In most cultures in most times in history there have been standard openings to stories. Think about it. “Once upon a time…” is one we’re all familiar with. Or how about, “A long, long time ago in a land (or a galaxy) far, far away…” Or maybe, “In the beginning…” There is a category in certain storytelling traditions known as the “No s*%t, there I was…” You’re probably familiar with the format. It comes at the beginning of a story that is wild enough that you’ll be tempted not to believe it, but is true none the less. Well, during the Community Blanket Marathon I was thinking of you guys because…no s*%t, there I was…
The shop closed at 7pm as usual, but I wanted the clip board with the whole knitting roster on it, so I would know who was supposed to be showing up, who was late, who didn’t show up, etc. So I went back to the shop to pick it up.
There is an alley between us and the insurance agency next door that is the habitual parking place of our insurance agent. This alley is also the shortest route between the overflow public parking lot and the big art museum, and the art museum was having a gala opening for their big new show. There were people coming and going throughout the down town area, especially to and from the museum.
It was about 8pm, the insurance agency was closed and the parking opportunities were slim, so I parked in the alley. Before going in to retrieve the clipboard, I decided to download a Vine app onto my smart phone so I could post videos of the blanket in progress. I sat quietly in my car wrestling with my iTunes password, wondering why it never seems to work the first time and not really paying attention to the people coming out of the museum across the street in front of me, or the people getting into their cars across the street behind me…or the couple who were walking down the alley chatting. On some level I registered that it was a man and a woman and that they were on their home, but I didn’t clue in to what they were talking about until they got just to the front bumper of my car.
That’s when I tuned in and realized what they were talking about was whether he could have a quick pee in the bushes without getting caught. Yup. Standing beside the front bumper of my car, where I was sitting bathed in the blueish glow of my smart phone, not six feet away. The wife said she thought he could manage it if he were quick about it and that she would stand guard. She walked to the end of the alley behind me, looked both ways and told him there was no one around. He hadn’t even waited for the all clear before unzipping and beginning to tinkle on the rhododendrons. They continued to chat about emergency peeing as it pertained to toddlers and others. Apparently the woman had had a three year old in tow, once upon a time, who had watered that exact same patch of ground some years before. They decided that it was probably more common than most people realized.
I was stunned. I couldn’t even decide what to do. I have several objections to public urination on public health grounds, not to mention olfactory esthetics in the immediate environs of my storefront. I have other objections to being the unwitting observer of said acts on ground of privacy…mine! I don’t really want to watch while a stranger hoiks out his apparatus and performs a pretty intimate maneuver in a public place. Public. You know, public? Like in “there are people around!”
Why didn’t he go before he left the museum (which I happen to know has nice bathrooms) or where ever it was they had been? Why did either of them think it was okay to irrigate the posies in the insurance agency’s garden? How did they miss seeing me illuminated in my car with my mouth hanging open in shock?
Before I could even figure out how to respond, he pants-ed up and they wandered to their car and drove away. I went inside, got my clipboard, and went back to the blanket marathon. And I put I put it to the knitters; what is the ethical thing to do? Interrupt him in mid-stream (so to speak) or stay still and silent and let him get on with it?
Some said I should have honked my horn and embarrassed him. Maybe it would be a deterrent to future urinary adventures. One said I should remain silent so as not to startle him and ruin his aim. Another said I should report it to the police. Really?
So now I put it to you… What would you have done?