Last week, I'm standing at the urinal in the fourth-floor men's loo at work, as one does after drinking two large cups of dark roast coffee, and I'm looking around at the stark white walls surrounding me. You have to visualize this urinal: First off, it's the only urinal there (you'd think a building as new and sophisticated as the one I work in could have sprung for two urinals). Secondly, the walls enclosing the urinal are really close, maybe two feet apart, then you have to realize that the urinal is recessed about three feet deep, so if you can picture it, you're standing in a coffin-like chamber-- it's unnerving, especially to a pee-shy chap as myself.
Now that you can appreciate the unsavory condition, check this out. Like I mentioned, last week, I'm standing at the urinal, trying with all my might to ignore the tech guy in the stall next to me, who seems to be negotiating one honey of a bowel movement, when I spot (stop reading right now if you have a problem with gross bodily functions, although if you did, you wouldn't have gotten this far in the story), a massive-- there's no way to put this gingerly-- a massive booger on the wall in front of me.
Some guy dug into his nose, pulled out a big snot (about the size of a kernel of corn) and stuck it on the wall just above the urinal so whoever used said urinal was eye-level with it, thus making it impossible not to notice it for the duration of your usage. All I could think of was, "What the fuck? This is a multi-million dollar company filled with bright college graduates and one of them did this?"
Was the guy bored? Clucking his tongue at society's conventions? Marking his territory? I have no idea, but I finished my business, zipped up, went back to my desk and spent the rest of the day trying to figure it all out.
The next day, same thing. I had my morning cup and like clockwork, at 10am, I went to the restroom, walked into the coffin-like urinal stall and unzipped. Yep, the kernel-sized booger was there, but to its left was another, equally huge booger-- this time wiped across the wall. To help you with the visual, it sort of looked like an olive-green comet: There was an actual ball-like mass which made up the bulk of the booger, but when it was smeared, it created a tail of green residue just like a comet streaking across the atmosphere.
I was amazed. Was this the same guy who left the booger the day before or did someone up the ante and leave an even bigger, more disgusting booger?
This went on for about a week. One day after the next, I'd go to the restroom and I'd notice that a new booger would be added to the three walls surrounding the urinal. At this point, there were about nine distinctive boogers, some big, some small, some bloody (oh yeah, bloody), some dark in hue, some light.
At this point, it was obvious to me that this was not the work of one man, it was a group effort-- it was like a really awful biological meme project. And the funny thing was that no guy in the office I spoke to ever brought it up-- no one. It's like we all just ignored it, like shameful rape victims. There was one time I wanted to ask one of my male co-workers if he'd been noticing the booger-urinal problem, but I just didn't know how to bring it up-- the whole topic was so gauche, even I couldn't bring myself to talk about it (and if you know me, I love bathroom humor and pottymouth talk.
The funny thing is, the building employs an independent cleaning crew who come in at night, empty out the trash cans, vacuum the crumbs from those who eat their Subway sandwiches at their desks (hello, me) and yes, clean the bathrooms. The cleaning crew must have a no-booger clause in their contract with the company I work for though because they'd replace the paper tower dispenser, replenish the toilet seat liners, mop the floors, but they didn't touch the booger-lined wall of shame.
I'm assuming that last week, one of the executives on the fifth floor must have really had to use the restroom while they were on the fourth floor, and instead of running up to the nicer fifth floor restroom they slummed it in the fourth floor restroom and discovered the booger wall because this past Monday, the walls were as clean as the day they were painted white.
It's Wednesday now and I just used the urinal again. Yeah, someone left another booger. Will it spawn another meme-like outbreak of more boogers? If you're a betting man, you go with the odds. It's flu season and flu season brings on draining sinuses and draining nasal cavities.
Alarcon co-founded outsideleft with lamontpaul in 2004. His work for o/l has attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers, oh and probably the fbi too.
Memories are Now, is a bold and inventive collection from Jesca Hoop who says each new record begins with a musical identity crisis