I took my little niece to the show. She had to go to the bathroom. We walked into the restroom together and I asked if she needed help. She told me she could do it herself. So I went into my stall and she went into hers. I finished first and as I exited my stall, I stopped in front of her door.
“Are you okay? Do you need help?” I asked.
“I’m fine,” a sweet voice responded.
Fine. I walked to the sinks, washed my hands, and waited for my niece near the entrance. The way the bathroom was set up, a person washing their hands couldn’t see the see the line of stalls in the other direction. After a couple minutes went by, and with no sign of my niece, I walked back to the stall area and waited outside her door.
I asked again if she needed help and the door swung open. There she stood, in one piece. I poked my head inside (without touching a thing). She did not pee all over the seat nor was the stall flooded with mounds of toilet paper. Nicely done, little niece!
I followed behind as we made our way past the long line of stalls. At the threshold, she turned left for the sinks and I headed straight to the entrance/exit where I had stood before. I watched my niece wash her hands and my gaze shifted to the woman standing next to her. She was staring at me through the mirror, giving me a “look.”
I didn’t know her and we had no interaction that day, so I turned away, chucked it up as just my imagination. But then she headed in my direction with the same stare, the same look of disgust across her face – directed right at me. It wasn’t my imagination. This shit was real!
She passed me and as she reached for the door, she tilted her face toward me and then leaned her head back in the most snobby, disregarded, “I’m the head-cheerleader and you play clarinet in the marching band” kind-of-a-way. I didn’t know what I’d done. I stared, dumbfounded, as I watched her leave.
My mind quickly backtracked every step I’d made since I arrived at the theater to get to the moment I was in. I hadn’t stolen anyone’s parking space, nor had I cut in line. I hadn’t let the door behind me slam in anyone’s face. I always did the courteous, “hold the door behind you for the next person” gesture. So what gives? What the bleep did I do?
My niece was walking toward me while wiping her wet hands against her pants. I pushed a strand of her hair behind her ears. “Did you wash your hands really good?” I asked.
And then it hit me.
Oh bleep me! That woman thought I didn’t wash my hands! She didn’t know that when she saw me walking back from the stalls that I had only gone there to check on my little niece, but she couldn’t see that from where she stood at the sinks. She didn’t know that I had already gone to the bathroom and had already washed my hands!
I fought the urge to chase after her while yelling, “It’s not what you think! Really, it’s not! I only went back there to help my niece and I didn’t even touch anything! I swear! My hands are clean!”
But it was no use. I had to accept that I was known by a stranger as “the woman who didn’t wash her hands after using a public bathroom.”
I was disgusting.
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