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Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Tale of Two Bathrooms

for Jack

Twice a week I do some consulting work. This takes place in a small office building in an industrial park. The building is run-down and airless, but it has one redeeming feature: It has a great Men's Room.

The Men's Room is in a prime location, at the cul-de-sac of a long hallway, far removed from the main work areas. I happen to be one of about three men in this building, and for some reason, the other two have the habit of turning off the light when they leave the bathroom. I don't know if this is meant to be some kind of signal, but the upshot is that when I round the corner of the hallway, I can quickly glance down towards the end and know instantly if someone else is in there.

It doesn't end with that. The bathroom has two stalls and a urinal, nothing special, but it is LOUD. By that I mean, there is some kind of fan or generator or condenser or something in there that is always making A LOT of background noise. That's right. It's what they call in the Bathroom business "covering fire." You can make all the noise you want and no one will hear you. I like to think of it as my own little piece of Heaven.

All was good until last week. Last week we moved to a new building. Aesthetically, it is much nicer. It has higher ceilings, more carpeting, big airy work spaces, and Muzak. But the bathroom...

I arrived last week and asked politely where the Men's Room was. They pointed me to a spot around the corner, right next to the lunchroom and directly across from where some woman sits. Hmm, I thought, there's a slight problem, but at least Muzak fills the air; it may provide some cover.

I ventured into the bathroom. I have to say, it was one of the best-smelling bathrooms I had ever been in. Some kind of active fragrance system. Whatever. I noticed only one stall. Now, in and of itself, the one-stall bathroom is not necessarily inferior to your multi-stall bathroom. At least you know someone isn't going to sit down next to you and attempt to smoke you out.

The Muzak was piped into the bathroom as well, but to be honest, it didn't provide the sort of noise-dampening I had hoped for. I could tell as I entered that the stall was already occupado. I opted to use the urinal in the meantime. Here's where the major problem emerged.

As I walked from the door towards the back wall, I passed the stall at an oblique angle, where the one major glaring defect came into full view: The Gap. There was a gap between the door frame of the stall, and the door itself. Now, I'm not talking about the upper or lower cut-aways. I've come to understand that for some aesthetic reason, or maybe it's a safety issue, bathroom stall designers have elected to progressively chop away at the amount of cover the door provides, both above and below. I can handle that. Although I'm still somewhat traumatized by that incident in first grade when those kids suddenly poked their heads over the top of my stall...

But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the side gap. As I walked past the stall, I came upon a certain angle at which I could now see a full floor-to-ceiling view of the stall occupant. True, it was only a 2-inch-wide gap, but as I walked past it, it panned its way completely across the man, who was obviously very intent on doing his business, and was just as startled as me when we made eye contact.

At that point I turned around and marched right out of there, knowing that I could never feel comfortable in that bathroom.

Alas, I have been cast down into purgatory.

26 comments:

30cal said...

oh, but you are SOOO spoiled.... you have no idea of the horrors some bathrooms conceal (albeit poorly).

fudge said...

so YOU are the one responsible for my must-find-bathroom-on-planet-pluto gene! you are the source of countless untold hours of anguish, humiliation and cruel jeering by my roommate, who has attempted to train me sesame-street style by singing this song whenever i venture down three floors to a hidden bathroom, "Everybody poops...everybody poops..."

Jack's Shack said...

That is a good story. That first bathroom sounds like a little slice of heaven, but the second, whoa.

PsychoToddler said...

I didn't think any bathroom could frighten you, Jack. You're kinda like my bathroom hero.

zahava said...

ROTFLMAO! (Laughing WITH you, not AT you!) It's just that this particular subject hits a nerve over a chez Treppenwitz!

When Gili was a toddler, he learned to take care of his business sitting down since neither his sister or I have the appropriate [erm] equipment to demonstrate the "manly" way. David was, naturally, horrified by this, and promptly rectified the situation. Due to the dramatic manner in which he dealt with the "problem" Gili quickly caught on to the fact that MEN take care of things in a certain manner. Thus, he was devasted when he discovered he couldn't yet reach the urinals but had to use the "regular" toilets....

Fast forward a few years.

Picture a very nice kosher steak house in midtown. Picture a proud Papa enjoying a B-day dinner with his folks and his family. Picture a certain afore-mentioned 5-year old announcing with some aplomb that he had to use the men's room, and musing if THIS would be the time he could use the urinal....

Picture David returning soaked with tears of laughter, and the child a bit shaken.

Apparently, before the urinal ettiquette had been properly reviewed, Gili made quite the gaffe.

When they'd entered, the room was empty. While Gili test drove the right-hand urinal David leaned against a wall and made the mistake of closing his eyes. He did not hear or see the other man enter the room.

What he DID hear was of a 5-year old repeating the "Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch..." burlesque shtick from an old "I Love Lucy" video.

Oh yeah. He also heard the sound of a horrified GASP, and a zipper being franticly tugged upwards. Additionaly, he felt the rush of disturbed air as the other man quickly torpedoed himself from the room.


After he regained his composure - it took SOME time, too! - he reviewed the RULES. 1) Never make eye contact. 2) Never look. 3) Never take the space directly next to someone if there is an opening elsewhere. 4) NEVER speak!

To quote Elaine from Seinfeld, "I don't know how you boys walk around with those things!" Really! We girls can go into a bathroom with a total stranger and come out best friends. Must be an evolution thing....

PsychoToddler said...

LOL

I have major issues with being in a public bathroom with other men (or women I guess). Not sure why. I'm sure it has something to do with first grade. Very formative time for me.

I do have another 1st grade memory. My friend Lenny and I end up going out for a bathroom break at the same time. Lenny is the class clown. We have been reading the "Dick and Jane" book.

We both pull up to urinals, and Lenny keeps saying, "Dick" and laughing uncontrollably. I laugh too, although I have no idea what the joke is (a pattern I keep for most of my life).

Wonder what Lenny is doing these days?

cruisin-mom said...

Nothing like having your pants around your ankles, looking up, and making eye contact with the person waiting for your "seat".
I feel for you.

PsychoToddler said...

Zahava: I know this is off topic, but is there anything you can do to fix up fudge's JIB award badge? It looks terrible on her site.

Sweettooth120 said...

Hey, wait a minute, where am I? I thought this was Pychotoddler, but it seems the Jack has hijacked this blog too.

This is something smelly going on.

Psychotoddler will stay away from Cleveland from now on said...

That's ridiculousclevelandsucks.

Jack can't possiblymonkey get into my blogger sholahaccountnoles.

Jack's Shack said...

Nope, haven't touched this blog.

PT,

No, if the "mood" hits I'll use virtually any bathroom. But for some things I do prefer my privacy.I have far too many stories that I could and might share.

zahava said...

PT:

Hopped over to Fudge's to take a look at her icon. I did not do the actual award icons -- the folks at the Post took my art and adapted to their format. I tried copying the image to my desktop but the Post's wise formatters realized that someone might want to pirate the icons and built protections, thus I can not access the actual icon to clean it up.

I would recommend she contact the person she got the icon from and ask how best to optimize the image on her site. If they give her grief she can (and should) remind them that the best form of advertising is one which is readable and legible.

Wish I could be of more help.

Mirty said...

Why is it that bathroom architects can't seem to fit the doors to the stalls together and avoid that gap? I really wonder about that. I'm in a new building and we have "the gap" between the stalls in the ladies room. One solution is to hang your jacket on the coat hook, arranging it so it covers the gap. I mean really, this is not a spectator sport.

mochassid said...

PT

Call maintenance and ask them to fit some foam into the gap. the bathroom at my job had the same problem but now it's fixed. very simple.

PsychoToddler said...

Mirty, you're a genius!

MOChassid: You mean, I should tell them that I'm an insecure anal-retentive obsessive compulsive type?

Ralphie said...

Mind the gap!

I've seen people carefully position a long strip o' toilet paper to ward off looky-loos.

Of course, that's just a stopgap measure.

BA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!!

I kill me.

Lenora said...

If you're still wondering whatever happened to me, see Transamerica to get an idea.

--"Lenny"

PsychoToddler said...

Oh, Man, that's just so wrong...my whole self image is coming into question...trading "Dick" jokes with a transsexual in first grade...oy

Oh, and Lenora, so what ever happened with that Lt. Uhura doll I lent you in 3rd grade?

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

My pet bathroom peeve is untzniusdik urinals. I don't want even the slightest chance of the possibility of violating one of the Cardinal Urinal Rules! A full floor-to-cieling barrier between urinals goes quite a way to preventing all accidents...

treppenwitz said...

Someone in my old office must have had the same, uh, issues as you because I used to go into the stall and find the gap covered up with a long strip of wide masking tape. He had also put up another strip to overlap where the latch side of the door.

I have to admit that though I don't mind the gap much, it was nice to have the extra privacy that his tape job provided. :-)

PsychoToddler said...

Steg: I agree, there should at LEAST be some...indentation of each individual urinal. A small recess. Also a minimum amount of space should be between each one, maybe a foot. I get very nervous in big bathrooms with closely packed urinals which are "flush" with the wall.

Trep: I would have thought the Navy would have "purged" all bathroom-related phobias from you. I must confess, that aside from the Shabbos and Kashrut issues, the lack of privacy would be the main reason I would do poorly in the military.

And hey, as ex-YU guys, we could go on and on and on about the horrors of the "Gas Chamber" communal showers in the Rubin Hall...

Jewish Blogmeister said...

You might want to consider inventing your own sound machine..one that will generate enough background noise to cover your own....noise

PsychoToddler said...

I could post The PT outside the door and have her do her usual whining. That'll keep people away.

tuesdaywishes said...

You guy remember when you were teenagers and you made fun of old guys whose lives seemed to revolve around their BM's? Look in the mirror...

PsychoToddler said...

Oy gevalt.

Mrs. Balabusta said...

Trep: I would have thought the Navy would have "purged" all bathroom-related phobias from you. I must confess, that aside from the Shabbos and Kashrut issues, the lack of privacy would be the main reason I would do poorly in the military.


Oh yeah, that and like 30 other neuroses> Do they serve cherrios for breakfast in the military every morning at the same time??? Hmmmm.

Two more words.
Duct.
Tape.

You lead a complicated life my friend. It's a good thing you don't have anyone sneezing on your pillow, cause that's just the last thing you need right now.