when i went to the bathroom this morning, there was someone in my favorite stall. there’s never anybody in my favorite stall. in fact, there’s usually nobody in the bathroom at all since i’m the only girl in this building.
but this morning, it looked like someone was camped out in the bathroom: a cable-knit sweater draped over the door, a turquoise blanket sprawled on the floor and a bar of soap sitting on the counter.
i heard shifting, but i was scared. i just did my business and ran the hell out of there. i called facilities in a panic, but no one answered. i left a message. there’s somebody in the bathroom. i think it’s a homeless person. please come quick. i told the boys, my coworkers, but none of them thought it was a big enough deal to scope it out. i felt nervous and fidgety and violated. i didn’t know why. i just did.
it turned out to be an elderly homeless woman who snuck in through our back door that should be, but wasn’t, locked.
the office manager came to talk to her. are you alright in there? she asked. i’m fine, the woman said in a shaky voice, but i’m so tired and old. when the office manager asked the woman to leave, she got angry and mean. “i don’t have to take this fucking shit from you,” she said. the police came to take her away.
afterward, the office manager came to my desk and with a sigh of relief told me the bathroom was clear. but i didn’t feel relief. i felt sad. i felt disappointed in myself for forgetting that the homeless person was human. i felt angry at the world for instilling fear in me.
all i could think about was how the night before rain fell and temperatures dropped. i remembered that my hands were so cold and i was so happy to slip inside my bedroom and cradle a fresh cup of coffee to warm them.