Code Brown: The Small Office Bathroom Stench Warning System
Being a member of a small office (four men, three women) has advantages and disadvantages. I really like the camaraderie of a small crew -- it feels more like family. However, problems tend to arise when you have four strapping "high volume" male defecators competing for the use of a VERY small men's room that is located right in the middle of the office. Our restroom is about the size of a hall closet. Yikes!
All of us tend to hit our sweet spot at around the same time each morning, which makes for some interesting battles to be "first in" to the shitter. Nobody wants sloppy seconds in the restroom; but it is a given that you will, on occasion, have to endure the stench of the first man's bowels. Also, it's downright disturbing when you sit on a toilet seat that has been pre-warmed by another man's ass. Not that I'm homophobic or anything -- but it just feels wrong.
In order to create a more orderly, more organized method for shitting, we had to devise some ground rules. We call the system Code Brown.
The first step to dealing with a poop-related issue of this magnitude was to eliminate any Shameful Shitters (e.g. my boss). By openly discussing "the shitter problem," we eventually brought him out of the closet and into the realm of proud poopers, willing to work out a sane solution.
We couldn't realistically come up with a designated order for shitting, so we decided that if you used the restroom for poop, you were honor-bound to issue a Code Brown e-mail alert to all other men in the office. This would let everyone know to avoid The Sanctuary for five to ten minutes to let the fan clear out the air and let the seat return to normal ambient room temperature. This way you never had to endure "shitty face" -- that look you get when you walk head-on into a freshly-soiled restroom.
This was how it all started out. Then we started to expand on the Code Brown foundation. We started including details (sometimes grisly) in the emails we sent out about the shits we took. We also began to give an Estimated Time Needed for the restroom to clear out. Here's an example:
SUBJECT: r/e: Code Brown
HEAVY Code Brown... give it 15 solid minutes.
Mexican food and beer from last night evident. Corn noted. Possible side-splatter a danger.
After the Code Brown system had been in effect for a while, we started having even more fun with the system. The men in the office started taking it for granted that an alert would be issued for all shitbreaks. I would then sometimes make "stealth runs" right before someone else's regular shitting time while intentionally neglecting to issue the standard advisory. Watching one of the other fellows walk completely unprepared into a faceful of warm, greasy shitcloud was PRICELESS. Sometimes they would stumble back out like they just hit a brick wall, sputtering and gagging. Such was the effectiveness of the Code Brown system -- it had caused normal olfactory defense mechanisms to grow atrophied!
We started keeping records, too. One guy holds the current "longest poo" mark at an (estimated) eighteen inches. There have been longer shits, but it only counts if the loaf remains unbroken. There was a great inner-office debate about the so-called Broken Log Rule. See what happens when every man in the office becomes a Shameless Shitter?
We also came up with some variants to the "classic" Code Brown:
Double Brown. When you just absolutely CANNOT wait for the restroom to clear out before you go take a shit. Instead of just dealing with a single stench, you create a Satan's potpourri of TWO men's horrific stenches layered one upon the other -- drastically increasing the danger for future users. It is standard courtesy to send a Double Brown alert immediately afterwards, as the "clear time" will be double what a regular Code Brown would be. Also, you must respect the man who had to bite the bullet and bask in another man's filth while creating his own... it takes guts.
Triple Brown. Almost unheard of, but not unthinkable. When a Double Browning has just occurred, and you just have no choice but to go -- dire cramping, for instance -- you just have to throw yourself under the bus and do it. A Triple Brown is considered to be the hat trick of the office. You can only feel abject pity for the poor bastard who is "pulling the trifecta". Out of respect for him, and for general safety reasons, one would normally give a Triple Brown forty-five minutes of solid fan time to clear out. The stuff of legends, I can count on one hand the amount of Triple Brownings that have occurred on my watch.
Quadruple Brown (aka The Fourth Horseman or Quad-fecta). Even merely typing this term brings shivers to my spine. This apocalyptic event has occurred only ONE time I can recall in three years. Three of the four of us guys were deathly ill at the time, which did not help the smell factor one bit. Obviously, a Quadruple Brown involves FOUR men shitting one right after the other in succession. A virtual festival of shit. Words cannot describe the horror of such an event. The restroom is summarily closed for the rest of the afternoon as an act of mourning (two to three hours of clear time).
The Brown Lady (or The Forbidden Poo). One can sometimes avoid the perils of a Double Brown by sneaking a trip to the women's restroom do your dirty business. This is both hazardous and uncomfortable. Hazardous, as one of the co-owners of my company is a woman, and she doesn't like it when menfolk pollute "her" bathroom. Uncomfortable, as it's a women's restroom, with no magazines or ephemera, and smelling of perfumes and feminine protection. One can't help but feel "off" when dropping a huge load in the female toilet. Still, if you do it, it's considered a "score," and worthy of praise. For one: you saved the spoiling of the men's restroom, leaving it clear for the next man-shitter. For another: you caused an amusing stink for one of the ladies to unexpectedly walk into -- and since none of them are Shameless Shitters, they will never mention it aloud! It's like a victimless crime!
A wacky joke to play on someone attempting a Brown Lady is to wait until you figure the victim is just getting comfy and ready to poop. Hopefully, he will be half-logged or turtle-poking and unable to abort. You run up and bang on the door and whisper loudly, "The boss is back, the boss is back!" Nobody with an ounce of self-preservation instinct wants to get caught by our (female) boss in the act of defiling HER sanctuary. The victim will try and abort, even in mid-loaf, to escape being caught in the women's room. Of course, when they find out you were fooling around, they get rather pissed off -- but that's part of the fun. You know you've done it right when they have to immediately go to the men's room to finish things. That is indicative of a mid-loaf cutoff -- the ultimate in shame and discomfort. Score!
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We've really built some excellent traditions around shit here in our office. However, we still (on occasion) forget to issue an alert. If you see another man headed into the restroom that you've recently despoiled, and you had forgotten to send the Code Brown Alert, it is common courtesy to call him to a halt immediately and give the Universal Sign -- a simple shaking of the head "no" -- which is understood to mean, "I forgot to send the alert. My bad; wait a few minutes, please."
It's all about honor and respect, really.