Saturday, October 3, 2009

Something Small

The posts on this blog have been about such big subjects lately that I, for one, hanker for something small, something simple, something, you know, excruciatingly ordinary. And what could be more ordinary than the need to use the bathroom on the Staten Island Ferry.

Now, in all frankness, about the time I board the ferry I am primed, once we pull out of the harbor, to sit down to relieve myself. But on the ferry, interestingly enough, you can never have it all, and here's what I mean by this. There are something like 5 or 6 ferries, all slightly different models that rotate taking people back and forth between Manhattan and Staten Island. Some are older and some are newer, some have snack bars and some don't, but none is perfect, particularly when it comes to using the toilet, and you never know which disadvantage you will be facing. For some inexplicable reason, all toilets (and I mean all) that have actual wooden toilet seats do not have proper door latches and so the doors themselves cannot be fixed and are thus subject to even the lightest of breezes. So while your bottom may be relatively comfortable, you must suffer the anxiety of never quite knowing when the stall door will swing open to reveal you in this most humble of positions.

On the other hand, there are bathroom stalls whose doors work perfectly, but in all of those cases (and I mean all) the toilet seats are entirely absent and in their place all that is available are the coldest imaginable stainless steel rims. The only way to make a sit tolerable is by spreading shredded sheets of toilet paper on this thin rim of steel, which also doesn't work very well because the toilet paper itself often tears into pieces as you attempt to extract it from the roll.

So there you have it, a tiny little object lesson in not being able to get everything that you want, not even when you're trying to respond to one of the most basic requests that nature makes of us, right there on the Staten Island Ferry.

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