[Post is pictureless for soon-to-be apparent reasons]
A disturbing sign appeared on the staff bathrooms one day. Its simple black and white boldness bewildered me, and stopped me from entering. It was too complex to decipher fully, but given its presence on the door and the Korean for UNTIL SATURDAY was in italics, I got the gist and returned to my co-teacher.
“Yes, there is construction. We cannot use those bathrooms until next week. You can use the student bathroom until then.”
Back home, the student bathrooms were generally a no-go zone. Particularly as a male teacher, I did everything I humanly could to be far, far away from these bathrooms. So much so, that I felt as though even touching the door was illicit. I assumed that even the slightest, most innocent incursion would be taken as a sex-crime, and my career instantaneously ruined. I remember taking my kindergarteners to the boys’ bathroom when we had gym class, and waiting furtively several feet away. When it sounded like they were fooling around, I would shout at the door from a great distance, to make it clear to any bystanders (though there were none) that I had no intention of moving any closer to the bathroom or the children or their orifices. If another student opened the door, I would turn spin to face another direction, and shout over my shoulder, hoping that the words would filter over the threshold.
Here it is nowhere near as sanctuary: at my school, the male teachers typically use the boys’ bathroom before they even consider entering the staff bathroom (and for a lot of them, the lone staff bathrooms are usually several flights of stairs away). Moreover, the doors are typically spread wide open, all the better that passers-by might catch people peeing in their periphery.
But I remained stalwartly skittish. I held back any need to urinate, and called myself weak. In high school, the school bathrooms had been so repulsive and, generally, a place to hotbox rather than defecate, and thus I had spent about 4 years regularly not using bathrooms for 8 or more hours at a time. Could I not manage a few days? Often, I would wait until regular classes were over, and poke my head from the English department. Even then, I would only venture down the hall to the bathroom when the coast was clear. I would make several passes by the door, checking to make sure the entire facility was empty, before even toeing the line.
Upon entering the bathrooms, I would flee to the nearest stall, not even considering the illicit, exhibitionist urinals. Throughout the entire peeing process, I would pray that no one else, particularly none of the tow-headed third graders from my floor. That the principal would not spy me and call for a police escort. That the janitor would not meander in and choose that time to clean out the toilet paper poop bins. And then, once I was done, I bustled forth, turtled my head out the door to check for onlookers, and booked it back to my English classroom, usually immensely relieved, with no one the wiser.
Also, no one the carer, as this is not even vaguely a concern for anyone but me.