Lavatory humour with a serious edge
My alter ego wrote a short story and is trying to flog it on Amazon.
It contains the lavatory references you’ve come to love from Haught Feelings, but it’s all wrapped up in a serious story about workplace boredom and that whole “an idle mind is the devil’s playground” thing.
It’s called ‘Waiting‘ and it takes the form of a Kindle Single, which is a short piece of writing that you can download straight to your Kindle, or to any device that you can get the Kindle app on.
Here’s an excerpt:
Waiting was becoming a bad habit for me. I’d discussed it with Penny Trentham from Social Media and she’d assured me I was “waiting for inspiration.” She was wrong for a change, although only by six letters – I was waiting for motivation.
“What’s my motivation here, David?” If only I were an actor and could reasonably ask such a question of my ‘director’.
How I wished I could put an end to these hours of inaction by standing up, striding to my manager’s office, entering without knocking, and simply rejecting the ‘role’:
“David, I’m just not feeling it. This isn’t working for me at all.”
Sometimes it was these preposterous little fantasies that got me through the day.
It wasn’t that I was lazy. Certainly not if you compared me to some of the pulses and legumes in Finance (Penny’s splendid description, not mine). One of them, whose name I think was Gregory, might well have been the most indolent person I’d ever met.
Truth be told, I had never formally met him, but I bumped into him so often that I was beginning to think of him as a sort of quasi-acquaintance. One who irritated me more and more with every absurdly frequent meeting.
I had never spoken a word to him and yet I felt I knew so much about him. He was a non-work addict, but most people on Level 3 knew that. So often was he observed wandering or loitering in places nowhere near his desk that he was beginning to gain a whispered reputation. When colleagues gossiped about “that fellow who’s always getting a cup of tea” and “the one from Finance who looks at the notice board a lot”, you knew they were talking about Gregory.
He was also a nervous man, a flincher. But, that was just another trait that anybody who’d glanced at him once or twice could easily discern.
Something about him I suspect few colleagues knew was that he had an appalling habit, while in the men’s lavatory, of breaking wind with a trumpeting ferocity that belied his thin-haired, hunch-shouldered feebleness. It annoyed me not only because it was viscerally offensive, but because he did it so shamelessly. I knew fairly certainly that this man spent much of his life avoiding even mildly difficult challenges and weaselling out of all but the most essential face-to-face interaction. But as soon as he got into the gents’ he suddenly found the audacity to force gas out his backside with the inhibition of some inebriated oaf at a motorsport event.
Perhaps he considered the Level 3 toilet to be some sort of sanctuary from the rest of the world, a place where he could relax emotionally and physically. He certainly seemed to spend a great deal of time there. (Either that or, by some implausible coincidence, every time I had to use the bathroom, he too was answering the call of nature.)
The toilet-as-haven concept incensed me perhaps more than anything else about him. Here was a man who got paid handsomely to work in the relaxed environment of a public service institution, and who spent large portions of his day hiding – and sometimes indiscriminately emitting flatus – in the restrooms.
Could he not, at the very least, have feigned industry like his straight-backed, stiff-faced colleagues in Finance?
Could he not have sat at his desk and stared at the screen? Like me.
I looked at the screen without seeing anything. I asked my eyes to focus, but they would not. Perhaps, after all, I was not waiting for motivation, so much as intervention. I needed the fire alarm to go off, or an email from Penny, or my manager to come into our cluster and ask me how the task was coming along.
I waited, but nobody stepped into my barren world.
Toilet-as-haven. Perhaps there was something in that. Perhaps Gregory From Finance had the makings of a decent idea there. Not that I would ever retreat to the lavatories and cower there like some sort of wounded animal. But what I desperately needed was a strategy for breaking these drawn-out periods of wasted time, and a quick visit to the men’s toilet was an idea worth considering. I’d go in, splash water on my face and look at myself in the mirror like they did in the movies. Maybe, if nobody was around, I’d make a pithy, witty comment about getting a hold of myself. It wouldn’t be toilet-as-haven so much as toilet-as-film-noir-fantasy.
I stopped waiting.
He was there. Of course.