Crying in the bathroom
A Sheryl Sandberg story
I’m a big Sheryl Sandberg fan. I’ve leaned in, I’ve taken a seat at the table, I’ve watched her TED talk multiple times. I’ve inked up her book, underlining all my favorite parts. I believe what she wrote about the death of her husband is one of the best pieces of writing about grief—about life, really—that I’ve ever read. Big fan. HUGE.
And though I never really got the chance to work with her that closely when I was at Facebook, I did have a few dear diary moments with her along the way. Like the time she asked me in the bathroom how my weekend was, and I shouted out from my stall, “I’ll tell you this: I saw the bottom of more than one bottle of wine!” (VERY PROFESSIONAL.)
Or another time—also in the bathroom, why?—I ran into Sheryl washing her hands alongside the glorious Gloria Steinem, and the three of us talked about breast pumps, and I shared how mine used to talk to me. (ALSO VERY PROFESSIONAL.)
Then there was the time Sheryl was a guest at one of our team meetings. She’d recently gone on record as having cried at work, which I thought, still think, is so very awesome. (As I’ve long said, if you’re not crying at work, then you don’t care enough.)
Me to Sheryl: “So how can we get more men to cry at work?”
Sheryl, eyebrows raised: “What do you mean?”
Me: “I think it’s good for everyone—men and women—to let off steam like that. And people who successfully off-gas their frustrations are way better to work with. But when I mention ‘crying in the bathroom’ to the dudes here at Facebook, they don’t even know what I’m talking about.”
Sheryl, sipping on an ice tea bigger than her entire body: “Tell me more about that.”
Me: “Like we recently went on this team offsite where we all learned how to make fancy cocktails, and of course this being Facebook it was this super competitive thing, where we were judged on the flavors we mixed, how the drink looked AND we had to give it a good name. As the writer on our team, I was tapped to do the naming, but when I suggested ‘Crying in the Bathroom’ as the name for our drink, the guys in my team were all QUESTION MARK?!? They didn’t even know what it was!”
Sheryl, laughing: “That’s great! I’m going to use that story.”
No Sheryl, I thought to myself. I’m going to use THIS story.