Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Business End

"Have you done your business?"

That's a euphemism at our house when dealing with our dogs, usually when we don't have the patience to deal with them much longer.
Amy or I will often try to hurry the dogs along so we can put them in the house after we're certain they've eaten their most recent meal. However before we can be certain that they won't intrude upon our sleep or other highly important project by whining, or howling or suddenly barking incessantly (their three individual ways of communicating with us) we've been trained to make sure they've taken care of their basic digestive functions. Thus we'll often stand around on the patio asking, "Have you done your business?"
Or encouraging, "Hurry up! Be good dogs. Go do your business!"
If our patience is wearing be bit thin - we may be more demanding, "GO DO YOUR #%*!( BUSINESS!"

Except for our dogs and possibly my physician, I do not willingly have discussions with anyone regarding the "business" side of life, albeit I have been roped into some conversations about babies where this topic seems to be appropriate and for some, the source of great glee. I usually try to get out of those discussions post haste.

All of us have our personal boundaries and one of mine is that I also really don't want to discuss anything while "taking care" of my own business.

At home, this is not really an issue. I mean when the kids were young, they might wander by the "reading" room and I'd hear someone mutter, "Gross!" and during my college days I had a roommate who was fond of remarking as he passed by occupied facilities, "Whooa! Somethin' crawl up inside ya and die?"

Without exception, I've always considered such comments to be rhetorical rather than actual conversation starters.

On occasion at my office I've found myself trapped "mid-business" when someone, whose identity I can often only try to guess by their shoes, will park themselves right "next door" and begin conversing. I believe these type of people do not care with whom they are striking up a dialog, they are happy simply to have a captive audience.

I realize many people have differing views about how manners/propriety/personal hygiene and other matters come into play when it comes to this topic. Let me make one thing clear: I don't care what you think about the topic. I do not wish to discuss your thoughts and most certainly I don't want to hear your thoughts, or anything else emanating from you, during the actual course of "business."

So, when confronted by such situations it is my policy to completely ignore the other person except to study their shoes as closely as possible so I can avoid them in the future. I also make a mental reminder to always try to use our company's "same sex" facility since it is not designed to be shared while in use. Should a conversation erupt in that room, it would be symptomatic of a larger problem... or certainly the fodder for a rather lurid office scandal.

Considering my personal policy, my writing about this topic must seem a bit odd to some of you...actually I would hope it seems strange to all of you.

Not to worry...blame DFW airport.

Amy and I were at DFW yesterday waiting for our flight when I decided to take advantage of one of the few, if not the only, things at that immense and lavish travel hub that doesn't require you to possess either an amazing amount of cash or a credit score on par with that of a pre-stock market crash Bill Gates.

The Mens room.

So I asked Amy not to let the our plane leave without me and then boarded a tram, rode the moving walkways, zipped up an escalator, two or three stairwells, bypassed sixteen or seventeen 5-star restaurants as well as the only Taco Bell on earth where a taco costs more than many small cars, and I finally arrived.

I knew, of course, that should I need to "attend to business" during our upcoming flight I wouldn't be bothered by someone striking up a conversation "mid business." However that benefit could not outweigh memories of the untold number of unpleasant past experiences with on board aircraft facilities. The fact is I knew that in flight I would be risking all of the disgusting prospects presented by what can generously only be described as an "airborne Port-o-Potty" - only less spacious than the ground versions and apparently designed by the same folks responsible for the amenities which brought fame to the Hanoi Hilton. Although I will concede that it took me a while to understand that not having the ability to actually inhale while inside aircraft restrooms should indeed be considered a plus.

Also I didn't realize that an airport the size of DFW apparently has a strict policy of no more than one restroom every six or seven miles.

Anyway, as is the case in most airport facilities, the people using them tend not to break into spontaneous conversations with one another, since no one knows anyone else. This obviously is fine with me...I think it should be the law everywhere.

Also, to put this delicately, the nature of my particular "business" at that moment was such that it could be done while standing, so to speak. Therefore I wasn't running the risk of being trapped next to some chatty guy while worrying that DFW Airport might institute a "pay as you go" policy while I was seated.

So, after recovering from the journey that's required to actually reach the Mens room, I entered with little or no concern.

I selected one of 4672 available places of "business" set aside for standing clientele and was occupying my thoughts by trying to remember the course I'd need to take to get out of the restroom, not to mention directions to the gate where Amy was still waiting, when my thoughts were suddenly interrupted:

"So, let me tell ya! This is BIG! I mean it's HUGE! Giant I tell ya! You really need to meet me so you can personally SEE the size of this deal!"

It was a very loud voice and every word resonated thanks to the fact the walls were all covered by an elaborate display of hand carved marble tiles each of which was I believe individually selected and flown back to DFW on separate aircraft paid for by the profits from the airport's Orange Julius stand.

I couldn't discern the speaker's precise location, but I knew he was behind me and in a seated position amid the 4682 places set aside for clientele of that nature.

"Joe....I'm tellin' you...this is something you will want to see to believe! Get on a plane now!"

I was somewhat amused but also cursing my imagination for conjuring up any number of distasteful images as a result of this guy's desire to make sure everyone at the airport (and possibly all of Texas) could hear every word he was hollering into what I now realized was a cell phone. I was starting to feel a bit relieved that at least the echoing gibbering fool was not making a sales pitch to some poor schmoe helplessly locked in the next enclosed seating area when I heard:


Mercifully my mind could not react quick enough to incorporate that sudden addition to this sickening serenade with the previously conjured images I was still processing..

"Honestly, if you miss out on this opportunity fella, yer gonna feel like...."


"Noise? What nois....Oh! Ya know what that is Joe? That's the sound of the last guy who passed up on seeing this thing Joe..."


"I'm tellin' you it's unbelievable..."



I'm not certain how long it continued...too long I know. One guy talking and another apparent half man/half giant cat trying to extricate a giant hairball....behind closed doors, but certainly not in private.

All I can remember from that point is running by 3893 wash basins designed to remain untouched by human hands which all simultaneously began spewing water.

I was well on my way down the first flight or two of stairs while still hearing the whir of hundreds of automated towel dispensers as they each churned out a precisely measure piece of paper towel scientifically determined to be exactly enough to be of no use if you actually wanted to dry anything....but I wasn't moving fast enough to out run the haunting echo...

"Joe??? Joe?"


"Joe!! This deal will make you flush I tell ya!!"

When I finally made it back to where Amy was still seated - on the rich Corinthian leather lounge chairs provided at no cost, unless you want to look out the window - she gave me a curious look. I couldn't bring myself to tell her of the horror.

Instead I simply said, "This is no place to do business."