Even when you are in a public building, there are specific areas that are private where you want to be left alone. Public restrooms are such a place.
Recently a friend of mine (we’ll call him Bob for the sake of protecting the innocent) told me a story of his trip to a public restroom.
Let me set the scene for the story. It’s a coffee shop with a single “holer” men’s room. This is a restroom with a single toilet, commode or porcelain fixture – what ever you want to call it. A fairly clean restroom with a solid door and a functional and secure lock.
On this particular day Bob was traveling across the state of North Carolina going from the Eastern part of Raleigh to the Western mountain areas. He had left his house at around 6am that morning. Before getting on the highway Bob stopped at the gas station mini-mart and got his first cup of coffee of the morning. This cup of coffee lasted about 45 miles before it was nearly gone and cold. Knowing that he had another 50 miles to go Bob wanted another cup of coffee.
He drove his car off an exit ramp and down a side street into a shopping area just off of the highway. Right in front of him was a small coffee shop. Bob pulled his car into the parking lot, placed the transmission in Park, turned off the engine and got out.
Bob walked across the parking lot, down the sidewalk and toward the shop excited about getting another cup of hot bold coffee. However, having just finished the original cup of mini-mart coffee, Bob knew that the restroom would be a good place to go first.
Bob walked thru the coffee shop using his keen powers of observation to locate the restrooms. Having a gut feel that one of the corners of the room would be a good place for the restrooms and then seeing the sign, he quickly figured out which way to go. He followed the arrow of the sign and walked directly toward the corner where the restrooms are located. Facing the large wooden door of the restroom, he grasped the handle and slowly opened it, peering thru the slowly expanding gap between the jam and the moving door to determine if anyone else was in the room before he entered. There was no one else in the room. Bob, like many of us would be, felt relieved to find the room empty. Opening the door of a single holer that is occupied can be embarrassing if not traumatic depending on the actual view and the duration of the view when you open the door.
I remember learning the hard way to open the door slowly when I was younger. I busted into a single hole restroom in a shopping center to find a little old lady sitting on the toilet, panty hose and skirt down around her ankles. “I’ll be done in a minute” is all she said to me as I hastily turned around and exited the room, red faced and hurriedly barking out, “I’m so sorry, Please excuse me!”
Bob walked into the room, locking the door and then pulling and twisting the handle to insure that it was actually locked and secure before turning and walking over to the toilet.
Now, as Bob faced the toilet he realized that his body was now telling him to use the facilities for a little more than he initially planned. OK, a lot more. The newly determined task at hand required that he take a seat rather than stand and face the toilet.
Men are generally not eager to sit on a public toilet. There are so many restrooms in public places that are not managed or cleaned to anyone’s standards. Fortunately most good coffee shop restrooms are managed well and kept fairly clean. Just the same, having to sit on a public toilet requires that you examine the seat and in many cases cleaning of the seat with wet paper towels and then drying it off. Bob examined the seat and felt good with a quick paper towel cleaning action.
Bob removed his belt, loosened his pants and sat on the toilet. He set his mind on the task at hand, blocking out the noises from the coffee shop hoping to get thru the task in a reasonable amount of time.
Suddenly he heard someone shaking the door and twisting the handle in an attempt to enter the room. Fortunately the secure lock held as expected.
“Occupied” is the only word that Bob felt he had to utter as he continued working on the task at hand.
The doorknob rattled again and the door actually moved ever so slightly as someone outside of the room tried again to convince the door to open.
Bob uttered, “Occupied right now”, and believing that this would be enough information to convince the person trying to get in to wait until he was done, he again went back to paying attention to the task he now wanted to quickly complete.
The door again rattled, this time a little louder and for a few more seconds than before. There then came a fast and firm rapping on the door from what sounded like a large fist.
This time Bob refrained from uttering anything, instead applying more attention and energy to the task that he now urgently wanted to complete – Now.
As he completely finished the task on the toilet, he stood, reached down for his pants and pulled them up.
The rattling continued and the banging intensified.
“Please – one minute and I’ll be done”, shouted Bob, now somewhat perturbed.
Bob fastened his belt and turned to the sink to wash up. He appropriately washed his hands with soapy hot water, grasped a handful of paper towels and dried his hands as he walked toward the door. He tossed the paper towels into the trash can as he turned the lock toward Unlock.
Being a little upset at being continually disturbed during his restroom task, Bob yanked open the door expecting to look into the face of the somewhat rude person on the other side of the door.
He looked out the doorway and immediately saw – No one.
“Excuse me” were the words from the less than 3 ft tall little boy that Bob finally saw once he looked down. “I really have to go bad,” continued the little guy as he scurried past Bob and into the restroom. Bob moved for him. The door shut and the lock clicked behind the little boy.
Bob stood there, outside of the restroom thinking which was worse. Listening to the door rattle while using the restroom or rattling the door hoping that it would open faster so that you can get in and do what you need to do.
Bob figured it out – Having to do “go really bad” is worse then “going” and having to listen to someone who has to “go really bad”.
Bob headed over to the barrister and got his cup of hot bold coffee. He left the coffee shop hoping the little guy was OK.
This is yet another story from Teddy Burriss – maybe, just maybe you will laugh with me.