I’ve moved to a new office, and to my dismay, the break room is adjacent to the men’s restroom. If you sit in certain seats in the break room, you can see who enters and leaves that restroom. (The women’s is further down the hall.) This is a small office, and so the bathrooms are also relatively small. Seldom are there more than one person in the bathroom at any given time, though there are two stalls plus the urinal in there.I’m sure you can see where this is going. On virtually all occasions that I see him in the vicinity, the oldest man in the office is leaving the restroom while the urinal is still flushing. We have automated sensors on our paper towel dispensers so you can hear the motor when it dispenses, and rare is the event where he’ll even go to the effort to even pretend that he’s washed his hands. This is an office where this man and others work with the general public in sales. (Sadly, this is his MO; he’s generally repellent, no combing his hair or tying his shoes, sometimes has body odor, and if not, smells like the cheap cigars he smokes outside so that others cannot sit outside as well.)Apparently this has been going on for years before I came along. Another lady put up fliers from the CDC on the restroom doors instructing people on how to wash their hands, hoping he’d get the hint, but it didn’t last long on that door. Also, this is a government office; the supervisor knows about this problem and has done nothing.I like to bring treats in to work, but I’m even more concerned with the upcoming holiday potlucks and how to handle something like this with a co-worker who everyone knows doesn’t wash his hands. Ever, apparently. Someone else brought some cookies in one day, and put some in a special baggie for this man, so he presumably wouldn’t put his disgusting hands in the bowl with the remainder of the cookies. It didn’t work.
It’s hard not to think about this when treats are brought in for everyone. I’m struggling to decide whether this is an etiquette issue or a public health issue. Maybe it’s both. I’m also struggling not to run around constantly with a bottle of disinfectant wipes. Surely someone has dealt with this and can give me some direction on how to handle this in a sane manner. 0924-14
If this is a government office, your supervisor has most likely done nothing because he can do nothing. Due to the power of the employee union, it is virtually impossible to discipline or fire government employees deserving of it. This is especially true of US government agencies where the requirements to terminate an employee are so rigorous that it almost never happens. An employee would have to be convicted of a crime to be removed. So, give up looking to management to address the problem because the likely scenario is that they cannot.
In order to bring treats for the entire office, you will have to think creatively on how to avoid your co-worker’s touching food. Instead of a specific baggie for him, I suggest packing cookies in separate bags for each person and giving them their own treat bag. They are then free to do with those cookies as they wish, namely eat them, give them away, take them home, trade them or put them back in the common break room area for someone else to consume. Same goes for cakes, pies, breads,cupcakes…..bring it covered/wrapped with plastic wrap or in a carrier container, before lunch slice it up and place on small paper plates which you then individually cover with plastic wrap with a small container of plastic forks nearby. One would hope he’s not so crass as to open the plastic wrap of more than one piece of cake to touch it with his fingers but will take his piece leaving everyone else’s untouched.
And so what if the hand washing sign disappeared from the door? Put up another one only this time use one of the acrylic 8X10 document holders that mounts on a wall. and if that disappears, do it again.