Saturday in a Shopping Mall Restroom

It was designed to easily handle a mid-December crowd. Of course there’s only a mid-December crowd in mid-December, so the rest of the year the bathroom sits quiet and echoy. There were five stalls and eight urinals, six sinks and two hand dryers–more than would ever be used at once, except perhaps for those crowded December shopping days when everyone has to pee at once.

But in mid-September the mall bathroom is usually the most lonely and secluded place you can find. The few patrons who travel down the back end hallways and actually find the bathroom are usually efficient and quiet, doing their business and doing it quickly, eager to return to their consumer bliss. Occasionally a father will take his time, and you can tell he’s probably here with a teenage daughter, or a shopaholic wife and is savoring the moment of serenity.

It here that I find my refuge. That probably sounds crazy, but you’d think a lot of things about me are crazy. Most people do. But that’s okay. I’m not interested in most people. The bathroom is quiet and cavernous, a good place to do some thinking. Your thoughts and any stray noises are magnified on the tile, and everything seems to come back to you more refined.

I’ll often spend an entire Saturday in the men’s room of the Willow Creek Mall. Sometimes I’ll divide my time between the three public restrooms, but I usually stick with the one by the north entrance, tucked away in a hallway to nowhere, across from Victoria’s Secret. There’s a men’s room on one side and women’s room on the other, and a sink and telephone in between. There’s a door a few feet down that leads to the emergency shelter, which once upon a time was a fallout shelter.

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