I relieved myself today in the Dazbog Coffeehouse at the corner of 9th and Downing. Having walked over an hour on the splendid, greening, crisp spring Denver day, urgency struck. With a snap-pea sized bladder, I was grateful some establishments allowed non-purchasers respite and access to a more civil outlet for bladder release than ducking into an alley or behind clustered evergreens. Having successfully taken hold of the matter, I was enjoying a deep sigh of relief. And that’s when I glanced up and noticed the sign taped to the wall above the tank:
NO PAPER TOWELS
(Please ☺︎ )
Seemingly insignificant at first, I was unsettled by the smiley face staring at my package, currently front and center in a less-than-flattering presentation. My stream of consciousness shifted to the origin of the sign’s request. I thought, does that mean that right in my own neighborhood there’s a rash of bandits stuffing paper towels into public johns? The idea was both odd and disturbing. Considering myself fairly open-minded, I gave my fellow men the benefit of the doubt as to the thinking preceding such heinous acts of defiance. And may I say insensitive?
Stream of thought #1:
“Now that I’ve done my business, and even though there’s a roll of toilet paper behind me on the tank, I’m going to get some paper towels on the opposite side of this large bathroom to finish up. I prefer the rougher scrubbing quality of paper towels versus the less efficient use of the softer, silkier, cushier qualities of traditional toilet paper.” Wipes. Stuffs. Flushes. Water and particles overflow.
Stream of thought #2:
The guy who performs the more recognized act of washing his hands at the sink, then using 11 sheets of paper towel to dry his hands. Fully dry, he examines his options. “Hmmm, how shall I dispose of this unpleasant, dripping mass of towels? I could compact them into a tight soggy clump, put them in my pockets and take them home to dry and recycle…or I could jam them into the toilet and flush repeatedly until they are far enough into the shaft that the next gentleman won’t notice…or I could just toss them into this trashcan right next to me… I’m going for the toilet.”
I felt confused and culpable simply because of my sex. I was also certain that upon exiting the bathroom other guys in the coffeehouse would point and sneer. I exited the bathroom, lowered my eyes, and rehung the key that was connected by string to a soiled ‘whiteish’ spatula; I assumed for theft prevention or mixing pierogi ingredients in the bathroom sink. I walked to the front counter.
“Hi there, can I get you anything?” asked the guy dressed from head-to-toe in Dazbog black.
“Yes, I need some answers.”
“I’d like to know the backstory of the sign above the men’s toilet. You know, the one….”
He grinned and interrupted. “Oh, that. Yeah, we’ve had some problems with the paper towels.”
I’m pissed. “Really? I mean, really? C’mon, is this another Russian ploy to make us look even dumber than we already are?”
Laughs. “You’d be amazed at the shit people do in our bathrooms.”