As I cherished my usual 9 a.m. business in the corner stall, my thoughts drifted from matter to matter. I believe I was somewhere between estimating the number of screws it took to assemble the two-stall configuration enclosing me and wondering who in the world would want to remove them–don’t tell me you haven’t noticed those odd-headed screws that must require some sort of peculiar tool to remove–when the door to the lavatory thumped open, snapping my head out of the clouds.
Since I didn’t recognize the footfalls, it was not one of my co-workers penetrating my privacy. After working in a small office for a period, one gets to know the restroom regulars. Out of habit, I gave my “”you-are-not-alone-in-here”” cough (patent pending) to let this gent entering my comfort zone know I was within earshot. I listened to see if he caught the signal.
It was my lucky day. He set up shop at one of the urinals; poop neighbor averted! Is it just me or do other folks detest having a poop neighbor (especially a noisy one)?
That reminds me of a freshman-year experience. My roommate’s family was visiting and, in front of me, he asked his brother, “Do you have to poop?”
“Yes, I do!” his brother exclaimed.
“Let’s go!” my roommate squealed as they headed to the john. Apparently, they enjoyed catching up in contiguous stalls via their Mother Nature call.
WHAT?!?! Are you kidding me?!? I would’ve killed him if he asked ME that! Headline: “Roommate Slain Over Restroom Proposition”
To review, I’m on the pot and someone, let’s call him “”Pete,”” is at the urinal. What happens next? Some might think ‘who cares, let it rip,’ but I am of quite the opposite opinion. The facets of this situation need to interact properly to avoid any embarrassment or discomfort for both parties. Bottom line: the next few cards must be played properly or the game is over—without a Royal Flush, I might add.
As the gent unzipped, I wondered if he heard the cough. Does he think he’s alone? Does he even care? The answer came and it wasn’t good, especially since I entered a holding pattern as he walked in. His deep voice filled the tiny restroom as he broke into song.
“”Oooh Canada, my home sweeeet home . . . hmmmm,”” he sang and hummed. I couldn’t help but shake my head and smile knowing he thought he was alone. Granted, he may not have cared, but come on, would he have actually started singing if I were, say, parked at the adjacent urinal? Not unless he likes knuckle sandwiches.
At this point, I wanted to cough again but needed the right time. His humming persisted and, oddly enough, I could even tell he had his head leaned back, thoroughly enjoying the relief. As his pressure waned, mine only grew: when should I cough?
Too late, he farted. Now there was NO WAY I could give up my location! I bit my lip to prevent a laugh and remained in my holding pattern. Perhaps I was a bit neurotic but I was simply stalling.
While Pete tinkled, my mind shifted to some “”what-ifs,”” should I be discovered: what if I happened to leave the stall as he zipped? Do I say something? Do I make eye contact? If so, how do I not smile, thus letting him know I heard EVERYTHING? What if we were slated to attend the same meeting in fifteen minutes? The thought of the initial conversation sickens me:
“”Hi Pete, nice day, aye?”” I ask, tossing in the Canadian lingo with a slight head nod, small grin, and wink.
“”Sure is,”” he says as he shakes my hand, “”everything come out alright?””
I don’t want to meet Pete nor do I care to have Pete connect my face with the restroom aroma or depth-charge splashes. No siree, Pete, I am NOT going there!
Pete performed his urinal ritual quickly, washed up and left. I was much relieved to again be alone. As I took Mother Nature off ‘hold,’ the thought occurred to me: this could all have been avoided had Pete followed two simple, yet unwritten, men’s room etiquette rules: 1) ALWAYS glance at the stall doors to see if you’re alone; 2) listen.
Following these straightforward rules can only save one from potential restroom havoc and ensure that everything does come out all right in the end.