by Gabrielle Corrigan
On April 23, I visited every bathroom on the campus, and it was not because I drank a gallon of lemonade or that I have a small bladder. Rather, it was some first-hand investigative journalism.
The bathroom, otherwise known as the porcelain throne or as the British loo, has always been a place to collect my thoughts and find a few seconds of peace in a place of relief.
Until one day, at Whatcom Community College, in an artsy stall, I noticed my surroundings—like etchings on cave walls. Graffiti, in the form of people’s thoughts, were everywhere.
“As constant as the stars above…always know that u are loved!”
In some stalls, the walls and door were covered with messages. In others, one message reigned supreme in its loneliness. Sometimes they were just statements, but many of them were confessions of love and reassuring messages.
“I love him, but I can’t have him.”
After reading this sad statement of a woman’s denied love, including the blunt feedback of “You need to move on” and “Agreed!” written below with arrows, I wondered why students wrote such personal thoughts in the john, of all places.
Many of the less meaningful messages are probably the result of bored students who have nothing better to do than deface a wall while they relieve themselves. But many are personal tidbits that a person would confide to their best friend.
If I were defacing a bathroom stall—which I wouldn’t, believe me, I enjoy just sitting there way too much to even bother—then I wouldn’t put my sappy life problems on the stalls. I would deface them with something nonsensical or even just a little bit funny.
“ ‘Bow ties are cool,’ says Pee-Wee Herman.” Now that would be my kind of graffiti!
I guess these messages are like when I feel the need to blast out Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” in the shower—causing damage to many people’s ears. Bathroom stalls are somewhat private places where a person can say things anonymously. It is a place where one can express their problems without feeling the pressure of identity.
Next to some of the messages are big smudges where it appears the janitor put some serious elbow grease into trying to remove a statement but failed.
“All is not lost. You are beautiful and smart.”
It is becoming a new form of social media. Soon, newspapers won’t be the only lost media but so will Facebook, and we will be back to the Stone Age with writing on walls as the main form of communication. Not only do people put down their thoughts, but they start conversations.
“Never give up on a person you cannot go a day without thinking about.”
In response, “Uggh!”
Bathroom stalls have become a dwelling for those who need to get something off their chests, and if they never knew where, their friend Loo is there.
Despite the interesting dilemmas that I read on bathroom walls, a stall is no place to reassure yourself that you are beautiful or tell someone how much you love them. Buck up, have some guts, and go tell the person to their face and stop second guessing yourself whether you are amazing or not, because no matter what, you are brilliant in your own way.
“What you do matters. I care.”
Give the janitor a break from frantically trying to scrub off the self-affirmations, love sickness, and life problems that decorate the porcelain thrones around campus, and give your friends and family a little more credit by confiding in them.
“Family doesn’t end in blood.”
People may find some closure to their problems by writing them on bathroom stalls, but they never will find an answer; they never will be totally reassured. If you feel the need to write it down, put it in an anonymous journal.