“You should see the toilet in this place. You know the sink thing for washing hands? It’s like a fountain.” Jay enthused as he returned to the table.
The other three there looked up at him.
It was Erin’s birthday dinner which Jay was having for her. Erin and Jay were engaged to be married. With them were Ope, Erin’s best friend, and Francis her boyfriend. Also invited were Ochuko and her husband, but they had not arrived.
“I know you want to go and see,” Ope teased Francis.
“Nah,” he waved it away with a guilty look on his face.
A few seconds later Francis excused himself from the table and went to the toilet. When he was done he pushed the button on the dispenser in the corner and a dollop of scented handwash dropped into his cupped palm. He pressed the button again. Satisfied with the quantity of soap, he rubbed his palms together making sure to cover every inch of both hands and then he walked to the sink to rinse his hands.
The circular sink stood in the middle of the room. There were no visible tap heads, just some tiny spouts arranged around a chrome pipe.
Francis waved his hands in front of the spouts, and nothing happened. He waved his hands again, this time closer, and still nothing happened. He went round the sink trying out sections as he went, and still nothing happened. With rising apprehension Francis tried pressing down on the central pipe. Nothing he did seemed to work.
He opened the door a crack to look in the restaurant for a waiter he could ask, but the waiters he saw were at the bar. They were looking at the customers in the restaurant away from Francis. He shut the door and returned to the sink.
After a few more tries, he decided he had been gone for long enough to make his friends worry. The soap was dried now and gave his hands a look of cracked wax. With a sigh he returned to the toilet where he pushed the button to activate the flush motor. Under the water flowing out of the cistern and into the toilet bowl, Francis washed the soap off his hands. He repeated the exercise twice more before he was satisfied he had got all the soap off. Then he pulled paper towels from the receptacle and towelled his hands dry before rejoining the party at the table.
When he got there Ochuko and her husband had arrived and they were ready to order dinner.
While everyone at the table talked, Francis was uncomfortable – his mind kept returning to his hands and the toilet water. Unable to take it anymore, he pushed back his chair and excused himself again. He walked out of the restaurant and raced down the escalator like a demon was after him. The restaurant was at a mall and Francis was familiar with the layout of the mall. He made a beeline for the convenience facilities downstairs, and when he got there, he first turned the tap head to be sure water was running, then he soaped his hands. He rubbed his palms together vigorously before putting them under the faucet and letting the water run over them. He let the water run for about two minutes before going to the hand dryer and staying there till the warm air had completely dried his hands. Only then did he feel comfortable enough to return to dinner.
After dinner, the girls said they wanted to use the bathroom before they left. Francis knew he would have to explain what he did to everyone at the table if he as much as uttered one word of warning about the sink. Instead he hunched down in his seat and fiddled with his phone.
He soon heard the girls giggling as they returned to the table.
They narrated how the spouts in the sink had not worked and they had called a waiter who showed them how to operate it.
Just the other day I was reading @Leke_Alder’s “Letter to Jack” and it brought this story to mind. He wrote: “This is a classic case of not being confident enough to say, “I don’t know, I need help… There’s nothing wrong in asking the waiter questions, seeking guidance. If you don’t know, you don’t know.”
PS: I hear there is an outbreak of cholera across some parts of the country with Plateau, Sokoto, Zamfara and Lagos states recording the highest figures.
I think we should all do our little bit to help keep this cholera from spreading.
So if you are next to me at Mass on Sunday and during peace offering I give you a hug instead of a handshake, it may not be because I want to cop a feel, it may be because I do not trust your hand – I do not know where it has been.
What say you?