Then. A request. Female staff members. It appears that there have been some complaints made to the front office lady about the state of the female toilets. Toilet paper is being left on the floor. Tampon wrappers are floating in toilet bowls. Drips are appearing on seats and the floor in all colours of the rainbow. Wrapped pads are being left on the feminine hygiene bin lids. Footprints have been sighted on toilet seats. An unsavory business indeed. Signs have been made and laminated, with appropriate instructions for toilet use, stuck on the back of toilet doors for the convenience of all... but they have been removed. Twice. What should we do?
November, December. Tricky times on Campus. Scratching out reports for all students, friend or foe. Waiting to hear about teaching allotments for the next year, team changes, year level coordinators and positions of responsibility. Sir has managed to be at school for the least amount of time possible in this, her least favourite time of year. Hideously banal, stupidly tetchy, bad weather December in Melbourne.
However, despite the pressure bone fido teaching commitments stretched around grappling with the ever dodgy report writing program, a lady-teacher drama unravels.
The toilets in the Salt Mine. Well, toilet is the more appropriate singular.
Toilet is located in the administration block of the school. A small unpleasant wee cave, comprising of four cubicles, shared by twenty five women. Twenty five women bound to urinate, change feminine dressings, wash hands and faces, apply deodorant and/or makeup, sunscreen and any other personal product, in a half by one half meter space in front of a mirror that uncannily highlights only greying temples and dark eye rings. Twenty five women, in and out, between teaching periods, dictated by bells, on cue. The things we are never told.
Dykix hygenix lady comes to change over the feminine hygiene bins once a fortnight, there are only two of them. Often there is a funny smell around the lady-teacher wee cave, perhaps due to a dry drain, maybe due to overfilled sanitary bins, who knows? Its a public toilet and as far as Sir is concerned & people are pigs in public places... and even more so in public private places.`
In preparation for a day of teaching, Sir, and all other lady teachers, arrives to school immaculately clean. Clean of dirt and grime and well presented to be sure. But also clean of any smell at all, ladylike or not. In class and out we are required to be devoid of scent and sexuality. We are decent role models, positive and blemish free. Our bodies are public property, open to touch and scrutiny by grotty pimply teenagers, yet we do not touch or scrutinise. We are sexless and do not wear our sexuality.
Sir needs to use toilet. This requires hand washing and removal of clothes to expose gendered body parts. Time alone, if only to change a tampon and breathe slowly through period pain. Time alone, if only to sit, relax and urinate. Time.... three minutes until the bell and a cubicle..... without a lady-plug bin. Sir looks up and reads the sign about how to behave appropriately in this private, quiet space. The irritation that solidifies in her guts, into rage, manifests into highly inappropriate behavior. Sir wraps her tampon in shiny single ply paper, pops it in her pocket and trots out of the lady-teacher wee cave with four laminated pieces of paper tucked under her arm.