Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Reflections In a Bathroom Mirror

Part of the deal of being a consultant is having to go to different client offices on a regular basis. The first thing I do when I arrive at an office is visit the ladies’ room. Partly because I’ve drank 16 to 20 ounces of coffee between home and my destination, and partly to assess the corporate culture.

You can tell a lot about a place by the bathroom. If it looks like this, people probably like working there, take pride in their work and workplace and I’d bet there’s at least one woman on the executive team.

On the other hand, if it looks like this – well, best to work from home as much as possible.

One client’s office had a shelf installed next to the sink that was full of half-used cosmetics and communal hairbrushes. Ewww! I’ll bring my own lipstick, thanks just the same. Another not only had a lifetime’s supply of tampons and pads under the sinks, but in every stall there was a tampon, a panty liner and a maxi pad sitting on top of the toilet paper dispenser. Maybe people were too embarrassed to reach for the goods in the Costco packs?

Then there’s toilet paper. Note to corporate America: spend the extra 5 cents per roll and buy the stuff that doesn’t feel like dried leaves. Or just put a big bucket of leaves in there, it would probably be more aesthetically pleasing.

The other day I arrive at my second client of the day at 1:00 (like I told them I would), and the VP of Finance tells me he is leaving at 3:00 so I can use his computer then. And of course he has the only computer with the software I need. So I sat in a chair in his office checking my email and surfing the web for 2 hours before I could get started working.

When I finally get his computer, it keeps crashing because the dumb- ass has everything on his C drive and its near capacity. He had iTunes on it (which probably was the problem), but all it kept playing was Rod Stewart. He had over 6,000 songs in the library but it didn’t matter how I tried to change the settings, every other song it came back to Rod. Finally I just turned it off. I was there until 8:30; I should have been out of there by 6:00 if it wasn't for his stupid computer. Then it took me two full hours to get home because of a huge accident on the only freeway I could take to get home. This is why we get the big bucks.

One more thing...in the past couple of months I've been to six different offices, dealing with some combination of VP of Finance, Controller, CFO -- accounting people. THEY ARE ALL THE SAME GUY. Seriously. All of them are white, average build, balding and between 40 and 50. It’s starting to creep me out. And I am having a hard time keeping them straight in my head.

As if it wasn’t hot enough here in the Bay Area, D and I are leaving on Thursday for a long weekend in Texas (San Antonio and Austin). I know, we are certifiable. We will be spending the majority of our time indoors freezing our asses off in the 60 degree air-conditioning. Good times.

The Beat -- Mirror in the Bathroom mp3


  1. Great perspective on a subject I know little about. It is a good way to judge, though, especially if you're on the wrong level of the outhouse.

    Enjoy your weekend. One day, I'm going to come packed in your busy suitcase.

  2. Are you crazy? It's friggin' hot here in Austin. Even the water in the creeks is hot. I'm trying to figure out a way to leave again on vacation. I don't get the winter blues here; I get the summer aka hell blues.

    But as it sounds like it is a done deal, please feel free to e-mail me if you need suggestions on how to stay cool and hydrated: msluscious@gmail.com

  3. Hah! ;-)

    What an interesting insight. The ladies room at my previous employer was granite, glass, chrome, muted light, impeccable. A lot like photo #1. The ladies room at my current employer (government) looks like photo #2 plus +++++. In fact, someone's been secretly taping signs about cleanliness on the stall doors after everyone else has gone home. Yecht... You are right on target re your assessment about bathrooms and corporate culture.

    I have relatives who live in the humid south, and have spent my fair share of time freezing my ass off in the stifling, closed up and cold 60-degree houses. And you can't sit outside, because the heat and humidity are oppressive. No wide open windows or cool ocean breezes there, huh?

    Makes you appreciate home.


  4. I don't think I could work for someone who listened to Rod. EW!

  5. that was a great post! I think the toiletries were there b/c people like me dont' remember that we need them til our undies are down. How was the Alamo? Does it still have the basement? ;-)

  6. charlie's momJuly 20, 2006 at 8:01 AM

    All Rod all the time- now that is creepy. I like him, but in small doses.

  7. The bathroom at my work sucks big-time! You'd think working in a female-dominated environment that the hospital would their restrooms prettier. We have one tiny little room, with one toilet, that nurses, doctors, cleaners all share.
    Love the Song!

  8. We just got home from Arizona last night, and while it was pretty hot there, monsoon season has started so it's really refreshing when they come on and the rain starts to fall. Do they get those in Texas?

  9. Donna, Sorry for the double post. Blogger hung up...very strange!

  10. We just got home from Arizona last night, and while it was pretty hot there, monsoon season has started so it's really refreshing when they come on and the rain starts to fall. Do they get those in Texas?

  11. You can write the companion to my book (I'd like to do a travel book rating public bathrooms) . . . you can do the corporate version.

    Interesting thing to judge by, but I agree with you . . . it tells A LOT!