I didn’t set out to become a restroom vigilante. No, I was forced into it bit by bit through the actions of a woman who treated the women’s room in our office building as her private office.
It began one day when I went into what I assumed was an empty ladies room. I selected a stall, sat down and began going about my business when suddenly, I heard someone in the stall next to me ask a question. Since I thought I was alone, I was startled by the sound of her voice which caused me to stop peeing midstream while my mind began trying to process what she said…Did she say she needed toilet paper? Should I pass her some under the shared stall wall? I quickly shut those thoughts down and simply said, “What?”
And with that, she began talking again and I realized she wasn’t talking to me at all. She was on her cell phone – on her cell phone in the stall next to me and I had to pee. Suddenly, I felt very put out. Perhaps her mother didn’t teach her proper manners, but mine taught me to be quiet when people are on the telephone. So I tried to finish peeing as quietly as I could. I let it trickle out because I didn’t want to disturb the other woman’s call. Once I was done peeing, I realized that flushing the toilet would be very noisy. So I sat there quietly for a minute or two before realizing that she was in no hurry to end her conversation, so even if it interrupted her call, I needed to flush the toilet because I had to get back to work. So I flushed the toilet and then proceeded to the sink to wash my hands. After washing my hands, I cranked the handle on the old paper towel dispenser slowly to keep down the noise as well. I was very polite.
A day or two later, the same scene played out again. She was in a stall talking on her cell phone. I went about my business as quietly as I could and left her there, still sitting in a stall talking on her phone.
Before too long, I noticed that she was in there every day – sometimes three or four times a day – sitting in a stall, laughing and talking on her cell phone. Soon, as happens in offices everywhere, she became the subject of a lot of
gossip conversation in our small office. And the striking thing was, although no one had actually seen her, almost all of the women in our office had heard her. No one knew who she was but all agreed that her bathroom manners were irksome.
Then one day I timed it just right; I saw her as she exited the stall while I was in ladies room. I had never seen her in the building before. I followed her out of the restroom and saw her get on the elevator. She didn’t work in our office; she didn’t even work on our floor. It quickly became apparent that she was using our ladies room to slack off and hide from her boss. She went into our restroom to chit-chat several times a day and the more it went on, the more annoying it became.
At some point, I stopped trying to be quiet and respectful of her privacy. After all, she didn’t care about my privacy. She didn’t care if her phone friends heard me peeing, or chatting with my co-workers, or flushing the toilet, so why should I? I no longer worried about the noise of the toilet flushing. I no longer cared if the old rickety paper towel dispenser made too much noise. I didn’t care if I laughed and chatted with my friends to the point that she had to speak louder into her phone or tell her friend to speak up because she was having trouble hearing. But none of that deterred her. She kept showing up several times a day to chat on the phone in our ladies room.
Eventually, I not only stopped worrying about the noise that I made in the restroom while she chatted away on her phone, I stepped up my noise making. I became a women’s room warrior. I wanted her to leave. I wanted her to hide somewhere else, a hallway, outside – anywhere but in our ladies room. I just wanted to pee in peace. So I began to flush the toilet two or three times on every visit. Instead of using the noisy old paper towel dispenser, I used the electric hand dryer, a loud old thing that no one actually used because it didn’t do a good job of drying your hands…unless you ran it twice. Which I did.
And still, she showed up every day, multiple times a day. Finally, one day, after flushing the toilet twice, washing my hands and using the electric hand dryer twice, as I exited the restroom, I turned off the lights. There were no windows in that tiled, corporate-looking restroom. As the room went pitch black, I heard her whisper into her phone, “Someone just turned off the lights.”
I left her there in the dark and I laughed as I walked back to my office. After that day, she no longer used the women’s room on our floor as her own personal telephone booth.
So if you’re ever chatting on your cell phone in a public restroom and the lights go out, give me a shout-out and say hi. I’m a restroom vigilante now. And I mean business.
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