At work last Tuesday I found myself with an urgent need to visit the restroom. “Number 2” as they say in most cartoons, daycare facilities and ladies auxiliary clubs. In my line of work I have to wear a badge that clearly identifies who I am at all times. The badge is attached to my belt with one of those stretchy spring loaded strings that can also be used to choke a full grown man. Allegedly.
I entered the stall and dropped my pants to the floor. At that time there was someone in the stall next to me “having a tough day” (shitting out a tree trunk by the sound of it). He was really going for it! I was sitting quietly when I noticed that my badge happened to land on the floor in such a way that it slid under the wall between the stalls so my smirking badge face was under the wall and staring directly up at the man giving birth next to me. At this point I know he saw my badge appear under the wall and now I have a dilemma. Do I yank my badge back under so he can’t see it? Do I just leave it there? Do I try to flip it over? What to do…
By now it doesn’t matter. This poor co-worker is passing a tire iron in the midst of his work day and all of the sudden my half grinning image slides into existence by his feet smiling up at him. As if to say “Hey pal, we will get through this together, you and me. No, it’s cool. I work here.” Now I’m thinking that he thinks I did it on purpose as some sort of toilet judgement.
“I know what you are doing and now HR will know too. I work here.”
“Mind if I watch you split your ass wide open in our sacred place of business?”
“Don’t mind me and my arrogant security ID. I just needed you to know that I know what you are going through. I work here.”
The pained groaning stopped as soon as my dumb badge slapped onto the floor so I know he felt some sort of shame or judgement. At a minimum I know he was caught off guard. I personally don’t like to be identified in the middle of a bathroom break as a general rule, so I wasn’t very happy myself. “Attention, It’s me Employee 23219453 about to move my bowels before God and Country. The year of our lord two thousand seventeen. May we all make it through to the other side. Amen.”
So here we are, two working stiffs trying to conduct God’s business in private and I basically just broke down the wall and forced him to deal with my existence as a man, a co worker and as a fellow defecator. I didn’t plan on bonding in this way, but all roads lead somewhere I suppose.
He finished up and rushed out of there with a bang of the stall door and some squeaking of loafers moving quickly over the tiled floor. I was actually a little disappointed that he didn’t gently push his badge under the wall into my stall. I will never know who I made badge eye contact with that day. There is someone out there who sees me walking through the hallways at work and shares with me an uncommon bond that may never have happened any other way.
*Walking up to the door of the stairwell by my office. Reading a sign on the door that says “Caution Active Bees in this hallway!!!” I pause with my hand loosely gripping the doorknob and let out a deep sigh...*
Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'. That's god-damn right. For the second time in my life, I am guilty of committing a crime. Bathroom Stall Privacy Violation. Of course, I doubt they'll toss up any roadblocks for that. Not for an old crook like me...
I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.