The Curious Incident of the Surfer in the Restroom
This summer I started going surfing every Friday with my friend, Chicken Dancer up in Manhattan Beach (or “down in” depending on where you are). My usual routine is to get up, brush my teeth, grab some coffee and a snack (it does not do to eat too much before surfing) and head out to meet Chicken Dancer at 6:30. (He has a real job, so all surfing must be done before 8:00.)
One Friday in particular though the coffee hit me real hard and I had to go number one promptly upon arrival at the beach parking lot. I hurriedly headed off into the public restroom by the beachwalk. Immediately upon entering the restroom, something was terribly wrong and surreal. There was someone else in the restroom, and he was starting back at me…and he was doing a twosie.
For reasons I don’t know, the city of Manhattan Beach decided that the stall doors for the toilets should be no higher than one’s shoulder when sitting down. As such, while that dude was doing his business, his head and shoulders were in plain sight to all who entered the restroom – in this case – me.
His eyes showed the same terror that now engulfed me. Clearly he was hoping to get his business over with quickly before anyone else came into the restroom, but I ruined that.
So, here was the problem. We’d already seen each other, so each pretending the other didn’t exist would just be plain rude. However, there were no social precedents or standard etiquette that I knew of to indicate how to proceed with the situation. How you’ve failed me Emily Post. Worse still agonizing seconds were passing and staring at each other was equally unacceptable.
I surveyed the bank of urinals on the wall, and glory be if there was not one that would allow me to do my business with my back to the guy. So I quickly turned and headed for the chosen urinal. But still I did not want to be rude, so I casually let out a “How’s it going, dude?”
He said, “Oh, not too bad.”
I finished my business, flushed and replied, “Awesome.”
I quickly washed my hands and uttered, “Well, have a nice day.”
And as I high-tailed it out of there I heard him say, “Thanks. You too,” mechanically finishing the conversation.
The situation seemed to diffuse well enough considering. It could have gone over much worse.
Thank god I am a woman and the stalls go all the way up, as a rule.