I, Too, Have a Wide Stance

No, this post is not about sex in airport restrooms. (Although I promise if I ever have sex in an airport bathroom, you’ll read about it here.) It is, however, about a public restroom, and as such, this post involves a bit of unpleasantness. Fair warning – the men’s room at my office is the subject of today’s post. (On the other hand, there are no politicians mentioned here, so that should balance out the “ick” factor.)

 The building I work in is nice. It’s a nice office in a nice area, surrounded by nice landscaping and full of nice furnishings, and populated by nice people. It is a pleasant place, a harmless place. A place I am proud to walk into every weekday morning.

There is, however, one dank and dismal corner of this otherwise fine building that threatens homeland security and undermines the sanctity of corporate America, and that corner is the men’s room on the 2nd floor.

The room itself is decorated in a color that is probably known by designers by some foofy-sounding name like “Moroccan Sand” or “Desert Mirage”, but is more suitably tagged as “Business Drab”:  beige tiles and beige-toned granite with beige paint on the walls. Still, the light fixtures are recesssed, the sinks feature high-end automatic faucets, the stalls have toilets with pressurized, eardrum-splitting flushers, and the urinals are sleek and stylish porcelain-and-chrome wall-mounted receptacles.

Or at least, they are intended to be receptacles.

The floor beneath the urinals is what’s causing the disturbance in The Force. This space should be displayed in the dictionary next to the word “foul”. The beige floor tiles are coated with (I warned you about this) layers of urine that are weeks –if not months–old.

If you took a picture of a Rorschach ink blot with an old-school camera, took the pictures to the one-hour photo, went next door to get a gelato, then got the photos back an hour later and opened the envelope and took out the negative of the Rorschach ink blot photo, then blew up the negative to 3′ x 6′ size and put it on the floor so that the negative image of the black ink blots was instead shown as whitish-transparent blots – THAT would approximate the look of the floor beneath the  urinals in the men’s room of Suite 200.

I could pin the blame on the men using the facilities. Sure, there’s truth to the old saying, “No matter how much you jiggle and dance, the last few drops end up in your pants” – meaning not all of it gets where it’s meant to go. But the saying says “your pants”. It doesn’t say, “If your willy is oozing and sore, the last few drops end up on the floor” — NOBODY is looking for the floor to be soiled by your wild wiggling. So yes, I could be directing this at the careless men who –like dogs emerging from a bathtub– habitually shake themselves dry, thereby spraying everything around with droplets.

The focus of my disdain, though, is the building’s owners, and the  practitioners of the custodial arts that service Suite 200. I see the cleaning crew on nights when I’m at the office late – they come in after most everyone else has gone, and they go from room to room emptying trash, wiping down surfaces, vacuuming the floors — so I know they exist, and I know they are working. They just aren’t working on the bathroom floor.

And one would think that for all the money the owners of our building make (and trust me, this company is massive and far-reaching, with no shortage of cash and with such influence that I refuse to name them here for fear of ending up in a shallow grave in the desert) from exorbitant rents in this area of Orange County, they could at least afford to supply the cleaning crew with some high-tech janitorial equipment like a MOP AND BUCKET.

I am convinced the men’s room floor has not seen a mop since mid-2009. And while the custodial crew are very much on top of it when it comes to re-stocking the paper supplies in the restrooms, none of them seems to mind that their lack of mopping has turned the men’s room floor into a thriving shrine to filth. It is so bad that when I step up to the porcelain portal, I have to place my feet a whole yard apart to avoid standing in the remnants of pee-challenged men. So basically, when I go, I’ve got the stance of a gunslinger in an old West bordertown.

I heard a co-worker complaining to the receptionist about it the other day. He used words like “disgusting” and “gross” and “ewww”, and the receptionist nodded sympathetically and said “I’ll let them know”, but I knew nothing would come from it. The receptionist is a woman – she can’t appreciate the idea of standing in another man’s urine. (Or maybe she can, I don’t know how she spends her “off time”, and I’m not here to judge.)

I would never defend a lowlife politician who gets busted for illicit sex in an airport men’s room and flat-out denies it. But I am saying that the defense of “I have a wide stance” should not be discounted entirely. There are reasons a wide stance is necessary. I’ve seen what ends up on the floors of the men’s room, and I gotta say I’d do whatever I could* to avoid putting my shoe in it.

(*Note: “whatever I could” does not include soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. Just so we’re clear on that.)

Now Cheer This

Today I saw a sign at a high school that advertised a “Cheer Clinic”.

A cheer clinic – a workshop where students can get together to develop their cheering abilities.

Really? Is a “clinic” needed for cheering? They already have cheerleading practice – where the students get together to work on their cheers and cheer-related activities, like hyper-competitiveness and haughty judgmentalism. Is practice not enough? Is the art of cheer such that one cannot develop the skills necessary to perform adequately through routine practice alone? A specialized day of training is needed?

Aren’t we just talking about shouting out scripted words at the same time we’re moving our feet and our hands & arms to a specified rhythm? Isn’t regular practice sufficient for this?

I was going to mention the common goal of cheering for the school’s team, but now I’m wondering – has “cheer” risen to its own level of importance where the participants no longer lead cheers for the game events, but compete against each other as displayed in “Bring It On” and other equally inane films? If the cheerleaders are busy competing against each other, who is rooting for the teams? Where are the athletic supporters? (insert rim shot here)

I admit it’s been a while since I’ve attended a high school sporting event and even longer since I cared, but what I recall about cheerleaders is that they contributed a fat lot of nothin’ to the team’s chances of winning or losing. They were human busywork, shuffling and bouncing and yelling at the bottom of my peripheral vision as I tried to watch the game at hand. I never really got their purpose, but I figured their usefulness (or lack thereof) would eventually be recognized and the practice would die out over time, like spanking students in public schools. I never really questioned anything about cheerleading – until today, when I saw the advertisement for a cheer clinic.

If there are people out there who insist on providing continued training for cheerleaders, it will only encourage the practice to continue. Cheerleading is the stray dog of school activities: if you feed it, it’s just gonna keep coming around.

Smile – You’re on Camera

That’s the sign posted in the window of the townhome across the courtyard from me – “smile, you’re on camera”.

It’s a second-floor window, and there is no video device visibly evident on the outside – the only indicator of photography is the sign, which is a bright, cheerful yellow and even has a smiley face on it. There is nothing ominous or threatening in the appearance of the sign, and yet it has continued to capture my attention in the way that a pebble in my shoe might – I can’t quite forget it is there.

What is the purpose of the sign? Is the resident videotaping the goings-on around his townhouse for security purposes and posting it there for some legal/liability requirement? Is it fulfilling some voyeuristic thrill to get people to look up at the yellow square and thereby be caught on video looking up with the confused expression of someone searching for the source of the voice that called their name? Or is it a simple social experiment, to see how many people will respond – and of those, how many will actually smile?

If I’m being photographed, this neighbor likely has several images of me with a quizzical look on my face, though more recent shots would show less paranoid apprehension as I’ve become more accustomed to the idea of being recorded by an unknown and unseen entity. In fact, I’ve lately taken to waving as I pass by this window on my way to the pool. There’s never been any response, any movement, any indication that anyone up there sees me.

I am tempted to knock and find out the story about this sign, but the mystery is kinda fun. And so far I haven’t seen my image used without permission on any voyeur websites.

Not that I, you know, would ever view those websites or anything like that…