Friday, 16 April 2010

David Sedaris

I am a fan of the writer, David Sedaris - his piece about his father's fondness for old food is one of the funniest things I've ever read - and so I was pleased to see him on the Radio 4 schedule. One of the things he read out in his first programme was a diary entry which, while I would really rather not have to concentrate on anyone’s experiences in a urinal, nevertheless exactly captures the infantilisation you experience and the craven urge to appease that all too easily seizes you in London daily life:
‘Harrods has opened a Krispy Kreme counter. Before sitting down to a doughnut and a cup of coffee, I went to the basement to use the restroom. There was a young man beside me at the urinal and, after he’d finished, he walked to the sink to wash his hands. The attendant asked him if he’d flushed. ‘Uh, yah,’ the young man said.
‘No you didn’t,’ the attendant told him. The young man returned and, as he pulled the handle, we exchanged that particular glance meaning, ‘The washroom attendant is crazy.’
This was the sort of behaviour you’d expect in a public toilet in Paris but not in a department store, especially such a fancy one. The attendant was black and looked to be in his sixties. His accent suggested that he was from the West Indies and his expression said in no uncertain terms that he hated these toilets and everyone who used them.
When it came my turn, I made a great show of the flushing, glaring at the urinal and its contents, as if to say, ‘Be gone, you.’ Then I washed my hands. There were towels folded beside the sink, but using one might have angered the attendant, so I wiped my hands on my pants. This seemed to please him, and I left the restroom thinking, ‘He likes me, he likes me.’

7 comments:

  1. Harrods? Krispy Kreme? Compulsary flushing of urinals?? Weird. For some reason, though, I would be able to take this from an elderly West Indian but not from your average Cockney.

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  2. It's the absurd desire to get in the good books of bullying petty officials that reveals the weakness in some of us - I bet I would have tried to curry favour by not using the towels, just like Sedaris. So pathetic. I didn't know urinals flushed though. I didn't really want to know either.

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  3. Flushing urinals? What is this? America?

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  4. Exactly. I didn't know they flushed either!

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  5. as above - flushing urinals? And if harrods are trying to be posh, why dont they just install the urinals with the little radars in them that know when you've finished and flush automatically?

    also he neglects to mention if he had to pay or not. This is where the real power struggle lies

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  6. I would like to think I would tell him not to be so impertinent. Flushing urinals! I've never heard such nonsense.

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  7. I think I should stay away from such sordid topics in future. I don't know what came over me really.

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