07 October, 2008

The Factory, Nick, Nietzsche, and Defecation

7th October 2008

During the Summer of 2000, I worked in a factory for three weeks, and lived alone for two. My family was away on vacation, and I stayed. In that factory, I did the same job that people who had been there for 25 years did. It took about an hour to learn all of it. This factory produced very long blades – usually longer than a human’s length – and throughout my work there, I could never figure how they were used, nor did any of the workers there had any clue. All we knew was that these blades were used as parts of a printer, but of the industrial type, I imagine.

Back then I was 17. I here mean to show you a little portrait of me at that age, so I won’t show more of the factory stuff, even though there’s a lot to say in that area.

Not being very social, when the midday break came about, instead of going where all the workers go and eat, I spirited myself away. Where to? The “restroom” of the factory. I figured nobody would find me there. I’d lock myself up in one of the stalls, and pretend to be taking the longest crap humanity has ever known. The other workers had already pegged me down as a “student” and I had no intention of feeding their fire, so I wouldn’t read a book in front of them. That’s all I wanted to do during my break, read. So I’d hid in a stall and read Nietzsche. I was 17.

I liked it in the stall, on my own, without anyone able to see me. There was a not so amazing smell though. It didn’t smell like shit, but you could tell the place needed more ventilation. So I’m reading Nietzsche, getting his wisdom into my brain, when all of a sudden, someone enters the restroom. I stop moving, I don’t turn a page, I just freeze and reread the same page until the guy goes away. He does his little things, and goes away. I turn the page.

Later, another guy comes, and this one enters a stall. The stall right beside mine. My door is closed and locked, but my feet aren’t down. I meant to hide, which is stupid because if your door is both closed and locked, everyone knows there must be someone in there, and if there appears to be no one, it’s more likely that they’ll get the janitor to break that door open. Maybe it was just the position I was in that needed my feet to be hidden. I’d sit cross-legged on the closed lid of the toilet, so I could rest my elbows on my knees and hold the book before me more easily.

The guy doesn’t know he’s not alone in the restroom. Other doors are closed even when there’s no one in the stall, typically. So he starts whistling, as he unbuckles his pants and unzips his stuff. There I am, literally inches away from him, and he has no clue I’m so damn close. Then I hear his little brook flowing. I feel like I’m some spy and that no matter what comes next, I shall not laugh or giggle. And what comes next is a series of energetic little farts and tumbling sounds. I’m not reading philosophy anymore at this point. I’m holding my mouth firmly closed with all the strength of my hand. Breathing is optional, and I don’t use it for now, which I figure is a good idea because those sounds usually don’t come alone.

I think God made shitting so comical and ridiculous to humble us. It’s hard to think yourself something majestic when your ass is a trumpet and your insides a stinkbomb. And if you’re already humble, it makes you giggle, like it did me. Dude keeps shitting a riot as I exercise masterful control over my breathing. And I hear every single movement he makes. I can almost see the exact shape of the turds he donates to oblivion. The way they splash in the yellow water gives me an idea of their very texture, and I can even tell if they fell straight, or made a loop. Of course I can’t. I’m no shitologist.

Then the guy wipes his ass. I hear the wiping, it’s only a few inches away from me, after all. Then he goes away. I’m left alone, but that man’s presence will be made vivid to me as the token of his defecation will linger in my nostrils for quite some time. If you’d rather stay in a shit-smelling restroom than go out and risk being seen by people, you might have some kind of social anxiety issue going on. I preferred the bad smell.

So that’s it for this little episode in my life. Reading Nietzsche in factory toilets. A typical teenage activity, right?

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