The women’s bathroom on the 17th floor

I have to admit: I don't get out much. For over 20 years, I had a home-based business. Like other busy moms, my social life centered around the social life of my children. I got out of the house, but it was to go to school and social events related to my children. When the children became adults, I didn't even do that – and then I stopped working and my world became even smaller. Not that I'm complaining; I am a homebody and I like my routine.

But then I went back to work. In an office. And while my company doesn't employ a lot of people, the office is in a business center with two office towers and there are some large companies in the buildings, and in the area.

I've shared my story of the the naked man dangling from the window of a building. The new mystery is the Woman in the Bathroom.

I admit I'm sometimes oblivious to what's going on around me. I go to work, do my job and try and stay out of office politics and other trouble. I like to eat lunch out on the outdoor patios scattered around the grounds of the office complex and sometimes people watch there, but most the time I just eat lunch and read. Therefore, I was unaware of the bathroom mystery until it was brought to me attention when two co-workers were discussing it on a slow afternoon.

There is apparently a woman who goes into the bathroom on our floor to… hide out from her job? Nobody knows.

Our floor isn't fully occupied, so the bathroom isn't really busy. In fact, the only people I've ever encountered in there are my co-workers. That will probably change, as there are two office suites currently being built out for occupation on the floor, but for now, it's a quiet place. The Mystery Woman always hides out in the same stall. She's been clocked in there for an hour or more by my nosier co-workers. To my knowledge, nobody has seen her actually entering the bathroom and she stays in the stall if someone else is in the bathroom. It's difficult to catch her leaving, as well, although a co-worker has actually seen her. Once aware of this curious behavior, it's easy to spot her presence in the bathroom. On entering the (very quiet) bathroom, that one stall will already be occupied. She starts¬†rustling the toilet paper or the paper toilet seat covers. I've even been in there when she's flushed the toilet – but then doesn't leave the stall. But then… nothing. Signs of life, but no signs of actually leaving the bathroom. While I' have some sympathy for someone with bladder or bowel issues,¬†those kinds of noises never happen.

Typically, you'd expect when someone flushes the toilet, they're done and they'll be exiting to the wash basins, right? Nope. I'm at that age where it takes me a little longer to empty my bladder and I'm a bit OCD about washing my hands (mentally singing the happy birthday song to ensure I've given the soap time to thoroughly kill all bacteria – don't laugh, they give classes on this when you work in a hospital and the lessons stuck). Even then, even with the toilet flush, nobody joins me at the wash basin and the bathroom is once again silent except for my hand washing.

Who does this? Doesn't her employer realize she's gone for extended periods of time? Or do they just think she has severe bladder issues?

It's not like I obsess over this. I don't think about her at all unless I go into the bathroom and she's there. However, when I do think about it, my imagination runs wild at the possible scenarios. One of my co-workers speculates that she works on another floor in the building, mostly because it's not likely she works on our floor, which is largely unoccupied right now. Maybe the women's bathroom on the floor where she works is too busy to get away with sitting in a stall for an hour or more. I can't help but think that if you're hiding out from work, there are more interesting places to do it than a toilet stall, but maybe she has something to read. Maybe she's afraid she'll run into a co-worker if she goes to the lobby or one of the patios. For the amount of time she spends in there, she could go hang out at the Starbucks that's an easy walk down the street – since her employer doesn't seem to be missing her anyway.

I'm sometimes tempted to confront her – you know, have a friendly chat over the stall door – and ask her what's up, if she's okay. I wonder if she'd answer. I don't give into the temptation, mostly because I suspect she just wants to be left alone, but also partly because it's not really my business. Like the naked man dangling from the building, it will probably remain a mystery that fuels my imagination.

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