But hey. I like to live dangerously. (In this single, solitary respect, anyway.) I naively trust that my boss is too stupid or naive or clueless (or some permutation of these qualities) both to find this post and to identify with it. And even if he did, he's so essentially strange that I don't think what I am going to say about him would truly 'register' in any appreciable way.
My motivation in sharing these details with my (hypothetical) audience is not exclusively selfish. I know that most people like to gripe about their bosses—unless they're those strange mutant freaks who have amicable relationships with their superiors—but that's not my sole intent here. I just feel that these oddities are far too precious to not share with the world.
I should add that the danger of this post is compounded by the fact that I am writing it during work hours—on a company-owned computer—using a workplace internet connection. I am the Indiana Jones of internet tell-all.
For the purposes of my post, I will refer to my boss by the name Carl. His name is not actually Carl. Other too-specific details of his life may be altered in ways intended to make them comparable to but distinct from reality... although I'm not sure how a detail could be more specific and yet absolutely true than the following:
Our office building has five restrooms in it, which is admittedly excessive, given its size, but that is due to what the building was before it housed accounting and sales offices: it was a funeral home. The building itself contained the funeral home proper and (in back) the family residence. The residence has two bathrooms; the funeral home (main floor) has two bathrooms; and there was a 'lounge' with one bathroom in the basement where the grieving could go to smoke a cigarette, get a cup of coffee, or just get away from their relatives for a few minutes.
As a side note, I want to mention that I had a few relatives whose visitations were at this very funeral home when I was a child. I remember my mother taking me to the lounge, either for her own benefit or mine. (As you might guess, I was an impressionable child.) I remember my mother's cousin walking down into the lounge; she was a bony, very early-1980s-looking woman in a synthetic wrap dress and heavy bruise-like make-up. She was notorious for her chain smoking—and if you had the misfortune of sitting near her, she constantly blew the smoke right in your face. I don't think she did this as an insult; it was just 'her way.' Anyway, the thing I remember clearly about my mother's cousin as she descended those stairs is that her legs 'clicked' with every step. You know how your knuckles make that sound when you crack them? Well, this cousin's leg joints made that noise with virtually every step she took. EVERY step. And she was only in her thirties, so it wasn't like she was some bent-over, arthritic battleaxe. She was an eccentric, memorable woman—the kind of woman who—in retrospect—one imagines spent much of the 1980s snorting coke off a Corbusier coffee table and listening to the Human League. But who didn't? (Listen to the Human League, I mean.) As soon as we heard the cousin clicking down the stairs, my mom said, 'Okay, let's go back upstairs!' Now I am not sure if the two incidents were related, but even my underdeveloped social instincts of the time told me that they were.
Well, that was an unnecessary detour. Let's get back to Carl and the office building restrooms.
It is the general consensus in the office, I think, that Carl experiences some kind of recurrent gastric distress. Perhaps IBS. Because he is either inconsiderate or an imbecile, Carl always relieves his gastric distress in the one and only restroom in the building that doesn't have a fan. (All of these restrooms are single-person restrooms, by the way.) Many is the time when I've blithely walked into the restroom for a quick pee and found myself in the eye of a storm of fecal odor so wretchedly overpowering that I've fled the restroom repressing gags. It's truly sickening. To add insult to injury, because there's no fan in the restroom and because the restroom is found along a much-traveled hallway, the odor just sort of festers and spreads throughout the office... until it finally dissipates.
This is the fanless bathroom discussed in this blog post.
As you can see, it is also handicapped-accessible and depressing.
As you can see, it is also handicapped-accessible and depressing.
Even though these cataclysmic dumps are often alluded to behind Carl's back, there is seemingly nothing that can be done about them—because who is going to go up to this creep and tell him to use a bathroom in back—or at least one with a fan? Nobody, that's who. It's not a conversation you want to have. Moreover, it's not a conversation that you are generally required to have because most people can usually figure out these tips and tricks of the minor details of living life on their own. But not Carl. He is an exception to every rule of basic socialization.
What I've told you thus far is only by way of setup for the real meat of the story. I've attempted to establish that Carl is not especially thoughtful of others, lacks self-awareness, and is the person who often 'discussed' (in puzzlement) by others. Another setup detail that I want to include at this point is that when we have guests in the building—i.e., non-employees—they often go to the bathroom and leave the light on afterwards. This is a common mistake because in many multiple-stall public bathrooms, the lights are actually left on. I'm not justifying energy wastage; I'm just saying that some behaviors become automated.
A few years ago—even though I should know better than to try to use that restroom, even for the sake of convenience—I thought I would pop in for a piss. What are the odds it would be the aftermath of another one of Carl's shitstorms? (Pretty good, actually.) I started down the hallway—which as I previously mentioned is in a well-trafficked part of the office—and I saw that the door was ajar and the light was on. This was the tell-tale sign that a visitor had been in the building, right? Right. So I walked up to the door, pushed it open... and there was Carl! Sitting on the shitter with a magazine on his lap, with an expression of clenched concentration on his face that only generally accompanies eliminations.
I can't even express to you how shocking this moment was to me. Any words I use will sound like exaggeration, but it truly was one of those sitcom moments—where you are suddenly locked in a moment for what seems like an eternity and when you are finally released from the moment... your psyche is so overwhelmed in trying to process it that you end up stuttering and stammering until you run away like a gazelle.
Okay. I didn't really run away like a gazelle. I think what I may have said was: 'OH! SORRY!' and then shut the door. But by the time I had uttered that 'OH! SORRY!' the damage was already done. I had seen my boss's pubic hair. I had seen him straining against an intractable turd. I had seen his eyes meet mine—and those eyes (most alarming of all) seemed to express no shock, no embarrassment... no acknowledgement of the moment whatsoever. They were dead. Dead eyes. Not that he was really dead, but his soul was. Whatever it is that makes a human human wasn't present there in his eyes.
A re-creation of what the door looked like when I entered.
After I escaped the scene of The Incident, I did what any reasonable person would do. I told absolutely everyone I could find in the building about it. The story sent most listeners into hysterics—because, after all, they know Carl and know what he's like (i.e., weird). Laughter resounded through the building that day.
Meanwhile, it was my mission (and I told my coworkers this) to avoid running into or having to speak to Carl for AT LEAST the rest of the day. Because how awkward, right? It's not like Carl has a sense of humor or human emotions or anything. He couldn't make a joke about it at his own expense because (a) he didn't seem to know how jokes or self-deprecation work and (b) (more puzzling still) he didn't seem to even be aware that anything remarkable had happened. (There's something you should know about Carl; he roughly corresponds to Obi-Wan Kenobi's comment about Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker in Return of the Jedi: 'He's more machine than man now... twisted and evil.')
I was unsuccessful in my mission. Within an hour, Carl wandered into my office to ask one of his asinine questions. It was as though it were the first time he'd seen me that day. Maybe—by his personal set of rules—the first time you see someone with your pants up is, officially speaking, the first time you see someone that day. I don't know. I can only speculate.
While he was in my office, as you might imagine, all my office neighbors were trying to hold back their peals of laughter. Yes, I could see the humor in it all, of course, but I still feel that something had irrevocably changed that day. You can't view a professional acquaintance quite the same once you've seen them pooping. It simply isn't possible.
Plus, I saw his pubic hair. You know how there is a trend these days where people—particularly younger people—groom and/or tame their pubic hair? Well, let's just say that that particular trend has not found its way to Carl... Am I surprised? No, not at all. Carl is the furthest thing from a trendy person in any capacity. But I was surprised at quite how sprawling and unchecked his wilderness was. It's almost like he was wearing brown flokati underwear. I am still residually disturbed by this.
But wait! Don't run off yet. There is in an epilogue to this story. (Two epilogues actually.)
Let's say it was about six months after The Incident... but it may have been longer... Just like people who have experienced trauma usually heal and learn to trust again, I once again thought I would quickly stop into the convenient restroom for a pee. And lo and behold—the light was on again and the door was ajar. Well... it never even occurred to me...! Surely, he must have learned his lesson, right? I didn't even seriously consider the possibility, to be honest. BUT IT HAPPENED AGAIN! HE WAS IN THERE SHITTING! WITH THE DOOR SLIGHTLY OPEN! Who the fucking fuckety fuck DOES that? Not once, but twice? What is wrong with this world? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, STILL shame on YOU—because normal civilized people do not take dumps in public restrooms with the door open! Fuck you, Carl! Just FUCK THE FUCK OUT OF YOU.
Next epilogue: You think I'm going to say that it happened to me a third time, don't you? Well, you are wrong. Providence has smiled upon me, and I am happy to report that I have not yet walked in on my boss crapping a third time. (That is the weirdest sentence ever, by the way.) BUT... a couple of months ago, my coworker 'Henry' walked into my office, looking distraught, whispering, 'Didn't you walk in on Carl on the crapper once?' 'Yes!' I said. 'Since you brought it up, it happened not once, but twice.'
'Well,' Henry said, clearly outraged, 'it just happened to me!' (Although I'm not happy that anyone else would have to experience this, I have to admit that I finally felt vindicated.) After I finished enjoying the moment, I asked Henry what he did when he saw Carl sitting there on the can. Apparently he said, 'Oh, HERE, Carl. Let me actually close the door for you!'—which is surely a better response than mine, which mostly involved fleeing and hiding and then gossiping about it afterward.