Much Ado About The Loo (A Reflection On and About Public Restrooms, Among Other Things)

I remember Spider-man whining about how having superpowers is both a blessing and a curse.

You know what I think is both a blessing and a curse? PUBLIC RESTROOMS.

Public restrooms provide the momentary, but immediate and much-needed comfort and relief. It’s not meant to, but it often serves as a witness and venue for when certain matters/issues need to be dealt with privately. Most of the time, at least in my case, it is where I get the most meaningful reflections and the best creative ideas for writing. Am I the only one who reflects, meditates, or composes essays while peeing?

Public restrooms are a blessing.

All these are quickly disregarded though when you chance upon a public restroom smelling foul. While I know it’s not supposed to smell like your own bathroom, I feel the smell should at least be neutral or clean. Or like a bathroom cleanser, maybe? The foul smell assures you the place has not been properly maintained, and that the stench will more or less stick to your clothes better than magnet on steel. The smell is an assault to the senses. Scratch that. The smell and appearance are an assault to the senses.

One restroom I frequent was recently renovated, and with that came a few new facilities. It now has a huge mirror. The tiles have been changed, too. Gone are the yellowish-used-to-be-white ones it once had. The cubicle doors are likewise brand new, with fully-functioning locks. Gone are the days when I had to hold onto the door while semi-squatting on the toilet. That, by the way, is every woman’s hidden talent. Take a bow, ladies.

Blessings, right?

Not quite. Not with the additional provision of bidets in every cubicle. This one’s a menace. A menace, I tell you.

But first, a brief vocabulary lesson. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the word ‘bidet’ as “a bathroom fixture used especially for bathing the external genitals and the anal region.” It’s clear which part of one’s body bidets are meant to clean. And although I understand why this particular fixture was provided, I can’t help but also think how bad of an idea it is, particularly in a public restroom. I, for one, feel it’s very unhygienic to have or use bidets in public restrooms, but that’s just me. And this is even assuming, bidets are used properly – correctly. Here’s a thought: what if it is not?

Since the renovation and the installation of bidets, I have never seen this particular restroom this filthy. The cubicle floors are always flooded with puddles of water, and the seats are always doused with a mixture of water and urine. With all the amount of water, err –liquid, you see, you’d think at least the inside of the toilet is clean, right? I give people way too much credit and benefit of the doubt, I know, because it seems with the newly-installed bidets, people have forgotten how to use the toilet flush. Of course, the sink counter is not spared. It would take a whole of effort to leave the restroom with a dry shirt after brushing your teeth.

Unrest and discomfort.  Curses!

From public restrooms and other office or school facilities, to social media, free speech and expression, suffrage – these are all reasons to be thankful. Blessings. If only we do not abuse them. Curses.

But borrowing the words of Uncle Ben in Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Just like with everything you own, have, and enjoy, you have to value it, take care of it, and respect everyone else who uses or has it. You lose that, then everything just plainly becomes a curse, for you and for everyone else.

I still use this particular restroom, mainly because more often I don’t have a choice but to. I still wish for a day when I get to see it in pristine condition, meaning no stench, no unrecognizable liquid in sight — a place that can actually live up to its name — a comfort room.

 

But until then, as with everything else (other public facilities, social media, free speech and expression, suffrage), I will continue to proceed with care and caution, I continue to arm myself with enough toilet paper, (p)wet wipes, and alcohol with every visit.

What’s Beneath You

While Lady was having coffee at her desk during lunch break: 

Boss1: Lady, marunong ka mag-photocopy? Hindi kasi ako marunong.
Lady: Ay, opo. Akin na po, tulungan ko kayo. Ilang copies po ba?
Boss1: Fifteen eh.
Lady checked the original copy and realized, it had seven pages. “Fifteen copies of seven pages,” she thought to herself. Huwaw. Keribels. Go.

As Lady was busy making photocopies, Boss2 approached her:
Boss2: Lady, may email ako sa iyo mamaya ah? Paki-final check mo na lang. Ano ginagawa mo dyan?
Lady: Nagfo-photocopy po. Helping Boss1.
Boss2: Eh bakit ikaw? Asan si Clerk1 o si Clerk2?
Lady: Hindi ko po alam eh. Okay lang naman po. Nagpatulong pati si Boss1.

Lady’s story reminds me of the quote, “No job is too big; No task is too small.”

How many times have we refused to do work or a task because ‘it was beneath us’? From answering phones, picking up very visible trash, preparing coffee for a superior, holding a door for someone else, photocopying documents for other people, or other ‘menial’ tasks. How many times have we said, “Hindi ko naman trabaho yan.” (That’s not my responsibility.)

While it is true that our jobs dictate specific tasks and responsibilities, taking on “special tasks”, such as photcopying documents, as in the case of Lady, do not and will never make us any less of a person, in fact, it does the opposite. There is nothing lowly about it, and it is definitely NOT beneath us to help. Be there and do more than what’s expected.

Social Power

One of the topics my former students and I often discuss via Facebook chat, apart from politics, government, sports, and the occasional school news, is social media responsibility.

Think before you click.” Sometimes, maybe out of haste, excitement, or plain poor judgment, we ‘trigger-click’ without really putting much thought into what we’re ‘liking’, what we’re commenting on whether to show our support or disgust over an issue, what we’re sharing or posting. How much thought do we actually put in what we read, what we ‘like’, and what we share particularly on Facebook (FB)?

Whatever a person does on his own Facebook page (or whatever social media he’s in) is his business, but that sort of freedom requires responsibility — a responsibility to at least know if what we’re sharing or posting is true and factual, and if from another source, if the information is accurate and reliable.

At this day and age, where it seems, we cannot control the flow of information we receive anymore, and that it seems natural already, the risk, I feel, lies in filtering all the information; Discern which are true from false, which are real from fake, and which are reliable or not. Post elections here in the Philippines, and I still see most people believing in even the most rubbish of news. I have seen many people fall prey (from the countless FB likes, comments, and shares) to that article in which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) supposedly declared our President as “the best President on the Solar System.” While I would want to see our President and our country making such a mark on the Solar System — no less, I can’t help but be amused at the hilarity of it, too.

From reposting quotable quotes, sharing funny personal anecdotes, and various kinds of videos that had gone viral for reasons that are either good or bad — that’s how we spread good vibes nowadays. I’ve seen countless “pasikatin natin ‘to” posts, and although at first, I understood the value in them, like many other things in the past, we have come to abuse this fad as well. Case in point, that viral photo of a man aboard the MRT, who according to the woman who took the photo and made the post, refused her his seat. After just days and numerous threats later, the man comes out explaining his side. Turns out, the man had just come from a graveyard shift and was feeling under the weather, and had absolutely no idea, he had offended anyone. Unfortunately, because of how quickly the photo and the accompanying narrative had spread, quite a damage had already been done — to the man.

I think, equally important to knowing the content of what we’re spreading on social media is our purpose — our intention for doing so, and to be sensitive and considerate enough to think ahead and know how people will feel about it, how people will react to it. Am I posting for awareness? To inform? To entertain? To spread good vibes? Is there a chance some people will be offended by my post?

Technology and social media have given us so much power. The unique and accessible power to teach and educate, to spread awareness and inform, to entertain and make others smile or laugh. On the other hand, it also gives us the power to destroy, ruin, and offend.  And it is because of the latter that we should take hold of our values, as old school and as cheesy as that sounds, and be more considerate, more sensitive, more compassionate, and more conscientious, no matter the advances in technology and the amount of power social media can give us.

 

Hypocrites

​I don’t think it’s hypocrisy if and when you choose to take sides, in this case, whether you’re in favor of everything that that the Duterte adminstration declares, or you’re against it. You’re simply making a stand according to your beliefs, your opinion, and hopefully, the facts that support such, provided you indeed have the facts.

You’re a hypocrite, if for example, you claim to be a man or woman of God, and abide by all of the Lord’s teachings. One of which is to respect the life of another and not claim it. While at the same time, openly support the killings of alleged drug addicts and pushers. As far as I know, the Lord does not discriminate. I’m not the most religious person, so correct me if I’m wrong, but the Lord never said “thou shall not kill, except when the other is a drug addict, drug pusher, or a criminal.” You can argue all you want about who the real victims are, the fact still remains though, each one of us has rights which should be acknowledged and respected by all, no matter how high and mighty you are. ✌

On the other hand, you’re also a hypocrite, if for example, you openly make a stand online, but can’t back it up, or you do the opposite outside the realms of technology. Or when you openly declare your support for the all-out war against drugs, but actually do drugs, or accept drug money. ✌

It is when you do things or behave in such a manner that contradict your beliefs and your stand that qualifies you as a hypocrite. 

Then again, there’s also such a thing as blind obedience. But that’s for another post. #PinoysAndPolitics 🙊🙊🙊