True story: I went to the bathroom today at work, took care of my business at the urinal and proceeded to the sink to do the obligatory hand wash. For the record, at this point my hands are basically clean. We have infrared urinals in the office that flush automatically, so I haven’t touched the toilet. Granted, I have briefly handled my genitals, but I don’t really consider that act in itself to be unsanitary.
After all, I take pride in keeping my genitals in immaculate condition. Hell, you could eat off it if you had to. But that is a different post altogether. The point is, regardless of my personal assessment of the cleanliness of my hands, society dictates that I give them a courtesy wash after using the office restroom, even if it is totally insincere.
Naturally, I oblige. Here’s where this story takes a turn: There is no soap. Both dispensers have been ripped out of the wall. At a moment like this, multiple thoughts ran through my head:
- First off, I thought, it sure is odd to steal two liquid soap dispensers. As far as stealing office supplies goes, this has got to be an unconventional theft. Or was it a theft? Taking soap dispensers could really be considered more of a prank, right? It is a fine line. It’s not like these dispensers have a street value, as I doubt one could feed a family or support a drug habit by pawning two liquid soap dispensers. On the other hand, stealing all the toilet paper would definitely be a prank… as there is a definite humor opportunity at someone else’s misfortune. I’m not sure if taking the soap has the same effect. Anyway, I wrestled with the distinction of prank vs. theft for awhile, and then it occurred to me that this could really be an experiment. Perhaps someone has planned a sociological experiment to see how people would react if there was no soap in the bathroom. Maybe this is all being secretly filmed, on a show like Candid Camera. Ultimately, I decided that was unlikely. Seriously, all of these thoughts ran through my head. Then, I realized I had about a half-dozen issues of much larger concern with the missing soap dispensers.
- For starters, these dispensers weren’t easy to steal. They were bolted to the wall. If these aren’t safe, what about the bobbleheads and Star Wars figures at my desk? Then I remembered I played with them earlier in the day (sigh of relief).
- Next, I was thankful that nobody else was in the bathroom with me. Truthfully, I’m always thankful for this. But today, even more so. I was fortunate that all my business was conducted at an infrared urinal, and a hand washing wasn’t critical. If there were witnesses present, I might otherwise have been forced into acting like I cared about the lack of soap, or felt disgusted that my hands were unwashed after using the bathroom. In this particular situation, I really wasn’t bothered by it.
- Then, a sickening feeling came over me. It dawned on me that nobody else would be using soap today either. This was a problem. I seriously don’t want to touch anyone or anything for the rest of the day. Starting now, I plan on walking around the office with my hands tucked into my armpits like Mary Catherine Gallagher.
- At some point, probably this afternoon, I will have to go to the bathroom again. Will I walk all the way across the building to the other bathroom, just so I can pretend to care about washing my hands? Will I opt for convenience, and realize I’m not here to impress anyone, and just use the soapless bathroom a short walk from my desk? Or, do I decide that any pretense of office decorum has been destroyed, and just pee in a water bottle at my desk like a trucker? Honestly, all of these ideas have merit.
- Finally, if I had to choose one two-word adjective to sum up my coworkers it would be: “exceptionally lazy”. I guarantee most of the men in my quadrant will have no qualms about forgoing a hand washing if it would potentially save a trip across the building. That’s a given. However, the real debate is over how long it will take to get the soap situation rectified. Someone will have to take the initiative to email the maintenance director or notify the janitorial service. Sounds simple, but this would mean summoning an ounce of productivity. Therefore, I think the over/under before we get soap in the bathroom again is 8 weeks. Place your wagers. (And to be fair, and to not influence the outcome, I will limit my contribution to fixing the soap problem to this post.)
Shaking my head, I shuddered at the prospects for the rest of the day. I ran my hands under some water, and called it good. At least I get to work from home tomorrow, and nobody cares if I wash my hands there.