The Bathroom Police


When I worked for the Missouri Department of Health, one of our clerical supervisors was nicknamed the Bathroom Monitor.

She would follow the secretaries (whether they worked for her or not) into the bathroom, casually pretending that she needed to scrub her hands within an inch of removing all their skin.  We all knew she was there making sure we weren’t taking too long or doing something we weren’t supposed to be.  This was the late 1990s, so it wasn’t like cell phones and texting were big things yet.  Her presence was always irksome.  However, I asked readers in discussion group the other day what the hell you did if you had a job that didn’t let you work out of your garage, and had gallbladder problems.  The Lovely C. Patt said she’d been known to go heave her guts out and then go back to work… Which made me think of this woman.

On more than one occasion, coworkers were sent home after they were discovered to be vomiting in the bathroom by the Bathroom monitor.  I got it, I still do.  I hated when my coworkers came to work sick.  But really?  If she confronted us and we didn’t voluntarily go home, she’d go to the bureau chief and he’d come out and talk to us about being at work sick.

It finally stopped after her monitoring of the bathroom backfired.  One of my coworkers rushed into the bathroom shortly after the Monitor had heated up some soup for breakfast (who eats soup at their desk?!, especially for breakfast).  The monitor rushed to follow and my coworker refused to go home voluntarily.  The bureau chief came out to talk to her about staying at work sick and the risk it posed to all of us and she said she wouldn’t throw up if S wouldn’t eat soup at her desk for the next couple of months and she wasn’t sick, she was pregnant, but they were trying to keep it secret because she had miscarried twice before, once after she had told everyone at work.

And we were all banned from eating anything at our desks for any reason… which didn’t bother me, but S. always ate at her desk, usually breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack, because she didn’t want to risk being away from her desk when someone needed her.

But thinking back on it, I wonder how many of the women I worked with were sent home because they were sick… possibly with gallbladder disease.  I know most of the secretaries had trouble building up sick leave, including me, because at the time migraines still made me vomit and she demanded I went home because of them on more than one occasion and the bureau chief would back her up on it, even after I would explain it was a migraine, not something contagious.

She was just awful.  Talk about micro managing employees.  I can’t imagine how many people she sent home because they were dealing with gallbladder disease…

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