Loo layouts - free 'Me! Me! Me!' sample

My current temporary assignment has seen me plunged into the worst work toilets situation I’ve encountered in years. The company, a start-up, has a large open plan office, which given my fear of stomach rumbles in confined office spaces was the decisive factor when it came to making my mind up whether to take the job or not.

As a rule, when I go along to job interviews, rather than finding out what a job entails, what my duties are likely to be, what team I will be working for, so on and so forth, I tend to put more emphasis on studying the office layout. How are the desks set up? If, for instance, they’re set up in banks, getting to know new colleagues is likely to be far more difficult. The chances are in those first few weeks that you’ll only get to know people either side of you. I look too at whether the desks have modesty screens, or whether they’ve opted for a 'big table' configuration, which tends to encourage free and frequent communication between a team of four to eight people. The latter set-up makes it far easier to get to know people. I also look at whether management sit with their team or hole themselves up in separate offices elsewhere on the floor. Is there a canteen? If not, where do staff eat their lunch? And, where are the loos? Soon as I show up in reception, I’m looking out for all of these things, especially the loos, trying to establish in my own mind whether I can work in that environment.

In this instance however, I slipped up, failing to notice that both the gents and ladies, located about thirty metres apart, have entrances that are highly visible to the rest of the floor. In fact, there are few blind spots, if any, in this open plan office. In my experience, and my long and troubled nine to five work history has seen me work for over 100 companies, work toilets tend to be located in discreet corners of the office or in the corridors alongside the lifts. The latter can mean people are often engulfed by horrific smells as soon as they step out of the lifts. In this place, while that’s definitely not the case, the set-up means everyone can see who’s going in and who’s coming out. Everyone knows where you’ve been. It’s easy, well if you’re like me - and admittedly, few people are – if you pay attention to these things, to conclude, depending on how long someone has been in there, just what colleagues have got up to in the loo. I time people’s visits all the time. I can’t help it.

It’s my great misfortune in this place to be sitting right opposite the ladies. I get to see who’s going in and who’s coming out. If a female colleague spends more than five minutes in there, I’m horrified. The steady flow of traffic to the ladies is, for someone who likes the opposite sex to retain as much mystery as possible, a real problem for me. On approaching their washroom, a number of them do that looking into the distance thing as they reach the entrance before going in, as if they’ve spotted someone they know 20 metres away, all the while failing to note I’ve made a mental note of the time they’ve gone in there. To be fair, that catalogue model looking into the vista thing is a good pre-WC entry visual. The slowing down a little before going in through that door is also something I like to see, conveying an air of someone that’s not in such a desperate need to go that he or she really should’ve contemplated calling in sick. I like to see people in control of their bodies.

The location of the toilets would be very different here if I’d been involved in overseeing the office layout before the company launched earlier this summer.  Only men would sit near the gents and only women near the ladies. It’s too late for this place. It is what it is. But architects involved in designing new workplace layouts from scratch should consider getting in touch with me for advice on where to station the lavatories, because I find the notion that the layout here could be replicated in yet to be constructed workplaces, unacceptable. I don’t want anyone else having to suffer this striking lack of privacy. If one day I was given the opportunity to work with architects on this and I really do hope I am, I’d propose three possible options for making the work toilet experience as clandestine as possible.

Option One: This is quite a simple one and the cheapest of my three proposals. The loos are located behind a high wall; similar to the one Rapunzel’s dad had to scale to get his wife lettuce from the garden of the enchantress. There will be no scaling here though. Access would instead be gained via two low-key, dimly lit side entrances at opposite ends for each of the sexes, affording everyone the utmost privacy.

Option Two: A mini bus with blacked out windows would collect colleagues in the habit of making long bathroom trips at work. This bus would turn up four times a day during work hours. These habitual offenders would then be driven off to some wasteland at least five miles away – in what literally would be toilet trips - where they do what they need to do in rundown portaloos designed to discourage staff from making their visits long ones - before being returned to the workplace. Obviously, this is going to necessitate a flexi-time system, but it’s doable.

Option Three: This final one is by far the most ambitious, some might say extreme, of my three proposals. Workplace loos should be buried deep in basements, as far down into the bowels of a building as is possible, like a time capsule say. The basement would serve as a buffer between the workplace and the disposal of the staff’s waste. These toilets could only be accessed via a goods lift. You would arrive on the toilet-specific floor to find the lights dimmed. Picture it for a moment. A fog machine emits a dense vapour that makes it hard for you to see more than five metres in front of you. Early New Order – The Peel Sessions - is piped through speakers. This is a bleak and desolate landscape fit for only one purpose. There is giant flora and fungi everywhere. As you near the bathrooms, that early New Order is faded out, replaced instead by the frightening audio of wild animals. Big cats. Elephants. Hyenas. This is the closest you’ll ever come to experiencing what Early Man went through every time they had to answer nature’s call, never knowing if they would return to their loved ones from some of man’s earliest toilet trips.

Night vision goggles are given to staff to help them locate the toilets. Gimp masks are mandatory, collected at the entrances soon as you step out of the goods lift. No one will be able to recognise anyone. Ideally, the bathroom etiquette followed by all too few people will be observed here. No small talk will or should be made. Everyone knows why they’re there. Of course, you always get one or two work colleagues who think nothing of stopping one by the urinals for a chat, a nightmare for someone like me. To counter the possibility of running into those people, attached to the gimp masks are vo-coders that will distort everyone’s voice in case they run into any of those tiresome bathroom small talkers en route. Everyone will remain unidentifiable unless he or she choose to reveal his or her identity.

But I can only dream. The reality is no architect out there is going to approach me and allow me to show myself to be the workplace toilet visionary I claim to be. I remain sat opposite the ladies. My ‘vantage point’ is killing me. I’ve asked several colleagues to swap with me but they’ve refused, one going as far as telling me that I need to deal with my toilet hang-ups. I wish I could stop time so that when these women re-emerge from the loos 20 minutes later, oblivious to the fact I’ve timed their latest bathroom visit, I’d believe they’d only been in there for a minute.

If the loo layout of every office were set up like those in my current job, the mysterious quality of the opposite sex would be shattered. When you take into account how many couples tend to meet through work, courting stats would fall dramatically. 50 years from now, there will have been a significant drop in the world’s population figures.

Meanwhile, one female boss here just doesn’t seem to stop going to the loo. Her frequent toilet trips during working hours undermine her authority in my eyes. The only way that’s going to be redeemed is if I hear from some other party that she suffers from some medical condition like the Urinating Man of SW9. Our conversations keep breaking off abruptly. I’m never sure what to do upon her return and find myself on edge as I wonder if we just pick up the dialogue from where we left off?  She comes back as if nothing has happened. I’m thinking, “I know how long you’ve been in there. It’s pretty clear what you’ve done.”  I do wish she wouldn’t talk to me either side of her toilet visits.

If she came back to resume our exchanges an hour later then that wouldn’t be so bad. It’d be clear that there was no way she could’ve been in the toilet all that time. But when I’m seeing her coming out of the loo 15 minutes later and making straight for me to pick up where we left off, I’m left wondering whether as she’s sitting down in there, she might be thinking specifically of what else she needs to tell me.

Perhaps I need to make light of the number of loo visits she’s already made that day. Or maybe she’d like me to acknowledge her frequent trips to the toilet in a humorous fashion. It could be she’d respond to that favourably and I’d have to accept our relationship would be more scatological than professional.

This manager is not the only one whose lavatorial habits I’ve noted. Today, one female colleague went into the loo talking on her phone. What’s that all about? She emerged 12 minutes later, still on the phone, a handset she continued to use throughout the day at her desk and which as far as I could see had not been wet wiped at any subsequent point.

Seeing all this, I try to persuade myself there must be a simple explanation behind these numerous lengthy toilet visits made by female colleagues. They probably only have one cubicle serving 50 odd women. Yes, that must be it. They go in there, pick up a ticket, sit down and wait their turn. Fights, I tell myself, are probably commonplace, as frustration at waiting for the one cubicle to become available spills over. There can be no other explanation.

I shouldn’t look. I do my best not to. I don’t want to know how long they take, but sometimes, I’m just drawn to the appalling spectacle. That’s the type of person I am. When I arrive in the mornings, the same twenty-something girl goes to the ladies soon as she’s scanned her ID card on the door entry panel. I can’t be the only one seeing this but my other colleagues seem nonplussed by the visual. 

I’ve got into the habit of leaving my desk when she arrives and making to the kitchen, or ‘breakout area’ as they call it here, an Americanism I try to avoid vocalising at all costs, to increase my chances of not seeing her exit the loo and knowing exactly how long she’s been in there. There are mornings though when after making my coffee, I’ve returned to my desk and found I’m halfway through it before she’s re-emerged and actually started doing any work.

I feel like going up to her and saying, “You don’t have time to do that at your house? Why not get up earlier?” I’m even contemplating swapping numbers with her so I can give her a daily alarm call in the mornings to spare me the sight every morning.

Today I’ve raised the monitor of my desktop PC to obscure my view of the ladies, but every now and then, I find I’m still catching a glimpse of the top of a girl’s hairstyle that I’ve come to recognise. I convince myself they’re not doing what I fear they’re doing. I watch as they return to their desks with their tops tucked in differently to how they were when they went in, and I tell myself they have to sit down in there anyway. The altered back of the shirt visual on a woman isn’t going to give you the same kind of information you would get from seeing the altered back of a man’s shirt after they’ve come out of the washroom.

I’ve nabbed a couple of reams of A4 paper and raised the monitor even higher this afternoon. It’s a significant improvement. In the absence of building high walls inspired by a fairy-tale, or driving colleagues to wasteland to go about their business, or even entombing the loos in a basement, this is as much as I can do in this place.

You can read more of my work in 'Me! Me! Me!', available on Amazon for just £1.99.

Me! Me! Me!
By Daniel Ruiz Tizon

Neil - A comprehensive update

If you’re a regular listener or visitor to this site, you will know about my oldest friend (Nelly) Neil’s situation. Neil is 45. I met him when I was four.

While I promised my mum my still unpublished novel would bring us riches beyond our dreams, enough wealth to see me retired by 22 and living in a riverside apartment, Neil went onto get married and has four young children. He also had a depth to his facial hair (from an alarmingly early age) that continues to elude me to this day, which is particularly cruel for me when since the age of four, I have been obsessed with facial hair owing to Lee Majors growing a 'tache for the last series of The Six Million Dollar Man.

 

While I try not to let my frustration with my own facial hair shortcomings distract me from ploughing on through the toil of everyday life, Neil is fighting Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. These days he is unable to talk and is bedbound.

There is only one place in the world that can give him a chance of living to see his kids grow up. The Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in Israel has offered Neil Haematopoietic Stem Cell Treatment (HSCT) which has been shown to stop the progression of this debilitating disease.  Many patients who have travelled abroad have not only seen the progression of their illness stopped but many of their symptoms have been reversed. Neil has been offered a July appointment, pushed back from May, so as to give the family more time to raise the necessary funds. The cost of this treatment is £90,000. So far, Neil’s family are £70,000 short of raising the money required and they have just two months left.

On this Expanded Disability Status Scale, Neil currently stands at an 8.

No other clinic in the world will treat an MS patient who scores 8. If Neil goes over the 8, not even the Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center will treat him and all money raised will simply go into palliative care for my old friend at home.

The Get Neil Walking campaign can be supported here: getneilwalking

Neil can also be followed on twitter @GetNeilWalking

I also want to point you in the direction of great things Neil’s family and friends are doing to try and get this kind man to Israel for life saving treatment.

Neil’s two youngest children, Esme and Ewan, did a sponsored walk of the South Downs this weekend to raise money for the campaign.

Proceeds from download sales of the Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle, written and recorded by Mickey O’ Brien, go to Neil’s campaign.

Click here for that: Dispossession

Graphic artist Fiona Boniwell, who went to secondary school with Nelly, has been taking on portrait/artwork commissions, with all money being donated to the Get Neil Walking campaign. You can find Fiona’s work here. Kinsale

I want to take this opportunity too to collect a few of the shows and videos I’ve made about Neil since 2014.

One of the first podcasts I recorded about Neil came on 22 December 2014, Ep 22 of my daily ‘Daniel Ruiz Tizon’s Advent Calendar’ podcast for the Hold Fast Network, in which I recalled what is still one of the greatest days of my life, when, with just nine days left of the eighties, Neil and I were handed the responsibility by my dad of bringing back the first television with a remote control to appear in the family bedsit. The day turned out to be an unforgettable odyssey.

You can listen to Christmas episode below.

This year, following contact with Neil’s family, episodes 161 to 175 of my Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available podcast picked up the story of Neil’s situation with a regular feature, ‘Nelly, Remember This?’ in which I reminded my friend of our old life growing up together in Clapham. These 15 shows can be found at these links.

Available 161 - 174

and

Available 175

Then, on a somewhat moving day back in March, I returned to St Mary’s RC Infants and Juniors in Clapham, southwest London, where I first met Nelly in January 1977. The school were kind enough to allow myself and another old friend Micky Boyd to visit. Both Micky and I failed to pick up on my wonky coat hood but despite this wardrobe malfunction, we worked our way through the school playground and buildings as I recalled what were three very special years there at the start of my long friendship with Neil.

Watch the film below.

Lastly, if you have found this post interesting enough to want to publicise it, then please can I ask you to copy and paste the tweet below and tweet it yourself if you have a twitter account. With my account security settings set to private, my tweets cannot be retweeted and I do want this comprehensive update on Neil out there.

Neil is fast running out of time. A man may lose his life as things stand. A wife will lose her husband. Four young kids will lose their dad. And a bunch of people will lose a friend they will recall stood out for his kindness. Life has turned out to be rather cruel for him.

Nelly is a friend I love dearly.

Thank you for reading this.

PLEASE COPY AND PASTE THIS TWEET

A full update on @GetNeilWalking's battle with Primary Progressive #MultipleSclerosis, via @1607WestEgg. Please RT. goo.gl/vqocbz

This website renews for another year - please support it

If you're a fan of this website, please be aware it is due to be renewed for another 12 months next week at considerable cost. There are now roughly 400 radio shows and podcasts hosted on here that I have recorded in the last 7 years, as well as writing and videos, and I continue to turn out, on average, 50 episodes a year of my Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available podcast.

If you're able to support this work, you can make a secure donation via Paypal here.

Thank you for supporting this work.

Get Neil Walking - A short film

I returned to St Mary's Infants in Clapham, southwest London, where I first met Neil Jenkins who has Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, to make a short film about my oldest friend.

An update on Neil

1 March 2017

Late on Friday, as episode 169 was being put together, Neil had the PEG feeding tube inserted. He is now back home recovering. From here, the hope is that Neil can now start to build up his strength again and ultimately be in a good shape for the HSCT his family and friends are endeavouring to get him.

For more on Neil’s story, please visit: Get Neil Walking

24 February 2017

Another week has passed without Neil getting his PEG feeding tube owing to the NHS Crisis.

Neil has lost a great deal of weight over the last fortnight which is an added concern because that can quickly lead to organ failure which is irreversible. 

For more on Neil’s story, please visit: Get Neil Walking  

17 February 2017

Another week has passed without Neil getting his PEG feeding tube, much to both his and his family's distress.

For more on Neil’s story, please visit: Get Neil Walking  

#GetNeilWalking

#GetNeilWalking

There's another 'Nelly, remember this?' feature on Monday's Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available.

9 February 2017

An update for my Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available podcast listeners on Neil, (‘Nelly, Remember This?’) my childhood friend battling for his life.

Neil, if you’re not familiar with his story, has primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

Today Neil was supposed to be having a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) feeding tube inserted, so he can be fed whilst asleep.

This would enable Neil to still be able to eat normally if he wants to.
He is overwhelmed by fatigue, and lately eating has become exhausting for him.

The PEG feeding tube would give Neil more nutrients and fluids and it might even give him a few more hours each day of being awake. The tube would also help to keep Neil healthier as he prepares for the Hematopoietic stem cell Treatment he needs which is only offered in Israel.

Unfortunately Neil’s operation, scheduled for 11:30am today, was cancelled at the last minute owing to no hospital beds being available.

For more on Neil’s story, please visit: Get Neil Walking
 

Get in touch with Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available podcast ahead of Monday's ep 162

Email your mp3 pronunciations of 'URINAL' to my Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available podcast ahead of this Monday's (9 January 2017) podcast, ep 162.

Is it 'ur-eye-nal' or 'u-ri-nal'? Record your own pronunciation on your phone and send through your mp3 (telling us who you are and your twitter handle if you have one) via drtavailable

Your recording will be played on Monday's show.

More details on ep 161.

Also looking to get your thoughts for Monday's show on the 'interrobang'. What do you make of it?
Email drtavailable

And any other business welcome on the show.

Channel Christmas submissions WANTED for the Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available Bumper Christmas Annual 2016

With Christmas fast arriving, it’s time for listeners to choose their Christmas TV programme submissions for this year’s ‘Channel Christmas’, the once a year, 24 hours only Christmas Eve channel.

Appearing on Christmas Eve only at 00:00hrs and running through until 23:59hrs (Christmas Eve), you can submit film choices, or TV programmes of any running length and your preferred time slot - what time slot do you think will do your choice justice? I’ll do my best to accommodate your selections. And tell us why you’re choosing that particular TV show/film.

Channel Christmas has proved popular since launching on 2014’s Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available Bumper Christmas Annual, in Ep 81, which was recorded live in front of an audience. Ep 81 is held up by some to be the single best episode to date, elevated to greatness in their eyes by an almighty live on air clash between The Kid and Micky Boyd. You can listen to that ep here: goo.gl/sSPtoq

Meantime, last year’s Channel Christmas was presided over by Micky Boyd himself and rather predictably when my lifelong friend and mid-eighties school sprint champion is involved, didn’t go to plan. You can listen to 2015’s Bumper Christmas Annual here: goo.gl/1XUg2J

Meantime, email your submissions through via: drtavailable@westegg1607.co.uk

Or tweet them to @1607WestEgg #ChannelChristmas

Deadline: 22 December 2016

The full Channel Christmas schedule will be unveiled on next week's Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available Bumper Christmas Annual 2016 episode.

Show donors will receive a special video greeting from The Kid

Listeners supporting Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available podcast will now receive a special video message from The Kid. Click on the Paypal link on the homepage or even the link at the bottom of this post to make a secure donation, and The Kid will soon be in touch, visually, talking about himself or one of his body parts, naturally. And he will ENJOY it.

All donations are ploughed back into the show and maintaining this website.

Thank you.

What they're saying about "Me! Me! Me!"

What they're saying about "Me! Me! Me!"

"Like getting a handjob from a clown."

"Daniel's hilarious concept for the modern office toilets must be implemented now!"

"His take on the tyranny of leaving cards, presents and associated office-based events is long overdue, much-needed therapy. A special treat for introverts."

"Wry, sincere, well observed and very funny."


"Very funny.  A must read."

"This emotive collection of short stories serves as a guide to a London not too many know, Daniel brings it all to life. In a detailed, emotive and very humourous way."

"A brilliant, touching, laugh out loud look at life. You don't get more joy for £2 anywhere else."

 

Me! Me! Me! Available on Amazon, £1.99

Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available Ep 127 - Euro Special 2

Ahead of Monday's Daniel Ruiz Tizon is Available, where I continue to look at my largely non-football related memories of the ten Euro tournaments I remember, I'd like to hear your own memories of where you were in your life at the time of these tournaments.

Do get in touch: drtavailable

The first Euro special can be found here drtisavpodcast/ep126