Pleasantries in the men’s room

I had a nice, short conversation with a man named Jaime this morning. He’s one of those people you see at work nearly every day, but if you work in a building with a lot of large companies as we do you tend to just nod and smile as you pass in the hall. You rarely say anything more than just, “Good morning.”

Jaime and I nod and smile in the men’s room pretty much every day because that’s his office. He’s the janitor and doesn’t mind being called that. I know because I asked him.

I guess Jaime’s work schedule pretty much stays the same every day because my schedule stays the same. We usually meet during the 7 a.m. network news.

After nodding and smiling and saying “Good morning” to Jaime every morning I finally asked him his name a couple of weeks ago. He told me, I gave him mine and then we both smiled and went on about our business. He was cleaning toilets and I was about to use the urinal. Guys don’t shake hands in men’s rooms.

This morning I saw Jaime again and the fact that we had swapped names made me feel like I could talk with him for a moment, so I did.

“Jaime, how are you?” I began.

“Good. How are you doing?” he replied.

I told Jaime I was fine, thank you, and then I told him I’ve noticed him because he’s always smiling and seems happy. He told me he is happy and he seemed amused by the fact that we were talking. After all, I was his “customer” in a manner of speaking.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys cleaning restrooms,” I said, “but you’re the only one who always seems to be smiling,” I explained.

This is probably TMI as we say these days, but this part of our conversation actually happened while I was facing the wall tending to business. Jaime was wiping down the counter and sinks. My point being we weren’t actually making eye contact just yet.

When I was able to address him face-to-face I said something like, “I just wanted you to know I see you every morning and you seem happy.”

“Yes,” he said, surprised but pleased. “I’m  a happy person.”

I said, “It shows and that’s unusual. I like that.”

As a native Californian instigating conversation with a stranger is nearly unthinkable but I’ve been in Texas for seven years now and it’s fun.

Jaime beamed and thanked me. Then he felt bold enough to brag a little.

“I’m just happy,” he told me. “I have a nice family and friends and I have a job. Why not be happy?”

He seemed very proud of his job and his happy life. I think he was also glad that I had talked with him.

Jaime made my day and I think I made his.

PS. Three weeks after I wrote this it has suddenly occurred to me that the phrase, “Pleasantries in the men’s room” could be seriously misinterpreted and is no proper title for anything proper. I could change it but I see no point, really.  If the headline offended you — or was misleading in a disappointing way, I apologize. — DW 5-8-19

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Author: Dave

Dave Williams is a radio news/talk personality originally from Sacramento, now living in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Carolann. They have two sons and grandsons living in L.A.

7 thoughts on “Pleasantries in the men’s room”

  1. Most of my bathroom experiences stretching back for as long as I’m able to remember have been unmemorable, for which I suppose some gratitude is warranted. One of the few exceptions took place in the mid-1980s, in a men’s restroom in Binion’s Horseshoe Club, an aging casino on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. My family and I were visiting my folks, who retired in Vegas and kept themselves occupied as volunteers at the VA clinic pharmacy. Many locals, including my Dad, enjoyed the well-worn but welcoming atmosphere at Binion’s, with its faded velvet wallpaper and threadbare carpeting that had been marinating for decades in spilled alcohol and cigarette smoke. While my Mom and the rest of my family were off doing something elsewhere, my Dad and I were spending quality time in the green velvet jungle, shooting dice at a craps table, where he was teaching me the finer points of playing the odds to help my stack of chips last as long as possible. After one shooter crapped out, we decided to scoop up our remaining chips and make a badly needed retreat to the men’s restroom. The restroom, down a hallway, was a quiet sanctuary from the clattering din of the casino. As my Dad and I sidled up to the bank of urinals against the wall, along with three or four other guys, the only sounds in the room were those of zippers, dripping liquid, grunts, and sighs — that is, until some hapless fellow seated in one of the crapper cubicles released a thunderous gas-propelled cheek-flapping volley that shattered the silence. No one spoke a word — except for my Dad, who loudly proclaimed, to no one in particular: “Well, THAT’S one happy asshole.” Embarrassed, I kept my head down to conceal my grin, stifling my urge to snicker. But the guy next to me snorted, then began to giggle. Another guy down the line started chuckling. As I glanced at a guy at the sink, he began bellowing laughter. Within a matter of seconds, I along with everyone else in there was guffawing — which bewildered a couple of other guys as they entered the restroom. My Dad and I were laughing uncontrollably while we washed at the sink. As we headed for the exit, I glanced at the cubicle that had been the cradle of flatulence. The occupant’s shoes remained stiffly in place. I suspect that he kept silent and still until he was certain that the restroom had emptied.

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