Using a Public Toilet 🚻 A Ritual 

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.

OR…

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:

  1. Grab some toilet paper and wipe the seat. Some people use sanitizer to clean the seat.  
  2. Use even more toilet paper to cover the seat.  
  3. 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!

Tow Truck Cross ✝️

We’ve all seen them as they drive around the city. They’re the vultures of the road who prey on traffic accidents. They roam the streets looking for targets of opportunity and victimize unsuspecting drivers who may have parked in a parking spot after hours or too close to a no parking zone, and for fraudulent reasons.

We’ve all heard of a friend victimized by one of these things, or have had personal experience. After having a great time out with friends, the unsuspecting victim returns to the location where they parked their car… only to have that joyous evening ruined because their car was stolen by a tow truck driver.

It’s a common situation.

But, have you actually looked at the trucks themselves? Have you looked beyond their utilitarian use, and any preconceived biases you may have against the operators? 

The next time you see a tow truck driving down a road, look at the back. You’ll notice the bed of the truck has a device that looks just like a Christian cross (✝️). The operator must bear the cross as a symbol of the bourdon of working as one of the most despised professions in the civilized world… the street’s carrion-eaters.

The cross a tow truck carries on its back serves to remind other cars of their own mortality. That they will end up being hauled away by the vehicular version of the “Grim Reaper”.

Similar to how a superstitious person knocks on wood to keep their good fortune, surely all cars must whisper a silent prayer to stave off their own demise. And when their time comes, dying cars may appear to bow and pray before the cross one last time before it conveys them to the afterlife, in a junkyard.

Not only do cars fear the tow truck, but so should humans. For both can become victims at the operator’s sadistic whim. Nowadays, the operator can steal the car for dubious legal reasons, but what will happen in the future?

If the worst-case scenario happens to our civilization, we won’t have much use for tow trucks. There’s no profit in cleaning the streets when nobody can drive any more. No. If they’re used at all, tow trucks won’t be used that way.

People can be creative with their cruelty, and the future may see victims strapped onto the backs of these trucks. If there’s a steady supply of gas, a highway warlord may mount a live (or dead) victim on the “cross” to serve as an example to others. The terrorized victim will scream as the driver speeds through the world.

Perhaps the director of a future “Mad Max” movie can use this idea.

The next time you see a tow truck driving around, take a moment to look at it. You’ll notice that it doesn’t have the “hook” you may have seen in cartoons or videogames like Grand Theft Auto V.

It has a cross.

Given that tow trucks often serve as the Grim Reaper to cars, the cross is a suitable symbol for it.

How we must look while using self-service checkouts

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

By now, pretty much everyone in America has either used or seen a self-service checkout. We’ve all heard[1] the annoying instructions commanding us to “Please place the item in the bagging area” if we don’t immediately bruise our potatoes by slamming them into the bagging area. We’ve looked at the weights of our produce with surprise as we’re charged about $0.83 for 3 bananas. Or looked at the weight suspiciously as we see how much the Whole Foods salad bar costs and can’t believe that lighter-than-air salad weighs more than a pound. How the hell?!

Have you considered how funny we must look to staff or other customers while we use these kiosks?

We tend to have a look of disappointment when something doesn’t ring up the way it should. Some of us will have a worried look as we try to figure out how I’m going to get this fixed and get the sale I saw?

Some of us may get nervous and fear being judged by those behind us because we’re holding up the line after ringing up that bottle of wine and the kiosk says, “Approval needed.” And then some of us get slightly offended when the attendant approves the purchase without glancing at ID. I’m not that old!

Sometimes the packaging will have 3 different bar codes and we accidentally scan the wrong one. An error message normally pops up requiring the assistance of the attendant. Then we scan again, but the dang barcodes are so close together we scanned the wrong code again. Ugh! We experience a creeping sense of shame that it’s been proven we’re incapable of completing this simple task and have to watch as the attendant scans the item for us. This feeling can be made worse if the attendant uses a scan-gun which was already at the kiosk, but was invisible until this moment. 😀

Sometimes we’re scanning our merchandise and then one of the items doesn’t scan before we place it in the bag. We could swear the machine beeped, but the machine chastises us for trying to steal the item by saying: “Unexpected item in bagging area. Remove this item before continuing.” We quickly take the last item out of the bag and try scanning it before the attendant comes over to see what happened.

Or my personal favorite, the bar code doesn’t scan at all. When this happens, we tend to go through the same routine:

  • Wave the item horizontally over the scanner toward the bags, and wave it back.
  • Wave it upward and back down.
  • Check that nothing is covering the barcode (like fingers), and wave it past in a circular motion.
  • Finally give up and call for assistance or walk defeatedly to a cashier who must have seen that awkward dance we just had with the machine.

This happened to me again this morning. I had the grocery store all to myself, and the cashiers were standing around chit-chatting. I was listening to an audiobook and didn’t want to pause it, so I went to the self-checkout lane. I tried scanning my breakfast taco, but nothing happened. I did the normal scan-dance routine. This time, however, I made it more entertaining for the idle cashiers…

I elaborately bowed and waved at the machine a couple times as though I was worshiping it. After which, I placed the taco on the scanner and exclaimed, “I offer this as a sacrifice to the Cash Register God! I pray my humble sacrifice brings you eternal profits.”  📈

The cashiers giggled as they waved me over to their registers so they can help me.

It’s good to be generally aware of how others may see you as you go about your daily routine. We may never know that our reactions are the bit of humor which brightens an employee’s day. I certainly was the highlight of the day for those cashiers this morning.


[1] I apologize in advance to the hearing impaired.