I stand above a lone brass key anchored by a charming amethyst crystal, considering both surfaces. It’s not the worst office building bathroom key I have ever encountered, surely. There have been the ones affixed to coat hangers, to comically giant wooden pencils, to plastic dolls, each ensuring that said key would not be misplaced by some intellectually challenged intern or stolen by someone who desired carte blanche access to said bathroom in perpetuity. Mostly, though, these cartoonish props serving as gateways to the loo are just making sure I come into contact with an unholy amount of germs.
As a New Yorker, I realize that everything I touch is covered in microbial filth. Each summer that passes without me getting a staph infection from sitting down on subway seats in a pair of nearly-age-inappropriate short shorts never fails to amaze me, given what horrors I’ve seen smeared on their surfaces over the years. If you can’t quite wrap your head around my cesspool-induced paranoia, consider this: in New York City, anything that can come out of a body will come out of a body and you’re definitely going to see it on the floor of a train at one point or another.
And so, germaphobe that I am, I like to limit my contact to diseases and viruses with names I cannot pronounce as often as I possibly can. This is why the bathroom key ornament situation poses a problem in that, in true germaphobe’s logic, I can’t possibly understand why we must have office bathroom keys to begin with. Exactly how many people pass the gauntlet of security in the lobby and head upstairs as bathroom bandits, blithely flushing toilets and wasting water willy-nilly? In my estimation, hardly any.
Of course I can’t avoid these keys; I’m not going to “hold it” until I go home. That would just be crazy. That would be absolutely ridiculous. That would be, well, kind of what my mother does. I grab the key and the crystal and let myself into the bathroom, and, as I do, the key flies out of my hand and skids across the dirty tiled floor, ensuring that, yes, I might be a lunatic, but I’m a lunatic within reason. — Jenny Bahn