Posted by: Rob | April 11, 2008

Women cleaning the men’s room

When I first started working for my current employer back in ’95, the plant I worked in had a guy working there in a janitorial or custodial capacity. Norm worked five days a week, usually, and he basically took care of all the cleaning and light maintenance duties in the building. We had only a handful of women on staff and they would be slightly inconvenienced when he had to clean the women’s wash room. But, since he was a guy it didn’t matter that he was cleaning the men’s locker room/wash room; no matter what, the men’s room was always open for business. I never really thought much about the inconvenience to the ladies during wash room cleaning; not even when I walked by the propped open doorway to a room I’ve never seen.*

Eventually, during one of the cyclical cost cutting measures cost efficiency initiatives someone decided that a contracted janitorial service could do the job much more cheaply than having a “Norm” stationed at each of the admin buildings in every plant on site. And I imagine they do do the job less expensively. Mind you, I don’t think they do as good a job, but that’s another story.

You may have already guessed from the giveaway title of this post, but the janitorial service (who coincidentally also runs the on-site cafeteria; yeah – ewww) employs primarily women. I’m not sure why that is, but I suspect it has to do the job requirements and the rate of pay. Now, there are some guys employed in this capacity, but they are vastly outnumbered by the gals.

I was prompted to write this post as I listened to the daily yelling of “Hellooooooooo? Hellooooooo?”, like a cheap tour of the Alps, as the women janitors prepare to assault the men’s locker room/wash room.

Remember how I said I never gave a thought to the inconvenience suffered by the ladies? Well, let’s just say I have learned to time my coffee drinking and the follow up visits to the men’s room so that a men’s room visit is not required at such time that it would be met with the “Warning. Lady Working Inside” sign. I’ve found there’s not much worse (at work anyway) than sitting at my desk way past the point of “I’ve got to piss so bad my back teeth are floating” only to find the men’s room door sealed off by that damned sign. The alternate men’s room is squirreled away in the back of my dungeon basement office area and is equipped with only one stall. Fortunately, I haven’t had to resort to using the big stainless steel sink yet. (Although it does look like a urinal…)

I don’t know what the women think about having to clean a men’s room. And, yeah, it’s pretty disgusting at times. Johnny Virgil does a pretty good job of describing what I see on a daily basis here. And I don’t want to know what they think. Hey! I just realized…I sure hope they’re using different rags to wipe down the counters in the kitchen/coffee maker area than ones they use to wipe out the urinals…

From the daily “Halloo’s” to having to, at times, crab walk to the alternate men’s room…well, I sure miss Norm.

* Well, there was this one time at Rawhide, north of Scottsdale, AZ.  I was there on a technical seminar and the group went up to Rawhide for a steak dinner.  I’d had a few brews (hey, I wasn’t driving!) and needed to use the men’s room.  I ducked into one off the “main” street and wondered why there were no urinals.  Non-plussed, I went into a stall and as I’m whizzing away, I idly noticed this container attached to the stall wall.  I’d never seen one of these and leaned over for a closer look.

“Deposit Napkins Here”….O……M……..G…….I’m in the ladies room!  I quickly wrapped up my business and sneaked out of there as quick as I could.

That’s never happened since only happened one other time.  That I can remember.



  1. I travel a lot locally, and often use public restrooms. Often, women are the ones cleaning the restrooms.

    I went to an mostly male college 30 years ago, and there were often women in the mens bathroom (the only bathroom available). These were old-style bathrooms where one was very exposed when using the urinals. The toilet separations provided only minimal privacy. At first, it was awkward. Over time, it became like a family situation.

    Today, I think nothing of using a men’s room when it is occupied by a woman cleaning the room.

  2. I think you are fortunate that the female janitors who are about to clean the men’s room are intelligent and careful enough that they yell “hellloooo” before they go into the men’s washroom because they realize that they are invading the men’s privacy. Usually, female janitor’s will put up yellow warning signs outside the men’s washroom door saying “washroom closed” before they go in. Easy way to solve the problem.
    If a female janitor in the US walks into the men’s washroom while they are using it, and without any warning, I think you have every right to throw her out and give her an education about invasion of privacy.


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