January 12, 2012


One would think that the struggle of working 55 miles away from home everyday would be the long drive in the wee hours of the morning, especially during these winter months. That doesn’t happen to be the case at all. I’ll admit that there are times that I don’t want to make that drive at 6:30 in the morning, and I would be remiss in not admitting that I miss coming home at lunch time, watching an “I Love Lucy” rerun and playing with the cat whilst I write my daily blog entry. These things are on my mind as I work 55 miles from home, but there is one specific thing that I can not get used to.

I struggle with doing my business in the bathroom at work.

We have around 200 people working the building and there is one common bathroom for the entire facility, and it’s rarely empty. Oh, I’ve heard rumors that there is an executive bathroom, appropriately located in the executive wing, but during the few, brief visits I’ve enjoyed in that part of the building, I’ve noticed that the executive bathroom, which appears to be a broom closet with some plumbing, is never in use. During my visits to the common bathroom I frequently see those that have multiple letters after their name on their office nameplates, opting to poop in coach instead of first class. They’re usually friendly. There’s no limp, blue curtain.

At my old job the bathroom had one urinal and two stalls, though usually only one stall worked at a time. Since there were heating issues in that building, I would never risk sitting on the toilet during the winter for fear of freezing into place and not being able to move until I thawed out at spring; and since I worked close to home back then I could make the trek home at lunch time and take care of my business.
I don’t have that luxury in my current employment situation.

I’ve mentioned before that my brief glimpses of the common ladies’ room (when the door has been opened and I can see in) revealed a two room affair, complete with a lounging area that has couches and easy chairs and a television for many to enjoy. As long as you’re female. My friend Sandy once mentioned that she was selling greeting cards at work. I asked where the display was and apparently they were on display in this lounging area that precedes the main event of the ladies’ room. They have a shopping district in there and everything. The actual rest area of the ladies’ lounge (as it’s marked on the building evacuation plan) shares a common wall with the mens’ room (we know when they flush but little else), which has four urinals shoved into the corner and four stalls, one which contains a telephone company truck hazard cone strategically situated next to the toilet. There are seven sinks along the front and a random number of paper towel dispensers; since the dispensers break once in a while, the maintenance folks just relocate the dispensers for the handicapped individuals to a higher location for those not in a wheelchair. I feel bad for the folks that are trying motor their wheelchairs with wet hands.

The sign on the door proclaims that the mens’ room is closed weekdays from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for cleaning. No exceptions. Don’t make it a habit of having an emergency because the cleaning staff isn’t leaving to accommodate you unless you’re doing it in the hall, apparently. This declaration is interesting to me, since the cleaning staff only comes to the building three days a week. The head cleaning woman is rather young, and named after a month in the year, but she’s not named March or August. August is a guy’s name. She has quite a few tattoos. At times she seems to have a mood adjustment assist to her day; I don’t know what counter her assists come over to fulfill her needs but she’s always quite friendly. I don’t mind the fact that she occasionally uses people that are walking the perimeter of the parking lot in the interest of staying fit as target as she comes flying into the parking lot. She’s smiling when she does it. 
I end up having to do my serious business in that bathroom at least once a day, though I pee quite frequently due to large consumptions of water. I hate doing my business in there because I know that people recognize my feet under the stall wall. I’m afraid that each individual has a distinct odor and that I have been rightly identified. I am conscious of the noises and gases. I worry that my suspenders drag on the floor. This is an interesting aspect to my habits and feelings of this nature, because I can go to a public restroom on the interstate or in a Macy’s and making some of the most foul noises and sounds known to the human race and not think twice about it. I don’t like it when people know me in the bathroom. When at a house party, I avoid using the “guest bathroom” which is usually located under the stairs, right in the middle of all the party traffic. On the occasions that I have to use the “guest bathroom” at a party, I usually end up farting loudly in there when there’s a lull in the conversation on the outer side of the door. I worry I kill the gaiety.

I don’t like it when people talk in the bathroom. Conference calls in progress at the urinal are just weird. One of my co-workers, a very jovial southern gentleman, usually flashes his trademark smile and says “Hello there, J.P.” just as I’m making a bee-line for stall , which does not have the hazard cone but does have the best wi-fi reception in the room. I smile on the outside, but I die a little on the inside, because he has identified who I am to any other person that may be doing their business and now they’ll be able to identify my smell. This terrifies me in a small way.

There was a different voice in there today when I thought I was alone in there. “HElllooooooo!”, chimed the mood-adjusted voice as the cleaning lady came in.

“I’m here”.

“I know, sweetie.”

Sigh. I needed to pass some gas to get things moving. Now she would know how my digestive system works.

I glanced at my watch and confirmed that it wasn’t between 6 and 6:30. What the hell was she doing in there? I didn’t want to have to evacuate and do my business in the broom closet with plumbing.

“I’ll be just a moment.”

“Ok.”  I heard her leave.  I then made a noise that I don’t really need to describe here during this dialog. And forget about the smell.
I find it interesting that I’m rather freaked out about this, aside from the fact that doing it where people don’t know me doesn’t bother me, because I have been nude in public on countless occasions in my life and back in the day I did a lot more interesting things in public without a second thought.

As I walked out of the restroom, she asked, “Everything come out ok?”

Oh my god.



Well, whaddya know, it is winter after all. The snowfall is still a little anemic for this time of year, but at least the view is starting to match the season now.

When I got this morning I could hear the wind howling and the sounds of either really thick rain or sleet pelting the bedroom window. I looked out, expecting to see the lawn and driveway covered in snow, but instead saw that everything was just wet. It was that fun 33ºF that everyone loves to drive in. “Is it ice or is it rain? Who knows?”

As I made my way east along my daily commute, the rain quickly changed to snow as I descended into the Mohawk Valley. Apparently the plowing crews were not alerted to the fact that it’s January in Upstate New York, because very little had been done to clear the roads. It can’t be a budgetary thing, because there hasn’t been that much snow this season, so I don’t know where everyone was. When I got off the Thruway and onto the back roads (up by Farmer Bear’s place and the like), I was making my own tracks. I discovered that the new Jeep is a little more feisty on the slippery surfaces than his predecessor; popping into 4WD tamed him a bit. By the time I got to Amish country, I was following a Saab that was fish tailing all over the place at around 20 MPH. I made my way around the Saab, waved to the Amish commuters and continued along my daily trek, arriving to work five minutes late.

I did the best I could.

Honestly, I’d rather have a big snowstorm where temperatures are in the 20s instead of doing this ‘hover around freezing’ thing. It’s much easier to drive in snow than it is to drive in slush and it’s not quite so heavy when it has to be moved.

But on the bright side, at least January is looking like the part today.

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