It may just be a popular meme, but with the utter
dependence on love of our smart phones, I doubt that’s the case. So, I feel I can say with some degree of certainty that I may be one of only 93 people in the modern world who doesn’t bring my phone with me to the bathroom. And that’s worked out nicely so far, especially since I’ve never had to resurrect my phone after it was accidentally sacrificed to the porcelain god…though I’ve heard plenty of horror stories.
Well, I learned an important lesson recently: it’s actually not that bad of an idea to bring a phone with you into the restroom at work.
And yes, everything you are about to read actually happened.
It was only the mid-morning of my work day, and everything was plodding along as usual. After a couple cups of coffee and a bit of water, I heard nature calling, and decided the call shouldn’t go to voicemail.
Before anyone panics at where this may be headed, please don’t fret, it was only #1…and that’s as far as I will go about bodily functions for the rest of this post.
Leaving my office suite, I headed into the hallway and made the short journey to the floor’s public restroom. As a point of emphasis, the restrooms are always locked. My office is smack-dab in the middle of a mall, and even though we’re on the 5th floor of an eight story professional building, tenants fret about regular mall shoppers clogging up the restrooms (take that any way you wish) and feel only employees and customers/patients should have access to those facilities.
Anyway, after finishing with the natural course of things, I washed my hands and turned toward the door to leave. It was then that I felt something was off. It was imperceptible at first, but before the realization fully formed in my mind, a sense of dread filled my soul. I had reached for the handle, but only grasped air.
The handle was missing.
That’s right, no handle. It was a commercial, steel door, so there wasn’t even any hole revealing the inner-workings of the knob mechanism…just a metal nub of a spindle. And my non-wrench fingers were unable to rotate that spindle to disengage the latch. Sans pliers or vice grips, I was stuck.
I searched frantically all over the restroom for the missing handle. Now, the restroom is very much the opposite of a Where’s Waldo, so the hiding possibilities were limited to the narrow trash bin, the sink, or somewhere on the floor. But there was nothing to be found.
And so I stood back silently. Small beads of sweat started to appear on my forehead as I ruminated on my embarrassing situation. Thankfully I’m not claustrophobic, but I felt a tremendous sense of uneasiness.
I decided the best course of action would be to bang on the door. So I did. It started as a gentle knock and gradually built up to the fury a rock and roll drummer on an epic solo. Surely this would catch someone’s attention in the hallway who could go get a key, or at the very least, a janitor. But no, the hallway had become some barren wasteland. If I was part of a sitcom, not even crickets would be heard in the background.
Ok then, I thought to myself, now what?
I guess there was nothing to do but patiently wait. Undoubtedly someone will need to use the bathroom in the next few minutes. Right?
Wrong. For close to 15 minutes I stood there like an imbecile, locked in this solitary confinement. And yeah, I know this time is accurate because I counted it. Tallying all those “Mississippi’s” helped me to keep my composure.
Hmmm, this is rather surreal. Next plan I guess.
I stood and pondered further. The steel grate/vent on the bottom of the door would be too sturdy to just kick out. Besides, even if I did kick it out, I probably wouldn’t be able to squeeze through.
Oh, I know, maybe I can use my fingernails to unscrew the faceplate and get to the inner workings of the handle mechanism.
I contemplated crying. While fighting that urge, I looked up.
The restroom has an eight foot ceiling. I figured if I could climb onto the sink counter and reach up beyond the drop-down ceiling tiles, then maybe I could Mission Impossible my way into the rafters, crawl across the ceiling tiles, and drop down into the hallway.
I clambered up onto the counter and investigated the tiles. There were lights right at the junction of the wall and ceiling, so electrical wires and support pieces would be right next to that; so I would have to branch further out. But then I saw that nothing was really supporting the tiles except for a few pieces of flimsy metal and realized that if even a five pound weight was placed on the tiles, everything would collapse immediately. Since I weigh significantly more than five pounds, that plan was scrapped.
Then, like a child on Christmas morning, I was filled with excitement. Emanating through the door grate, I heard the sound of people talking to each other from somewhere in the hall. I immediately pounded and yelled “hey!!!” However, they either didn’t hear my commotion or didn’t want to get involved with some caged bear howling from the restroom. The ding of the elevator bell soon sounded as it ushered them to another part of the building. Everything was quiet again.
I began to wonder what would become of me at this rate. Surely, I had enough water to survive. But if I’m gone for too long and my family calls the police, would anyone search the work restroom? What would the papers say if they did?
At this moment, the elevator sounded again and I heard keys jingling nearby. I began my pleas for help again. The keys held in the hand of this unknown person went silent. And thankfully, this time there was a response.
“Hello?” said the voice.
“Uh, hey, yeah, can you open the door? I’m locked inside.”
“Oh, the handle’s been loose lately and sometimes fall off” he says nonchalantly. “Just pick it up, place it on the spindle, and you can open it like normal.”
“There’s no handle. I looked.”
He replies, “There’s gotta be one. Where would it have gone?”
How in the hell should I know? I angrily think to myself. Besides, it’s irrelevant to my predicament. Composing myself, I diplomatically say, “I don’t know, but there’s nothing in here. Can you just please open the door?”
A pause. It probably only lasted a second or two, but seemed like a lifetime for me. I don’t know if he was searching for some hidden camera show crew nearby or what, but he finally said, “Sure. Hang on a sec.”
I waited ever so patiently as he came back with his restroom key. I could hear the key begin to enter the lock, and never has the sound of metal clinking against metal sounded so wonderful. The latch clicked, and the door began to open. I had been set free.
After thanking my rescuer, I headed to the elevator. Giving the management office a piece of my mind was now the sole purpose of my life, missed work be damned.
Determined and on a mission, I stomped out of the elevator doors as I reached the concourse level. Immediately, the scents of the building’s deli reached my nose and I began to think how nice it would be to stop for a sandwich and some coffee.
Focus. Coffee later, there’s a task at hand!
Continuing unabated, I arrived at the management office. Grabbing the handle (the first I’ve touched in quite some time), I felt myself being completely taken over by Bruce Banner’s alter ego and forcefully opened the door. The building manager was standing near the reception desk and without having fully formed my thoughts, I unleashed fury and vitriol upon his head.
As the storm of my wrath poured down, I observed something. It wasn’t his skin boiling away or fear for his life. It wasn’t even compassion or understanding. No, I could see him holding back a smirk that was trying to appear on his stupid face.
Honestly, looking back on the situation, I would probably be laughing at the absurdness of someone stuck in a restroom too. But dammit, this injustice will not stand! So I continued my verbal onslaught.
When I concluded my rant, he simply replied, “We’ll have someone replace the handle immediately.”
In that instant, I knew that was the only legitimate response to my diatribe. But I desperately wanted more and my mind raced for alternatives that would satisfy me. None emerged. And so, I acknowledged the solution and said, “Well……you do that” to him as I cringed internally from such a dopey retort.
I slunk away from the the management office, feeling rather dispirited since the confrontation failed in pretty much every way I imagined it in my mind. However, I was quickly embraced by familiar, delectable aromas. On autopilot, I strolled into the concourse deli, shelving my emotional baggage from the restroom plight as I walked through the door.
Ordering a panini and a coffee to soothe my wounds, I sat down to enjoy some much needed respite. The sandwich was tranquilizing and I knew once the coffee cooled a bit, it would complete the revitalization needed to continue my work day.
Reflecting on recent events, I figured that maybe I shouldn’t have such a stigma about bringing a phone into the restroom. I mean, I wouldn’t have to take it out of my pocket, and it could actually come in handy one day again.