Why are my pants wet?: A lesson in cultural sensitivity

I have this weird habit where I check myself out in the washroom mirror while washing my hands. I don’t know what I’m looking for–probably just making sure my hair’s okay and I don’t have a giant booger on my face or something. I’ll lean forward towards the mirror and gaze deeply into the eyes of my mirror self.

Over the last month or so, I’ve been finding that when I do this at work, I’ll get back to my desk to discover that my pants are soaked through in socially compromising areas. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t… leaking. I’m not quite old enough to have to resort to diapers. So I went back to the bathroom and checked the sink. Sure enough, the entire sink counter was flooded with water, held there with the magic of surface tension.

At first, I was angry. I hate having to use communal washrooms to begin with, but this was adding insult to injury. I was tempted to put up a post-it with one of those passive-aggressive sorts of notes you see in offices telling the slobs to clean up after their damn, lazy selves. I mean, how hard is it to wash your hands without making a mess? Seriously!

Rather than resorting to futile anger, however, I kept my wits about me and observed.

I noticed that people were doing something at the bathroom sinks that I hadn’t expected: they were washing their face. Face-washing can conceivably be more messy than hand-washing. But isn’t that level of facial cleanliness a little obsessive? I’m usually good with a shower in the morning. It’s not like we’re working in a coal mine.

I know I shouldn’t make snap judgements, so I continued to observe. The people washing faces seemed to be the same dudes who I’d noticed trying to scope out quiet places to pray at work. And they happened to say something I didn’t catch before they started. And I also noticed that it was (at the time) coming to the end of Ramadan.

Wudu is the act of ritual washing in preparation for prayer. It is a religious duty in Islam.

So I’m kinda glad I didn’t kick up a fuss or anything. That would’ve been really embarrassing. I’ll just have to be more careful about my pants.

4 thoughts on “Why are my pants wet?: A lesson in cultural sensitivity

  1. tinkerer

    shrug We don’t even get an office bathroom–we have to share with the public at large. And at a public library in the downtown core? We get all kinds of homeless doing their daily wash-ups! Not to mention the kids…and the handicapped with mobility and/or mental issues…So, our sinks are frequently a mess (and sometimes the commodes–eewwww!). I am well versed in the phenomena of watching where I lean lest my clothes reflect where I’ve been!

    I notice, tho’, that it is not unusual for us staff members to grab an extra paper towel & try to dry off the worst of the sloppy counter mess if there happens to be one while we are in there…we have that sense of “this is our place, we need to help take care of it”…too bad your fellow workers are so busy being godly that they can’t bother to do the same.

    I suppose it really disturbs me at a certain level–OK, they have their “right” to do their thing. Who cares? But why are they so self-absorbed in their rituals that they can’t even notice that their actions are creating trouble (in this case, a mess that needs to be cleaned up or stepped around) to the others in their environment? Just because the action causing it is tied into their religion doesn’t make it right or even pardonable. It is one thing to tolerate a different religious opinion/belief…it’s a whole ‘nother thing to tolerate slobby behavior in a common area! Personally, I think you SHOULD have left a snide note–boorishness is boorishness, regardless of the reason! And I doubt that Islam duty includes “thou shalt liberally water formica in prelude to prostrating to Allah.” The fellows at fault are just being ill-mannered & thoughtless!

    It’s like those jerks who hawk & spit all over the sidewalks. Er, excuse me? I live here TOO???

    Sorry. I’ll get off my soap box now…

  2. tinkerer

    Btw, Squirrel, it’s getting COLD out! Did you get your bulbs planted, your sprinklers blown out, your leaves raked up, your grass mowed one last time & your outdoor water faucets insulated?

    Have you carved your pumpkins yet?

    And if so, can you come do all that at my place next? I’ve been a bit busy with the hockey thing, and Martha (Stewart) isn’t returning my calls… :D

  3. flying squirrel Post author

    For a while, I tried to drop hints by conspicuously leaving paper towels on the counter to soak up the mess.

    Every once in a while, I’ll mop it up myself, but that gets annoying after a time. And it’s gotten better since Ramadan ended. I suspect it’s similar to the Christmas-and-Easter-churchgoing phenomenon.

    Right now, what time I have for house stuff is taken up by trying to get raccoons out from under my porch. I should write a post about that…

  4. tinkerer

    Oh, you ABSOLUTELY should write about the raccoons! They are so adorable! Well, ok, raccoons are not exactly adorable, except in pictures. We treed one in our yard not that long ago–the first we’ve ever seen in the seven+ years we’ve lived here (smack in the middle of the city, no less!). I am aware that the cute little rascals can be quite dangerous and also destructive…I hope they aren’t chewing through your foundation or something…

    So do tell all about them. :) That would be a good distraction from work-place slobs, who you should ABSOLUTELY NOT clean up after! It’s one thing were they uneducated/ill/children–these are grown men, and what it says about their overall attitude and personality is NOT favorable!

    Definitely, let’s talk about raccoons. :D

Comments are closed.