"Always Watch Where You Sit"

Friday, October 16, 2015 | 0 Comment(s)

My office exists in a land time forgot.

I am on the third floor of a building thrown up rapidly as a response to the mass of troops returned from WWII and funneling into the college system.  The necessity of the building, and the rush to bring it into existence, is easy to observe in the uneven oblong rooms and amoeba shaped bathrooms.  Here is how I believe the architect drew this baby up ...

Step one: Build an outer rectangle to fit the full size of the plot of land assigned. 

Step two: Complete the rectangle by raising a three story structure.

Architect: "What's that . . .  Roof shape? You're asking about roof shape?!? What part of 'build a fucking rectangle' don't you understand! Just slap a flat-top on the sucker and add in the floors like you're making horizontal slices in a cake."

Step three: Add floors to 2nd and 3rd stories, "Like horizontal slices in a cake."  Also, add basement level.

Architect: "Now we wait . . . Final student numbers still aren't in . . . "

Architect: "Ok we got the numbers; there are many more than predicted."

Step four: Continuing with Step three's cake analogy, we just found out that this cake needs to feed the whole friggin family, so we have to carve as many pieces as possible into this sonofabitch. Do the dorm rooms the same way. Think Tetris.  Make some long skinny ones and some short and fat ones. These are bedrooms for ex-soldiers, god damn it, they'll be happy just to have a warm bed outside of Europe.

For those doubters . . . this is the actual building. 

My office is one of the previously described "long skinny ones."  The two empty offices next to mine are normal shaped.  In those vacant offices, the desks doesn't even have to be flush against the wall, because there is enough space to place it perpendicularly.  

Oh, I share my office.  At least in theory. We are a month in and I haven't properly met my officemate, but his stuff moves around occasionally, so I figure he's been there.  Yes, my previous paragraph did describe two large furnished offices that are not in use. Yes, this occurs to me every time I climb the stairs and pass the unlocked doors flung open to show the dark insides of unshared space. 

But this story isn't about my office, or even the spider-lab that current resides in the basement, this is a story about the 3rd floor bathroom.  This particular bathroom has two separate entrances but is entirely connected once you enter through either opening.  On one side of the bathroom, sitting unused, are 4 ancient tub-like urinals and a small shower room that now houses cleaning supplies.  Just before the urinals is a massive old industrial sink, a rusted out hole exposes the entirety of the drainage pipe where it should seamlessly recede into the wall.  

The other half of the bathroom has a trio of miniature toilet stalls (three-fourth sized?) and three sinks against the right wall. This is the only half of the bathroom that has any practical value. Remember, there are only about five of us with offices up here (2 of us doubled up of course).  If there were a thin layer of vines growing in and out of the walls of this building, it wouldn't feel that out of place. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I am on campus all day. Thus, it can be assumed that at some point during those days I need to go to the bathroom.  And, you know, not standing up.  It was the craziest thing, but every time I would enter the far side of the bathroom, something about the ancient walls creaked in such a way that it sounded as if there were people over on the unused side.  Obviously this was another unexpected consequence of building a bathroom in the shape of a pair of binoculars. 

I will say that those distant sounds are the kind of auditory illusion that screw with your head. Because, as I sit on one side of the bathroom, it sounds like a Rube Goldberg machine made out of pinballs is Plinko-ing around in the space directly behind where I'm sitting.  This happens every time. 

Last Tuesday I went to go to the bathroom before heading out to teach my 4pm class.  When I pushed open the bathroom door I see two sizable grey blurs beeline for the bottom of the corroded sink, and push there way into the wall.  

Rats.  RATS.   RATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

I'm freaked out. I can deal with a ghost officemate, but rats in the bathroom is a non-starter. I'm gonna have to use my veto.  

I walk down the hall to my one colleagues, a retired faculty member in the Psychology Department. He's in his in his seventies and consistently has a smile across his face that is just a bit too friendly to be classified as "wry."  I like him a lot.

"Jim. I just saw two HUgeeee grey blurs in the bathroom. Were those rats? Are we ok with that?"

Jim's smile gets wider still. He chuckles to himself (Why is he chuckling at this!!!!)

"Oh yes. I was in there a little while ago and I saw those two squirrels having a great ol' time in there. I'm pretty sure they're squirrels."

He chuckles again.  I remain un-giddy.  Sure, squirrels are nominally better than rats. Ok . . . they are much better than rats. But, as far as residents in my office bathroom go, squirrels are still mammalia non grata.

"Just watch where you sit," Jim continues, now laughing openly. "Always look where you sit." 

I didn't need to sit anymore, obviously. My need to sit had jumped so far up into my body that it wouldn't restart its journey downtown for a few hours. If ever.  During these moments of reaction, I realize that their is no auditory illusion going on in that bathroom.  Every single time I have entered the bathroom, Chip & Dale with fluffier tails were beelining it into the walls and hopping around as I sat.  The walls have eyes.  Tiny beady black eyes.

***UPDATE: Last weekend the squirrels threw a party for themselves. Their paw prints are laid down like wall-paper across the sinks, toilets, and urinals. The extra toilet paper supplies have been nibbled and frayed completely.  The bathroom is in the first stage of being transformed into a nest.  In related news, I may never shit again. 

No comments:

Post a Comment