I Tried to Turn to a Life of Crime, But it Turned Out My Sense of Direction was Not Good Enough to Find It


September 30, 2011 by rebelwithalabelmaker

So you know how when people go through a lot, sometimes they turn to crime as a way to deal with their trauma?  I decided that I would try that, to work out my recent trauma.  I am linking, of course, to the post about my toilet.  I had a toilet that didn’t really flush so well, with a very witty label on it that said “Toilet has poor work ethic.  Please hold down handle and coax.”.  I thought it was a hilarious toilet.  Gary thought that being hilarious is not the most important thing about a toilet.  I am still mourning the loss–and have not really befriended the super efficient, hyperfocussed, boring toilet that now rules our bathroom with an iron fist.

The new toilet is not remotely entertaining.  Which was a real problem because–as the post explains–for almost a week I spent a lot of time in front of it.  In fact, staring at the toilet was pretty much my only source of entertainment.  They say when you go through some kind of ordeal, it helps to have something to hold on to.  In the last 36 hours before I went into the hospital, I kept picturing what I would do when I was well–sit with the kids in the yard and watch the leaves, knit, and of course vandalize Calories–one of my favourite local restaurants.

Not the whole restaurant–just their toilet.  I had a lot of time to work out the plan.  You see, they have a toilet in one of their women’s washrooms that has a little chalkboard taped to it that reads “Please hold down handle when flushing”.  As I lay on my bathroom floor, in between bouts of nausea, I had a Realization.

I have chalkboard markers!  I know what that sign ought to say!  If I improved their sign, then I wouldn’t miss my own toilet so much!  


Seriously, I sat in the hospital planning how when I was well enough to go out for a meal I would go to Calories and change the sign and blog about it with some witty title like “And now we try out crime blogging.”  It was going to be hilarious.  


As it turns out, it was hilarious.  But not in the way I was hoping.  Crime blogging, it turns out, is not as easy as Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog would make it seem.

So, yesterday was the Great Day.  Our minister and I had an appointment from way back, to go for lunch.  A couple of days beforehand, she called and asked if it would be better if she came to my house, on account of the Hepatitis.

“Oh no,” I said “I want to go to Calories, because I have plans to vandalize their toilet.”  Which was fine by Sharon (not her real name, of course), because she is a Unitarian minister.  In fact, she is planning a service on Unitarian Graffiti and asked if she could come with me to take pictures.  Which I thought was a great idea because I have always wanted to be part of a menacing crime duo.  The part where it was not a good idea was where we had to figure out how to go into the bathroom together without arousing suspicion.  The Calories bathroom it is not a stall kind of bathroom.  It is all one room–like in a house.  We couldn’t even say “we both really have to pee” because there are two women’s bathrooms.  Each behind it’s own door.  I had settled on saying “It’s okay, she can come with me because she’s my Minister” if questioned–but that seemed stupid even to me.

Well, Sharon and I got our times mixed up and I wound up waiting at Calories for quite a while, feeling increasingly silly.  I wanted to go vandalize the toilet by myself, to kill time, but I felt that it would be wrong to cheat my Minister out of the experience.  After a while, though, I felt so much like I was creeping out the waiter by staring longingly at the bathroom door that I had to do something.   I explained that my friend and I must have miscommunicated, and could I use their bathroom before I left?

Now, both bathrooms are down a little hall that you can see from the restaurant.  I locked myself in the one with the aforementioned lazy toilet, got a wet towel, and started scrubbing at the little chalkboard.  The message was hard to get off, and due to still having exhaustion like you wouldn’t believe from the Hepatitis A, I am ashamed to say that I had a really hard time.  I got very tired.  And it took me forever.

Finally, panting like I’d run a marathon, I pulled out the chalkboard marker from my purse and started writing.  Well, I tried to start writing.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten to test to see if the marker worked before leaving the house.  It didn’t.

I had already removed the original message–so I couldn’t exactly leave the chalkboard blank because then people wouldn’t know how to flush the toilet, but… oh crap I did not want to try to explain the whole thing to the waiter who already thought I was creepy and friendless.  So I took the marker apart, frantically, and was able to figure out how to get it working again.  Just like Ma Guy-vuhr.  Whose name I cannot spell, because my only exposure to her has been through The Simpsons.

So I wrote my message, and, having already been in the bathroom for about 10 minutes and now dripping with sweat and completely exhausted, I pulled out my phone to take a picture of my epic effort–proof for my loyal blog readers.  Just then, the phone rang–Sharon was calling me back.  I ducked quickly out of the bathroom, had a quick conversation with her, and rescheduled for the next day.  I then zipped over to the creeped-out-waiter, explained the situation, made a reservation, and said “See you tomorrow!”, which I think made him wince a little in anticipation.

On the way out the door, I froze–I had forgotten to take the picture! 

What if they erased it overnight?  I couldn’t just do it again tomorrow, because then they would put two and two together.  You can’t vandalize the same bathroom two days in a row–they would figure that out.  My presence in the restaurant had not exactly been subtle.

It was now or never for the photo.

“May I use your bathroom before I leave?” I asked the creeped out waiter.  This was a little awkward, since he just saw me exit from the bathroom.  Where I had been for about ten minutes.  But he was pretty much letting me do whatever I wanted at this point, so he just nodded and tried not to meet my eyes.  I bolted back to the bathroom only to find that someone else was in there.  No problem.  I could wait.  There were chairs nearby.  I sat down in the little hallway, trying to scrunch back so as to be less visible to the main restaurant.

I honestly cannot figure out how one person can spend that much time in a bathroom.  Seriously, she was in there way longer than I had been.  And I had been redecorating the place.  She could have re-installed an entire new plumbing system in the time she took in there.  The more time went on, the more I was convinced that she had to come out any minute, so I didn’t want to leave.  However, I was feeling more and more ludicrous as I waited because, remember, there are two women’s bathrooms in that hallway.  

Another woman rounded the corner and saw me sitting there.

Woman:  Are you waiting for the bathroom?

Me (terrified that she might take my vandalized bathroom the minute that Mrs. Toilet-Tortoise got out):  YES!!  YES I AM!!!

Pause.  Sane woman looks meaningfully at the open door to the second bathroom.

Me:  You can use that one if you want.  I’m not waiting for that one.

Other woman went in, used the bathroom, taking a long time in what I assume was an attempt to make sure I wasn’t still there when she emerged.  I was still there.  Sane woman looked meaningfully from me to the second bathroom, now vacant again.  I did not move.  Sane woman said nothing and left quickly.

At this point, worried that this whole awkward interaction would happen again, I started standing in front of the occupied bathroom, which made me tired and cause me to sweat profusely.  I tried reading the articles on the wall there–but there were only about eighty billion of them and I was there for way more time than it takes to read eighty billion articles.  I tried pretending to talk on my cell phone.  Then, out of sheer annoyance and desire for bloggin accuracy, I started timing the woman.  Five minutes later, when the door was still firmly locked, I had a Horrible Thought.  What if there was nobody in the bathroom at all?  What if I had accidentally locked the door when I–the last person to use it–left the room?

But no idiot would be stupid enough to install a knob you could do that with, would they?  I quickly jumped into the second bathroom, pretending to pee for the third time in twenty minutes, and tested.  Yes, I could lock the door and then latch it.  I could have locked the other bathroom.  I returned quickly to the hallway.  That’s definitely what happened, I thought.  There could be no other explanation for one person taking so long in a bathroom.  I was certain.

But there is a difference between “certain enough to write ‘certain’ on your blog” and “certain enough to pick the lock to a bathroom in front of a room full of people in a public restaurant where the waiter may have already called the police on you.”  How could I know for sure?

I tried inching subtly towards the door, to try and hear if there was noise.  Again, the room full of people made it hard to subtly press my ear against the offending bathroom wall so as to make full use of my Spidey Sense.

I heard noise.  I think.  So I waited some more time.  Nothing.  Then I started to worry.  What if something had happened?  Maybe the noise was a plea for help.  I alone could save her, since I alone knew how long she’d been in there and could sound the alarm.  But how could I explain why I had been timing her in the bathroom?  But is fear of embarassment a good reason to let Mrs. Toilet Tortoise–who could be suffering from a heart that forgets to beat, for example, die a miserable death on the floor of a cold (but entertainingly labelled) bathroom?  Also, if there was an actual woman in there, how come nobody had come looking for her?  Seriously, it had been a really long time.

Then I heard her talking on her cell phone.  In the bathroom.  When people were waiting outside! The NERVE!!!  What was she thinking?  Probably that there were two bathrooms, is my guess.

At this point, my exhaustion and the sheer ludicrousness of the situation forced me to retreat.  I decided to just hope that I could take the picture the next day.  As I turned to leave the partial shelter of the hallway, I was confronted by yet another Issue.

Already-creeped-out-waiter was between me and the door.  In fact, his whole section of tables to wait on was between me and the door.  I had, remember, been trying not to attract attention–so that people would not know it was me who had changed the sign in the bathroom.  I thought about changing the sign back, so I would merely be a creepy lady and not a creepy vandalizing lady, but I couldn’t because because Mrs. Toilet-Tortoise was convening the world’s longest phone conference from my bathroom.

And if the waiter was creeped out fifteen minutes ago when he saw me go to the bathroom for the second time after staring at it longingly for half an hour while insisting that my friend was real and would show up any minute…  How much weirder was it going to be to walk out past him now?  He undoubtedly thought I had left 15 minutes ago.  What reason could I possibly have for still being in the restaurant?  I could think of nothing more awkward than running into creeped-out-waiter as I tried to non-challantly stroll out.

Well, it turns out that there is something more awkward than that.  Which is running into him as I attempted to sprint out while his back was turned cutting a piece of cake.  Unfortunately for both of us, he is a very fast cake cutter.  And I, dripping with sweat and Hepatitis exhaustion, am the world’s slowest sprinter.  It wasn’t even recognizeable as a sprint–just a kind of desperate, constipated looking hobble (which would, admittedly, explain some of the bathroom time…).

So, now, I am back home in my lair, oozing exhaustion, and trying to look upon this as a learning experience.  What have I learned?

1)  Crime doesn’t pay.  Also, it’s harder than it looks.  You know, in all those villain creation stories in the comic books, where they emphasize tortured past and martial arts training as critical ingredients for a good criminal?  I would add to that list:  ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS.  And ability to PLAN CAREFULLY.

2)  Focus, focus, focus.  You can’t take a phone call partway through a crime.  Al Capone got where he did because he never stopped a heist midway through to go reschedule a lunch date with his Minister.

3)  On a related note, when seeking a crime partner, hold proper interviews.  Do not just accept the first clergy person that comes along.  It would seem–using Sharon and I as test cases–that Divinity School is exceptionally poor training for a life of crime.  Personally, I need a crime partner who is complimentary to my personality–I need someone who is efficient, organized, and hard working.  I need someone with the same kind of personality as my new toilet.  Who I am starting to warm up to.

I may even honour the new toilet for it’s own unique personality, and it’s crime partner personality.  I may present it with a humourous label of it’s very own.  If I can come up with a sidekick name that does not involve the phrase “Number Two”.

8 thoughts on “I Tried to Turn to a Life of Crime, But it Turned Out My Sense of Direction was Not Good Enough to Find It

  1. Evan says:

    Well Liz, I guess you had to be there.
    BTW, did you get the sarcasm?

  2. Liz says:

    Well, now I feel like 30% of a good writer…

  3. That was hilarious. Greta had tears streaming down her face as I read her this entry aloud. And that’s the second time she’s read it. In addition to laughing, I slapped my forehead a few times. Hard.
    I object to your description of your new toilet as “boring” and “not remotely entertaining.” You and I both know that it’s the opposite. Your toilet has TWO levels of flush! It’s hyper-efficient! It’s seat glides gently down instead of crashing into the rim and cracking the porcelain like the average toilet. It rocks. Never let me catch you bad-mouthing the toilet again.

  4. Liz says:

    Now I am suspicious, Gus. We had that toilet installed AFTER your visit. How do you know so much about our toilet? It is not like we have had long conversations… oh, boy, I am realizing how many conversations we have had about potty training/composting toilets/human waste in general… …perhaps we should focus our environmental discussions on NUCLEAR waste for a while. I’m pretty sure it is, oddly, more socially acceptable…

  5. Greta says:

    I would like to add to this thread by pointing out a couple of facts…though I know in general you try to ignore facts in blog posts:)
    1) We definitely visited AFTER you installed the new toilet. I know because I remember how much better the bathroom smelled.
    2) You hated the old toilet. This is two posts now where you have gone on and on about your love for it. My recollection is that you wanted it replaced for years and Gary resisted, arguing that the intense urine smell was not a good reason to replace the toilet.
    Also, the other very amusing part of this blog was listening to Gus go on and on about the virtues of your new toilet as you dissed it. I believe that was one of the times he was smacking his head. It was all I could to to cut off his love affair with your toilet and get him to keep reading.

  6. […] I know what you’re thinking.  This blog has already established unequivocally that  Unitarian Ministers are lousy criminals.  Technically, though, all we have really established is that my congregation’s Minister, […]

  7. […] also why I’m able to write the way I do, and why I am so easily able to make bad things into Great Adventures.  One part of a larger […]

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