Jonny Crest had started meditating in an effort to inoculate himself against the manufactured stresses inherent in his position as a middle manager at a corporation. Because his desk was in the midst of a sea of identical desks, arrayed in islands of six, he could not meditate there. Nor could he use a meeting room, for they were walled with glass panels. In desperation he tried the toilet, but found that a co-worker setting off fireworks less than a meter away through a flimsy partition was too much of a distraction.
Disabled people get a room to themselves to toilet in. But their toilets have no lid. I don’t know why. Jonny knew that to spend twenty minutes per day meditating on a seatless toilet was to invite haemorrhoids. But the disabled toilet also had a chair in it. Nobody knew why. Jonny started meditating in the toilet each morning. After a few weeks he became calm and focussed. Sometimes when he went to the disabled toilet with the chair the air was heavy with the scent of a co-worker’s shit. If the smell was faint he would proceed with his meditation session, confident that the automated air freshener dispenser would soon displace the smell. Some days the smell of shit was so strong that Jonny had to abandon his attempt and come back half an hour later.
Then one day everything changed. Every morning an intruder shat in the disabled toilet with the chair. The intruder’s shit smelled of mothballs. Individually the smells of shit and mothballs are unpleasant, but bearable. Together they become intolerable, combining to create a long-lasting super aroma. It is like food pairing in molecular gastronomy, where the presence of similar flavours make unlikely ingredients combine into taste sensations: salmon and liquorice; white chocolate and caviar.
The culprit was an Indian from Madras. Maybe he was eating mothballs and shitting them out. Maybe he was using them to cover up the smell of his shit. It didn’t seem proper to enquire. Whatever he was doing it put paid to Jonny’s meditation.