Tag Archives: religion

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.