10 December 2016

A square to spare

It didn't end well for Elaine.
Earlier this week as I got off my commuter chariot of choice, the Metro North, and shuffled into the Main Concourse at Grand Central, I took a moment to A) count my blessings that I no longer commute through the snarling, gaping maw of Hell that is Stankfest Penn Station {if there is a skeevier rail station on the planet, please share} and B) how beautiful the Main Concourse was adorned in its Christmas finery. My reverie was interrupted by a homeless man bellowing "Merry f!&@in' Christmas" to the hundreds of commuters who poured past him. At that moment, I knew it was going to be a good day.

It was a good day until it got weird. As noted, I work in Midtown and am a glorious five minute walk from Grand Central. Now Midtown is dotted with towers reaching to the sky, some gleaming brilliantly in their newness and others are, well, a bit worse for wear. I happen to work in one of those towers that if you saw it, you'd suddenly start singing, "The old gray mare ain't what she used to be"or you'd think to yourself, extending the horse metaphor, "She's been rode hard and put away wet."

My building has been through it and one need look no further than our restroom facilities for the pungent proof of how things were in restroom design {Spoiler Alert - they weren't good} when the building first opened, given that nothing has changed since that fateful day. It was in one of those facilities where things got weird. Even before I got to the door, the noxious odors emanating from the Palace of Relief suggested several people had made poor lunch decisions. Upon entering and seeing that all the stalls were ocupado, the poor decision making hunch was confirmed. Fortunately, my needs were not stall-related, so I was able to do what I needed to fairly quickly. I then made my way to the sinks that are so close to the stalls that one cannot enter/exit said stall without knocking into whoever is at the sinks. That's super awesome. While washing my hands repeatedly, not because I'm OCD but because that bathroom is a HazMat incident gone awry, I heard this from the stall behind me.

"Sir, excuse me, sir. Please, can you help me?"

Of all the things one might ever hear in a public restroom, this has got to be one of the things you really hope not to hear. Given that the crack in the stall door was wide enough for said assistance seeker to see me, there was no way I could feign ignorance nor could I visibly grimace. So it was that I responded.

"Um, sure, what do you need?" 'Please be a heart attack, please be a heart attack' is what I was thinking (I know. I know. I'm going to Hell but I was really concerned about the alternatives.).

"Sir, there is no toilet paper in here. I really need some toilet paper. I'm really sorry. I usually check. But I didn't and I really need some toilet paper. Can't you please help me?"

I instantly had to silence a laugh and bite down hard on my lip as I was immediately transported to one of the seminal "Seinfeld" episodes wherein Elaine finds herself similarly stranded in a stall. It took all I had to not say, "Sir, I don't have a square to spare." Instead, I opted to do the appropriate thing and I said, "Let me see what I can do."

One of the stalls had been vacated so I pulled out an excessively large amount of the toilet paper that my stranded stall resident needed and then had to quickly ponder how I was going to deliver the bounty to him. I wasn't about to ask him to open the door because nobody needed to see that. I wasn't going to lean down and pass it under the door either. So I went for the dunk shot, lobbing it over the top of the door. Fortunately, it was a good shot because, in a relieved tone, he uttered, "Hey, thanks, bro."

"You're welcome, bro," were my last words as I made my exit. Hopefully he'll pay that one forward but happy to not know those details. Note to self - always, always, always make sure there's enough toilet paper. You never know when some one won't be willing to spare a square.

May you never find yourself in this situation:

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