BT Tuesdays: Permission to Wee, Sir

When I was a teacher, I was super good at telling time. Not like looking at the clock and knowing what time it was. I’ve always been bad at that. I mean like if I was going to be late for a date when I was teacher, I would know I was going to be exactly eight minutes late.

That’s because, when you’re a teacher, life is very structured. Classes were 46 minutes long. And passing periods. Oh, the cursed passing period. Four. Minutes. Long. There were a few years that I taught three classes back to back to back, first thing to start the day. As coffee and water are two of my chronic illness staples in the morning, this was especially problematic. I asked another teacher what would happen if I was late coming back from the 4-minute passing period to use the facilities. “Oh, that’s not an option,” she said. Not. An. Option. I’m sure my students felt very fortunate to see their teacher do the pee pee dance every day.

I seriously think that one of the biggest perks of working from home is the bathroom situation. I don’t mean to brag, you guys (I do), but I can go to the bathroom anytime I want. It’s amazing. But only if I’m working from home. Because this certainly doesn’t apply if I’m in a meeting.

During a large meeting of about twenty people one morning, there was a break scheduled at 10:30. At 10:35, there was no sign of stopping. At 10:40, I did the unthinkable: I got up and walked out to use the facilities and returned–my teacher timer guarantees–in under four minutes.

At 10:45, someone adjourned the group for the allotted break, adding, “Even though some people already took theirs,” and eyeing me in front of everyone. “Oh, I’m sorry. I just thought taking my break early was better than wetting myself in front of you all,” I said, totally in my head.

Since as long as I can remember, “bathroom stuff” has grossed me out. I’ve made no attempt to get over it and do not care to. Even as an 8-year-old, I was such a germaphobe that I refused to use the toilets at school. So I would hold it all day. Until I told my mom and she told me I’d probably get cancer and die if I continued that routine. Or something like that which scared me enough to start using the school facilities. But still only for number one. Or, as we had to call it in our house: tinkle.

It’s such a strange thing, though. Up until you’re 18, you have to ask permission from another person to relieve yourself. And most of the time, that other person thinks you’re just trying to leave their classroom to go make out or smoke or just wander the halls. So you have to, like, convince another human that you, in fact, need to urinate. (Or something else.) Then in college, it’s like, yeah, just leave when you need to go, and it feels like the biggest fucking freedom of your life. Then you enter the workforce and suddenly the “privilege” is revoked. Or certainly frowned upon.

In my three years working freelance, I can’t recall one time that I’ve seen someone (who’s not me) get up from a meeting to use the bathroom. Which begs the question: How do these people hold their urine???

Sometimes because of, you know, peer pressure, I’ll also hold it and I AM D-Y-I-N-G the entire time. I promise I am not listening to you talk about your goals for this campaign. I am wondering if it looks like I’m slightly pregnant because my bladder is bulging from my pants. I’m also Google mapping the interior of this building to figure out the fastest route to the ladies’ room.

I know I’m not the only one. Because, sure enough, after almost every meeting, there’s a very quiet, very quick march to the bathroom. And I’m like, Why do we do this?

I realize I just spent 676 words discussing holding urine. But this is a sign of a much larger problem. What do we think we’re going to miss in those few minutes if we leave to relieve ourselves? The problem will not get solved. The Earth will not shift with the flush of a toilet.

We live in a very self-aware culture. We don’t want draw attention to ourselves, inconvenience anyone, disrupt the flow (pun intended). How are we so self-conscious that we’re afraid to quietly excuse ourselves in a group to complete a vital human function? No one cares. Think about it. If a woman left to use the restroom, you wouldn’t judge her. You’d be jealous. Of her very, very empty bladder.

It’s like when it comes to our wee, we live in this adolescent state of mind. We think all eyes are always on us (and, of course judging) and that every decision is crucial. When, really, becoming an adult is realizing neither of those things are true.

So I dare you, good people. Miss the moments of the meeting/show/conversation. Give your brain and bladder a break. And pee freely.