With My Head In the Clouds…

The attendants at the garage where I park my van are always gracious when I show up with that expectant look on my face. It’s not because I love my car. Prostate cancer treatment has perhaps forever altered my bladder management, so before I head out, I routinely ask to use the little concrete-block enclosure that sits behind the pay-station in the basement of the apartment house where I stow my wheels. Little do the boys know, though, of my ulterior motive: their outhouse contains one of the strangest signs I’ve ever seen.

A row of hooks adorns one wall of the 4’ X 8’ space. On them the employees stow their street clothes and jackets, all items of value having been carefully transferred to their uniform pockets. A large chipped mirror hangs above the single toilet. There’s no room for it above the tiny bar-sink nearby where one washes one’s hands. The light switch lacks its cover. I always wonder when I’m going to electrocute myself because of the lack of paper towels with which to dry my hands. “Damp jeans are better than 120 volts up the arm,” I think to myself, as I do the right thing at the end of my business.

The instructions that confront me, though, upon unzipping my fly, still take the cake. There on a large yellow sign are black block capitals, telling the uninitiated in no uncertain terms the house rules:


What in God’s name could the author possibly, everly have had in mind? What exactly does one DO when one stands on a toilet bowl? We’re not talking peeping Toms here: there are no other stalls nor any windows in this little water closet. No one to look at, nothing to see. The mirror above the toilet is at eye level for a modest sized Labrador retriever. So we’re not talking personal grooming. In many parts of the globe, particularly those from which the majority of the garage attendants hail, one finds a form of public accommodations that my older daughter christened “Mister Squatty-Man” when she traveled to Japan as a 13-year old. But you use those with your feet firmly planted on terra firma, not suspended two feet above grade. Perhaps old habits die slow deaths.

The sign may have been imported from another location operated by this particular garage mogul, where these risks and activities were nothing to sneeze at. Cleanliness of employee facilities, as prescribed, is certainly a concern in all workplaces.
I really wonder what gives here, and one day I’ll get up the nerve to ask. Or perhaps maybe I should just try it once: balance myself and stand up there. Maybe I’ll see and feel something different, something I’ve been missing all these years. First I’ll make sure that the dead bolt in the inside of the door is securely fashioned. Then I’ll try it and set off the motion alarm…

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