Daily Prompt: Realize (realise in my UK case!)

via Daily Prompt: Realize

Taking a train journey makes you realise very quickly how important it is to select the right seat. Sitting next to someone when there are spare seats elsewhere will often reward you with a look that betrays murderous thoughts, or at least a desire to move far away. However, as this would only be possible if they could gather their possessions and slink to another part of the carriage without having to engage the usurper, let’s be honest, that’s never going to happen. So instead they’ll try their best to concentrate on their book, newspaper or mobile device, but will actually be seething at the total bad luck they’ve incurred at being joined on their journey by that train’s (albeit sociable) resident nutter.
Then there’s the very bad move of selecting the seat located nearest the toilet. You may have joined one of these trains; the ones with the roomy toilet carriage that has only one or two single seats at each end with copious room for push-chairs, bicycles and wheelchairs and thought, ‘Ah! A single seat. I’m feeling unsociable today so I will take that gift with both hands.’ However, what quickly becomes apparent when sitting on the seat nearest the facilities is how you inadvertently take on the role of Toilet Guardian, whether you want to or not. Some people may love the prospect of wielding power over hapless mortals with full bladders (or worse), but for me I just want to sit and read my book without feeling obligated to tell every caller that ‘there’s someone in there.’ The scenario follows a little like this.
Someone approaches the toilet and presses the ‘door open’ button. (This is the moment when I pray that the user has remembered to lock the door.) Nothing happens. They press it again. Still nothing happens. To avoid them standing alongside me with a hapless expression of angst on their face any longer, I feel duty-bound to utter ‘I think there’s someone in there’. (I think there’s someone in there? Why do I doubt the fact? I just saw them go in less than three minutes ago and unless they’ve squeezed themselves down the pan to avoid buying a ticket I’m pretty sure they’re still in there.) Anyway, the poor individual mutters a thanks (if I’m lucky) and either waits in vain for about twenty seconds, hoping that their business will be finished rapidly, or scurries away in search of another loo, or more likely to sit crossed legged until the train reaches their destination.
There are moments of levity in the Toilet Guardian’s duty though. Mostly these come about as someone is caught unawares by the door gliding open exactly six seconds after they were convinced they’d locked it, but thankfully usually before they had begun to disrobe. There are also those who think they can hide in the cubicle as the guard approaches with his ticket machine, wildly oblivious to the fact that it’s worth buying a cheap single to frankly anywhere just to escape the toilet’s pungent aroma for the next hour and a half. Yes, I think I may have remembered why it’s probably worth tolerating the other carriage fodder for ninety minutes or so, otherwise you end up doing an unpaid role that frankly is appreciated by no-one and garners you strange looks for voluntarily choosing a seat right outside a toilet. However, if my next shift as Toilet Guardian does materialise this weekend I shall of course be taking notes (as I pretend to read my book), just in case someone forgets to lock the door release…