The Haught guide to work toilet banditry
I’m widely known as a man of the people, but even I, in my infinite magnanimity, don’t much go for crowds. Don’t get me wrong; I love a crowd when it’s overthrowing a tyrannical regime or when a segment of it, wearing the colours of my team, rises in unison and in a roaring crescendo outpours its collective assent to a goal.
And that’s the thing: a crowd needs a great and compelling common purpose for it to become a noble entity. So, it’s not the seething proletarian mob or the hot-blooded congregation of football lovers I can’t abide. It’s the crowd made of people who don’t really have their heart in the cause they’re prosecuting or the event they’re participating in.
I have nothing against tennis. Like any sport, it has its die-hard enthusiasts, its sometime fans and its outright pretenders. Its problem is that the proportion of pretenders is disproportionately high and so it attracts crowds whose members laugh uproariously at a ball boy trying to pick up an insect and shout inanities at the most inappropriate moments in a match.
As revered Guardian sport columnist, Russell Jackson put it recently, these are mostly “upper-middle class people who should know better”. And this brings me to work toilets.
If you’re reading this and have worked in an office with mostly upper-middle class colleagues but never encountered the sort of lavatory foulness you’d associate with a cholera-infected Mumbai slum you’re in a tiny and very lucky minority.
If you’re part of the majority, you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to with these shrieked questions:
What goes on in these should-be-respectable water closets? And why is there so little remorse? So little desire to remove any trace of the faecal crimes that go on within them?
Like the tennis crowd halfwits, these porcelain-defiling, physics-defying degenerates should know better, but unlike their tittering counterparts, they don’t have the excuse of being only cursorily interested in the outcome of the event in question or emboldened by the anonymity of the throng.
Indeed, they have no excuse at all, and should be in a special tax bracket, the proceeds of which should go to us, the victims of their depravity.
An edited version of this article first appeared in the MyCareer section of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. You can read Benign to Five in those papers every Saturday.