October 11, 2007

How Al Gore Gave Me A Concussion

Why is it that one-third of my posts start out "So, I was in the bathroom when..."?

I applaud environmentalism. Let me get that out of the way up front. I occasionally start thinking about the horrible things we've done to this planet and get absolutely disgusted. So disgusted that I am compelled to go buy something made of plastic or forget about turning lights off or club a baby seal. Obviously, it takes vigilance. A vigilance I don't always have. But I try, and I applaud environmentalism. To a point.

Yesterday morning, I found myself with the need to visit the little cowboy's room. When I opened the door, the room was completely and totally dark. Then, seconds later, the lights sprang to life and I was bathed in the fluorescent wash of light and ever-present hum you get so accustomed to whilst in gigantic, planet-sized office buildings. The facilities folks, in their quest to conserve energy, had, apparently, installed light-triggering motion detectors. Neat. Still had to poop.

Just for background, I'd like you to know that I'm not an epic pooper, one of those guys who finds themselves a stall and settles in for a long morning ridin' the old bowl. I tend to be expedient. Why linger? Git 'er done.

So, mere minutes later, I was about to stand up and zip when the lights went out. Darkness. No, beyond dark. I couldn't see shit, literally or figuratively. I had no frame of reference to guide movement, no muscle memory. As I zipped, the toilet automatically flushed behind me, tearing through the dark silence. This unnerved me enough that I jumped forward. And tripped. And ran straight into the metal stall door. And finally saw light, in the form of stars dancing around my skull.

This is the danger of rampant environmentalism, people. The earth, I thought as I flung open the stall door which activated the motion detector which triggered the lights, is worth saving but not at the expense of brain trauma. Even the most ardent environmentalists among you must admit that the earth can spare more than three minutes to let a guy poop.

I'm pretty sure this is Al Gore's fault.

Posted by Chris at October 11, 2007 7:09 AM

Damn That Gore person.

It may get worse, Next they may install automatic TP dispensers that only allow one sheet per sitting.

Posted by: William at October 11, 2007 8:11 AM

OMG...my ex used to be so "regular" they said they could set a clock by him at work... thing is...he always took the paper with him... hence THAT is what probably inspired the motion thingy...to shut off the lights... like you say...get er done and get back to work!

Posted by: the unicorn at October 11, 2007 8:21 AM

Oh, thank the blessed baby jesus... you gave me a laugh today. I was feeling that the laughter was gone, stamped out by the snot ball taking up permanent residence in my body. You will forever be in my prayers, Chris, for this generous gift. ;)

Posted by: sue at October 11, 2007 8:47 AM

OMG! thats about the funniest bathroom story yet!!!! I mean you have some great ones, but this one just had me rolling! Thanks for the laugh, sorry about the bump on the head. You might want to start carrying some sort of device you can wave around to trigger the sensor. A white flag maybe...lol!

Posted by: linda at October 11, 2007 8:56 AM

Heh. Luckily we have windows in the bathroom at work. I've been left in the dark in there more often than I'd like.

Posted by: Fraulein N at October 11, 2007 9:09 AM

Perhaps if you attach one of those orange bike flags to yourself before you go into the stall it will keep the lights on :-)

Sorry about the knock on the head...hope you are ok!

Posted by: Alissa at October 11, 2007 9:16 AM

I agree with Linda. This is the funniest bathroom story yet. I'm dying over here.

Posted by: ktjrdn at October 11, 2007 9:16 AM

That THE single most funny most hysterical bathroom story to date... I am sorry, it is at your expense but omg I never thought about those automatic lights doing that... Ah, well know my coworkers likely all know I am not doing work but that was worth it. Thanks!

As for Git 'er done, that made me chuckle - I had a overzealous coach in college who used to scream this at top of his lungs at us even when one of us had to jump out of the pool to pee (or poop I suppose...) Like 'thanks dude for pointing out that this workout sucks my ass so much that I want to escape to the bathroom to pee' and now everyone is now looking at me.

However as an aside on this topic (something I am sure you and anyone reading your comments want to know) I agree about the whole git er done thing in the bathroom. I always used to wonder what my dad did in there for so long every Saturday morning. Of course as my husband pointed out he was probably trying to escape for a few hours of quiet to read his newspaper but besides that... well you get the idear. Hmm, well (cheeks glowing red) I am leaving now...

Posted by: Christina at October 11, 2007 9:19 AM

That sucks. And I've been there. Know what I found out? Your cell phone makes an awesome impromptu flashlight in pitch black.

Posted by: Brad at October 11, 2007 9:20 AM

The kitchen at my old job had an automatic light. It was pretty funny, because it lasted only about 30 seconds (which is not long enough to make coffee!), and it would only trigger right by the door and was not very sensitive, so you'd always see people (including me) having to run to the doorway and jump up and down, waving their arms to get it to turn back on.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 11, 2007 10:39 AM

Great post! You made me laugh!

Posted by: Susan at October 11, 2007 10:40 AM

Is it sad that it's even funnier knowing it happened *to* you and not *around you* ;-p

Posted by: Michelle at October 11, 2007 10:41 AM

You poor thing (she says as she's wiping the coffee off her keyboard).

Posted by: ann adams at October 11, 2007 10:45 AM

it's always Al Gore's fault. :)

Posted by: ali at October 11, 2007 10:45 AM

Sounds to me like you're going to need a buddy to tag along in the future, to jump in front of the motion sensor while you go. Now you understand why women always go in pairs.

Posted by: Candy at October 11, 2007 10:54 AM

I guess you will have to add an element of movement to your time in the stall -- some arm-waving or something. Just make sure your stance doesn't get too wide in the process.

Posted by: julie at October 11, 2007 11:08 AM

Brandon once walked into the darken bathroom. The light came on. Some dude behind the stall squeaked "thank you" and scared the bejeebus out of him. Apparently, dude's been sitting in the dark for a while there. LOL.

Posted by: oakley at October 11, 2007 11:09 AM

I'm sorry that I'm laughing at your situation, but it's so damn funny I just have to! :-)

I think I went to an office building that had these installed...I wondered out loud about almost this same scenario and one of the employees confessed that they usually just flipped the little switch that went from "motion sensor" to "always on". Eventually someone (Treehugger? Al Gore?) would come along and flip it back, but unless that happened while you were...in-situ...it was no big deal, you just flipped it again when you went in.

Posted by: Ross at October 11, 2007 11:16 AM

Yeah, but if it weren't for that Gore dude, you'd be posting your whatnot with a stapler on random bulletin boards instead of this thing called the 'interweb'. We owe him so big.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at October 11, 2007 11:17 AM

But it's ALWAYS Ralph Nader's fault!! We actually have a phrase for it, a "ralphnaderism" for anything expensive, finicky, environmentally correct, totally useless, and a class 5 or above pain in the ass. As in half your car's engine (I once watched a buddy throw out half an engine screaming about ralph nader bits as he did it), and I've screamed "NADER!!" trying to pry those plastic electric outlet caps off (and getting mild shocks in the process, since you can only get them out with a screwdriver).

Posted by: Lillian at October 11, 2007 11:17 AM

bwahahahaha - that's happened to me too...made for a slightly scary moment as it was beyond pitch black. Did NOT hit my head though! snort.

I've also stayed at a hotel that had motion sensors on the A/C thermostat so that it powered down the A/C to a minimal level if there was no one in the room. Like you - I do what I can for the environment - but when it is 110 all day long in Houston and your room is a refreshing 88 degrees when you get back to it at 9pm - it's just annoying!

Posted by: Sue at October 11, 2007 11:21 AM

And I'm pretty sure I don't ever need to know this much about your bowel habits ever again.

But those automatic flushes? The devil's potty.

Posted by: Pammer at October 11, 2007 12:05 PM

They did that during the renovations here, in the bathroom across the hall. It's great, those motion sensor lights. Unless they put the sensor by the door when the actual stalls are around the corner. So yeah, after about a million complaints (all right, 5 or so), they called whoever in to adjust the timing on them. Or something. But I know people who got stuck in there, pants around the ankles, mid-business. heh

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at October 11, 2007 12:31 PM

So now you're going to have to perfect the I'm finished pooping arm wave/dance.

Posted by: MammaLoves at October 11, 2007 1:08 PM

I come here for all of my potty humor!

You should sue the owner's of the building and Al Gore! Here's my card. ;)

Posted by: Nanette at October 11, 2007 1:36 PM

In an attempt to be all "green" and such, I recently made the decision to buy environmentally friendly toilet paper. After reading that it's made from RECYCLED toilet paper, I now know why it's good for the environment... I use VERY little of it. The thought that it's touched someone else's buttocks gives me the heebie jeebies.

Posted by: GreenCanary at October 11, 2007 1:49 PM

Only you Chris, Only you!

Posted by: Li'l Foot's Mommy at October 11, 2007 2:13 PM

^ Li'l Foot's Mommy just said *precisely* what I was going to say. But also, thanks for letting us know, for the record, that you're expedient. (You're my favourite kind of weird, Chris.)

Posted by: Heather at October 11, 2007 2:59 PM

Great story! I'm with Julie: Wave your arms around and see if that helps. (Hey, maybe this is a good excuse to start bringing reading material in the loo with you if you haven't already. You can cover more area with a newspaper or magazine than with your arms alone.)

Posted by: shelley at October 11, 2007 3:06 PM

We have the light sensors at our headquarters in Chicago, and I often wondered how long they remained on after someone got into a stall.

I have used the stall once or twice, and they never turned off, but I was not about to sit there and time it either.

Posted by: Slinger at October 11, 2007 3:54 PM

(Laughing with you, Chris, not at you.)

The automatic flushers here at school always flush before I am done. Maybe because I am a squatter not a sitter. Halfway through peeing they just go off so then I have to manually flush again anyway.

Posted by: Janet at October 11, 2007 4:05 PM

Hey! If it werent for Al Gore, we would have the internet!

Posted by: Harrylips at October 11, 2007 4:13 PM

LOL! My husband has those lights at his work. I went into the ladies bathroom once to wash my hands and was terrified when I couldn't find the light switch. After walking in a little further the lights came on. If you think about it, its a good tactic to make the employees hurry up with their business and get back to work. lol

Posted by: Mary at October 11, 2007 5:05 PM

We have them here at work and they are not set for a long duration and occasionally things take a little longer to work there way to a suitable conclusion. Fortunately I am a tall guy so I have learned to sit in the stall closest to the light and while finishing up the paperwork, wave my hand quickly in front of the light. I do this not because it is dark, because there is still light over the stalls themselves, but instead I would rather not have co-workers wondering how long I spent working on the project. Funny stuff, Chris.

Posted by: Mike at October 11, 2007 5:26 PM

We have those too. When the lights go out while I'm "dropping the kids off at the pool", I rock backwards and forwards to turn them back on again.

Posted by: Pete at October 12, 2007 5:11 AM

How can one guy have so many hilarious bathroom stories. I guess it must be a boy thing. Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: Nila at October 12, 2007 5:56 AM

Hmmmm. Al Gore Causes bathroom lights to go out at inopportune times and wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

Think there's a connection?
hee hee

Posted by: ewe_are_here at October 12, 2007 8:29 AM

I think the custodial staff is eventually going to get ticked off; I imagine that people will eventually lob giant wads of toilet paper over the door in an attempt to reactivate the lights? That's what I'd do anyway . . .

Posted by: Betti at October 12, 2007 10:32 AM

That is soooo not cool! (Or maybe you take longer on the pot than you say/think you do?)

Posted by: Zandria at October 13, 2007 10:48 PM

I, too, don't waste time in this dirty business, but I've never had the lights go out. Thanks for the chuckle. Hope your head is okay.

Posted by: Amy at October 14, 2007 12:48 AM

I wonder how they determined how long the lights should stay on? Take a survey? Average the results?

Sorry about your noggin.

Posted by: Melissa at October 14, 2007 5:31 PM