Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Courtesy Flush – An Update (Risking Life and Limb)

Dear Reader, or on my more upbeat days: Readers, as the title of this post suggests, today I had an experience that serves to update one of my seminal blog posts: The Courtesy Flush. You may recall that the subject of that post was the decidedly unfriendly habit among many of my co-crappers here at work to continue to sit amid the fetid air of their business, allowing it waft poisonously into the air of everyone else in the bathroom, until they are totally and completely finished. Then and only then do they flush that horrific mess down. Unfortunately their stench remains for quite some time, almost like the hint of a perfume that lingers in the air after someone has walked by. ALMOST. Because, of course, in this case it lingers like a curse in the air, sometimes for nearly AN HOUR after the perp has left. Absolutely no hyperbole in that last statement. Almost an hour.

OK, so what I didn’t tell you back when I originally posted about the CF, is that, although many of my co-crappers fall guilty of this terrible sin, there is ONE among the many who truly inspired me to blog the original post. I call her “Mother Earth” (for reasons that will go unrevealed) and there is seriously something wrong with her bowels. I have never known Mother Earth to enter the restroom and not unleash the lower GI tract version of World War III. I have learned, through hard, hard experience, that once Mother Earth enters the bathroom, lose all hope ye who enter behind her. No pun intended. HAH! Anyway, not only does she go for a really, really, really long time, her movements are ALWAYS accompanied by unreal volumes of gas. Now I don’t have to tell you what happens to gas: IT RISES!! AND SPREADS!!!

Mother Earth ALWAYS fouls the bathroom for AT LEAST 45 minutes after she leaves. UNSPEAKABLE! I don’t dare to conjecture what kind of food (or not food) a person has to eat to create that DEFCON Level 4 of havoc inside their body. I’ve been trapped in there more times than I care to admit, finding myself the unwitting victim of that hellish expulsion, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but finish as quickly as possible and pray that the uncontrollable gags don’t reach the point of retching.

I feel like I’ve painted a picture for you. Good. Fast forward to this morning. A regular workday, not unlike any other, in the anonymous, grey federal building in which I work. For no discernable reason, word begins to spread among the workers on my floor, that security is evacuating the building. Pish Posh, I think, having heard no official announcement broadcast by the disembodied, flat voice of a barely literate GS3, over the tinny public address system: “Hello? May I have your attention please? There will be a presentation in honor of Huspanish Heritage Month this morning at 10:00 in the Auditorium. Please join us for an hour dedicated to celebrating the Huspanish life. Olee! Thank you.” None of that so I figure this is all just a bunch of bored employees trying to inject a glimmer of drama into their otherwise drab day. I continue “working”.

But the rumor won’t die and eventually the chorus of worker voices is joined by a few managers who intone in the self-important way that only managers can: “We should go”. Okey dokey! You don’t have to tell federal workers twice that it’s time to vacate the building. People begin streaming out in hordes, keys jangling (you never know when its going to stretch into an early lunch or, even better: a whole day). Unfortunately I had finished 24 ounces of coffee five minutes prior and really had to pee. I gathered my things and began to sullenly make my way against the tide of humanity headed for the stairwell, in the general direction of the bathroom.

“You’re going in the wrong direction!” a chorus of voices gaily reminds me. As if I’ve forgotten how to get out of the building.

“Yes, well, I have to go to the bathroom, I’ll be right down.” BUZZ OFF YOU NOSEY ASSHOLES WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM SOME KIND OF RETARD? is what I really want to say (I am the ABIB, after all) but refrain.

I’m almost to the corner, beyond which by a few feet is the bathroom, when a woman’s voice rings out directly behind me:

“I REALLY have to go to the bathroom!”

A cold chill runs down my spine and, as if in slo-mo, I pivot on one foot and look behind me directly into the face of MOTHER EARTH! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

What kind of luck do I have to have to be trying to beat this human crap bag into the bathroom so that I can take a fucking PISS and leave the building along with every other living thing? Right then I realize it: I’ll never make it. I’ll rush into the stall, sit down and start to go, but I’ve 24 ounces of coffee to get rid of along with the orange juice I drank at home before work, but MOTHER EARTH will already have her huge ass spread across one of the toilet seats groaning for its life and within a nanosecond will be eliminating what I can only guess (from the smell) is partially digested roadkill.

At that moment I turned on my heel and retraced my steps, barely registering her startled expression as I bump into her to rush past, heading to the next closest bathroom, at the other end of the building’s hallway. What if we’re being evacuated due to a noxious gas spewing through the vents? What if it’s a fire alarm that’s announcing the fast spread of an electrical fire through the walls? I don’t fucking care if it’s RADIOACTIVE KRYPTONITE, I ain’t going anywhere NEAR the evil domain now claimed by Mother Earth.

I made it to the other bathroom and did my business. By the time I came out the “emergency” was already over and my coworkers had begun to file back into the building with all the enthusiasm of a chain gang.

Yes, I took a risk. Yes it could have turned out badly. But I know for one thing: if I had gone where I was originally headed I may not have made it out at all. If you look at it that way, I took no risk at all.