I started to press the pad on the door and
then I stopped. I had an idea in mind
and I tried it out. It worked to no surprise
and the door opened without me having to
type in the rest of the code for the door. “Who
killed the door?” I wondered to myself as I
went inside to use the restroom facilities
among the talking by a couple of agents
for whom all the time is the right time
for their shop talk about policies sold
or gossiping about their coworkers or
something else of that kind. After all,
the door has been broken all week, and
earlier the door handle had been taken
out of the door by some enterprising soul
who must have been doing some sort of
building maintenance work while I
had to use the facilities in the evening
before going off to eat and read alone
as is my fashion. And yet immediately
afterward, when I next went to the
restroom I saw that the handle of the door
had resumed its droopy appearance
and there was a strip of blue electrical
tape that was keeping the door from
locking where it might not be able to be
opened again. How hard is it to fix a door?
Would such a thing be tolerated if it
happened to the door of a women’s restroom,
or are men, even men going to the restroom,
considered able to defend themselves or else
sufficiently incurious about the jankiness of a
men’s bathroom for anyone to be unsafe? And
who was it that broke the door in the first place?
I must admit that going to the restroom is a fairly philosophical occasion. This is not the first time, after all, even recently , that the act of going to the restroom led me to ponder about something in free verse form. As it happens, this particular poem relates to the theme of brokenness, which is a common subject of musing in the Albright oeuvre . And as is often the case in my writing, I had in mind something that was literally broken, namely the door to the men’s restroom closest to the cube farm where I work. Although there is likely a great deal of symbolic meaning on the larger scale why it is that so many things are broken around me and why it is that I notice it so much and reflect on it so often, the poem is itself literally a sort of transcript of my own thoughts and reflections in a rambling fashion about what was going on in my mind, typed more or less in a continuous stream once I returned from the restroom back to work. Poetry comes in the moment like that, even when the moment is something as mundane or even banal as using the restroom only to find that things are not working as well as they should.
Of course, even the simple act of using a restroom where the locking mechanism of the door has been disabled because the door is broken and apparently fixing it is not a high priority by the people who own and manage the building is a political matter on several levels. On one level, of course, there is the question of how it is that a door is broken and how it is that it can be fixed. In my general experience, at least, doors do not break very easily, especially not solid doors of the sort that one would put on a restroom. One wonders how it was that the door got broken in the first place, a question that is asked twice in the course of the poem because it is so striking and so singularly odd. What is keeping the door from being fixed, since its brokenness was noted by the fact that a strip of blue electrical tape is keeping the door from locking completely, showing an acknowledgement that there is a problem and that some resolution is to be expected. What are the office politics of facilities management in terms of acquiring the tools or supplies to repair a broken restroom door? Does the gender of the users of the restroom matter? Would it be viewed as intolerable that there was nothing keeping someone from opening a women’s restroom without knowing the code (even though the pattern of the code is trivial and easy to solve) while the repair of a men’s restroom door is not as high a priority? In our day and age such questions are not idle ones, as politics enters like stinking frogs into nearly every subject of inquiry.
Of course, going to the restroom can be a social experience for many people, although it is not so for me. Although I have read much while in the restroom, I tend to go to the restroom by myself and usually avoid being sociable there aside from the nod or an occasional witty comment. Yet I frequently find that when sales agents from the neighboring cube farm across the hall use the restroom, that they are much more prone to talk to each other, their talk resembling the dominance-establishing ritual behavior of the more showy members of species like peacocks and walruses and elephants and the like, where the strutting of one’s chest and the bragging about what one is doing in one’s personal or professional life is meant to inspire a sense of envy or respect in others around, even if those people are uninterested in doing anything but their own private business as quickly as possible before returning to work once again. And it is from that sort of material that so much of my writing springs. Perhaps such situations are not so uncommon, but it does not seem to me that many people reflect on them or muse about them often, which gives a niche for me to do so, I suppose.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: