Lisa
04/01/07

Toilets

A word about toilets….

One word is probably more than most people want to hear about toilets. It isn't the sort of subject that causes heads to turn and incline close together to hear the very latest. There really hasn't been any late-breaking updates on toilets since they moved inside and the contents got flushed far away. And most of us don't remember them any other way.

Well, okay, I will admit that I have seen and, sadly, used a few pit toilets. They were the old fashioned rest stops. Not very restful. It can be quite exhausting balancing yourself precariously, one hand pinching your nostrils shut, dodging gangs of buzzing flies, aiming - all with your eyes shut, because you don't want to accidentally look down into the hole. From the stench of it that you can still sense through your squashed nostrils, there could be dead bodies down there - or worse.

Oh, yes, those were the days. But now rest areas are modernized. We have toilets that flush by themselves most of the time - unless you are wearing the color black. Now, I wear quite a lot black, so I was never very impressed with these modernized toilets. I figured they were always broken - until the day I saw the sign - and realized it was just prejudice.

I had been struggling with the automatic flush toilets and the automatic spray sinks for years. I would manually flush the toilets with disgust. But there was nothing manual about the sinks, so I would hop from sink to sink hoping I would find one of them operating. I was puzzled, because they seemed to work for other people. I would get the tail end (no pun intended. We're talking about sinks now! Keep up!) dribbling of their steady streams of water - not usually enough to get the soap off my hands.

I blamed myself. I was obviously doing something wrong. I didn't understand how they worked. I was too embarrassed to ask. I would idle by the hand dryer, waiting for someone who knew the secret password. I'd imitate their movement to no avail and finally go back to waiting for other people's droplets.

Then there was the day I saw the sign, placed above the sink faucet. "Will not work if wearing black." And I was freed from my feelings of inadequacy. It wasn't me! It was the sensors! They just didn't like black-. Then a realization hit me: the sinks and toilets were prejudiced!

I could change my shirt, still, something about it just seemed wrong. I was at a moral crossroads. Should I start wearing blue, pass for a non-black-wearing person? Should I bleach my clothing to a paler shade of grey? Should I begin a protest to give equal rights to black-wearers? Should I only use my home bathroom where I was welcome no matter what color I wore? Or continue standing by the hand dryers waiting for a drizzle of water from a light-colored-clothed person?

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Lisa J. Parker's writing and creative works including poems, books, short stories, essays, movies, greeting graphics, and photographs.

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