For all you edjucated folks out there, it’s back to school season again. Alright, so maybe that was 2 months ago, but if you’re a student you’ll sympathize with my general avoidance toward writing about lavatories as I deal with the panic that is filed tightly inside my studious little skull—sore from tension headaches created by sadistic scholarly calendar compression.
Nevertheless, I did have to make a stop into the restroom at STAPLES in Nanaimo during the chaotic mess of the September shopping season. The back to school deals were so good I nearly shit myself.
And maybe I should have. It might have been wise to capitalize on an opportunity to clear out those congested shopping aisles with one big bowel movement, proudly splattering my sickly liquid insides in front of a stand of Hello Kitty backpacks.
It certainly would have repelled those parents and their greedy prick little offspring specimens. With their frenzied scavenger hunt looking for academic “necessities.” Bricks of paper that they’ll never write on. Protractor sets that will be used to stash dope. All sorts of cheap divider paper too thick to roll a joint with. Bright florescent tools, cards, markers and memo-pads of every shape and size. A bright, vibrant collection of chemical sprayed clutter. Gloriously tacky. Blindingly bright. A post-modern mess of consumer-garbage intended to make life convenient, yet inconveniently shoved and scattered wherever it can fit.
If back to school season had a celebratory tree, like Christmas does, it’d be a cardboard cutout of a balding computer programming graduate who still works at STAPLES.
On the other hand, back to school shopping does provide the opportunity to make small talk with depressed house-wives who wear their best outfit while they dip into what’s left of their vacation money. This shopping trip is probably the equivalent of going to a nightclub for these dolled-up dames. It’s fascinating to see their carefully applied eye-shadow and smell their dense perfume. As if this outing is part of some hopeful fantasy that a younger, more eligible man will notice their knee-high leather zip-up boots and give them validation while waiting in line.
Anyway, it took some searching, but I eventually made it to the bathroom. Here’s the back-to-school scoop on the STAPLES poop room.
It turns out that they do in fact have a celebratory tree much like the one I imagined. After mistaking this cardboard cutout for an actual person and asking him where I can do some business that isn’t related to swivel chairs, I begin scanning the store for an employee who isn’t made out of post-consumer material. Judging by the uniform appearance of everyone here, (in both clothing and enthusiasm), this could prove to be a challenge.
Unfortunately, there are no “Staplers” in sight. The copy centre girl is busy copying, the check-out girl is busy being checked out by a perverted Hockey Dad, and the rest of the employees are hiding in the burnable DVD aisle. An excellent hiding spot because—let’s face it—nobody burns fucking DVDs anymore aside from dudes who live in RVs and roll their own smokes.
I look up. Waaay up, I can see the restroom sign through my back-to-school binoculars that were part of a portable FIVE STAR filing-cabinet swiss-army binder system complete with a hole puncher and a built-in barometer. Good thing I’m surrounded by supplies. It turns out the restroom is quite a trek from where I am.
As I march toward the ridiculously high hanging signage dangling from the 6,000 foot ceiling, I shudder at the sea of soccer moms and screaming brats putting their sticky fingers on even stickier merchandise.
Okay, so this photo might not give the impression that it’s very busy in here, because this area of the store is surprisingly empty. It may have something to do with the wet floor sign. I’m assuming someone’s kid didn’t quite make it to the can, and the smell is only now dissipating back into the Sharpie-scented air freshener that STAPLES apparently uses.
This floor is exceptionally clean, though. I can see a near-perfect reflection of my slouching student-body in those tiles. It’s smoother than the recently-waxed upper lip of a divorced damsel in distress, dragging her dimwit kid across the sales floor while she scopes out massive
Well, good thing I put those binoculars down. Looks like I’ll be making the walk all the way back to the customer service desk to retrieve a key. If I were carrying any merchandise, I’d also have to be leaving it there, which would be moderately infuriating if I were carrying a lot.
Yes, I know taking a piss is easier when you don’t have to simultaneously guard your shopping bags as they soak in someone else’s piss, but a “key required” notification on the restroom signage would save everyone an extra trip.
While I’m on the subject, it’d be pretty odd to steal office supplies, but my imagination does veer into quite creative territory when considering the possibilities of concealing such items.
Anyway, it’s time to head back to “Check-Outs,” where I end up waiting for nearly 5 minutes to get the attention of an employee without yelling aggressive, angry obscenities and making a massive STAPLES scene with my impressive ability to complain at a much higher age-level than others in my demographic.
Speaking of being a prematurely cantankerous crust-bag, this key somehow reminds me of Clippy. For those of you who don’t remember this little guy, he’s from an earlier, more complicated, more user-friendly era of software redundancies. Maybe this hallucination is simply the product of the environment I’m in. Or maybe it’s the sharpie fumes.
Finally inside. The lighting in here isn’t great, and the floors definitely don’t match the shiny ones outside. It doesn’t smell very bad, though, and they even have an extra switch for a fan.
This urinal, though. Yikes. I guess someone wanted to figure out how the flush valve works behind the scenes. And that someone happened to be Grog the Curious Caveman.
Surprisingly, it still flushes. The damage is a little off-putting, but it doesn’t inhibit me from making my liquid deposits. It’s also more appealing scenery than the wad of gum and hairs sprinkled on the urinal like curly confetti.
I have no idea who’s pubes shed that much, but if you’re losing that amount of hair down there, I guess some manscaping is in order. Just please don’t do it in public while you’re taking a piss and chewing some Dentyne Ice, for christ’s sake.
Inside the stall, there’s plenty of room, and the toilet is commendably crud-free. I guess the person who cleaned the toddler turd in the hall went full code brown and decided to do a full sweep of all things shit-related.
To the Stapler Staff: If you think you’re doing a thankless job, I’m here to let you know that people like me appreciate your commitment to cleaning other people’s crap. Now if you could just work on your pube-pick-up procedures, you’ll have a solid restroom strategy.
The sink is also very polished. It appears to be clog free, with no sign of loogies, hair, infectious bloody bandaids, toothpaste, or their accompanying teeth. (Yes, I’ve come across all of these things in public restrooms).
As I turn on the faucet, my wrist gets sprayed. The stream for this faucet is a little angled. I’m neither a plumber nor a counsellor, so I can’t tell you what’s making this stream so misguided and rebellious, but I happen to be at STAPLES, surrounded by helpful utilities. Being the resourceful guy that I am, I can definitely tell you what angle the water is spraying at. I was wrong about the protractor set. It pays off, big time.
Malfunction or not, this is a pretty impressive angle. Here are just a few of the many comparisons I can give you to make learning fun, all in the spirit of back to school season!
The soap pumps out abundantly from the Gojo soap dispenser and forms a frothy, foamy pool onto my palm that satisfies me in ways that an automatic soap dispenser just never could.
It’s in great shape, and seems to have a lot more ready for me, if I want it. While I do prefer this model in the black finish—the white, smooth shine of this one matches the aesthetic in here so well that I forget myself. I indulge in the moment, sopping even more suds onto my spread, eager palms. I bite my lip in ecstasy as it generously covers my soft skin, purifying me between the gentle friction of my hands. How could something so filthy leave me feeling so refreshed? I feel so dirty, but so very cleansed.
STAPLES has no shortage of supplies in the “loose-leaf” department—so naturally, they’re fully stocked with the type of paper that customers will actually use. They’ve got an older version of the Cascades Tandem JTR Jumbo Roll Dispenser that doesn’t look a day over 10 years old.
I like this model. The TP doesn’t meet much resistance with the bulk of the roll when you pull down on it, and it spins with glorious ease, allowing customers to wipe whatever they want, as much as they want, wherever they want. Truly a strong asset to the STAPLES stall situation.
Like I said, the floors in here aren’t great, but they’re not outside of anything you’d expect from a public shithouse. The grime is of the accumulated variety that you encounter in any place with heavy traffic.
There are a few cracks in the tiles, and even some around the drain that look like a quaint, excited little shopper. High on life, liquids, and a line of credit.
(Yeah, I’m not going to lie to you and say that this isn’t a stretch. But after I created her, I didn’t have the heart to send her to the recycling bin).
For a restroom that has relatively contemporary appliances, its a bit of a shock to see that STAPLES has stubbornly stuck with their WorldDryer NT-126, No Touch hand dryer. This model is THE standard for leaving your hands dripping wet, even after 30 minutes of direct exposure.
It proudly displays its selling feature right on the exterior, as if to amaze you at the magic of this groundbreaking technology.
There is also a notice for the employees, which must be frustrating to such high-calibre, white collared associates who clearly know the science of contamination and bacterial infections.
This was a hardly educational restroom experience, but the hand-dryer historical artifact was kind of like looking in a textbook, so I’ll concede that my back-to-school bathroom visit was worth an academic observation. I didn’t leave with any single-mom phone numbers, but I’ll definitely be back for another lather with that lovely, solid, well-built soap dispenser, waiting for me like a hidden treasure of antibacterial bliss.
Nice work, STAPLES. I would definitely take a shit inside you. And now, it’s back to class, where I’ll be scribbling cartoon ducks into the books that I bought from Wal-Mart.
Toilet Paper Rating: 3/5