I had been out of the office for seven working days recently because I went to the 26th International Shingo Conference - which was a great event, by the way - and then some colleagues and I traveled to the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business to tour its new Dempsey Hall and its almost new PACCAR Hall. We were looking for ideas for our own Huntsman Hall.
I came back and discovered a new workplace challenge that I had not before faced here in Logan. Where do you go to use the bathroom? When I began to experience the bathroom scarcity that now exists in the building, it made me think, “What the heck is going on here?” I had this reaction even though I, better than anyone else, knew this restroom shortage was on its way.
My office is now the corner of a classroom on the second floor where a couple of tables serve as a platform for my computer and printer. If I go to the nearest pit stop, it is a one-seater on the fourth floor and I have to get in line. Suddenly there a huge demand for an extremely limited but important resource which has required people to strategize about how long to wait before they take a break. This has given everyone a chance to deal with the unusual interpersonal dynamics and the unwritten rules that develop when potential potty conflicts could erupt at any moment.
|Shiny new fixtures wait their turn.|
I have even heard rumors that some people have turned this into an entrepreneurial opportunity by collecting “access tolls,” and selling memberships for “Gold Club Priority Seating.” This bathroom, after all, is located on the fourth floor where the Management Department lives.
Not having had to develop this particular type of patience before, I have been opting for a nice outdoor stroll and dignified visit to a restroom in the library next door. It’s true that I could rise above all of this and go to the sixth or eighth floor where there are also functioning one-seaters, but they too are in demand and sometimes very unavailable. It could easily prove a disappointing trip up several flights of stairs.
I have my own limited VIP options not open to everyone, in that I can put on my hard hat and go out into the construction site and use their Port-A-Potties. I have not opted to do that yet; I’m not sure why. For some reason that invitation is not so inviting. Just in case there is a sudden run on the library, however, I always keep my hard hat nearby.
And when school opens again this fall, it’s pretty clear that this new suite of open accessible bathrooms will be appreciated a lot more by those of us who experienced our building without them. And I’ll be one of them.
In the meantime, don’t even think about borrowing my hard hat.