We’re all familiar with being on auto-pilot. Usually because we come to a sudden realisation that that’s where we’ve been. Luckily most of the time it’s because something or someone interrupts us gently. Occasionally it’s more serious, it’s the car horn that alerts us to the fact we’ve stepped into the road without thinking.
I think we’re all also familiar with the paper tissue or towel on the public bathroom floor. Who’s going to pick it up? Not me. God knows what’s on it, what it was last used for, whose hands it has been in. I may have just exposed some of my most intimate parts to a piece of porcelain that is less clean than that tissue, but I’m not going to pick it up. It must be someone else’s job. And anyway how the hell does it get there? How can people be so messy, dirty, slovenly?
Here’s my theory on how it gets there. Someone drops it accidentally and unconsciously while on auto-pilot. They’re on their way to meeting someone, having lunch, getting back to a knotty problem at work and they’re oblivious to the single sheet of tissue falling to the floor. Simple as that – it happens everywhere, it’s not a measure of the depravation of the people using it, it’s a measure of how unconscious they are, and I’d argue unconsciousness is, if anything, more prevalent in communities of clever people who are doing lots of thinking.
So what happens in a place where it isn’t anyone else’s job to pick it up? At C4CC we do have cleaners who come in regularly, but not at the end of every day, nor does anyone do a regular cleanliness check during the day and scribble their signature on a chart on the back of the loo door. What’s the solution? Employ cleaners in such a capacity? No money. Put up signs to encourage mindfulness of your surroundings while you’re here? Signs are highly susceptible to being ignored by unconscious people. Hold meditation sessions every day to generally raise the level of consciousness of people working here? Tempting… very tempting…
Or how about, whenever I find myself in a conscious state in the bathroom and I spot the residue of someone else’s unconsciousness, I just pick up that piece of paper, put it in the bin and wash my hands afterwards?