The other day I was using a public restroom. It was lunchtime and the many cups of coffee I’d had before arriving at the restaurant combined with the two more while there and, well, it became imperative to “break the seal”, so to speak. So off I trundle to the bathroom in order to void my bladder.
So I’m sitting there, happily voiding, when another person comes into the bathroom. Me, being me, I look at the stall’s lock to confirm for the eighth time that yes, I did, indeed lock the door. And wouldn’t you know it? The woman walked up to the stall and tried to open the door. A line of eight to ten bathroom stalls and she picks the one I’m happily voiding in.
But that’s not the story.
The story is that I’m sitting on the toilet, clothing bunched about me, getting ready to pull off some lovely one-ply when the stranger on the other side of the stall door makes full-on, 100% eye contact with me.
Because the installers of stall door and toilet didn’t have that lovely conversation that begins and ends with, “Don’t, for the love of god and all things good and holy, let the gap between the stall door and frame exactly line up with the toilet.”
It’s a little thing, but like most little things that seem to not matter until they do, the way things line up makes a difference.
Like, what are the odds, right?
There are so many instances in life where things line up just so, and therefore, change the outcome. Think about your own life. There have been how many instances?
The red light that kept you from speeding past the waiting traffic cop. The missed flight that then experienced tragedy. The neighbor’s dog waking you up when you slept through your alarm. The held elevator door. The mid-life surprise pregnancy. The shared cab that held your future spouse.
So many times that things line up and everything is inexplicably changed forever in ways both big and small.
For me, sitting on that public toilet, having that woman look me in the eye was no game-changer. It may have been awkward, but really, she couldn’t see anything terribly risqué and it’s no big deal that she knew I was peeing. I’m sure she could hear that anyway. Really, it wasn’t that big of a deal and that’s not why I’m writing about it today.
I’m writing about it, three days later, because it was a good reminder of the many, many times my life intersects with others’. For good or bad, we live in an existence where things line up and the moment is changed. Sometimes those changes are heart wrenching and others are heart warming.
In fact, life is the act of things lining up and changing the fixed points, over and over again.
I’m going out into the world now, seeing in my mind’s eye that woman’s eyeball centered in the crack between door and frame, a big white orb of surprise. I didn’t see her anymore than she really saw me. And yet, that moment reminded me to go into the world and keep looking. Who knows what I’ll see lining up…