Friday, August 6, 2010

A Dark Confession

I have a horrible, shameful confession to make.

I once spoke on the phone while I was in a public restroom cubicle.

Of all the things that modern society finds inappropriate, that one is pretty bad. It often surpasses using mobile phones on public transport in lists of people's technological pet peeves. I have sometimes joined in such conversations, nodding my head in agreement and making sure to point out that I would certainly never speak loudly into a phone on a crowded bus. All the while, I remain conspicuously silent when it comes to the restroom* issue.

I'm not proud of it, ok? I never thought I would be that guy. The person creepily going through their address book every time they lock the stall door. Loudly cracking jokes into the phone in between grunts. Sometimes going the extra distance to call someone just to breathe heavily into the mouthpiece, the sound of defecation barely audible in the background.

It wasn't like that for me. Really. I didn't want to do it. If anything, I fought it.

I was preparing myself for my first interview, for the first feature article I would write as a student of journalism. It was to be a personality profile. I had stretched my memory to think of any interesting connections I could possibly take advantage of. Until, suddenly, I'd stumbled across an old phone number in my address books, a rather strange young man I had befriended at a drama camp years before. I remembered his exuberant, ultra-flamboyant personality, alongside his repeated claims that he was a reincarnated psychic. I also vaguely recalled his attempts at white free-style rapping.

This was the guy. This was the guy that I would interview to set the precedent for my degree.

I called a few times, sending a few texts and leaving messages on his voicemail, at first to no avail. With my deadline looming, I started trying to think of alternatives but there wasn't one as appealing as this one. Then, suddenly, finally, he returned my call. I happened to be on the toilet at the time.

I heard my ringtone go off and saw the name flash up on my little Nokia screen. Instantly, I felt faced with a new height of social dilemma. This could be my only chance to actually get in contact with this guy to arrange an interview. An interview that could possible set the bar for my degree, even perhaps my career. But I was on the toilet. And someone else was in the stall next to me. Do I ignore the call and risk missing the opportunity? Or do I carry out polite society's most heinous atrocity?

I chose the latter. And I got that interview. And for the reward I got, I feel no shame for my repulsive actions. Well, maybe a little bit of shame.

If you're wondering, it turned out that my interview subject had started doing psychic predictions on TV morning shows (which I hadn't seen because I was a uni student with a uni student's definition of what consitutes 'morning'). He even went on to feature in a short lived reality show that faced Australian psychics off against each other to discover who was Australia's Most Psychic Psychic. A kind of blend between Medium and Australian Idol, I suppose, although I remember it being cancelled almost instantly. If you don't believe me, his website is here.

So, friends, yes. I have used a mobile device while seated on a public toilet. Shame me if you must. But before I am shunned from society altogether due to this disgraceful confession, I'd like you to think how you would react in the same situation.

-Smackie Onassis

*I'm never sure how to refer to toilets. Every possible word seems inappropriate in a different way. When I was in highschool, I just embraced the fact that everything was going to be inappropriate and just started to refer to the toilet as the 'Wee-hole' but I'm not sure I can get away with that on the internet.

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