You walk into the restroom and smell that first waft of stale piss, but that doesn’t stop you. No. You are on a mission to sit and expel solid waste. You rush to the toilet not knowing who or what has sat on it before you. You don’t even know if the toilet has been cleaned recently.
It doesn’t matter. There’s a golfer trying to bore its way out and you absolutely must use this toilet.
You enter the restroom to the pleasant scent of Pine Sol and walk to the nearest stall. A heavenly sight awaits you as you open the stall. The water is still dyed a deep blue from the cleaning detergent used by the janitorial staff. You’re the first person to use this toilet today, and it’s as clean as it’s ever going to be.
This is a virgin toilet!
Regardless of how clean the toilet may be, you still have a cleansing ritual to perform before your cheeks will touch that seat. The ritual is:
Grab some toilet paper and wipe the seat. Some people use sanitizer to clean the seat.
Use even more toilet paper to cover the seat.
Only when the seat is covered to the point it looks like a flat bird’s nest, do you sit to lay your rotten “eggs”.
Don’t lie, you’ve done this ritual.
We all have our reasons for doing it. It may have been a learned habit from walking into public restrooms and having to clean the seat so many times. Maybe you remember missing the bowl yourself and are pretty sure everyone else pees on the seat too. Or maybe you’re a germaphobe and feel an extra compulsion to clean the seat. My father drilled it into my head that public toilets were disgusting sources of disease.
Some restrooms have those thinner than paper seat covers mounted on the wall. Those seat covers are psychological constructs designed to keep people from wasting valuable toilet paper. They’re so flimsy you run the risk of destroying the cover while trying to get it out of the holder. You end up wasting not just the liner, but the precious few seconds remaining before that gofer runs out of your hole.
Lifting the Seat
If there’s no urinal and you only need to pee (and if you’re male), it’s polite to lift the seat so you don’t dirty it when the next person uses it. This type of situation is becoming more common now that unisex public toilets are appearing in restaurants and coffee shops.
But I don’t want to touch that thing, and then touch my junk!
If we bother to lift the seat, we use our feet which are protected by “germ-proof” shoes. We balance on one foot and use the other to lift the seat. It sort of looks like a martial art’s fighting stance.
We all share the same cleansing ritual to help put our minds at ease about using a public toilet of dubious cleanliness. We clean the seat, cover it, and sit on it. And once we’re comfortable, or are sitting and there’s no turning back, most of us will whip out our phones to brows our news feeds.
Who knows, you may be reading this story while on the pot!
I wake up to the sound of my phone’s alarm clock and throw the covers off my body. I swing my legs over the side of my bed and try to use the momentum to carry the rest of my body into a sitting position. It didn’t work this time and I’m forced to push and pull myself up the rest of the way. The alarm is still chiming, so I reach for my phone on the side-table to tap the “Dismiss” button. My hand moves to the remote control for the ceiling fan right next to it, and I push the button to turn on the light. Before reaching my arm back, I grab my phone and learn how to walk again as I hobble to the kitchen for a glass of water.
I’m still carrying the phone when I walk to the bathroom. I set it down next to my smart speaker and bark my usual order at the speaker, “Alexa, play my news brief.”
Reuters begins playing an annoying commercial which is obscenely too loud compared to the rest of the newscast. Why can’t we regulate the volume of ads on our podcasts or smart devices, similar to TV. I listen to my news brief from my 5 preprogramed sources and do my normal 3-S’s grooming routine: shit, shower, and maybe shave.
My news brief is on the 4th news source when I turn the volume up to counteract the usual mumbling from the British as I check to see if I need to shave today. I don’t think a shave is necessary today, maybe tomorrow. I grab my phone and leave the room, leaving Mr. Mumbles behind. I think about how nice it is to have a slow-growing (yet full and not patchy) beard. I set the phone on the dining table next to my gym bag and other daily items, thankful that I only need to shave twice a week.
I walk into my closet and pick out which shirt and slacks I want to wear today. I only have a few pairs of pants that fit now that I’m obese from being Covid-ly sedentary for pretty much a year. Working out these past few months has improved my waste, but isn’t making the dang pant legs fit better. I’ve always had muscular legs, and pant or slack manufacturers seem to think that everyone must be the ideal skinny white guy with chicken legs. I decide on a purple shirt and grey slacks, and grab them as I walk to the bedroom to get dressed.
I half-hear my last source of news declare: “This is a Bloomberg Money Minute.”
I throw on a white undershirt to absorb the inevitable sweat I’ll exude several times throughout the day. I slip on the purple shirt and button it as I lament the high cost of having my clothes dry-cleaned just to satisfy an outdated social imperative that requires office workers to play dress up. I look at myself in the bedroom mirror and jokingly think to myself: Okay boomers, we’ll play it your way for now. You won’t be working much longer anyways.
I walk back to the closet and frown at my uncomfortable shoes I wasted $500 on, but haven’t worn in years because they’re too uncomfortable. Hardly anyone makes dress or work shoes for people with wide feet. I still remember the sales person said I simply need to break them in and they’ll feel better than going barefoot. My hand glides past the shoes and I think of how I wore those damn shoes for nearly a year and they never got any more comfortable. Instead, my hand grabs the much more comfortable, $30 pair of grey “leather” shoes I bought on Amazon.
I grab the shoe horn from the front door and take the shoes to the couch. As I slip my oversized feet into the shoes, I think about how someone told me that people pay attention to the shoes you wear. What kind of weirdo with a foot fetish pays that much attention to people’s shoes? The only time I purposefully look at someone’s shoes is to check if there’s anyone in the stall at the work restroom. I’m not like that one attorney who bursts into the room, like the T-rex from the original Jurassic Park movie, and scares the occupant shitless by yanking at the stall door without checking.
I get up from the couch and walk to the refrigerator. I grab the leftover shrimp fried rice I put in the water-tight container last night, and rush over to the dining table to shove it in my gym bag. I throw the gym bag over my shoulders and drape my Bluetooth headset over my neck and balance the earbuds over my upper chest. Before heading to the door, I quickly stuff my phone, keys, and wallet into their respective pockets.
I hang the shoehorn back at the door before opening it.
I feel a refreshing wave of cool air as I step into my floor’s main corridor and lock the door to my home. I enjoy the crisp and cool air as I walk to the elevator and press the button to call it. I turn on my headset while squeezing the earbuds into my ears. Only when I’m satisfied the earbuds have a perfect seal, do I push a button to continue my Audiobook. I’m rereading Dune: House Atreides for the 4th time as my ritual preparation for the new Dune movie that’s coming out in October. I have just enough time to tap House Harkonnen in my library, starting the download process, before the elevator doors open.
I hide my displeasure at seeing “Nagatha” in the elevator, and quickly pause the book just in case she said something during the ride down to the first floor. I left the elevator as soon as the doors opened again to escape the awkwardly silent ride. I walked to the table in the lobby and collected my daily newspaper.
I set Nagatha’s paper aside along with one belonging to the nice lady on the 11th floor. I turn when I hear the garage door slam shut and wonder if she’s in a hurry. Since I’m safe from socialization, I push the button to continue my audiobook.
Paper in hand, I open the front door and step out to Houston’s sweltering heat and near 100% humidity. I barely walk a block before noticing the first trickles of sweat form on my face. There’s only a block and a half more to go before I reach the nearest tunnel entrance. Can I hold it together until then?
I dodge a zombie-like homeless person before reaching the next intersection, having already decided not to wait on the light to change before crossing. I remind myself that I’m not brainless, and should at least check to make sure there’s no oncoming cars. Thankfully, there aren’t any, and I keep walking. The sweat is getting worse now, so I grab a rag I stashed in my bag for situations like this.
Just 50 more feet!
Yes! I’m in. It’s not cool in here, but at least the air’s dry.
I walk to the elevator and push the call button. I need to recover from the short trek through the steam room most people confuse as a city, and start fanning my face with the newspaper. The elevator arrives and I’m thankful to have this elevator to myself. I continue the fanning while riding down to the tunnels.
The elevator doors open and I immediately walk to the air conditioner unit in the wall next to a parking validation machine with an out of order sign taped to it. I set my newspaper on top of the machine and take a moment to soak in the gentle cool breeze coming from the A/C unit. I know more people are going to come out of the elevators soon, so I fumble for my facemask as I steal more time under this bastion of cool air. As predicted, three people spill out of the elevator and each one of them looks at me. One man isn’t wearing a mask, and he averts his gaze as he walks by. The other two people look at me with approval because I’m doing the responsible thing by stopping to put on my facemask before continuing into the tunnels.
I smile and silently chuckle to myself content with the knowledge that my act fooled all of them. Right now, I care more about this air conditioning than Covid-19 safety precautions.
With my facemask on, and with paper in hand (again), I start my trek through the vast network of underground tunnels. I fear working up a sweat again despite the tunnels being air-conditioned, so I slowly plod past the floodgate which kind of looks like a blast door from the Cold War era. As I walk up the stairs immediately beyond the door, I recall seeing the real blast doors in the tunnels linking the courthouses a quarter mile away. And when I reach the top of the stairs, I think of how a lot of sections in the Downtown Tunnel system aren’t very accessible to handicapped people. I walk down the narrow tunnel and try to remember all those places where I have to climb stairs and think about how embarrassing it may be for someone in a wheelchair to have to take an alternate route when having lunch with coworkers and friends.
I’m halfway through the first tunnel before becoming aware that another wave of people entered the tunnels behind me. I glance back and make a quick navigational calculation. I figure they’re far enough behind that I don’t need to increase my pace. They can’t overtake me before I reach the next building, unless they start running.
I continue at my slow pace as I enter the JP Morgan Chase Tower wondering what might make the people behind me start running.
Rabid dogs? No, how’d they get down here.
Free coffee at Starbucks! Yes. That’ll definitely do it.
I see my reflection in the polished chrome elevator doors, but don’t really look at it because my attention is drawn to a trio of sexy businessmen who walk past the building’s ground-to-tunnel escalator. I try picking up my pace toward them and am forced to look at my gross midsection while walking past the mirror-like panels covering the escalator.
I notice the gaggle of sexy men had queued into line at the Starbucks as I walk on by.
I leave the building’s tunnel and enter the next building. Upon entering, I walk past a dry cleaning drop off unit and wonder if that company is cheaper than my current one. The container says they deliver to your office, and one of the benefits to living in Downtown is that our lofts are close enough to the rest of the offices to be included with that delivery promise. I commit to check them out when I get to work.
That commitment is immediately forgotten when I see another gaggle of hot men standing in line at another café. I notice how they playfully banter with each other like they’re from the same fraternity. These face masks really are great because nobody can see my smirk as I think of frats and hazing…
I reach the end of this food hall, and restrain myself from touching the chain-rope curtains and satisfying a lingering curiosity of how cold those chains must be.
I know I’m about halfway through my journey when I reach the Esperson building. The building blasts 50s and 60s music through their part of the tunnel system. The music is so loud I can hear it over my audiobook, despite the noise-cancelling function. I like this era’s music, but I push the volume up two levels to compensate anyways. I still hear “incense and peppermints” in the background a couple times as I walk through this section of the network.
I’m passing the threshold between the Esperson and the 919 Milam building, when I notice a piece of lint on the ground. From my perspective, it looks remarkably like the “Playboy Rabbit Mascot”. I don’t slow down to ponder this coincidental find any further.
I fully enter the most boring section of the Downtown Tunnels and pass several vacant retail units. Some of these units were vacant for at least a year prior to Covid-19. I can’t imagine how horrible business must be for landlords and property managers in Downtown nowadays.
I pass what used to be a Subway restaurant and began to reminisce about how I used to get $5 footlong “Veggie Delights”, but dreaded smelling like the store afterward. That stench permeated my clothes after a mere 5 minutes of being inside the store. I remember being hard-pressed to wait through the line, order, and then pay as quickly as possible to save myself from smelling foul. I make a sharp right turn around a corner where the former Subway restaurant was and half-smell that iconic aroma, but know it was just my memory playing tricks on my senses.
I veer off to the left and head toward the tunnel leading to the Commerce Towers. As I enter the tunnel, I’m reminded as to why I don’t wear my facemask outside. This section isn’t air conditioned very well and my breath begins to make my face feel warmer than it should. I pick up my pace because I only need to get past the convenience store and turn the corner to enter the McKinney building, and cooler air.
A man half-limped into sight from the corner I need to turn at. I instantly know he doesn’t belong. He has a look of amazed wonder, like he discovered a magical cave. Another office worker notices the outsider and looks at him with disgust before passing around him. I’m almost at the corner and start hoping and wishing this guy doesn’t ask me for money, or worse, directions.
The outsider looks at me and, thankfully, doesn’t say a word. He seems too amazed at his new discovery. I imagine he’s mentally rubbing his hands with delight as Aladdin must have when he entered the Cave of Riches. So many business people to solicit money from! Mwah hahaha!
I scold myself for thinking such an ugly thought when I make my turn.
I pass a raggedy accordion-style gate and notice a hall where restrooms are supposed to be located, but always seem to be locked. There’s some sort of berry-colored fluid trailing from that hall and appears to be leading me past a hair solon. There’s a smoothie store just beyond the salon and I guess that someone’s smoothie must have leaked and the owner must have ran to the restroom to rinse the cup off.
I wonder how the person got into the restroom?
I follow the trail to the smoothie store and smile at the lady working there. As I walk past, I realize she can’t see my mouth smile, but comfort myself with the possibility that my eyes probably did the smiling for me.
Now, I have something new to smile about. I finally made it to the garage elevator where my car is parked. I reach to call the elevator, but one of the doors are already opening. An unmasked lady smiles at me while she exits. I enter and see someone turning the corner heading to the elevators, but the doors close so fast I can’t reach the “Door Open” button in time.
The elevator is hot and I fan myself with the newspaper as I ride the sauna up to the level where I parked my car. I rush out of the elevator and walk half a block to my car. I can already feel sweat forming on my face and am already unlocking the doors as I approach my car. I open the back door to throw my bag inside and close the door so fast, I can’t believe I didn’t slam the door on my hand. I open the driver’s door and throw my body into the seat and turn on the car. I toss the paper into the front passenger seat and notice the air conditioner is pushing air out too slowly and impatiently increase the fan speed.
I’m in no hurry. I have about an hour before I need to be at the office, so I just sit there for a couple minutes, basking in the refreshing coolness of blessed air conditioning. I notice that in my haste I forgot to pull my phone out of my pocket. While listening to Pardot Kynes rant about terraforming Arrakis, and telling his would-be assassin to “Remove yourself,” I lean back in the tight quarters and pulled my phone out of my front pocket. The assassin fell upon his knife by the time I was able to fish it out and place the phone in the holder clamped to the A/C vent closest to me.
I decide I’m cool enough to travel and drive the car out of my usual spot. I must be the only person who leaves the garage in the mornings, because the attendant always steps away from her desk to help me. I quickly scan my keycard and “roll” the window back up when I see the gate arm rise. She stops halfway between her desk and the office’s door when she sees the same arm lift. I’ve been using this garage for a month now and the attendants may not be used to me leaving, while everyone else is entering.
I follow the winding driveway down the ramp to exit the garage. There’s an angry-looking old man with an orange flag who waves me by. Despite his implied clearance, I don’t take his word for the path being clear of pedestrians and slowly roll out of the garage.
I continue listening to my audiobook through the rest of my work commute from Downtown to Houston’s Upper Kirby District. Once I park the car at my job’s parking lot, I pause the audiobook so I can focus on reading the newspaper I carried all this way. I have to read it now, because I have to be ready to handle anything and everything the instant I walk through the door of my office building.
 The CALM Act is a law regulating commercial volume and requires commercials to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany. It became effective December 13, 2012.
UPDATE 08/25/2021: OnlyFans backpedaled on their decision to ban porn 1 day after I published this article.
We’ve seen the news talk about a labor shortage for months, and some of us have joked on socialist media that: “there isn’t a labor shortage, people just don’t want to work for you.”
In response to this labor shortage, many major employers are offering absurdly high hourly wages to attract more employees. Most of the people who benefit from these absurdly high hourly wages didn’t earn a degree in college. Most didn’t spend 4-6 years to acquire a bachelor’s degree to land a high paying job. (Nor are they in debt to pay for that education.) Most of these people didn’t spend years of networking and ladder-climbing to build up a career either.
How did this happen, and what will come?
This is happening because of a new lower-class movement focused on improving their livelihoods. This is nice and all, but we’re just handing these laborers wages they really don’t truly deserve. And it’s the participation trophy generation (my generation), who are fanning the flames to push this absurdity into reality. We are so focused on making everything equal, that we are forgetting that most people make the salary they deserve because of their hard work.
So why are laborers getting paid equally or more, than people who put in the time, energy, and effort to get where they are in their careers? Why are they getting a free pass to higher wages when the rest of us had to work for it?
But, at what expense to we hand these unskilled laborers a virtually free lunch? Do we alienate and impoverish those who served their time in the college system just so they can get good jobs?
I’m okay with increasing the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour. I may even approve of it getting bumped to $15 if I get at least a 20% increase to my own pay. But $22 or almost $50 for unskilled labor?
To misuse a Star Wars: Mandalorian quote: “This is not the way!”
Paying undereducated and unskilled laborers wages they haven’t earned is going to cause several things to happen in our country.
Skilled professionals are going to quit because they’ll start asking: “What’s the point of doing this job when I’m getting paid less than that laborer who’s mindlessly moving products? If I can get the job, I’ll get paid more and get more exercise as a bonus.”
Housing is going to spiral out of control when landlords figure out tenants can afford to pay more rent. Which will eat into that newly acquired salary.
Employers are going to be forced to move jobs overseas, compounding unemployment. This has been going on for nearly a century for raw materials and consumer goods, but the practice will increase very shortly.
Employers are going to be forced to spend capital on automation, further compounding unemployment. We already see this in many fast-food restaurants. You can walk into most Taco Bells, and nobody will be at the counter to take your order. You have to use a kiosk to place an order. This was tried at Jack in the Box about 10 years ago successfully, but they dropped the concept. I’m pretty sure they’re reconsidering kiosks right about now and we’ll see them in stores very soon.
It’s going to drive prices for basic products through the roof, because the labor costs more to make the goods.
Rinse and repeat the above, and you’ll see it’s an endless spiral.
Even if we give the unskilled laborers everything they want, they still won’t be happy. There will always be a very loud minority of unemployed and unemployable who are going to rattle the cage and rile minimum wage workers in perpetuity. They can and will do this because they have the free time on their hands to lament how unfair their condition is instead of working to improve themselves.
Please notice that I said, “a very loud minority”. Most unskilled laborers are hard workers, but many cannot (or will not) spend the extra time, energy, and money to improve themselves. I understand it’s hard to raise a family on minimum wage, but the reason most people get where they are is a consequence of their own actions.
Yes. You can argue the various unique circumstances (rape, poor upbringing, family obligations, moral obligations, etc.) until the sun goes nova. But the bottom line is, that everyone makes the wage they deserve based on their own actions and life choices. Unless the person has a genetic disease, suffered an accident or assault, or had any other physical hardship forced upon them.
I myself am a product of my past actions:
I don’t have a job at any of the major oil or energy companies because I refuse to play the patronage beauty contest. Meaning, I can’t make nearly as much money doing the same work as my peers in my profession.
I chose not to adopt any children and probably won’t in the future because I enjoy having my fun lifestyle and a healthy savings account. And now I live with the small lingering fact that I won’t have anyone to depend on when I become elderly.
I chose not to invest that extra cash, which means my extra savings will not grow as quickly as it could in the market.
I choose to run up credit card debt, even though I have the money to pay for my needs. Now, I have to spend several hundred dollars a month to pay interest and pay off debt.
I chose to stare at a practically naked runner while riding my bicycle instead of watching the road. I got a busted lip and a broken tooth, which were expensive to fix (even with good health and dental insurance).
Most of the minimum wage laborers are in the positions they are because of their own life choices, and we shouldn’t cheapen the accomplishments of those who earned their positions and rates of pay by giving higher wages to those who didn’t earn it. I applaud the single mothers and fathers who work all day and commit to night schooling. I applaud those young adults who spent several years earning a bachelor’s degree with no support from their families (it took me a decade to get a “4-year” degree). These are examples of people who decided to work to improve their lives and earn a better paying job. These aren’t people who were given more pay in response to an emergency. These aren’t people who’re taking advantage of a hopefully temporary pay hike in a temporary labor shortage.
To wrap up on a humorous note, I’m glad OnlyFans is banning porn. Because, hopefully, when the (sexy) laborers lose that source of income they’ll return to conventional jobs. This will cause the labor shortage to subside and drive wages back to reasonable rates. Then we’ll start seeing the higher paid laborers who benefitted from what will then be called an emergency rate, get laid off because they cost too much when compared to the rest of the market.
I bet you didn’t think of that long-term possibility. Did you?
 Yes, you read that right. I called it socialist media.
 I personally prefer ordering using a kiosk, solely because I dislike having to yell at someone so they can hear me to place an order.
 Unemployable is defined as unskilled, potential, workers who cannot get past the interview process because of: no address, no SSN, no valid ID, no cleanliness, and no positive demeanor.