Friday, September 19, 2008

Workplace Bathroom Etiquette

I’ve decided that there are just two groups of people in the world. There are those that are bold and brazen enough to poop at work and those who would rather die first. Anyone who knows me knows I among the latter group.

As an outside observer, I have a few suggestions for those who decide to “download” during work hours.

To say something or not to say something: When walking out of the restroom it is not necessary to look at the person waiting for the one -seater stall you have just evacuated and say, “Oooh, sorry…” in Ace Ventura Pet Detective style. That waiting person crossing her legs and doing the tinkle dance will figure it out soon enough and if you haven’t said anything it’s possible they might assume those noxious fumes are the work of the person before you. Unlikely, but possible.

To spray or not to spray: This is a toughie. While nobody wants to smell the full strength of your workplace transgression, I spend way too much money on Dolce and Gabanna “Light Blue” to leave the communal can smelling like your great granny’s cloud of White Shoulders perfume. And truthfully the spray is not so much eliminating the olfactory assault as it is adding an extra layer of sensory torture. Scientifically speaking, this just forges a link in the brain that tells us that when we smell air freshener the next smell we’ll encounter is eau de co-worker and whatever they ate most recently. Ewww

To call the custodian or not to call the custodian: We’ve all had the gut-wrenching, gag-inducing experience of walking into the restroom for a just in case trip and being greeted with a swirling mass of disgustingness that just won’t flush and the smell of funk so thick in the air that a loss of consciousness is eminent. My work best friend (WBF) and I experienced this last week. After offending her with a look that said, “Was it you?” She and I happened upon our principal with his walkie-talkie and said in unison, “We didn’t do it, but the bathroom’s plugged up.” He graciously called the custodian after a brief bout of laughter. In the unlikely event that you plug up the toilet, bite the bullet and fess up. You did it. Admit it and call the custodian.

Finally, I know from years of research and experience that these things can be controlled. The key is: drink more coffee and drink it earlier – AT HOME!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


It recently came to my attention that I misnamed my youngest child. We painstakingly chose John Bryant because it fit our exacting specifications. John is a family name (my grandfather's) and Bryant caught Steve's fancy because it is Irish, or so he claims. It turns out we should have gone with Billy Graham or Chuck Swindoll or even Martin Luther.

The Sunday before school started I was frazzled from wrestling with the technology in my classroom and commandeered Steve to come work out the bugs in my Power Point crammed with riveting slides of the Holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, war protests, political uprisings and natural disasters set to Switchfoot singing "we were meant to live for so much more". A quick trip to WalMart for batteries was required, so Steve took off and left me to tinker with my last minute to do list and wrangle the boys.
Brendan and Bryant begged to run laps around the upper floor of our building and in desperate need of quiet I agreed. Brendan took off and left his brother in the dust. Bryant spotted a stranger and decided to forgo the run after all. You should know that no matter how many times I say, "Don't talk to strangers", he still does. He's already one of those schmoozy guys who can and does talk to a lamp post. To him, if they smile at you they are no longer a stranger, they are your new best friend. Evening news, here we come...

So he corners this sweet new math teacher in the copy room. New math teacher (NMT) is making copies and punching holes in them when my pint sized used car salesman says, "Hi. My mom's been telling me about how you can ask Jesus into your heart. And then you can pray to him and he'll help you all the time."

NMT says, "Oh, that's nice."

Now we did have this conversation, about two weeks prior, but as I recall he changed the subject to puppy dogs or Power Rangers, so I assumed he wasn't interested or listening. Wrong!!! But he doesn't stop there. "Do you want to ask Jesus into your heart right now?" he says to NMT. With an awkwardness I can literally hear through the wall, she says, "I'll have to talk to your mommy about that."

At that point the little evangelist comes running back into my classroom, but turns right back around and disappears again. I can hardly contain my laughter when he says to NMT, "Um actually, when you get Jesus into your heart I don't think you can get him out again. He's just stuck there."

NMT has never brought up that conversation, but has resumed making eye contact with me. I know there are lots of believers in our building, but who knew the first to share Christ with her would be my baby Billy Graham?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Not Just Another Day at the Pool

Regrettably, Sunday was the last day our neighborhood pool would be open for the summer. We eat, sleep and breathe the pool in the summer. I can't help it. It's how I was raised. Growing up, my mom would pack snacks and a lunch and haul all four of us and our garb up to the neighborhood swimming pool from the time it opened until we saw my dad's car pull back into the subdivision that evening. We napped there, read there, ate there and of course swam there. We were tan like nobody's business. In fact, I'm not even sure tan begins to cover it. Oh, and those were the days before moms chased down squealing piglets to grease them up in SPF 249 like they do today, so if I seem fanatical about my yearly mole check at the dermatologist, it is not without cause.

So with a wistful grin, I shimmy into my swimsuit one last time. I grab the beach bag and throw in only the essentials - towels, a few bottles of water and the digital camera since I have put off taking the yearly pool pictures of the boys and can no longer procrastinate or I'll be left with a glaring hole in the scrapbook where they should fall.

We troop up to the pool, drag some beach furniture around to "our spot", and giggle as the boys nearly pull off their ears in their haste to get shirts removed. I spotted my friend Becky's car in the parking lot, so I braved the water to get over to where she was calmly enjoying a novel. Unfortunately for her, I was accompanied by Bryant clinging for dear life to my neck like a spider monkey and squealing like only a four year old boy can. We chatted for a while about work and family and then she decided to pack up and head back home.

Bryant and I joined Steve and Brendan in the deep end where they were perfecting the breast stroke. Watch out Michael Phelps! Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a life guard jump into the water. I have only once EVER seen a life guard go into the water and that was when my friend Diane's brother broke his neck diving into the Harvest Bend pool, so I froze where I stood.

The teenage lifeguard went under the water once and came back up empty handed. He quickly went down again and came up with a woman who was limp and unresponsive. How long she had been down, I had no idea. The lilac tinge to her skin was frightening, but the part that chilled me to the bone was that she looked to be about my age and she might be dead. There were shouts of "Do CPR!" and "Call 911." As a mom, I was torn between the fact that I was holding my breath willing her to find hers and the decision of whether or not to shield my two kids from what was going on. After an eternal minute she came around, but her first sounds of consciousness were her daughter wailing "mommy, I want my mommy, what happened to my mommy". The little girls sobs were then joined by the sobs of her mother and nearly of mine.

She looked awake and alert as EMTs took her away, but I cannot get the video reel out of my head, nor the audio of sobs. I find the anxiety and panic with which I struggled in my early twenties threatening to choke my breath once again. I rationalize - this did not happen to you, it happened to her. But that doesn't help. This morning at work I had to say out loud,"Snap out of it!" I tried the only thing I knew to erase the thoughts and images from my mind, the word of God. I pulled a devotional book off of my classroom desk and read through every verse like a teenage girl frantically clawing through her closet. Romans 12:2 stopped me, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is..." I could go for a renewing of my mind.

We ended that day with sno-cones and another dip before giving the pool the last backward glance of summer, but I think I held the boys a little tighter in their night time hugs and I think they held on just a little longer too.