Courtesy

Posted on Mon 01 November 2004 in Dispatches • 4 min read

Sunday night was quite an adventure. I was working in the bookstore, as I am wont to do on weekends and I was straightening the books in the history section, which is right by our restrooms. Out of the restroom comes this old man with his walker, one of our regulars, who is an Eastern Orthodox priest and weighs about 375 pounds (he must have been heavier than that) in our estimation. He gets about 20 feet from the restroom and his pants fall down. I dutifully pretended not to see and another customer helped him pull them up. The old man sits down and begins breathing heavily.

At this point I believe I have dodged the bullet. However, it was apparently just a warning shot from the bad luck sniper.

As the customer that helped him is leaving he asks him, “Could you send one of the employees to me?” What is weird is that this guy speaks with a New York Jewish accent, even though he is a Midwestern Eastern Orthodox priest. At this point I am assuming that he wants me to run an errand for him.

Can I help you, sir?”

His face scrunched up in embarrassment he says, “I just went to the bathroom, but I have to go again and I am not sure I can make it.”

I asked him if he wanted help getting to the bathroom.

No, I don’t think I can make it. If I stand up it’s gonna go. I don’t know if you want me to use the wastebasket or what. But it is better than the floor.”

It took me a minute to process this request. In desperation I tried, “Sir, are you sure we can’t just try to get you to the bathroom?”

He shook his head and groaned, and began unbuckling his belt.

There is no way I am going to let you drop your pants and go to the bathroom out here without talking to someone, I thought to myself panicking.

I went to call a manager and quickly store management convened at the site of imminent destruction. He again refused to attempt the bathroom and squirming he cried out in a panicky voice, “Oh, it’s gonna go!”

So, they called the only other male employee, Greg, to help me. We cleared the area of customers and managers took on sentry duty to keep people from approaching. Greg and I helped the man stand up which was not easy due to his weight. Leaning on his walker he instructed us.

You got to pull down my pants.” We did so. “No, you need to pull down all of my pants.” We complied. Eventually the honor fell to me to hold a trashcan up to his ass while he shat into it.

It smelled so bad that they could smell it halfway across the store. I was gagging on the stench, and struggling to do it as quietly as I could so I would not embarrass the guy any more. Greg held out a steadying hand on the wastebasket in case I threw up and dropped it. Eventually I was holding the wastebasket with one hand and plugging my nose with the other to keep from retching.

Greg asked someone to grab some toilet paper for the guy, but no one would turn around and go because it would involve looking. Greg grabbed some Kleenex nearby and tried to hand the box to the man.

The old man shook his head in embarrassment. “I can’t reach. I have to hold onto my walker or I’ll fall.”

Once the inevitable conclusion was reached, Greg went and put on a pair of latex gloves and grabbed half a ream of paper towels. Greg, as he finished preparing to do his duty, was giggling insanely and struggling to keep it quiet enough that the man would not hear him. There was unfortunately far too much feces that had not reached the wastebasket, and was awaiting Greg’s ministrations.

As soon as Greg finished, I tied off the bag and hurried to toss it in the dumpster while Greg helped the man get his pants back on. After replacing the wastebasket, on my way to a much needed break the man said to me, “Young man! Thank you for your courtesy!”

I am not sure if this can be described as courtesy. I held a trashcan to his ass while he shat in it. I wonder if he will continue to be a regular, I think it would be quite awkward to see him again. After all, there are few things more intimate than letting someone shit between your hands. I feel very bad for the man, he was so obviously embarrassed and he really needs to not travel alone if his condition can result in this.

After my break, a manager gave me a gift card in thanks and a hug. She said I now had my crazy retail story of the year if not of my life.

Another manager observed, “They don’t pay us enough for this.”

I agree.

UPDATE: You can now listen to the story!

Click here for an introduction and link to the audio file.