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Management / Business Management

Bathroom etiquette

June 27, 2012
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We just arrived to our mid-morning appointment. My young, newly-hired summer employee requested if he could use the client’s restroom. The client said "Yes".

My client and her friend were preparing lunch in the kitchen. The food setting was incredible and the scent of baked apples and baked salmon filled the home.

I’m a connoisseur of fine food and I was interested in getting the recipe for all the food, especially the apple crisp gelato desert with blueberries mixed with strawberries. It was truly a delightful experience, watching all the action in the kitchen. Sadly, I wasn’t invited to stay for lunch.

Yes, I was expected to clean.

As I set up for the cleaning, I noticed a strange, very pungent smell reaching my olfactory. I searched for the source of the odor’s origin. Was it from an animal? It smelled like it was.

I walked back towards the kitchen to the sweet smell of lunch preparation. No, that was fine. I went back to where I had been a moment before, and discovered the putrid smell became stronger as I walked in the hallway where my employee had left the door opened to the restroom.

It’s hard to describe and I hope you’re not eating lunch as you read this.

The gaseous smell was spreading throughout the home. I quickly look to see if there was a fan in the restroom. Fear suddenly gripped me as I imagine the worst-case scenario of the client’s reaction.

I quickly opened the windows and started fanning the room, trying to contain the decayed odors spreading towards the kitchen. I ran outside to get an air mover to assist me.

My young employee was confused about why I was rushing with that worried kind of look. I couldn’t take the time to explain his gaffe; I was on a mission to get rid of or neutralize that decomposing smell before it reached the kitchen.

But it was too late.

The expression on the client’s face told the story as I re-entered the residence with an air mover in each hand. I had never been so embarrassed in my life. What could I say? My employee skunked your home up? I’m sorry?

The rancid smell had indeed reached the kitchen. I wish I could describe what baked apples, salmon, and wonderful lunch dishes smelled like when mixed with the odor of bowel movement. No, maybe I don’t want to describe that at all.

But to me, it smelled like and accurately spelled disaster.

My clients were visibly affected from the invading anomalous gas destroying the nice atmosphere in the home. But, fortunately, they were very understanding about the lack of manners displayed by my young employee.

The end result of my frantically trying to save the situation with air movers didn’t end very well. My client tactfully moved all the tastefully decorated table settings to the outside where it was about 100 degrees, but that must have been more acceptable than what was inside.

It was clear from my client''s expression that I had lost her forever because my employee didn’t use restroom etiquette.

What I’m about to share is a primer of my policy. If you would like the raw version, you’ll have to e-mail your request and I’ll send you a copy of the un-edited version.

  • The client’s restrooms are off-limits unless it’s an emergency
  • When you use their restrooms, please request which one they prefer you to use
  • Even when you’re alone in the home, never use the master bedroom because it’s too personal
  • Where possible, turn fans on and/or keep a can of air sanitizer in your van
  • Be aware the client can hear you if you’re in a quiet home

For the sake of brevity, I understand some may not think about an employee violating any of these restroom protocols. They do and will continue from time to time if we don’t have any policy to govern their conduct. We never had a repeat performance of that magnitude after implementing these safeguards.

Michael Morrow is the founder of the Relationship Building Academy (www.relationshipbuilding.com) and is an IICRC-approved instructor. He can be reached via e-mail at michaeldmorrow@aol.com or by telephone at (480)388-4742.

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