I’m a naturally shy person. I tend to lurk about, mouth closed, until I get a good read on any new situation I find myself in. For the most part, I keep a low profile.
This shyness translates into a natural modesty as well. I hate changing in the open locker room at the gym. I’m the squirrelly weirdo who nabs a bathroom stall to dress.
And I will always wait for the private shower stall. And yes, I have been late to work because of this.
Even if I have the house to myself, I still go to the bathroom or bedroom to change. No shedding of dirty gardening clothes as I meander through the house.
I don’t eat in the bathroom; I don’t change in the kitchen.
It’s a rule.
And this modesty thing makes me hate public bathrooms for more than the obvious reasons. I go in them only out of absolute necessity. If I think I can hold it the 45 minutes it will take me to get home, I will.
Because people talk in there. Why do people talk in there?
A public bathroom is about the last place I’m going to go if I want to make a new friend. It’s right up there with prison and Klan meeting. And I’d hazard a guess that less than .0000001% of all lifelong friendships began in one.
Please, don’t strike up a conversation.
A simple nod is sufficient, if you really feel the need to acknowledge that we are two human beings occupying the same space. I prefer to think of the other occupants as ghosts, slipping into and out of my reality for a mere moment before being swallowed back up by the ether of anonymity.
The only allowable conversation between strangers in the public arena should come down to these five words: please pass me some tissue. This should be followed by a silent hand off, and a one syllable expression of appreciation. Thanks.
A couple of days ago, I had surgery. On the way out of the hospital, I had to use the restroom. I went in, closed the stall door and attempted to sit without ripping out the abdominal stitches or crying.
“It’s a nice day.”
This was from the stall next to me. I assumed it was a girl talking on the phone. ‘Cause those nutjobs are out there too. Really, you can’t put that thing down long enough to satisfy a basic biological requirement? Are you talking someone through CPR right now?
So I didn’t respond. I was too busy trying not to inhale.
A little foot scuffled toward me under the stall. “Hey. Isn’t it great that it’s finally nice out?” The foot, encased in a red Ked, circled at me.
You have got to be kidding me.
“Mmhmm.” My acknowledgement was high-pitched both due to disbelief and the fact that breathing hurt.
“Do you know what time it is?”
“No.” I didn’t care, I was too busy trying to figure out how to stand up. This was a hospital. Shouldn’t there be help bars on the walls? I eyed the little red “Pull For Assistance” cord in dismay.
Finally, I braced one arm on the toilet paper dispenser and the other on the mini trash receptacle (gross!) and heaved, praying they would bear my weight.
Upright and wishing I had telekinesis to pull my drawers up, I couldn’t help but sigh when she kept talking.
“It’s got to be after one. Do you think it’s two yet?”
Did you just have a baby in the toilet? Are you filling out a frigging birth certificate in there?
Drawers up, I gimped my way to the sink and scrubbed the first three layers of skin off my hands and forearms. She said something else, but the sound of rushing water drowned her out.
But I’m pretty sure she asked if I could pass her some toilet paper.