What Can You Do?

In one smooth motion, I somehow squeeze through the 2 inches of clearance between the arc of the opening door — an arc fatally abbreviated by the front edge of the toilet — and the industrial-size toilet-paper dispenser. It’s a clearance graciously provided by the building designers, presumably the better to meet regulations by squeezing one more stall into the space squeezed out of the space that has revenue-generating potential.

Am I at a sports arena? A highway rest stop? An airport? An arts or community complex? I can’t remember.

Am I in Canada? In the USofA? I forget.

In truth, commercial restrooms all look and function pretty much alike.

As I prepare to, umm, settle in, I look around to see if I’ll be holding my purse on my head, or if there’s a hook provided on the door.

Do not use the hooks on the doors in the stalls.
Thieves come along and lift off the jackets.

The cautioner is a gendarme standing at the entrance to a restroom in a French airport; the cautionee, a former colleague of mine with a perpetual twinkle and a delight in the absurdities of the world as it is.

We remove the hooks,
but the thieves, they put them back.

His Gallic shrug says it all, without a word. “What can you do?”

As I note the remnants of the hook installation in this stall, my reaction swerves erratically for just a second. I watch dispassionately to see where it will land. Irritation? Amusement? Frustration? Anger? Relief?

Holes and dents left from hook being ripped off a metal door.

And another face . . . Bonus!

But changing the world’s absurdities — whether it’s poor restroom design or poor maintenance or poor behaviour — is likely beyond even my extensive powers. So as I balance my purse on my head, I shrug. Missing a Gallic flair by just a hair, I’m sure.



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8 Responses to What Can You Do?

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Are there really “hook thieves” looking for loot in enclosed restroom stalls? I have on occasion wondered if any man has ever been pick-pocketed while standing at a urinal?

    All of which reminds me of a true story I heard a couple of weeks ago.
    I attended a retirement party for a lawyer. He and another lawyer started a practice in 1967. In those days – and I didn’t know this – lawyers weren’t allowed to advertise; all they could have was a small plate on their door indicating who they were. They rented an office in a downtown building and put their name plate on the door. They had no clients.
    At some point he went to the restroom down the hall from his office. While he was standing at the urinal another man came in and stood at the next one. When they were at the sinks washing their hands, the conversation went something like the following{
    Other man: “I am looking for lawyer so-and-so. His office is at so-and-so address. Do you know where that is?”
    My lawyer friend: “Yes, you go to this street, make a left, go a few blocks and turn right…and so on.”
    Other man: “That sounds complicated. What do you do?”
    My lawyer friend: “I’m a lawyer.”
    Other man: “I need an affidavit witnessed. Could you do that for me?”
    My lawyer friend: “Of course!”

    My lawyer friend concluded the story by saying, “That was our first client. I sent him a bill for $5.”


    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Well, I always thought this was an urban legend, until my one-time colleague told me about the gendarme. Who knows? As for the lawyer story, that’s really funny.

  2. Judith Umbach says:

    Now, what I have always wondered (in there where there is little else to contemplate) is why the hook is on the door and not on the “wall” (side panel). No answers so far.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – Well, you might have telepathically influenced restroom designers, because I’m seeing more hooks on those very side walls. Hurray!

    • Judith — In all the “better” cubicles, the hook is chest-high, on a side wall.
      But I suspect it’s one of those — it happened ONCE, so Something has to be done!!!!

      But, better safe that trying to reach for — in mid stream — the fast-disappearing purse, up, up and away.

      A — Take off your shoes, travelers — knee-jerk reaction.
      The reason for it will pass from the memory before long,
      if it already hasn’t by young sprouts, if they don’t Google it.

  3. In my small, uptight Bethel college, there was a sign in every cubicle of all the ladies’ restrooms:

    Do not put feminine pads in the toilet.
    Use the container provided for that purpose.

    As English Majors (whatever that means), my roommate and I took them all down (it took hours) and sent them to the Chancellor of the school to grammatically fix.

    We included a long, explanatory note with the parcel, “They say, in essence, “Put the CONTAINER (with the pad inside) into the toilet.”

    We got no reply — not surprising, when it was an anonymous parcel — but the signs were all put back up, as is.

    So we gave up, but only after hand-printing the error on the signs on every one of them.

    Smart alecky Youth: The Age of Pranks. Good Times.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – I can just imagine the consternation in the Chancellor’s anteroom! LOL. Gotta go for it when the spirit moves you.

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