Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Smorgasbord: Stalled in a Public Bathroom

I am back working in an office a few days a week, and as such get the singular joy that is going to the bathroom in a stall environment. Three stalls to be exact. One huge "handicapped" one even though a wheelchair couldn't fit through the outer bathroom door if the person shimmied it in sideways. Two smaller stalls. Two sinks with the water that turns on and off at will but never when you need it. The requisite coin-operated machines dispensing feminine products that neither I nor any woman I have ever known has ever used. First of all, I don't bring my wallet to the bathroom. Secondly, who is vouching for the recency and quality of anything that comes out of a bathroom wall? No gracias. That is why female coworkers with that stuffed second-drawer-down-on-the-right-hand-side exist. In an emergency, they just wade through the fruit rollups, Swiss Miss No Sugar Added Hot Chocolate packets, Ricola throat drops and Avon hand cream to get you what you need. No sweat.

Anyway. Yesterday I went in to the bathroom. Stall one looked fine. Handicapped Stall Three looked fine. Stall two had something going on in the bowl that I will not describe. So what did I do? I said, "Yeeech" and went to stall three. Come back 45 minutes later (those of you who know me know that this is a standard amount of time for a woman who drinks lots of water with little capacity for holding it), Dreaded Stall Two is still "indisposed." So I go back to Stall Three with another, "Yeech. Who would DO that?!"

As I was in Stall Three I pondered the strange behavior of people in public bathrooms. All it would have taken for Stall Two to be fine was me walking in there and flushing it with my foot. No skin-to-commode contact necessary. I'd be performing a public service for the rest of the women. And yet I would not do it. It was like the entire stall was lethal and could not be approached, never mind flushed. I wanted to be a good doobie, but the thought of going near THAT was just too much to ask.

So I went back to my desk and returned (as I do) about an hour later. Sweet Porcelain Gods! Stall Two was cleared. If I had never seen it earlier, I would have had no idea that there had been anything to see. It was, as The Biscuit on Ally McBeal would say before using his wireless automatic flushing gadget, "a clean bowl."

And yet I still would not go in. And so I once again pondered in cavernous Stall Three just what kind of person would leave such a nasty calling card, as if they'd do that at home and just walk away: "Oh sorry dear! I was in a rush and just figured you'd flush it for me later." I then subsequently wondered what kind of Angel of Public Facilities would have the stones to finally and at long last put us all out of our misery and take care of business. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that the Restroom Savior had to be somebody's mother. She has dealt with crap for many years, both literal and figurative, and no doubt, on the third visit just thought, "Oh for heaven's sake; if I don't do it, no one will." Whoever you are, oh Seraph of Sanitary Surfaces, I salute you.

Short Story Long: As if anyone should have to issue this reminder to grown adults: Always Flush. Sometimes Twice.

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