The Real Reason to be Scared of the Dark

A month or two ago, something odd happened to me while I was going to the bathroom at work.

Trust me, I’m fully aware with an opening like that, this post could go very wrong very fast, so to paraphrase Kramer’s broken promise to George in the episode where the former is “something of a photog,” I’ll do my best to keep it tasteful.

Anyway, I was … ahem … sitting there, when the guy in the stall next to me … uh … finished up, washed his hands, opened the door to leave, and then turned off the lights.

My initial shock luckily only lasted a split second, allowing me to blurt out “Um, there’s someone in here” while he was still within earshot. As he was already in the restroom when I entered and thus clearly hadn’t heard me open the door next to him, lock it, create my TP barrier over the toilet seat, and then do whatever it was I came to do, it’s amazing he responded to my plea and flipped the switch back to “on.”

If he hadn’t, I would have been stuck there, in pitch darkness, waiting for the next person to come along because getting up wasn’t exactly a great option at that point. And there’s no telling how long this would’ve taken, as this particular bathroom is on the third floor of our building and not on many people’s radars (explaining my affinity for it).

The trauma of my narrow escape had slowly worn off over the ensuing weeks, however. Using those facilities without incident led me to believe it was an isolated occurrence attributable to one man’s folly.

That lasted until today, when it happened again.

Obviously, I’m a casualty of the green movement.

Look, I’m all for being eco-conscious. We just got a high efficiency furnace, I sometimes remember to take a water bottle to work, and I even considered buying a hybrid Ford Fusion until I found out that little “hybrid” badge on the tailgate is worth an extra 10 grand.

But you want to know what I’m in favor of even more than recycling or carpooling? Common sense.

And common sense would seem to dictate that unless you’re one million percent sure—seemingly a mathematical impossibility until you watch American Idol auditions—that there’s no one else in there, DON’T TURN OFF THE LIGHTS.

It’s even worse in this case because the bathroom in question has motion sensors that kill them automatically after a period of inactivity. So way to go, Johnny Greenthumb; you saved five minutes of life on these bulbs, which by the way are high efficiency. No, don’t worry about me. I’m cool just hanging out here for a bit.

I’m tempted to cut the second guy a little slack because I was in there before him, so it would have been easier for him to think he was alone. But not that easy. I mean, we’re not exactly jungle cats stealthily stalking our prey when we’re … you know; indeed, there are any number of audio and/or olfactory clues that announce someone’s presence to everyone else.

While I was writing this, I also had a brief moment where I was like “Ooh, what if someone were deaf; this would make you look like a jackass.” However, I quickly got over that because: 1) I’ve looked like a jackass many times; 2) neither of these guys were deaf since they responded to my yelps; and 3) I’ve been in the bathroom with me my entire life, and I’ve never once needed sound to prevent me from confusing the odor in the air for potpourri.

Damn. Almost made it.


  1. RRager

    It will take a brave soul to comment on this episode.And, no, that's not me.Although I immediately thought of three responses,none of them will be posted.It was actually brave of Ted to go public with this one.(OK, maybe four responses).

  2. Ted

    Meghan, I don't know what to say. A Beautiful Blogger Award in my second week and all those kind words about my book?. I'm speechless. Thank you. This confers instant D.R.O.P list status on you. I'll make the official announcement soon. Thanks again; you made my day.

  3. cavila

    This is quite possibly the funniest thing I have read in a long, LONG time… Even here at work where there are only 5 guys in the whole building and we all use the same stall, this still happens to me quite a lot! Unfortunately, my solution has been to carry my phone for flashlight purposes. I know it's gross to have your phone with you in a place like that, but sometimes it's the only thing you have until the light can be turned on again. I swear I'm not writing this from there. PLEASE BELIEVE ME!

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