: Choose the biggest stall they have, if there’s a handicapped stall, take that one, if there is a stall in the corner / against a wall, take that one. The less neighbors and notice the better. Obviously it’s important that you MUST have a stall, if there are none available simply wait patiently for one to become available which add vital time.
- It’s always TWO: You might be wondering what to do if you ‘only have to pee’ (assuming you’re a male). The answer is simple. You don’t. You have to shit. You’re uncomfortable with how badly you need to crap. That is the message you give EVERY time there’s a bathroom trip. There is NO such thing as a urinal, because they are simply over too quickly. The beauty of this is of course, that NO ONE can argue otherwise, only you know when you need to go and what kind.
- The business: You know how to perform your functions of course, but even if you do, there’s a few things to know. Always sit on the toilet and don’t wander around the stall, its surprisingly easy to recognize someone by their shoes or walk, so just keep it simple okay? Bring your cellphone or a small paperback that can fit unobtrusively in your pocket, get your read on. Space out. Whatever it is that makes the time pass.
- Timing is Everything: Now that you’ve gone into the bathroom, you have to assume you have been seen entering and may be seen leaving. The issue here is that you simply can’t just stay inside all day long. I’d say you want to keep things between 9 and 15 minutes absolute max. If you make more than one trip in a day, make the second one about 5-7 max. You may feel that you can get away with a lot more, and you probably can, but the idea here is not to raise suspicion and to be able to do this almost EVERY day if needed. Regardless of how you burn up the time in the bathroom, just stick to the minutes.
Step 4: The Return and Doubleback
Here comes the best part from step one. You left your water glass on your desk, empty. Here’s what to do
- The Way Home: Now you’re walking back, take the long route, exchange a few smiles and waves. It helps to be seen as friendly and busy. As soon as you reach your desk, pick up your glass of water, smack your forehead. Don’t SAY anything, it’s obvious, just look like you forgot to get water, and then, go get water. This provides a second and possibly lengthy trip, either to the kitchen, water cooler, or bathroom, whichever is furthest away has the ‘best water’.
- Now your trip is mainly complete, you can try some advanced techniques like the “Return Stretch” where you stretch a second time upon returning. Also remember to immediately check for emails and messages to see if you missed anything, always respond to these immediately to minimize your return time. Don’t apologize or explain for taking so long, unless it’s asked, which brings us to…
Step 5: Evasive Manuevers
The time may come where your lengthy trip(s) to the water closet may get some undue attention and your boss will cross all boundaries of logic and morality and actually ask you about the time taken to do so. Don’t panic, there’s ways to handle this as well.
If you get a message, email, voicemail or anything other than a direct confrontation, you’ll have to do something against your instincts. Make it personal. Don’t apologize or explain unless you are face to face. Ask to see them in private, and explain that you’re terribly embarrassed but that you suffer from intermittent “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” and that you take medication to alleviate this problem, but occasionally forget or miss a pill. Essentially you want to flip the scenario from “you’re being grilled” to the grill-ee. Make your boss as uncomfortable as possible, explain that it’s been an issue for several years, that normally it’s very manageable. That you’re very sorry it’s affected your performance and you endeavor to not have it be an issue again. The more lengthy and painful and uncomfortable you can make this talk, the more likely it is that this will NEVER come up again.
It’s very likely that this will never come up if you follow the above rules. Act happy, and busy, and break up your break into tiny manageable pieces that you can add or discard on the fly. Also try to take bathroom breaks at random times so that you don’t have a routine. Follow all these rules and you too can have a 1 Hour Bathroom Break.