Monday morning when I arrived at school, I attended to my usual business: shifting piles of paper from one side of my desk to the other, turning on the computers, taking the bullhorn out in preparation for leading the morning affirmation (nothing says "affirmation" more than Mr. Megaphone). When I had finished puttering about my room and things felt as settled as I needed them to be for the day to begin, I took a few worksheets along with me to make some copies and went to the main building.
Once I had the copy machine humming on a batch of math tests, I took the opportunity to go across the hall for a brief nature stop. Before I washed my hands, I noticed that there was shaving cream and black beard residue in and around the sink. There was a disposable razor cover sitting on the ledge in front of the mirror. It was five after eight in the morning, and I was struck by this somewhat incongruous sight.
First, let me say that while the men's room at our school is generally well cared for, I must point out that because there are only four male employees on our staff. Even our daytime custodian is a woman. So I stood there and started to have paranoid wonderings about how the remains of somebody's weekend beard ended up in the sink at an elementary school. Could it have been somebody sneaking in before we had all arrived in the morning, under the radar of our custodian? Maybe somebody without a bathroom at home to perform their daily ablutions? Would I have encountered them if I had decided to make my copies earlier rather than later? Would there have been some kind of confrontation?
I pondered all this potential drama as I went back and picked up my copies. Just to make sure, I asked our administrative assistant if he had been trimming his sideburns before school that morning. He looked at me incredulously and laughed. I assured him that I wasn't going to be cleaning up the mess myself anytime soon if he doubted my story, and he reassured me that I wasn't crazy because he had the same experience the week before. We both began wondering aloud who might be coming into a public school rest room for grooming purposes. Then my principal overheard our conversation and started to make a plan to secure the men's room and change the locks if necessary. We hadn't been locking the door, but that would all have to change. We were all prepared to send the work order to the district office when our reading specialist came in - practically the only male I hadn't accosted with this concern. We asked him if he had seen anyone using the bathroom in the mornings, since his office is just across the hall. He said he wasn't sure, but he knew that some parents used the adult facilities when they came to drop off or pick up their children.
Then I asked him, more or less directly, "You didn't shave in the men's room this morning, did you?"
"You know, I was running late and the traffic was murder and..."
I asked him if he would be so kind as to clean up after himself. There was no bank robber shaving off his moustache to escape detection. There was no homeless person getting a quick shave before he went to his life-changing job interview. It was just a little soapy inconsideration.