I can’t just listen to instructions like a normal person. No, that would be too easy. And it would deprive me of that one-of-a-kind heart attack you can only get from realizing you’ve gotten yourself into an irreparably awkward situation.
So it started with a kind of hilarious memo my boss sent out at work a couple weeks ago (yes, it was so funny that I kept it):
I am sorry to have to request this but until we supplement the exhaust system for adequate capacity in the second floor toilets, please utilize the first floor toilets for #2. We are looking to add new separate exhaust unit to get the proper air movement.
Basically, if you have to poop, you must go downstairs to do so. Only there’s really no other reason to go downstairs, so it’s a bit awkward if anybody catches you at it. Worst of all is when you pass someone else leaving/coming to the downstairs bathroom. You must absolutely never, EVER, make eye contact with this person.
At any rate, the important preface to this story is that we’re not supposed to poo in the upstairs bathroom. Also you need to know that our building is not quite finished yet (trust me, if we had been building the office for anyone but ourselves, it would have been finished ages ago), so there are random construction guys around all the time keeping us entertained with a variety of exciting loud noises.
This morning, I was the third person to the office— I’m always a half hour early to make up for sneaking out to CrossFit in the afternoon. When I got there, I was immediately accosted by one of the other two employees who warned me that the building’s water was turned off momentarily. There was some sort of construction reason for this, but it was too early for me to actually focus on this non-essential element of the conversation.
He said he wanted to let me know in case, you know, I tried to use the sink or anything. But I knew what he was really trying to say: “You can’t flush the toilet.”
I immediately had a desperate need to use the bathroom. Desperate, I tell you. It was very distracting; I was having a tough time getting any work done. But I resisted. For a little while. Until eight o’ clock. Byron had said that the water would be back on by the time everyone else got in at eight o’ clock. So at that precise moment, I popped up from my desk and booked it downstairs for a nice poo.
But alas, a half dozen construction guys had congregated RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BATHROOMS. I went back upstairs with the devious intention of doing the forbidden #2 in the upstairs bathroom. (I feel no guilt because, as there are only three women in the entire office, I think the fumes in the guys’ room are probably what prompted the memo.) Why I didn’t test the water in the sink first, will forever remain an unsolved mystery to me. But when I tried to flush the toilet, no luck. Nothing happened. Damn.
What exactly does one do in this situation? Well, I have no idea what the appropriate course of action would have been, but what I did was just to hang out in the bathroom so no one else could get in there. I was dreadfully worried someone was going to notice that the bathroom door had been closed forever and decide it was locked by accident (because, of course, nobody could possibly actually BE in the bathroom for so long) and try to get in.
My head was filled with dreadful scenarios that involved some sort of permanent damage to the building water system that would take HOURS to fix. They couldn’t have that though, I told myself, be rational. A whole office full of people can’t survive all day without water. But what if they sent everybody home because of it, and I was stuck camping out in the bathroom ALL DAY? The other option would be to just fess up and admit that I had illegally pooped in the upstairs bathroom, but that seemed like an even less appealing alternative. So I lurked, and tried the faucet obsessively, and admired my pimples in the mirror, and wondered if I was ever going to be able to leave that bathroom again.
Longest 20 minutes of my life.