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The Slice: A light at the end of the toilet?

Tue., Oct. 6, 2009

When I was a teenager, my family lived in a house with an odd layout.

In order to get to the basement, you first had to go out to the garage.

My dad had a desk down there. The washer and dryer were also in the basement.

One day, when my father was at his desk, my mother was downstairs, too. She must have been lost in thought. Because as she headed out the basement door, she flipped the switch that turned off all the lights down there — including the one illuminating my dad’s desk.

After shutting the flimsy basement door, she heard my father sigh and softly utter a familiar unprintable word.

For some reason, that story cracked us up for years.

Anyway, I think of that now as I try to adjust to a change we’ve made here at the Review Tower.

Signs near the restroom light switches now instruct newspaper employees to turn the lights off when exiting. It’s to save energy.

I’m all for that. But here’s the thing.

I have never made it a habit to survey stall occupancy when ducking in and out of the men’s room. So it would be entirely possible for me to head out the door and switch off the lights while someone was, uh, still using the facilities.

And I suppose we can all guess what that co-worker, suddenly plunged into darkness, might have to say.

(The fact that the lights are on is not a fool-proof guide re: restroom occupancy. The last person to leave might have neglected to turn them off.)

Yes, I have evaluated my options.

I’m not keen on calling out “Anybody in here?” every time I go to wash my hands.

Nor am I eager to get into the practice of leaning down to inspect all the stalls with closed doors for signs of feet. That has never struck me as a winning bit of body language.

What to do? Maybe I’ll waste some electricity and leave the lights on.

Oh, wait. Now they’ve arranged it so the lights above the stalls stay on even when you turn off the ones over the sinks.

So, never mind.

Today’s Slice question: Who is the Inland Northwest’s biggest weather weenie?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail Hard cider stories welcome.

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