Turn the Other Cheeks / by Courtney Mehlhaff

I think it's a pretty well-established unwritten rule that, as an adult, you shouldn't be making any verbal noises when you're in a public restroom stall.  

This includes both sounds and words -- with the notable exceptions of "Would you please hand me some toilet paper?" or "Do you have a tampon?" Because a) those are necessities, b) asking takes guts, and c) you're morally obligated to help a sister out in a crisis.

I would also include talking on the phone, which happens less now with texting. In the past, I've been privy (pun intended) to several conversations. One time I heard a woman put shoes on layaway. Another time I heard instructions for how to bake a ham. Once a lady took a call from a prospective employer. I don't know if she panicked or just didn't think they'd notice, but I held off flushing till after the phone interview.

I'm hoping that good karma will make up for my faux pas in the bathroom stall at work last week, when I unintentionally broke not one but two cardinal rules. First, I typically don't use my phone in public restrooms, largely because (germs aside) it tempts you to lose track of time. Get in, get out. There are people waiting, and it's weird to post statuses from the toilet.

But that day, I reached into my sweater pocket for some Kleenex and forgot my phone was in there. So naturally, I was compelled to check my email, which led to breaking the second rule.

I read a message from the local film society announcing that they'd be showing the new Macbeth movie. And, as I suddenly remembered that oh, right, wow that's coming out soon and Michael Fassbender's in it and I do love that play and I do love him and it looks amazing, I forgot that I wasn't geeking out over Shakespeare alone and I said out loud:

"Ahhhhhh . . . . yesssssss." 

Which, when you think about it, is maybe one of the worst things someone could hear coming from behind a stall door. 

Because the other person in the bathroom with me did not know I was on my phone. So I can't imagine how she interpreted this anonymous statement -- followed, as it were, by complete silence. Cryptic? Creepy? Disturbingly happy? Just plain relieved? I'll never know.

All I know for sure is that I had to wait until she finished washing her hands and left, and then another few minutes for good measure, in order to protect my identity (and avoid a harassment charge).

And much like the woman on the interview call, I found myself hoping only to be gainfully employed after relying on the kindness of peeing strangers.