Toilet Tales 05
As a local writer of no celebrity and even less fortune I naturally dine at the finest tables and hang out at the trendiest scenes. And by that I, of course, mean the library reading room and the lowliest possible table in Costa Coffee outside the toilet door where no-one ever wants to sit. But by frequenting these locations it does put me in the sphere of influence of certain local characters.
One of the problems sitting outside the solitary all-purpose Costa toilet is that when a second customer turns up and finds it engaged they have to hang around me in my little alcove with an embarrassed silence and neither of us trying to make eye contact.
On one occasion I found that some woman had the temerity to ask me if I was the toilet monitor, when I told her it was occupied, however I only kept piping up when someone new appeared partly to alleviate user-disappointment, but mainly because I was fed up of everyone ignoring the red engaged sign and just rattling the door handle repeatedly until they realised that it wouldn’t open.
One such person who ended up queuing in my vicinity was a large angry-looking guy who stood about impatiently waiting to go in, all pent up an ready to snap, and so it made interesting viewing to juxtapose him with the doddery northern pensioner who ambled up behind him whose opening gambit on joining the queue was: “Is somebody in there, cock?” before soon as he carried on speaking it was soon “cock” this, and “cock” that, as he threw “cock” about with gay abandon like only elderly northerners can.
I asked the old man if he wanted me to move my coat and bag off the chair they were on, so he could sit down at my table whilst he waited, and he said: “No, it’s alright, love, I’ll just stand here, love”. There’s truly something wonderful about the language how someone can unselfconsciously bandy that sort of stuff about in this day and age.
Another such logjam led to some young mother ask me if it would be “too gross” for me if she just went ahead, and changed her baby right in front of me on a chair, instead of waiting to use the baby changing facilities which lay within. I had no problem as it was a hot day and the air conditioning had packed in so I was sure that it would all just add to the coffee shop ambience or, on that day, the general funk.
And then, sat minding my own large takeaway coffee, a large woman came up to me and asked if I worked there because she wanted to offload some absurd complaint about a wet floor which she began outlining before I was able to open my mouth and say “No”. Upon discovering that I wasn’t the super-manager, willing and eager to bend over backwards to accommodate her every whim, she wondered off, affronted, muttering: “Well, you’re always in here”.
She was right, I was always in there, I should have been on the minimum wage, at least.
Soon after this the manager came past and paused to question the peculiar smell. I pleaded ignorance and kept my mouth shut.