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does this only happen to me?

You'd think that a stick person wearing pants and a stick person wearing a skirt would make things clear enough, but apparently not. I had just come back from a day downtown with friends. It had been a wonderfully warm day, and humid, too. We had gone to the park to play frisbee and I had consumed several yummy drinks (non-alcoholic). The meandering trip home meant that by the time I got to the end of the metro line, I really had to go to the bathroom. My bus was going to be another 20 minutes, so I thought I would run across the street to the Macdonalds and use the bathroom.

I had never been in this particular Macdonalds and didn't really know the layout. I felt slightly guilty about going in to use the bathroom without buying anything, so I strode in, stood 10 feet back from the counter, scoped out the place, and scoured the menu to see if anything appealed to me. Nope. A girl was wiping trays at the counter and eyeing everyone that walked in the door. It made me feel even more conspicuous about being a bathroom free-loader. I waited till she moved to the back, scanned the menu and the employees one more time, and headed to the bathroom, trying to give the impression that I would be back after I had considered my menu choices from the privacy of a bathroom stall.

Did I mention that I have an extremely sensitive conscience? I feel guilty when I jaywalk, and most people in Montreal think it is as natural as eating a croissant. I don't like to walk against the solid or blinking hand on a pedestrian crosswalk. This usually means I am the only person not crossing the street as a whole mob of impatient walkers ignore the warning light. It makes me uncomfortable if I accidentally get too much change, or get charged too little for something. So, I was feeling extremely self-conscious when I headed towards the bathrooms.

I saw the women's bathroom at the end of a long hallway. So far to go. I hoped I didn't encounter a watchful employee on washroom patrol duty. I looked to the right and saw a handicapped washroom closer by. Yes, I would quickly duck in there and do my business and be gone in 60 seconds. There was a large sign on the bathroom door stating that these facilities were only for patrons of the restaurant. Arghh, I didn't like seeing that, but this really was an emergency. Would they rather have me pee behind a bush?

I pushed the door open. There were 2 urinals and a stall. I guess it was a handicapped bathroom for both sexes. I went in the stall and sat down. I heard another person come in and then some water running. Hmmm, that wasn't water. I peeked through the small crack between the door and the wall. Yep, there was a guy there doing his business (I could only see his back, thankfully). At this point I was beginning to wonder whether this really was the unisex bathroom.

I finished emptying out all my drinks from my bladder and sat there, listening to some guy hum while he washed his hands and fixed his hair, trying not to make any female noises. Finally, he left. I flushed, fumbled with my shorts and the complicated tie belt, and exited the stall. I quickly turn on the tap and thrust my hands under the running water, not bothering to dry them - eager to get out before someone else came in. I rushed out of the bathroom with wet hands and wet spots on my shorts where the water had splashed because I was in a distracted hurry. I glanced back at the door closing behind me and saw clearly that there was a stick figure with straight legs on the door and a wheelchair beside him. How could I have missed that? I guess if I wore a skirt or dress more often (as the ladies room figure clearly illustrates all women should), I might not have become confused.

There are a number of factors that caused this embarrassing situation. I was under pressure, literally. I have a touch of dyslexia which makes me reverse things sometimes (east/west, left/right, boys/girls, etc.) I was suffering from tunnel vision, focusing on the prohibition sign on the door instead of the indicative sign right above it. There are also a number of lessons to learn from this: 1. go to the bathroom before starting a journey, 2. buy french fries to alleviate guilt, and 3. always lock the stall when you find yourself in the men's room, ladies.

Just another silly, but true, story from the life of Matte. Sometimes I wish there weren't quite so many of them, but where would be the fun in that?

This is a picture of 4 different cups of tea. For your information there was a bathroom within six feet of these drinks.


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