You mustered all of your strength to keep them cheeks clenched while you waddled to the closest bathroom, but between the nine IPAs you chugged last night and the seven lattes you absorbed this morning, there was, unfortunately, no stopping the violent deluge that inevitably followed. Making matters even worse, you currently happen to be standing, completely stunned, directly in the center of your office building, surrounded by coworkers, who are mere moments away from smelling what just occurred.
You, my friend, are arguably in one of the absolute worst, most calamitous situations ever — and if it sounds ridiculously far-fetched, well, I hate to bust your lucky, non-stinky bubble, but it happens more than you might expect, as the nearly 8,000 comments on this reddit thread can attest. “It happened to me once, and it was a nightmare,” confirms Anna (a pseudonym), who has irritable bowel syndrome. “I have no tips. There’s no way to make it better. It’s categorically the worst thing that could happen. My only advice would be, don’t poop your pants, or never wear white pants.”
Now, while Anna and her blatant honesty might have you feeling doomed to moving across the world, changing your name and then digging a massive hole, where you can live forever and hopefully escape the memories of pooping your pants in public, I actually think that her advice is useful, if you consider it for future occasions: That is, if you have an inkling that you may poop your pants in the near future — say, you have the stomach flu, food poisoning or a bad case of the IPA-induced bum explosions — stay the heck home. Sarah Whitcomb, a new mother who has recently grown accustomed to cleaning up public poops, has very much the same advice. “Just don’t leave the house, and you don’t have to worry about any of this,” she says, bluntly.
Likewise, if you want to be able to deal with the spontaneous and disastrous occasion of pooping your pants in public, Whitcomb emphasizes the importance of always being prepared. “You always have to carry extra outfits, as poop explosions can occur at the most inconvenient times,” she says. Maybe just keep some extra clothes in your backpack, your car or even your desk at work.
Tragically, though, it sounds like you never saw this coming and are now standing there, paralyzed, with poop in your pants and no extra clothes. That being the case, you need to take some emergency measures. First things first, get your dirty butt to the bathroom, preferably a single-person one. “If possible, I would grab a plastic bag on the way in,” writes Phillip Remaker, a self-proclaimed “problem solver” on Quora. “I would enter a stall and carefully remove my pants and hang them on a hook. I would remove my underwear and set them on the floor, leaving as little mess as possible.”
Next, clean yourself as best as you can. “Baby wipes are a must, but you could get away with paper towels or toilet paper,” Whitcomb says. Or, better yet, always, always carry some One Wipe Charlies with you, just in case you poop your pants in public, because they would quite literally save your butt.
Once your tush and the surrounding area are clean, or mostly clean, you need to burn the evidence, so to speak. “The underwear is a loss and must be discarded,” Remaker writes. “Wrap the soiled underwear in toilet tissue and/or place in the plastic bag to discard in a waste bin outdoors. If you can’t reach the outdoors, bury in the restroom waste bin.” If your pants were soiled, too, your best bet is to dab them with some damp paper towels, just so you can at least walk to your car or other means of getting home without a significant amount of poop on or in your pants.
“Place the pants back on without the underwear, optionally fashioning a pad of toilet paper between buttocks and pants,” Remaker continues. “Make some excuse to leave early, if needed.” As Sarah Martin, who also has irritable bowel syndrome, says, you can even message your boss or whoever is waiting on you from the toilet if you must. “From the toilet, I called him and explained the situation,” she writes in the same Quora thread. “He understood without me saying that I pooped my pants and gave me the rest of the day off. I put my undies directly in the garbage can and cautiously opened the door to see if it was clear to go out. I grabbed a garbage bag from the cleaning supply and rushed to my car to drive home.” What you can also do, if you have the time and will to continue your day in public, is call a significant other or someone you trust to bring you some new clothes.
At the end of the day, though, as pretty much everyone has explained thus far, being prepared for the worst is really the only way to effectively deal with pants full of poop. “Since that day,” Martin writes, “I wear disposable undies at work and I have cleaning supplies and extra pants in my car.”
It might sound like a bit much, but disposable undies beat living in a hole on the other side of the world.