Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 5.15.17
Stanstead, Quebec


One brief shining toilet

Last year, I moved into an office on the second floor because, logistically, logically, it made sense. Six months later, logisticallyer, logicallyer, it makes more sense for me to move back where I came from. It's kind of like getting deported, except I don't fear for my life and the greatest inconvenience is having to hang my pictures again.

I'm at peace with the move. For one, I'll be close to the printer, so now when I stand in front of it for several minutes, waiting for it to spew my project, I won't have so far to travel when I finally remember I forgot to press "print."

I'll also be closer to the coffeemaker, which some days feels so far away I can't be bothered to get out of my chair to get the coffee I need to have the motivation to get out of my chair to get the coffee, a classic caffeinated Catch-22.

But it's not without regret, this move. In doing so, I'm giving up a workplace perk that some people only ever dream of: a private bathroom.

This is about more than having a private place to take care of business at my business, though there is much to be said about that. Yes, yes, even the Queen poops, but you don't want to think about that. You don't want to walk into a bathroom just as a co-worker is walking out. You don't need those mental or sensory images. What if the seat's still warm? What if they left behind a horror show? What if you're just about to go into a meeting together? That's hard to move past.

It's even worse if you're the one coming out. Your co-worker will know for a fact that you are disgusting. Even if you were just in there to fix your hair in the mirror, they're not buying it. You're gross. Everybody poops -- in theory! No one wants hard evidence.

I like to make a big show of shaking my damp hands or wiping them ostentatiously on my pants so people know for certain that at least I washed my hands. Usually I'm doing this anyway because I've failed to operate the motion sensor paper towel dispenser.

With a private bathroom, on the other hand, you can poop with impunity — impoonity. No need to scope out the joint, time your entrances and exits, curse the man or woman who invented vindaloo shrimp.

But avoiding the unsavoury is just one of the benefits of a loo all for you. As I've discovered over the last few months, my small corner privy is a little oasis in the workday, a place I can escape too whenever the urge manifests itself. I know that there's a magazine in there, folded over to the page I left off last time. A stack of magazines. My magazines.

I can take my time. No one's going to walk up and rattle the door. I don't have to say, in a tense, quaking voice, "Almost done!" If things don't work out the first time, I can always go back for seconds. No one will know.

My toothbrush sits in a glass by the sink. I can brush my teeth without judgement, because it's odd how much people frown upon spitting into a communal sink, even in the name of combatting tooth decay and the hazards of workplace halitosis, which I think we can all agree is very real.

The extra rolls of toilet paper are within reach under the sink. A lovely hand towel hangs there, occasionally replaced by housekeeping. There's not a motion sensor in sight.

There's a mousetrap under the sink, and occasionally it will catch a visitor. They usually go unnoticed for a day or two, at which time I sniff the air and think, "Did I do that?" No, it's a dead mouse, but even if I did do that, so what? I would just close the door of my private bathroom.

It's purely a matter of logicness and logisticness that I ended up with a private bathroom in the first place, but it feels like workplace prestige. I bet the Queen has a private bathroom.

So as much as I regret having to pack up my books and files for the second time in a year, greater still is the regret that, unlike the Queen, I will no longer have a throne of my own.

I also regret that I never got to use my private shower.

I have two days.