Bob was a guy everyone liked, a lot, and he was one of those people you could count on to help you out if you had a problem at work, or after work. He was polite and he was generous. But there were a half dozen people who were counting down the days until Bob retired. There were six people who suffered, mostly in silence, because Bob, for all his wonderful qualities, was the Office Pooper.
We knew, to the day, when Bob was going to retire. His health was declining and it was surprising he made it as long as he did, and there were a lot of people who came to his retirement party. Yet back several years ago, Bob went shopping for a doctor who would tell him what he wanted to hear. Bob had a weight problem. He went pudgy to portly to oh my dog dude when was the last time you saw your feet? He tried all variety of diets, but he couldn’t stay away from junk food. Finally, he found a doctor who told him he was perfectly fit, and there was no need for him to lose weight. No, really. He did. But Bob had a plan. He would eat like a pig and then take laxatives. He also ate constantly. So this meant three, sometimes four times a day, Bob would have massive bowel movements. Think Mount Etna filled with skunks.
When I was in the Army you got used to other people’s stink. You had no choice. In Basic Training, we had eight toilets, four sitting side by side facing the other four. There was no privacy or the expectation of such. You’d sit down beside the next guy and talk about the weather while plopping away. “Say, Smith, that sounded like quite a brick hitting the water!” “Why thank you, my wife sent cookies, I’ll give you a few later!” “Thanks!” But that was the military. You expect that sort of thing,
To make matter worse, my office has a direct door into the bathroom. There was also another door from the bathroom to another office. I blocked the door leading from my office into the bathroom because sometimes Bob would exit into my office, and it smelled like a cross between a chemical weapons attack and a pig farm. Bob, because at the heart of things, tried to be considerate, would hose the bathroom down with air freshener before he exited. He would leave the bathroom coughing and gasping, and the cloud that always followed him was a mix of mountain air breeze and an open-air latrine at a chili cook-off.
My three office mates and I would sometime bolt as soon as we heard the toilet flush, and I think it hurt Bob’s feelings the day I sealed off that door. It really hurt the feelings of the people in the other office, where the other door opened up into, but we sealed first. They would run for cover, too. The sound of a flushing toilet ran us all out, and you might even say we were flushed out.
But now, Bob is gone. We sent the lowest paid person in to clean the toilet with 100% pure bleach and sandpaper. We all will miss Bob’s quirky sense of humor and his tales of fishing. We will miss his laughter and his warm sense of compassion. But we will, all of us, breathe easier.