Every once in a while, the Administration department at my workplace feels the need to do something dramatic to make its presence felt. The most recent act has been to ration toilet paper.
Now, this might sound facile, but it’s bloody infuriating. Consider the maths: roughly 60 women on the floor + powerful a/c’s + 3 toilets. And given my penchant for bad timing, a familiar sight greets me each time I step into the washroom – bins overflowing with toilet paper, but not a shred of it on the holder.
The fascist notice stuck on the washroom door reads, ‘It has been brought to our notice that people are wasting toilet paper to wipe hands and feet. Henceforth, toilet paper will be replaced every three hours only ie at 12.30, 3:30… etc.'
Considering the hand dryer doesn’t work and there are no paper napkins, it follows that people will use the only available paper to wipe hands, face, feet etc. But what irks me most (after the absence of toilet paper) is the seriousness with which Admin regards toilet paper. It’s toilet paper, for crying out aloud. Limited utility, non-recyclable, flimsy toilet paper. If you can’t trust employees with toilet paper, how do you entrust them with business worth crores? Talk about perspective!
While a trip to the washroom usually puts me in ill humour, there’s something that unexpectedly cheers me. It’s the view from the tiny window there. (It seems I also have a penchant for being in workplaces which have interesting views from the loo window. In a previous office, the washroom window offered a scintillating view of the setting sun, unobscured by concrete or foliage. ‘Going to watch the sunset’ became a favourite euphemism for the other business.)
The toilet-paperless washroom overlooks the primary section of a school, and affords an easy glimpse into a couple of classrooms. If I squint a bit, I can even read what’s on the blackboard. Sometimes, there’s a low drone, indicating a class in progress. At other times, there’s a high-pitched chant; sometimes a teacher’s voice thunders. Once I noticed most of the children out in the corridor. I assumed it was a free class. But then, the teacher walked into view. She stood out in the corridor chatting casually with some of the children. What intrigued me, was the way she spoke and listened to them, almost as if they were adults. An old woman, who looked like the school cleaner, came up and started shepherding the children into the class. The girls went in, but the boys continued to cavort outside. The teacher didn’t seem bothered by the ruckus.
I was thoroughly absorbed in this idyllic scene from my unusual vantage point, when I heard a discreet knock on the door. It was the washroom attendant waiting to replace the toilet paper.