Going number two outside of the comfort of your own home shouldn’t be a big deal: do your business, flush, wash up, done. But that leaves so many awkward or embarrassing issues unaddressed. How do you handle loud noises during a bowel movement in a cramped office rest room? What if you’ve made a stank in an airport lavatory, and the line of passengers waiting will forever know it was you? And what should you do if you’re at a new guy’s place and you feel something brewing? We consulted etiquette expert Patricia Rossi, author of Everyday Etiquette, on the right way to navigate tricky poop situations.
In the Office Rest Room
Space yourself out. Pick a stall as far away as possible from any that are already occupied, so you and other poopers can maintain a little privacy. “The more space you have between you and other toilet goers, the less detectable any sounds or smells will be,” says Rossi.
Put a layer of toilet paper on the water surface. The toilet paper muffles the noise poop makes when it hits the water and creates less of a splash.
Do a courtesy flush while you go…and another after. Besides masking any embarrassing sounds, flushing as soon as the poop plops prevents the odor from reeking up the entire bathroom.
Don’t carry on a conversation. If you recognize your coworker’s shoes two stalls down, resist the urge to chat—this isn’t the time to discuss tomorrow’s meeting. And if a colleague tries to start a convo with you on the loo, say “let’s talk later” and leave it at that.