Monday, July 21, 2008

Office Anti-Perks, or The Disgruntled Bathroom Goer

Warning: this can be offensive to some

I have unique friends. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They never make me wonder why I am their friend. It's simple: they're unique. And I take that over boredom any day of the week.

Until recently, I thought only I and my good friend C., can enjoy crude, "bathroom humor", we call it . But as I have discovered, my other friend, A., is joining in as a new (to me) and keen observer of the daily routine in such a mundane place as our own office bathrooms.

Just like C. and me, A. is also a Landmark employee, and his observations on their bathroom situation in VA are poignant while hysterical.

With the hope that I can make some of you smile... I am posting his latest update about their office bathroom and his amusing, but also desperate plea for a change.

And my own add-on: after reading both C's and A's bathroom diaries, I must admit: I never knew boys were so complicated! I always figured they were just meant by God to forever pee against a tree... It so happens they can be so very picky about their "private rooms"...

Who whoudavthunkit??

Here he follows:

We have the most messed-up men’s room situation.

Way back, eons and eons ago, when they flew me out here to interview and see the place, the physical assets of the building turned me off right away. My fold office, before I moved to VA, had a “nice” feel about. It was a 100-year-old building too, but it had been updated nicely. We had nice cubes, nice public areas, nice workspaces, I had a nice office, the restrooms were spacious and modern and, well “nice”. In VA things were old, tired and worn out. R., my soon-to-be-boss at the time apologized about how sad things looked and indicated that a remodel was coming in a few months – in fact one of my first assignments, should I chose to accept it, would be to shop for and select the new furniture for the newsroom. He particularly apologized for the men’s room.

Yes, bathrooms are the places where we do our dirty business. They’re not vacation villas. That much I know (even though my dad’s sister once went into the wrong restroom at the mall and mistook the urinal for a special hand-washing sink...and the urinal cake for a bar of soap). But this facility was not only dirty but dangerous.

There were tiles missing from the ceiling so that you could peer upward many long and lonely feet. I’m sure that late at night the bats would escape through those gaping holes in the ceiling to nibble the hair on the men seated below (fortunately, being fur-challenged, I never had an incident...but I heard the stories!).

The room had the feeling that it had once been used for something else and that adding toilets and sinks was some sort of emergency measure...mandated by some far-away pagan deity. Everything was crammed in there. Six toilet stalls for example where only four should be placed. The frames around the doors were so broken and out of alignment that the doors either wouldn’t close or if they came close, they wouldn’t latch. One got very clever using sophisticated postures to keep the door closed whilst taking care of personal business (particularly difficult of the stresses of the day called for an afternoon quick-jerk).

The plumbing leaked, too. From minor drips to the occasional Niagara burst, we had it all. You could almost always count on the floor being slippery and wet...all the while hoping it was just good old H20 and not the offcast of vision-impaired senior men.

Soap? You want soap? We had no soap dispensers. Instead, cakes of bar soap. Six sinks, too. SIX! Cheek-by-jowl as they say. Too many, too close. But there only ever seemed to be a single bar of soap. And it was wet and soft and small. And who wants to use a bar of soap in a situation like that? No me, I’m here to tell ya! Talk about a cootie farm!

Of the six aforementioned toilet partitions, only three had functional toilet paper dispensers. So if you were a visitor and not well-versed in second-floor men’s room navigation, you could easily find yourself in a messy situation. Of those that remained, they were of some odd 1950s vintage...originally made of NASA-designed plastic. Over time the plastic had become brittle and cracked and broken...leaving razor-sharp edges poking out hither and yon. I don’t mind confessing that my thighs were more than once bloodied and scraped by those gnawing guards-of-the-roll.

Speaking of paper, if you wanted to dry your hands, you had better hope you were using the facilities shortly after what’s-her-bucket the cleaning lady had visited. Otherwise the tiny and precarious “shelf” that held a small supply of folded towels would be a vast wasteland and you’d be left to shake your hands in the air like a giddy Valley Girl or you’d do a quick wipe-down on your trousers.

One of the stalls, the first you encountered upon entering, was for the use of the handicapped. Wider, deeper and with hand-rails, it was intended to be helpful to those in a wheelchair. Only it wasn’t even the same width as a wheelchair! Once I saw a poor kid desperately try to get in there but it was clear the chair wasn’t going to fit. Upon my thusly observation he left the chair outside and hobbled in to take care of his business. Humiliation was added to his humiliation.

This restroom is in a public part of the building...near where advertising customers and visitors to the newsroom traverse. So members of the public were joyfully received by this horrendous facility. Many such visitors have bags, briefcases, papers – the accouterments of business. But where might they place such articles while needing both hands free? On the wet floor of course!

My final observation would be around the dozens (hundreds perhaps) of missing tiles on the floor. Big, gaping holes, revealing concrete, lint and traces of The Plague, littered the floor. Catch the toe of your shoe on such a precipice and you could be getting your next drink from the current plumbing leak.

Ancient history you say! Surely, A. whines about pre-2000 conditions! Certainly enlightened management has since corrected these ills!

Well, recently, even with the horrible budget situation, they announced that the facility would be totally remodeled and brought up to standard. The penis-toting population of our building rejoiced! Furthermore, the powers that be decided to solicit feedback from the employees about what should be done since it was to be a “total remodel”. Being a proactive and solution-minded individual, I submitted the following very helpful suggestions:

*) Five toilets instead of six...use the space evenly so each stall has plenty of room...and so the handicapped stall will accommodate a wheelchair.

*) Build a shelf system with some hooks so people have a place to put their “stuff” and jackets and the like.

*) Cut the number of sinks in half – there are too many and they’re too close.

*) Install liquid soap dispensers.

*) Install a couple of paper-towel dispensers.

*) Install a couple of trash cans (oh, I can’t believe I forgot to mention that the only trash receptacle before was a hole in the wall with a garbage bag in it...as Dave Barry would say, I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP! The hole in the wall was so ragged that the trash bag was always ripped and torn, thus all kinds of incredibly nasty stuff leaked out into the wall cavity).

I learned from colleagues that my ideas were not unique.

So a little while back the room was closed. Off limits. Need to “go”? ”Go” to another floor. Men came. Men left. Noises were made. Dust was raised. Equipment came. Equipment went. Time went on. Days passed. Weeks passed. The room was locked up each night. Months passed.

Ta Da! Without ceremony the room was reopened.

Now what do we have? Well, remember those gaps in the floor where the tile was missing? They poured Plaster-O-Paris or something in those. Looks like a big old turd dried up in the gap. And after only a few weeks, that patch job is now breaking loose.

Remember the leaking plumbing? Well, it still drips and leaks. But everything has been replaced with battery-operated automatic flushers! And they like to “automatically flush” while you’ve got your ass parked on the seat...mid-deposit so to speak! For your convenience of course.

Oh, and they replaced the partitions!! But they put them in the exact same place on the same mountings...so they’re a different color but still don’t work.

Oh, but I shouldn’t complain. Because every stall now has a toilet paper dispenser! Yea! Mounted about six inches off the ground so you have to bend over and reach below your line of site. And reach UPWARDS, into the mystery cavern inside the dark, smoky plastic device, to try and find the tail of paper (and Buddha help you if it’s a fresh roll and that tail is still glued down!). And of course after a few hours you’re successful in gaining possession of the tail and you yank with glee...only to have three tiny, single-ply squares of 180-grit sandpaper break off in your grip...not nearly the manly-sized wad any good American needs.

But we did get soap dispensers. Foam soap dispensers. They are battery-operated, too (I hope they included battery-replacement in their budget). And they eject the tiniest little “splurtz” of foam. It takes about eight such “splurtzes” to even think about cleaning anything (I’m one of three employees who washes his hands). But it’s on a timer so you have to stick your paw under the electronic eye, wait two seconds, remove paw, wait two seconds, and repeat.

And because our company cares about our health and the spread of Bird Flu, they turned off the cold water. Because as you know, washing with cold water doesn’t kill the bugs. So they welded the cold-water taps shut, BUT DIDN’T TELL ANYONE! So until you’re clued in, you bust a wrist trying to get cold water...for refreshing your face for example on a smeltzy day like today. And the hot water...it is hot...autoclave hot! Cook the beans hot!

I guess that’s about it. We can still see the bats, still don’t have a place to put papers and jackets and those auto-flushers flush the night away, even when nobody’s home.

Boss: “A., where have you been, the meeting started 45 minutes ago!”

A.: “I was taking a piss.”

Boss: “Oh, sorry, I completely understand....”

1 comment:

Kehaar said...

Eureka! I found the last half of my post! The post is whole again!