The CoWork Chronicles, III

There has been a long pause between posts and as much as I enjoy writing for myself, I was delighted to hear from people (yes, shockingly, more than one person) that they wanted me to continue on with the series (and without prompting). So without much further ado I present you with another instalment. This CoWork Chronicles story is inspired by an event that may or may not have happened while being a tenant of a co-working space. As per co-working, these stories follow no particular order, but to read the previous short, take a look here.

You have probably realised by now that you only meet people from other fish tank units (or offices as they are known to my more politically correct fellow co-working patrons) when you use the shared space and amenities. These include the kitchenette with industrial strength coffee machine which often warrants a queue, the proverbial water cooler which is some fruit infused glass tank of water and aside the actual professional amenities of meeting rooms and phone booths: the bathroom.

Admittedly, I sometimes leave the fish tank to frequent the bathroom to justify needing a walk. I’m certain that I’m not the only one. On this particular day I went into the ladies’ bathroom to use it: more specifically, an empty ladies’ bathroom — I had my pick of any stall and, presumably, any sink thereafter.

On the one hand, I love being the only co-working patron in the bathroom — extreme privacy is honoured and the pick of any stall means I can opt for my favourite one (I assume that everyone starts to develop a preference or favourite — or even an order of preference of cubicles: 2–4–1–3 from entrance to farthest inside). On the other hand, depending on what awkward, eerie lyrics that you have never heard of are playing on the speaker system in the bathroom at the time, it can be a creepy experience. On balance, I think I still prefer being the only woman frequenting the bathroom at a given time. But I digress.

I entered the bathroom and (now you know) I went for the third cubicle away from the entrance without much thought. When I was ready, I emerged out and went to the corresponding third sink from the entrance to wash up. I hadn’t heard anything beyond the awkward lyrics about I don’t know what but I remember hearing the word parachute sung in an excitable, squeaky girlish voice. I was no longer alone in the bathroom. There was a lady in a red raincoat scrubbing furiously. I thought this was odd, it was early summer and she seemed quite overdressed for the weather given that it was not actually raining. I continued to wash my hands and looked down into the first sink from the door.

In the sink, eyes staring right into mine, was a small white dog. She looked deflated and embarrassed (I assume that she’s a ‘she’ because I feel like she should be and she was in the ladies’ bathroom so I might as well afford her some respect and preserve her modesty). Her human companion chuckled and said something like “Hi”, but I hardly heard it. I had never seen her in any fish tank or spillover area before (or since) and she had a large backpack on the floor level propped up between her legs. I wasn’t threatened by their presence, nor did they seem particularly distressed that I felt compelled to offer any help — though, as to what help I could possibly offer, I didn’t have a clue.

I loitered a bit and my hands were under the tap for about three times longer than usual, and as a recovering OCD, I am a thorough handwasher at the best of times. I tried not to stare to my right in their direction too much but the dog’s eyes felt like they were scanning my soul. I blinked a few times to assure myself this was not some sleep-deprived hallucination. Was she dognapped? Impossible to say with just this picture, and even if she was, this lady was determined to shampoo her dog albeit in a communal sink with a generic, pastel pink, clinical-smelling co-working soap. In fact, the lady in red was the least awkward being in the room.

Feeling nowhere near as helpless as the dog, but still fairly confused and at the least, unhelpful, I finally went to dry my hands on the dryer farthest from the lady and her dog and without looking back marched swiftly back to my fish tank. It is common for dogs to come into the coworking space, in fact many patrons get fish tanks specifically because they can bring their dog to work. However, I had never even seen a resident dog go to the human bathrooms, though I had seen them relieve themselves pretty much everywhere else in the building. This was the moment that I first started to search for alternative office solutions and started to question the general human-dog relationship. Are dogs better off without us? Do dogs actually like co-working spaces? I have so many questions…

In summary, a lady may or may not have trespassed into a fish tank collective to simply give a little white dog a bath in a washroom sink. The image of what I saw that day was so well etched in my mind that I have since looked up the dog (as I’m not particularly good with breed names) — she was a Westie. But, of course, this may or may not have happened.

Thank you for persevering through to the end! I would love to hear your thoughts and also whether this matches up to your experiences.