Bathrooms (and I will stick to this nomenclature than the technically correct "toilets" which I am referring in this post) are places of great sublimity. You connect with yourself on delicately various levels in a bathroom. From physical to mental to downright spiritual. A closeted, private space all for yourself when the world around you may be maddening in cacophony and reaching out with tentacles to drag you in its depths. A refuge of silence, a bubble of hope, a whiff of freshener fragrance reminding that even the worst can be masked if you apply right techniques.
We have such a single occupancy relic in our office. It caters to 13-16 people daily. It will be a nice probability problem to work out chances of two colleagues wanting to use it at the same time. Results get more interesting if you mix in time-of-the-day as a variable, viz. office arrival, office departure, post-lunch, evening siesta etc.
HR policies keep trying to imbibe a sense of togetherness in a bunch of people who normally prefer to remain cocooned in their own cubicles. They must learn a lesson or two from the strategic importance of bathroom. Its single occupancy has helped our office colleagues to be more aware of each other. Every colleague keeps a watch on who is where and how should he/she tactically time his/her natural urges to get unobstructed access to this precious resource.
Minds start keeping log of each other's bathroom habits. We have in our minds undeclared bathroom ninjas, Zen masters and kamikazes.Ninjas get in swiftly, get done with their work in minimum noise (and smell) and come out without leaving a trace. Zen masters like to contemplate on life issues and universal truths sitting on the pot, sometimes going through elaborate rituals of flush-sound-making. Maybe they would see life's twists and turns in that whirlpool which sucks all life's muck deep within the pot's bowels. Kamikazes are a dreaded lot. Collateral Damage is Western word for aftermath for their actions. They destroy the very peace fabric of the bathroom. They leave behind a trail which is hallmark of their operations and impossible to miss. After their mission, they leave the destroyed place with war marks (water splashes only, hopefully) on their trousers and wet light switches smeared by un-dried fingers.
This particular bathroom has a special place in my life journey as well. It bears witness to last 3 years of my work-life as well as personal life. It has been a friend in need. Whenever I have wanted to run-away to Wonderland, it has served as my rabbit hole. I have even explored its innards by opening up ventilation shafts and peering down gaping holes 30-storey deep imagining how it must have felt for our leather-clad world saviors in The Matrix. I have talked to its faucet, tested kung-fu moves on its walls, danced a jig-or-two, drafted pensive SMSes and even tried standing meditation in a corner.
It struck me how much my relationship with the bathroom (or rather reason for using it) showcases what I am going through in my life. When I was going through a personal crisis, I have spent lot a time in this bathroom hiding my grief from the world, trying to calm down my nerves, feeling protected in a way. And just the other day, I went through the whole motion without even giving as much as a thought and I worked my way quickly towards the exit. As I stepped out, I just happened to notice this difference - between my sojourns to the bathroom in difficult times and now. I have flushed it all, figuratively and literally.