Let me tell you, the challenges that face a man when going to a toilet rival the British Special Forces entry tests.
I don’t know if the same can be said for the ladies toilet. That’s a different world. It’s not completely alien to a man. It’s like visiting a French speaking African country. Really, it’s a foreign place. You look completely different to the indigenous; you talk completely different, maybe have a different culture and set of belief systems but there is still something that is faintly recognisable, thanks to learning a little French, half-heartedly, for three years at secondary school.
Apart from cubicles and toilets, women’s loos are a different dimension. I don’t know how the laws of logic and physics work in there and I have no intention of finding out.
I’ve had two difficult experiences at work with the toilet in recent weeks. Gone are the days of comfort, relaxation and space that I used to enjoy in the disabled toilet of my last work place. See previous article Why Choose Economy. However, be warned that too much toilet talk, may blow your mind!
The toilets at work consist of a door into the hygeine and vanity suite. Yes, sinks and mirrors. Three sinks but only one hand dryer.
From here there is another door, which leads to the ‘business suite.’ In here we have two urinals on the left and two toilet cubicles on the right. Because it’s behind a door, you never know what you might find. (Interpret that how you wish).
On this day I discovered that there was a guy using the urinal. I always bump into this guy in the toilet. I’ve heard about female colleagues inadvertently aligning their cycles but I appear to have aligned my bowel movements with his. He looks at me as I open the door. A man looking at me with his penis in his hand is not something I will ever get used to. Nor do I wish to get used to it!
It is standard toilet etiquette that if there are three urinals, you use the one at the end. If someone enters after you, they will go to the other end so that there is a gap between you both. If someone then comes in to wee, they go to a cubicle. It’s just the way things are done. As we have only two urinals, my instinct led me to head towards the cubicles but alas, they were both occupied.
I was desperate for a wee so I reluctantly stepped towards the other urinal. I was hoping the other guy was going to finish soon.
Women won’t understand the predicament men face in this scenario. I’m talking about an anxiety that men feel. It defies biological instinct. Yes, my brothers, you know I’m talking about our old elusive enemy, Stage Fright!
This is not something I alone have experienced. Believe me, I have friends who have opened up to me about their harrowing experiences. This is something that many men experience but few are brave enough to talk about it.
I’ve been in clubs before (back in the day when I had hair and used to dance) and I’ve thought I would wait until I’m desperate to go. Then cued for several minutes, slowly making my way up the urinal stream that ebbs and flows along the floor, towards the site of the large urinal which has a dozen blokes standing with legs astride slightly, doing the business. As one finishes, he walks away, the gap is soon filled by the next chap in the queue. Soon it is my turn. My time. Time to step forward, face the urinal and above everything else, just relax.
But standing there, with my beast pointing where it should, my body has now decided that actually, it doesn’t need to piddle at all! Despite only minutes before, feeling like my bladder was about to rupture.
Now you enter the mind game of forcing your body to relax which is in itself a contradiction and counterproductive. Little mantras are spoken in your mind, “Come on. Come on,” or “Release the tigers!” or I’ve even tried, “Chocks away!” It didn’t work. But it’s not as if you can wait and take your time. There are guys waiting behind you. You start to look like you have a serious problem. Besides that, the guys either side of you finished a short time ago and have been replaced by someone else who is already at full flow. They will be aware that you are not pissing. A minute can feel like a lifetime.
So what do you do? I tell you what you do. You shake it, even though it’s bone dry (no pun intended) and then walk out as if you have actually just finished doing the business.
You then go for a walk, do a lap of the club and try again but this time aim for a cubicle. But men know. They look at you as if to say, “You either have a small penis or you suffer from stage fright.” There’s also the look from the freshen up guy. He knows. He saw you in here ten minutes ago, acting badly, pretending to wee.
Damn you freshen up guy! Damn you! I understand you were born somewhere else in the world, maybe even suffered difficult conditions, leaving family behind, you came here looking for opportunity, to honestly earn money to provide for your family and in an ideal world you would be doing something a bit better than wading through piss puddles and breathing in the pungent fumes that come from several hundred drunk men in a continuous flow of pissing piss heads.
But no! Don’t try to force some Carex hand wash into my hands. There’s a perfectly working soap dispenser here already thank you. I know there’s plenty of soap there. No one else is washing his hands! I don’t need paper towel! There’s a hand dryer. No I don’t want some Eau De Toilette. The last time a freshen up guy sprayed some on me, it burnt! It may have been Mace. Somehow, I don’t think you have the adequate public liability insurance. Finally, I don’t want a lollipop. Why would I want to even consider a food source from a place like this. You don’t eat where you shit and how do I know you haven’t dropped one? This could be some sort of sick Russian lollipisspop roulette!!
Luckily, the work toilets don’t have a freshen up guy. But in this moment I did have my synchronised bowel movement brother standing next to me whilst I was trying to concentrate on releasing the tigers. He then decides to make conversation with me.
“How are you getting on?”
I was trying to concentrate. Don’t talk to me, while I’m trying my best to expel the four cups of rank coffee I’ve consumed from the machine this morning! If you do talk whilst at the urinal, there must be at least one free urinal between you. It’s the rules!
So, standing there, with the beast pointing at the porcelain, I turned my head and made eye contact. I maintained what I can only describe as an intense glare. I didn’t blink. We conversed but I have no idea what I was saying because my mind was on other things, namely:
1) It is important that I see that he doesn’t at any point take a sneaky peak at The Beast.
2) It is important that he sees that I at no point take a sneaky peak at his winkle.
3) He has probably noticed in his periphery that I am not urinating.
I have no idea how I got through that conversation or what I said. It may have been noise. Whatever it was, we had an audience in the cubicles. They may have known who I was, but they shall forever have the aura of anonymity that taking a shit can give you.
When he left, after a couple of deep breaths, I released the tigers.
We’re not done yet. The second strange experience came when I had to use one of the cubicles. As I like to call it, “Having A Lie Down.” It’s a nicer way to give your colleagues the same message without the graphic detail.
I entered the cubicle and the one next to me was in use. I followed the usual procedure of wiping the seat; creating a paper throne and then placing a splash back dampner within the toilet itself.
I had been sat there doing my business for a couple of minutes. Then the chap in the cubicle next to me stood up, unlocked the door and walked out. He hadn’t pulled his trousers up, hadn’t even flushed. This led me to deduce that he wasn’t taking a shit at all. He was just on the skive!
Who in his right mind would happily just sit there a mere few inches next to someone who is taking a dump?
I felt violated. I thought we were both on the same team. On a level. But no! He was a shitty imposter!
You may think I’m over-reacting saying I felt violated. But think about this. If you were sat in the comfort of your own toilet at home and you then had to keep your eyes closed while a blind folded stranger entered the toilet and stood several inches away from you and just listened to you crimping one off, are you telling me that wouldn’t bother you?
I’ll leave that lovely image with you to ponder until my next piece of Grumpy high-brow journalism.
Please feel free to leave any advice or strange bathroom experiences of your own below.