Considering that more people than I care to think about probably use them, the toilets in our office are thankfully kept pretty clean. Having said that, the three most important things about a toilet are location, location and location: there are several sets around the building and because some are in higher traffic locations than others, the standard varies from place to place. The ground floor toilets are generally a bit busier and a bit grubbier than the ones on the top floor, for example. The sensible person is well aware of this, and unless necessity calls, it is perfectly possible to plan ahead and pick a venue that will make your stay (on company time, obviously – if you have to do it, you may as well be paid, right?) as pleasant as possible. Most of the time, of course, I just end up diving into whichever is the nearest as I dash around the building from meeting to meeting.
I mention this because I happened to be in one of the ground floor toilets the other day when I noticed there was a little sign attached to the wall to my left:
“Please do not wipe the contents of your nose on this wall”
An eminently reasonable request, I think you’ll agree, although one that you’d probably hope would never need to be put in writing. I don’t seem to remember that people had made a habit of it in this particular location, but I did notice that the sign had provoked an immediate response from the regulars. Nothing had been deposited on the wall with the sign, but people seemed to have made a point of emptying their noses onto the wall in front of them as they stood at the urinal.
I thought this was perhaps a little childish, although a tiny part of me quite enjoyed the way that the nose-pickers had focused on the rather specific nature of the sign’s instruction and had emptied their noses onto a different wall as a form of protest at what they clearly saw as an infringement on one of their pleasures. No one likes a nanny state, after all. I didn’t dwell on this little rebellion too much though, and after finishing my business and washing my hands, I left the toilet and promptly forgot all about it.
When I popped in this afternoon, the sign had gone from the wall to the left of the urinals and had been replaced with a bigger, laminated sign placed at eye-level on the front wall:
“Please DO NOT wipe the contents of your nose on the wall”
Ah. Clever. It seems that the anonymous sign-writer had learnt their lesson from the last sign and was now being far more general in their instruction. This time the Man wasn’t taking any chances and it wasn’t just one particular wall that was covered by the prohibition, it was walls in general. It was written in red ink. You couldn't miss it.
The walls were clean but the sign itself was covered with bogeys.
Stick it to the Man!
If only people put this much imagination into their work, eh?