Last week here in the book store, I was in the restroom washing my hands–scrub 20 seconds, kids!– when I glanced to my left and saw that someone was in the nearest of two toilet stalls. He wore dirty white Reeboks, the kind I would have loved in the early 90s. Big deal, right? Well, the guy had his coat on the floor in front of him.
As soon as I enter a public restroom (even the “clean” ones) I start walking like the floor is covered with poisonous snakes. I’m up on my tippy toes and I feel myself becoming lighter to lessen the force applied to whatever is on those floors. I weigh 85 pounds in public restrooms, really. I scan the floor right to left, left to right for wet spots, brown spots, weird spots–just…spots! And if there IS a snake in there, I’ll see that too.
What kind of messed up human being puts their coat on the floor 12 inches from a public toilet? Do YOU do this? If I’m offending you, if you’re face is growing red with indignation and you’re thinking: what an ass! This guy doesn’t realize that it’s common to throw your coat down on public restroom floors, then please stop reading because I don’t want you to feel bad. I’m going to continue in my belief that it’s not a common practice.
I washed my hands for a full 40 seconds, twice the necessary time, because I couldn’t take my eyes off that blue coat. My hands were squeaky clean yet I moved them in a circle under the spigot to trigger the sensor. More water, please! I’m still washing here!
I pictured a dirty, dirty man, unshaven, wearing wrinkled pants. Then I looked down at myself, then into the mirror and realized I had just described myself. So I redrew my picture into an even dirtier man, but one with a tiny, tiny head and short, stubby arms. All of a sudden, my anger dissipated because if the guy looked like that I could understand the whole ordeal.
I pumped the towel machine, ripped 18 inches of paper , dried off and looked over there again at those Reeboks. Any empathy had disappeared. I thought: this guy doesn’t have a tiny head; this guy is a sociopath! I’ve been in there, I know there’s a hook on the back of the door; why didn’t this cretin use the gosh darn hook?
I have used the hook. Let’s call it the “keep your coat from touching poo” hook. If–Jesus help me–my coat ever fell from that hook my body would spasm with disgust. I know what goes on in there and I know that this world is full of dirty men with normal sized heads who care not about leaving messes for their cleaner brothers.
Okay, I’m outta here! Obviously, this guy wasn’t going to end his “coat on the floor session” until the room was empty. I used the towel to open the door. I paused at the water fountain right outside thinking I could hydrate for several minutes and wait to see this guy, but drinking fountains that close to the restrooms freak me out a little, so I just went back to my table and sat down.
Then, whatever groove I had been in before I saw that coat was totally destroyed; I couldn’t concentrate. I sat there a mess, scanning the place for men of all head sizes wearing blue, poo-stained coats and dirty white Reeboks. No luck. I decided that he must have just wandered in off the streets–an escaped lunatic!–and ended up in a bookstore. He probably didn’t know that these rectangular things with scribbles of ink were called “books.”
I hate my mind sometimes.