Bathroom Blame: Damned for Someone Else’s Aromatic Crime
You love the bathrooms where you work. They’re made for one person at a time. This is not only nice, but right. There are some things you shouldn’t share:
It’s best to answer Nature’s call by yourself. She has things to say to you and you alone, but how can she say these things when you’re busy listening to your neighbor’s struggle in the next stall?
You receive the call and scoot to the restroom.
But when you walk in, you encounter a smell so bad you think something wicked must have happened there moments ago, a Satanic fire-ceremony involving the sacrifice of broccoli and rubber.
You plan to conduct your business quickly and get out fast. You breathe through your mouth so you don’t have to smell the smell. Then you remember what smells are: floating particles of the thing itself. You’re eating it! You stop breathing, answer Nature’s call, then get out of there before you pass out from a lack of oxygen.
But just as you’re leaving the restroom, you meet a coworker in the hall. He nods to you. You nod to him. You wonder, “I wonder where he’s off to.” Then you find out. He has also received the call and goes into the restroom.
“Oh no!” you think. “He’ll think the stink is mine!”
What can you do? For a moment, you just stand there outside the bathroom door, stunned, stuck.
Can you wait until he comes out and then casually say, “I didn’t do it,” or “Whoever did that should be put to death”? No. This would only make you sound guilty.
Or maybe your coworker knows you well enough to make the right call on his own. He’ll think, “Dan isn’t capable of this. He would never fill the air with dangerous particles and leave them where anyone could accidentally eat them. Never.”
Then again, maybe your coworker doesn’t know you well enough. Maybe the moment he locked himself in with the great vaporous Satan, he blamed you.
Before the smell, he thought, “Dan is great, truly a good person. Obviously a genius, but somehow humble, the kind of guy I’d trust with my life, my wife, or my country. Wow, I’d better be careful not to worship him. Though he could take it. It’s just that I couldn’t take it. Am I in love with him?”
After the smell, he thinks, “Dan is perverted human garbage.”
Now you’re angry. A part of you wonders if maybe your coworker is truly the guilty one. He’s the pervert. You saw a documentary about serial killers. It isn’t enough for them to cut off heads and have a puppet show in the woods. These killers often return to the scene of the crime.
“That’s what he’s doing right now,” you think. “He’s in there, huffing his own sin.”
But you suddenly feel guilty. After all the “hellos” and “good mornings” you’ve shared with your coworker, it’s terrible what you just thought about him.
You hope the truly-guilty person pays for what they’ve done. Then you wonder if maybe they’re paying already. Their conscience is killing them. They’re in their office right now, or maybe even just down the hall, around a corner, suffering because they know you’re the one taking the blame for the gaseous anti-Christ they unleashed upon the world.
You imagine this guilty person, a big man, very strong, capable of great stenches. He paces. Wrings his hands. He’s very dramatic, possibly French, but he’s also moral, the type of guy who would raise someone else’s child; run a factory that hires only poor prostitutes; and forgive the police officer who mercilessly hunted him all his life.
This big guy says…no, he sings about the coworker currently in the bathroom:
“He thinks that stink is Dan’s!
Oh what a horrid stance!
That comrade he has blamed,
this Dan could be my chance!
Why should I save Dan’s hide?
Why should I right this wrong
when I have come so far
and struggled for so long?
If I speak, I am condemned…
if I stay silent, I am damned!
Who am I?”
Suddenly the bathroom door opens. Your coworker looks out and sees you’re still there. You lock eyes with him. You see the judgement. Now would be a perfect time for the real criminal to reveal himself, to stride into the hall and sing out,
“My dear workmate, please see it’s true, this Dan bears no more guilt than you! Who am I? Who am I? I did that poo!”
But it doesn’t happen.
What does happen is this: just as your coworker is stepping out of the bathroom, the supervisor approaches. He waits for your coworker to exit then looks at you, thinking you’re in line.
“No,” you say, “I was just passing through.”
“Very good,” says the supervisor, then he enters the bathroom.
Immediately you see the panic and horror in your coworker’s eyes. The poor man stands outside the closed door. Now he’s the one stunned and stuck. You empathize. You know his struggle so well.
He looks to you, his eyes pleading: “Stand with me, I beg you. Tell him the truth!”
But you walk away.
You’re at peace now, clean as a whistle, as happy as you’ve ever been, innocent before God and your supervisor.
You run into a big Frenchman around the corner. He gives you a high-five and says, “We’ll played, mon ami.”