Upon entering Corporate America, many fresh-faced college graduates learn what a black box of social norms the communal office bathroom can be. If someone has enjoyed the luxury of shitting in private their entire lives, sharing the bathroom with people you have to work with on a daily basis can lead to a crossroads: You either swallow your pride and follow the ancient truth that “everyone poops,” or you let your anxieties drive you to inexplicable places.
Dan, a 26-year-old in Florida, definitely resides in the latter category. At the ad agency where he works, he says the bathrooms are almost always occupied with one of his 40 coworkers. Of those 40 coworkers, 20 are men; and of those 20 men, five are “the type of guy who will come into the bathroom and say, ‘Damn, Dan, what did you eat!,’ only to bring it up again in front of other people around the office.”
And so, Dan felt as though he had no choice but to become a master of the Ol’ Shoe-Switcher-Poo. Which means, of course, that he changes his shoes whenever shitting. “As one does, I wear the same shoes to work the vast majority of days, so it stands to reason that it became an identifiable piece of clothing,” he confides in me. “So when people glance under the stall, for whatever goddamn reason, they’re able to identify me.”
After suffering through a particularly anxiety-ridden poop, it dawned on him that with a new pair of shoes, IDing him would become more difficult (if not impossible altogether). “The next day I brought a random pair of shoes I had in my closet, hid them in the darkest corner of my cube and never looked back,” he says. “I call them my ‘Poop Shoes.’”
Redditor What_the_A, who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, also keeps a pair of shoes in her desk “specifically for bathroom trips. If anyone sees my shoes under the stall and tries to figure out who is blowing up the bathroom, they’ll see my poop shoes and never realize it’s me.” (Plenty of other redditors do the same: “I actually change shoes before I poop because who doesn’t love a good mystery,” writes jtroth4233 in another Poop Shoe thread.”)
As for his process, Dan explains, “I silently put them on under my desk, and then walk around the side of the cubicles to go about 40 feet to the bathroom. I pass two people max, so it’s not like I have to walk down a 3,000-foot glass corridor that hangs above everyone’s desks to get to the bathroom.” He adds that he often hears Morgan Freeman’s reassuring voice in his head as he does so: “Honestly, how often do you look at another man’s shoes?”
So far, so good, too. In three years, Dan has gone undetected poop-shoeing his way through his office. In fact, he’s not sure he could work any other way. “It’s not as if I put on the shoes as an excuse to go incognito and rip disgusting shits in the men’s room,” he tells me. “This isn’t some kind of Eyes Wide Shut scenario where I’m living out a weird shit fantasy. It’s just a way to dial down the general anxiety of being forced to use a restroom where the 60-year-old graphics editor will tell me my shit stinks.”
“I know it does,” he continues. “It’s shit, man. I’m not taking a dump in my cubicle, this isn’t front page news. Either way, I don’t need that in my life.”