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Email in the Bathroom

So before I say anything on the matter, I should probably make a confession – I have been known to do email while on the toilet. It’s not my favorite place to do email, but it has happened. I even publicly admitted to this in the Wall Street Journal. Now I blame this mostly on the fact that I simply do not have enough magazine subscriptions to keep me occupied, since frankly I’d rather be reading a magazine, but I guess that’s somewhat beside the point. Turns out though, I’m not alone. A recent survey (I love surveys, you can make they say anything you want if you put your mind to it), showed that 15% of people check their email in the can. So let’s all just admit it’s happening, and come up with some guidelines for it.

Choice of Device

Think about this one for a minute. Not all email devices are the same, you’ve got your laptops, your Blackberry’s, your cell phones, your PDAs, and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten in my old age. Of all these, the laptop is the trickiest since it’s the biggest. You might be able to pull this one off in your own home, where you have a clean surface to put the laptop on, but for god’s sake leave it out of the public bathroom. At some point you’re going to have to put it down, and you do not want to be putting it on the floor. Nothing should ever touch the floor of a public bathroom besides the soles of your shoes. The rest are pretty much pocketable, so you should be able to get at them and stow them away with little difficulty.

Think About What You are Touching

I mean really think about it. Everything that you touch with your hands is a source of possible contamination – especially out in public where you have no idea what filthy bastards have been using the bathroom before you. So if you touch something, and then touch your Blackberry, you are pretty much coating that Blackberry with feces. Really. And that’s pretty gross when you think about it.

Think About if You Really Need to

How long are you really going to be on the crapper? Is the world really going to end if you don’t check your email in the next 4 minutes? Probably not, so you should probably just think about some nice things you could do for your wife or husband or mother instead. Spend some quality time with your brain, and remember how much you’ve missed it. Then again, there are those occasions where we hunker down for a good 15 minutes to get some serious evacuation done. This is the time you might want to whip out that PDA.

What will Others Think?

If you aren’t the boss, you might want to think about what the boss will think when he catches you checking your email in the can with the company’s hardware. Let’s face it, you aren’t being as quiet as you think you are, and any boss worth a damn can recognize all of his employees by his shoes. Okay, I just made that last bit up, but it’s still worth thinking about. Especially when you wonder why your boss puts on rubber gloves every time he comes over to your desk.

Some Final Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably come to the same conclusions I have. Email in the bathroom can be okay once in awhile, but don’t make it a habit. And try to keep it to the home, where at least you have some idea of what you are getting yourself into.

Bathroom Etiquette For All Those Special Situations