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“This Stall Is Occupied!”

I work in a large law office. We have a cleaning staff on retainer, and the lady who cleans on our floor is very sweet, but this morning I saw a side of her that left me feeling very weird, and I don’t know whether I should say something to our facilities manager or not.

I was in the ladies’ room, in the stall farthest from the entry door. The cleaning lady came in (I actually do know her name but would rather not use it here), checked the first three stalls for whatever reason (stocking toilet paper, probably) and when she reached the stall I was in, she pulled on the door handle and of course couldn’t get the door open because I had locked it. I am certain she saw me go into the ladies’ room, because I saw her get off the elevator and head toward the restrooms just as I arrived there, and we waved to each other.

Now, most people would either (a) assume someone was in the stall and just go away (and like I said, she saw me enter the restroom), or (b) bend over and look under the door to see if the stall was occupied. Not this lady. She actually peeked between the door and the wall and saw me sitting there!!!!

Seriously??? Who does this??? Am I overreacting, or should I mention it to someone who can quietly advise her to look under the door next time? I just feel really creeped out over this! 0323-15

The first time she pulled on the door handle I would have said (and have said in real life), “Hello?   This stall is occupied!”    Then if the person peeks through the cracks of the door or peers under or over the stall door, that is intrusive and rude.   And I don’t think it is wrong to stare them right back with a sharp, “Mind your own business!”


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kate March 27, 2015, 1:08 am

    I usually call out ‘Occupied!’ when someone tugs on the door and I’m on the toilet, purely to avoid someone taking the next step of someone peeking over or under the door!

  • Enna March 28, 2015, 5:15 am

    I think the OP should talk to HR – peeping though gaps in a toliet door/wall is not on. She could wait a few minutes for you to finish or just say “is there plenty of paper in there?”

  • Michelle C Young April 2, 2015, 8:22 pm

    Why didn’t the OP say something? It really is important to speak up. Also, the cleaning woman should have spoken up and asked if anyone was in there.

    Once, at work, someone closed the door to a bathroom stall behind them, when they left. It was a full door, ceiling to floor, with no gaps through which, over which, or under which anyone could peek. It remained closed for HOURS, and people were waiting much longer to use the remaining stall, and yet no one knocked or tried the handle. However, after a while, someone reported it to me, as the go-to person for maintenance issues, in case we had to get maintenance to unlock the door. I knocked, and when there was no response, I tried the handle. Fortunately, it was unlocked, the stall was empty, and the ladies in line rejoiced. However, had it been locked, with no reply, my next step would be to call maintenance to unlock the door, because there was the possibility that someone had collapsed in there. If there had been a silent occupant, she would have been very embarrassed.

    It’s entirely possible that the woman thought that there might be someone passed out or dead, locked in the stall. These things *do* happen, after all. Perhaps she’s actually found someone in a state of unconsciousness before, and found the OP’s silence distressing.

    Possibly I’m projecting here. Still, the possibility exists.

    That being said, she still should have spoken up BEFORE checking visually. If she could not bend down to check under the door (maybe had a sore back or a stiff back brace, or some other reason not to bend over), she should have said, “I would check under the door for feet, but I can’t bend over right now, so… Are you there?” and if there were still no reply, THEN she could peek in the gap between wall and door. Especially if she saw someone enter, and continued to get no reply, that would indicate a medical emergency, and in the case of emergency, sometimes you have to throw modesty to the winds and barge right in. But you still exhaust all other options, first.

    Of course, a simple, “It’s occupied,” would have reassured her, and avoided the whole embarrassing episode.

  • Sophia4 April 7, 2015, 1:27 pm

    The first thing I do upon entering a restroom with closed stall doors is either bend at the waist or step way back and look for feet under the door. When someone tries to open a stall door that I’m in I always loudly say “I’ll be out in a minute” in an aggravated tone.
    I think it is incredibly rude for someone to peek into the crack of the stall door or stand there yanking at it when it’s obviously locked. It’s not that difficult to just look for feet under the door straight away.
    I would absolutely have her supervisor or whoever is in charge tell her that peeking into the stall door crack is highly inappropriate.