Scene: a group of friends sat at around table in a busy restaurant.
Mike: Back in a mo. If the waiter comes by, I’ll have the pie and chips off the board with a pint. Ale or stout, no lager, thanks.
Scene: Mike wanders off and people at the table continue chatting. A moment later there's shouting from near the bar, an orange light starts to flash, and there's a low level siren going off.
Mita: What? Don’t tell me this place has had one fitted as well.
Sarah: I’ll go. It’s my turn.
Mita: Look at them all scurry.. You’d think there was a crocodile in there or something.
Jake: Or the fashion police. It’s like an explosion in a beige cloth factory.
Scene: Sarah leaves the table and walks to the loos. Mike is stood looking cross while a man in an orange tabard is trying to turn off the alarm system. The siren cuts off like a laconic duck.
Sarah: You okay, Mike?
Mike: Other than in need of the loo, yes.
John: I’m really sorry, sir, the Ministry said we needed to fit this alarm and it’s a bit hit and miss. It’s all part of the Safe To Pee initiative.
Sarah: That’ll explain the stampede from the loos then.
Mike: Look mate, I just need to go.
John: Uhh, well, umm, just use the gents right? I mean, you’re a big guy.
Mike: The beard give it away, yeah?
Sarah hides a smirk.
Mike: I tried that and the Bathroom Monitor flashed a warning at me and the door wouldn’t open.
John: It might be your belt or if you’ve got a button fly on your jeans, that tends to confuse the scanner…
Mike: No belt and there’s a zipper on my jeans.
Sarah: Could you just, y’know, turn it off?
John: I, err, well, I would need to check with head office. Umm, what happened before it went off? I might be able to add some more rules to it, maybe unlock your profile record.
Mike: I turned to push the recheck button on the Gents after it blocked me. I guess I might have leaned too close to the door by the Ladies’. I got a green light for that, then it went orange. When I looked at it to press cancel, it went green, orange, green, red: then all the alarms went off. Now, here we are and I’m really needing to go.
Sarah: We’ve come out for a birthday meal. Can you just turn off that system, so Mike can, you know, use the facilities?
John: I would love to and I’ll have to use the override app from head office. Otherwise we’ll lose our Safe To Pee flag. Umm, look, I’m really to sorry to ask, but which loo do you want to use? I’ve got some tick boxes on the app that need to be filled out.
Sarah: Oh come on! Mike’s six foot, built like a wrestler, and you could hide a family of badgers in that beard. The bloody Gents.
Mike: If it helps, I’m a trans man. Fill in those tick boxes. Just, don’t be long. I’m getting a bit close if you know what I mean.
John: I’m really sorry about this. Oh, the app’s crashed when I tried to update your loo record.
Scene: there's a loud clunk noise from both loo doors.
Mike: Sorry, fella. I think you’ve done more than lock out my record.
John: Oh, bloody hell. All the loos have gone into lockdown mode until we get gender evidence. I’m so sorry about this –
Mike: You want evidence? Okay, I’m going for a wazz in the potted plant next to the cameras. The machine can scan my hairy arse as I go.
Sarah: I think that’s quite enough evidence of masculinity.
John looks exasperated.
John: Sod this. I’ll reset the system now the app had come back. The Bathroom Monitor software clearly needs a rewrite.
The Bathroom Monitor fizzes and flashes as John tries to reset it. The doors unlock but the lights inside the toilets turn off.
Sarah: Have you got your torch, Mike?
Mike: It’s just the way these trousers hang…
Sarah laughs as Mike heads into the loo.
Sarah: Well, I might as well go while the system is off. Have you got a spare torch? It’s best I go now. I had a hysterectomy last year and with my catheter fitted, I just freak these systems out. My sister has the same issue with the scanners as she’s Intersex and –
John: Just… use whatever loo feels best and safest for you. I’ll go and unplug the bloody computer. The hours and customers we’ve lost due to false alarms and questions of what’s in your knickers, it’s insane. Whoever thought this was a good idea doesn’t understand people let alone biology.
Sarah heads into the loo as Mike comes out.
Mike: Look, I’m really sorry about all that.
John: No, please don’t be. It’s not either of you, it’s the stupid software and it’s overly simplistic view of people –
Mike: Ha ha. Yes, the software. Of course. Oh and John, thanks for your help, and, uh, I’d give it ten minutes if I were you.
Of course, the above silliness can be avoided if we employ people to act as the Toilet Police. What could possibly go wrong or indeed offend by having to show what is in your underwear before you’re allowed to use the loo? 😋