If you Google “Algonquin College” you’ll find most people believe us to be a smart and ambitious bunch. But Google has never spent any time inside one of our Ottawa campus washrooms, where crowds of people mill about, hoot and holler and even vape.
I don’t want to come off as a cranky old man, but let’s can it with all the washroom funny business. I don’t like public washrooms and I would be extremely suspicious of anyone who felt otherwise. These facilities exist solely as an emergency option. I wait until it’s touching cloth before I build an underwater sculpture in a public restroom.
Get in and leave as quickly as possible. No phone scrolling and no neighbourly gab sessions with the fella next door.
But apparently this perfectly acceptable line of reasoning is lost on many here at Algonquin College.
I’ve had to drop anchor surrounded by a group of young men all laughing and yelling loudly, separated only by a thin aluminum door which frankly, doesn’t go low enough. I’ve been forced to liquidate assets while someone rattled drum sticks on the counter and imitated a walrus mating call…or perhaps it was a Kendrick Lamar song. I couldn’t tell.
Even the experts have weighed in on social activity in the necessarium.
“Bathrooms say a lot about society,” Dr. Chris Martin, a professor of social sciences here at Algonquin College and an author on the symbolism of tattoos, told me. “They are full of symbolic layers — politics, identity, history and social psychology.”
Martin mentioned rebelliousness and lavatories have gone hand in hand for a long time, and brought up songs such as Smoking in the Boys Room from the 1970s.
“There are two places in the world: the sacred and the profane,” said Martin. “The bathrooms are the profane. You feel you’re not being watched, so you can be more authentic, more badass.”
I have to agree with Doc Martin, but I don’t have to like it. So the next time you pop into the oval office to answer nature’s call, try to keep it to a dull roar, would ya?