Dignity in Barcelona

22nd July 2013

You feel ill in a foreign country and fumble your way to a public restroom. You close the door, hook your purse on the back, and attend to the matter at hand. You are perched on the toilet in a large windowless room when the light blinks out.


Ah. Motion sensor.

You sigh. You wave your arms above your head with enough vigor to signal an airplane. Darkness. You crouch, and try again on a slightly higher plane, The electronic eye remains indifferent.

Your pants are around your ankles. The only potential light source is your cell phone, which is somewhere across the room. You find this inconvenient.

You settle in to think in the darkness. After a minute or so, the edges of the room begin to compress around you. Surely something nocturnal is crawling toward your ankles.

Enough. It is time to seek alternate accommodations more suited to the task at hand. You reach for the toilet paper roll. And, of course, it is empty.

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5 thoughts on “Dignity in Barcelona

  1. Laura

    I ran out of toilet paper in a dim sum lounge in Hong Kong.

    “Toilet paper?” I asked. No response.

    “Can someone hand me toilet paper?” No one speaks English.

    I resort to sticking my hand out the door, and wiggling my fingers till toilet paper appeared.

    The cleaning lady gave me a knowing glance as I washed my hands and left.

  2. Diane

    I once threw up in a subway station in Barcelona, at a very busy time of day, if it makes you feel any better!

  3. Tom

    They put those sensors on most of the lighting where I work. During normal hours, there’s enough traffic to keep the bathroom lit. But I come in a little earlier than most people and have had this happen twice to me. The sensor’s located near the door, sort of around the corner from the stall, so throwing an extra roll of toilet paper didn’t trigger it.

    Second time it happened, I had my Kindle with me, the cover of which has a reading light. Turned on the light and finished my task.

  4. Karen Robbins

    Been there! The first time it happened I almost panicked. I learned to take something I could keep waving around to keep the light on. The Kindle or iPhone light idea sounds good if you carry one with you all the time.

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