Sun, Feb

My Beef With The ‘John’ At Work. Image credit - American standard

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Personally, I don’t engage in the rushed entry business as it is disrespectful in my opinion. How do you relate to a colleague once you conclude that their shit smells bad? Interestingly, ...

I have for a while now come to the somber realization and conclusion that there are quite a few number of people whose behavior around the workplace John need to be readjusted. Either that, or they just have olfactory bearings in serious need of realignment.

Basically, my grind takes me to several different buildings in different parts of town daily. And, although these buildings are all designed and built differently, they tend to have one thing in common; that is the availability of ‘one-room’ unisex Johns advantageously positioned at the end of every hallway on almost every level of the building to make nature’s call a breeze.

These Johns are well taken care of and attended to by a dedicated staff whose sole task at every given minute is to ensure that they have toilet rolls, paper towels, and all the other necessities to make a trip in there as comfortable as possible. In fact, these Johns do not and have never thirsted for water for the ‘flushing business’ no matter how high up they are on the building. These pots are largely kept clean on the inside and on the outside, there are no yellow gallons or buckets etc. with water to help one bring his/her business with nature to a successful conclusion.

Despite the well-kept nature of these Johns, I have over the course of time developed some level of discomfort using them, mainly because of the way some handle their business in there, and because of the scary boldness with which some enter, with complete disregard for whether the person ahead of them performed heavy duty (number two) or light duty (number one) or a combination of number one and two.

I mean, is it not scary entering the John immediately after someone exits it, especially a transplant who has a great fixation for Ghanaian dishes and is well known at the local Africa Grocery store, without knowing the nature of the business that was just concluded? I am always horrified when I come out and find someone waiting in the corridor for his/her turn. It gets scarier still when this individual rush past me right after I come out without due respect for my just concluded business, especially in the case of number two. The perplexing part is why they just refused to move on to an empty stall around the corner. I don’t stink the joint up that badly, but then, who thinks poop has a pleasant smell to treat it with irreverence?

Personally, I don’t engage in the rushed entry business as it is disrespectful in my opinion. How do you relate to a colleague once you conclude that their shit smells bad? Interestingly, a colleague once told me: “Never go in after Mr. X, his stuff smells really bad.” My immediate impulse was to ask him if ‘number two’ is supposed to smell nice, and why he went in immediately after Mr. X, but I punted.

Anyway, I have settled for ‘stall/john shopping’, that is, looking for empty stalls elsewhere and taking a good sample of the air quality before making my entry decision. Also, in cases of a number two performance, it is always a good thing to give it an extra five minutes or so before exiting, as the air usually stabilizes to some degree of normalcy after that.

Timing, according to another colleague, who like me, has some jitters about this ‘toilet etiquette’ thing at work, is everything. He has maintained a log for a while now and has an excellent idea of the peak and down times. Very smooth on his part!

Of course, my toiletry taste has since improved from those days when it was considered a blessing as a boarding student in secondary school in Ghana to have water run non-stop for a full day for the flush toilets, and to have a functioning pit latrine for backup.

Encounters with moving rice (white worms), the foul stink, and unending stories of endurance from visits to the pit latrine back then were legendary. But we all got used to it, especially on cool breezy mornings, when the wind was unkind enough to blow whiffs the wrong way. Interestingly, I always wondered how bad it will be should the smell from the boy’s end collide with that of the girls as it was a mixed institution.

Trekking back to my university days in Ghana, I have painful memories of days when things went awry because of water outages/shortage, custodial staffers going on strike for increased pay etc. and leaving the situation to sort itself out. On the bright side, these experiences kind of steel your nerves and nostrils for the small things that I am complaining about.

In my mini-me castle, I am thankful for my cloistered John from which everyone is barred at the peril of being tasked with cleaning it for at least three months.

Back to the John at work, men leaving the seat up after peeing, adults cleaning their bottoms with the seat down and leaving a fine dusting on it, people flushing just once, as though the water is being rationed and leaving glaring colored streaks in the pot and a few other issues bother me deeply.

Perhaps, I will write about that one day if I can find the right words. For now, my hope is to ask the ‘Big Boss’ who runs the show how I can have my own cloistered John like his at work from which everyone is barred or I will dare to be bold enough, capture a John, and broadside it with the inscription – For Kekeli’s Sole Use, Keep Out.

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