Frivolous Monsters

Toilet Tales 03

Friday, market day, and so in amongst the coach-loads of visiting pensioners to our World-famous market I was compelled, once again, to become the Costa Coffee toilet monitor.

Executive washroom membership card. Admit one.

Executive washroom membership card. Admit one.

I’ve imagined some weird things going on in that toilet in my time having once seen a wiry-looking trendy girl walk in through the front door, chatting away loudly on her phone, and mouth to the staff that she just wanted to use the facilities. They waved her on politely, which wasn’t in any way a given as I squirmed uncomfortably on a daily basis when the staff set about intercepting an ancient old crone who shuffled in for exactly the same reason; but as I watched trendy all the way in I questioned whether she was really going to take her phone conversation in with her. She did. It was a full five minutes later before she emerged and I was delighted to see that she was still going, chatting away ten to the dozen, and I don’t know what she was doing in there for all that time but I can only imagine that it must have been a rip-roaring tale of aural discovery for whoever was on the other end of the line. On another occasion I saw a couple of girls go pop in together, without hesitation, and as this is a single all-purpose disabled toilet my mind just cannot fathom the etiquette involved. I can’t imagine, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried.

Today there was a new Barista in training who was very smartly dressed with expensive-looking shoes although for all his professional appearance he did seem to struggle to clean this solitary toilet as he refused to lock the door whilst he did it and so had a constant parade of people walking in on him, much to their surprise, before they hastily exited to wait until he’d finished. The tables were then turned on him when an old gent pitched up who, it seems, wasn’t too fussy as despite the intimate company he let the door slam shut behind him before pulling out his own “old gent” and setting about his business. Now I’m not saying that this new coffee shop employee sprang alarmed from the cubicle, arms waving like an alarmed and panicked wide-eyed cartoon character, but you weren’t there and so you can’t say that he didn’t.

The barista later returned to finish the cleaning and then, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw him buffing the door lock when he’d finished which I thought was being very thorough. When a customer appeared he tried to explain something to her which, with his unusual accent, sounded like it contained the word “slippery”; however, during a second attempt, it became clear to both this woman and me that there was someone in there already. He then departed, leaving us both together, and so the wait began. A queue started to form and the woman started to grow impatient. Soon I found myself having to try and mollify haranguing women with bulging bladders, before they started to accuse me of working there, and eventually I had to flag down a real member of staff, as even I’d grown suspicious, and when they unlocked the door it swung open to reveal to us all nothing more than a yellow slippery floor sign barring our way and the lights turned off.

The queues around me were exacerbated then but even on a good day they build up to give me company because, due to constrictions of space, Costa only has one large toilet, about the size of a semidetached box room if you were to remove the wardrobe, and so it’s kitted out for disabled people, babies, and everyone else besides. It means therefore that everything is very low down although this still can’t explain why, for some odd reason, they have a long mirror positioned so that you’re only visible when you’re sitting on the throne and thus it’s always a shocking and disturbing image to be suddenly confronted with yourself from that angle.

Now I’m certainly not saying that this toilet isn’t cleaned regularly, I must have witnessed them cleaning it many hundreds of times, but I did once go in and find an abandoned urinary catheter in the kidney shaped sink. Without hesitation I picked it up immediately, hoping that it was a pregnancy test, although upon being disillusioned of this notion I put it down a hell of a lot quicker than I picked it up.

You may wonder why I’d delight in handling abandoned personal items, which had once clearly been in contact with strangers’ urine, but I’m always looking for the story and also not the sort of person where pregnancy tests have ever come into my sphere of experience, even though I must know loads of people who’ve used them, so to potentially find one, with a result, from some random woman, where the person involved has stooped through desperation to using it in the coffee shop public toilet and then and there discovered a life-changing revelation, before having to traipse out past the rest of us… Now, that’s a story.

If it makes you feel better it was jammed back in the wrapper, before being left being the taps, so I was safe. If it was a pregnancy test though I would have pulled it out for sure hoping the result was still visible. Because obviously that’s the sort of guy I am.

On another occasion, just after the being scrubbed within an inch of its life, I witnessed the old shuffling woman evade all detection and weave her way through the table layout like a slalom skier to make it to the toilet successfully. Mission accomplished. Straight after this a young brunette mother went in with her baby, to use the changing facilities, and exited hastily thirty seconds later declaring that she certainly wasn’t going to take a child in there.

I asked the staff on the quiet what the deal was, with the old woman, as I’d previously assumed that they’d been shooing away the ancient scuttling husk to maintain the notion of some-sort of customer-privilege, like an executive washroom, but it was not as I had imagined; not as I imagined at all, as it had something more to do with the fact that she regularly smeared her excrement up the walls.

That day I gave my usual visit a miss before I went on the way home.


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6 thoughts on “Toilet Tales 03

  1. I must say, you seem to have taken ‘people watching’ to a whole new level!
    Girls going in to a toilet together has always been a mystery to me too – even though I am a ‘girl’. In my experience, it’s because they are chatting and, rather than stop chatting, they go in together so they can continue their conversation. Probably nothing like your imaginings, sorry.

    • All I know is that men would never do this. We just wouldn’t. I wouldn’t know where to look. I’m just sorry you’re not in with the big secret! In my mind, they only way I can fathom it, is that they went in and got changed. They may have been older school girls in uniform still and come out dressed differently. I think that explanation is the only way the world still makes some sort of sense to me.

  2. Aha – so Friday is market day and not a full moon?? To go all Oscar Wilde ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’ – I guess no stars to gaze at sitting in the back corner of Costa just the antics of an elderly, probably senile old lady. In truth I suspect Oscar Wilde and his characters found gazing at earthbound people considerably more fascinating and diverse than the stars!

    • I’m afraid there’s no windows at the back. No stars. Only crazy characters. But I have to say that I’ve seen enough of that woman to say that she doesn’t seem senile at all. I once heard her complaining when they were turfing her out, and used to see her hanging around the shopping centre every day with her husband, so I really cannot explain her actions. Saying all that I haven’t seen her for a good while so do wonder.

  3. I like the idea of a story behind the pregnancy test. 🙂
    I used to work restocking the health and beauty isle in a supermarket overnight where people purchased pregnancy tests and condoms with varying levels of embarrassment. I lost count of the number of young lads who bought cough sweets when offered help to find what they wanted.
    After a while you learn to read the signs and just direct them to the condoms before they have to ask.
    I must say though, speaking as a mother of three post-teenage girls, I would much rather direct a young man to the condoms today than be pointing out the pregnancy tests to him in a month or so’s time. 🙂

    • I’ve still never found a pregnancy test. Another enigmatic secret which women have. And buying condoms is nervy and the last time I remember buying them (for what good it did me) I went to the chemist down the road, but as my Mum worked in the doctors next door I had to make sure it was on a day when she wasn’t working. Just in case.

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