Friday, September 05, 2008

Sometimes Standing Urine is a Good Thing (Moving Days O)

It was standard afternoon shift. I had been going about my day and things were actually turning out fairly well. Then I saw Mr. Big Stupid coming out of the men's restroom and my view on the day fell. I can't say for sure that Mr. Big Stupid was smirking upon his exit, but something about his manner sounded alarm bells in my head. I was also reminded that I hadn't checked the men's restroom for cleanliness since my arrival at work.

Sure enough, as soon as I walked in the door, bucket of cleaning products already in hand, I saw the dreaded sight and knew what Mr. Big Stupid had been smirking about. I marched back out the door, over to the circ desk and retrieved our temporary-signage folder from its hiding place. Seeing that my boss, Mrs. A, was standing nearby, I held up my "RESTROOM CLOSED, PLEASE USE DOWNSTAIRS RESTROOM" sign for her to see.

"What is it?" she said.

"Two words," I said. "Standing Urine."

"Oh, no."

Yes, indeedy, there was a wide puddle of urine covering much of the floor in front of the urinal. For the record, Mr. Big Stupid was not even a suspect, as he had been not present for the previous standing urine incident and had likely only been smirking at the knowledge that someone else would have to clean up what he'd just seen on the floor. Most likely the person responsible for the urine was one of our regular mentally handicapped patients from Unobstructed Doors.

After a brief search, I found our mop and mop bucket in housekeeping, filled the bucket with warm water, grabbed the Comet, affixed my sign to the bathroom door (if you don't put a sign on the door, patrons wander on in and, despite your obvious efforts to mop up the urine, they track through it anyway to leave some of their own) and headed in to do battle. Unfortunately, after using most of the Comet during the previous incident, there was less than half a tablespoon left in the container, so I then had to go back out and fetch our jug of bleach. Much diluting and sloshing ensued, followed by mopping, cursing under breath and vows to find the culprit and visit unspeakable punishments upon them. Soon the room was filled with bleach fumes. I began to suspect this wasn't a safe thing, so I went over to the restroom's window, intending to open it and help disperse the fumes.

First, a note about the restroom windows: I've mentioned recently how our architect had some rather dangerous ideas about how public buildings should operate and our new restrooms were a major part of that. When he designed the restrooms for our main floor, he included in them the exact same windows that had been installed in the rest of the building, which are very tall, sliding pane windows that allow in the greatest amount of light possible by being very very clear, with no window screens, but which also had venetian blinds in case, I presume, it got too bright to poop. Yes, that's right, the architect installed large, crystal clear windows in ground level restrooms both of which were in direct view of the parking lot. Now, granted, because of the way the interior of the restrooms were arranged, people on the outside would not be able to view people on the inside actually using toilets nor urinals through those windows, but they could certainly see people walking around and washing their hands (hopefully) after using said facilities. Regardless, the presence of those windows made the restrooms feel extremely non-private in a way the vast majority of public restrooms I've been in--including all of the ones I used in Central America, some of which were quite terrifying in other respects--don't. We also had to consider the unsavory possibility of someone like Chester setting up a damned chair outside the ladies' room and having himself an oggle-party. So, shortly before we opened, Mrs. A had Ms. D install some opaque window film over the lower section of both public restroom windows and that solved that.

So, seeking to release the bleach fumes from my particular restroom, I went to the window, raised the blinds and was about to unlatch the lower window pane when I discovered that someone had already unlatched it for my convenience. With barely any effort, I was able to raise the window to the full, open and unscreened position without having to unlatch it first.

"Oh, shit," I said. I then ran to find Mrs. A.

"We have a major problem in there," I said. "Beyond the urine," I added.

"What?" Mrs. A said.

I told her about the window and about my brand new theory that this very unlatched window was how our recent thieves could have gained after hours access to the building. All they had to do was unlatch the window during normal operating hours then come back later and hop on through. The only other possible excuse for it being unlatched, that I could think of, was if Mrs. J had unlatched it to let bleach fumes disperse the last time she'd mopped. The trouble is, Mrs. J is far too short to have reached the latches and has no sense of smell to alert her to the presence of fumes in the first place--which is why she often cannot smell if a mop is moldy and will just go right ahead and use these "ass mops" to do the floors, rendering the building equally assy.

Mrs. A was quite irritated, as windows that patrons can unlatch was a point she'd already raised with the architect back when the building was in the planning stages, a point he'd not been able to fathom. (That was also the same meeting where she raised the point about it being a bad idea to have crystal clear windows into said ground level bathrooms, a point that also went unfathomed.)

Now, here's where our "liberry" clubhouse junior detective skills went off the rails. While we immediately made it policy to check the latches on this and all other ground-level windows as part of normal closing duties, at no point did it occur to us to have the police come round to dust the window for possible prints. Granted, there's a good chance that the latches would only have contained the prints of either the staff or the shitty sub-contractors (a.k.a. the true criminals in this story), but there's a chance it could have nabbed the prints of the cash-box thieves as well. Instead, we just changed our closing policy and, within a few days, Mrs. A had Ms. D go around the building and seal all the ground-level windows shut with L-brackets to prevent this sort of thing in the future.



Manda said...

Windows in a public restroom?! What was that architect smoking?

Anonymous said...

"Too bright to poop".. That is frickin CLASSIC! I'm going to giggle over that for a while...

An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.