At Google, to pee or not pee...with a fancy bidet...that is the question

The COVID lockdown revealed what's probably the biggest chasm in America: those who have to show up for work, often blue-collar, a mix of minorities and Whites, and more socially conservative versus those who can work from home, invariably white-collar, usually White, and very, very left.  The news out of Google just rubs in that divide.  While workers who prefer to stay home are upset about pay cuts, the real issue roiling Google's workplace is the company's decision to remove fancy bidets, with heated water, and white noise.

What was officially the main story out of Google was a companywide virtual meeting called when an internal survey revealed that numerous employees are unhappy with their pay packages, with less than half of the employees feeling that their pay was competitive with that of employees at other, comparably situated workplaces.  What was especially galling was an announcement last summer that, if employees decided to work from home (which could be anywhere in America) their salary would be scaled to the cost of living at their home base.

So that was the big story.  But the bigger story was about bidets.  Let me put my bias right up front here: having been in Japan several times, I learned that the fancy bidets (heated water, heated seats, music, white noise, etc.) are the best thing to happen to bathrooms since flush plumbing.  That's why, in early 2020, when news was starting to break about toilet paper supply chains breaking down, while there was no way I was going to spend hundreds, or even thousands, for the fancy bidets, I immediately bought the basic one.  

However, here I am in America, so I know that when I go to a place of public accommodation or an office, I should not expect Japanese-style amenities.  Businesses in America have flush toilets and toilet paper, and that's good enough.

Well, it's good enough if you don't work at Google.  If you work at one of the most powerful companies in the world, you do get the fancy toilets, and you get used to them:

So, when Google takes them away...well, all heck breaks loose:

Google is removing Toto-brand bidet seats from its California offices after discovering they were out of compliance with the state's code for commercial buildings.


Google's toilets have loomed large in the company's imagination — and reputation — for over 15 years. Employees aren't happy about the bidets going away: A widely upvoted meme that Protocol reviewed from Google's internal meme page reads, "The removal of bidets in the office is my #2 issue with RTO." (Google didn't return several requests for comment.)


When an employee challenged the bidet removal decision in a reply to the maintenance ticket, citing the environmental and hygienic benefits of bidets (linking to a tip from Google's own sustainability team), facilities professional Edgar Tovar responded that Google wouldn't be replacing the bidets.

Google is a very divisive company.  On the one hand, it really does have superb products.  On the other hand, it's a totalitarian monster that needs to have its wings clipped.  (A combination of the Civil Rights Act and the First Amendment might be able to do it.)  However, when it comes to those bidets, I side entirely with Google's employees and think it's time to change the state's building codes.  In any event, knowing California, those building codes are inevitably going to be a classic example of the perfect being the enemy of the good, so they could use some change.

Image: Twitter screen grab of a Toto bidet at Google.

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