Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Adventures in the women's restroom

Others have written about the cutthroat business of using the ladies' loo in Japan (her blog's title is even an homage to restroom etiquette), but I got to experience some of the prime high quality drama myself this morning. I think women's kaisha toilets must be near the pinnacle for volume of unwritten rules in toileting.

I got to work about 20 minutes early, and not wanting to go up and settle into the grim-faced, blinds-drawn office quite yet, I ducked into the first floor lav, usually deserted as there are no offices at the lobby level. One of the stalls was occupied - not a problem for me.

The toilets in my office building are kept scrupulously clean, and are the most so first thing in the morning after the cleaning crew has hit them but before the worker drones descend on the building and the daily christening begins. I'm telling you so you can put your mind at ease, but I don't actually care that much if you think I'm gross. In fact, as the doors and walls go all the way down to the floor, they are often used by energy-sapped salarynerds for naps disguised as post-lunch bowel movements.

I went into one of the vacant stalls to take a few minutes to collect myself, wipe my sweaty brow, apply eyeliner that I'm too frazzled to apply at home, and finish up a few rounds of Words with Friends on my phone.

But. My next stall neighbor wasn't happy. She clearly wanted the place to herself - nay, felt entitled to it. First she tried to wait me out, hoping that I would be on my way quickly. But I was in no hurry. F-A-X-E-R. Triple word score! As it became clear I wasn't leaving, the passive-aggressive drama began. Oh! the throat clearing! The sighing! The audible pouting! The put-out petulance! After awhile of this, she exited her stall and stamped around in front of the sinks for a bit. A-G-R-E-E. Hm. Only a double letter on that one. I could hear a lot of hair flipping and turning on and off of the taps. I still had ten minutes to kill. Z-I-L-C-H. Ha! Z on a triple letter! Take that, mom! Finally, with a big huffy sigh, she flounced out. I feel certain that were it not a swinging door, she would have slammed it. Crap. Only Is and Os left. I checked my watch, tacked an I onto the X, fished my key card out of my bag, and went to catch the elevator.