“I jerked off when I worked in a funeral home,” a guy I’ve been on two dates with texts me. In his defense, this wasn’t an unsolicited overshare—he’s at a party relaying friends’ anecdotes as he does some reconnaissance on my new favorite topic: masturbating at work.
If you’re sitting there going, “People do this?!” the answer is a resounding yes. My fixation on the subject started a few months ago, while sitting around a brunch table, two or three Bloody Marys in. Someone volunteered their, ahem, methods for dealing with a particularly bad day, and one by one, each of us admitted to wanking at work—regularly. Male, female, gay, straight, we were all going to town during business hours.
“I do it about once a week in the office gym bathroom,” said my friend Mike* (all names changed to protect the sort-of innocent). “It’s cozy in there, and there’s candles. Plus, there’s a lot of space if you want to move around.”
“If I’m really hungover at work, masturbating helps me feel better,” said Dominic. “My record is three times in one day.” Melissa added: “I did it once, but I never finished. I had a meeting.”
I couldn’t believe how casual everyone was being about this shocking new development, but then, I’ve done it too. Only once, at an old job I completely hated, in a single-occupancy bathroom. That conversation sparked my mission to find out just why so many people are rubbin’ one (or three) out at work on the reg.
I blasted out a survey on all my social media channels. Turns out more than a third of people polled do the deed—usually out of boredom, a means to relieve stress or general randiness (“I’m just a horny lady,” one woman wrote). Other reasons were more surprising.
“It was usually to cure my massive hangover,” one gent replied. “I’d pretend to have stomach problems, crank one out in like four minutes and be back to slinging margaritas.” Think about that next time you’re at the bar. Another said, “If you get on a sex app like Grindr, and you have guys asking you to take naughty pictures and telling you what they want to do to you, it tends to…distract you.” People do it it in private bathrooms, but also ones with multiple stalls (“I can masturbate rather quietly,” said one responder).
Not everyone is hip to the idea of doing the hand jive at work. “Our men’s room usually looks like a bomb went off in there,” one answer read. “I’d probably get a staph infection if I did that.” Another wrote in: “Oh my god, the fact that this is a thing makes me want to throw up and never leave the house again.”
The initial poll results were so good, I started asking anyone and everyone—including second dates, which is how I recruited my latest researcher—and given the number of stories I’ve heard, I’m starting to think the percentage is higher than people are letting on. But whether you’re on board with choking the chicken while on the clock or not, you can be pretty certain it’s happening in a bathroom stall near you.