*Again, do not read this while eating. Ever.*

I cannot look at a bath mat without cringing. You might think I have this weird nervous tic, but I don’t. I’m scarred, y’all. Emotionally scarred. And soon? You will be too.

It was early summer in 2006. Toommate and I still lived together at Riverbend in Arlington. I was still managing the day spa and dating the Vampire. My life had a steady, albeit slightly monotonous, routine. Summer had just begun and Toommate had just left town for field camp, which is a place they send geologists to study rocks, smoke pot, and drink a loooot of tequila. (Not that Toommate participated in that. She had zero interest in rocks. She’s more of a trilobite kind of a gal.) I missed Toommate but I was also super excited to have the apartment all to myself for over a month.

It happened on a Wednesday at 8am. It was my first day off since she’d left for camp. I was planning on sleeping for a long time, lounging in my pajamas, and making cookies. Instead, I was jerked out of a calm, dreamless sleep by a pounding. A pounding on the front door. Figuring it was the Vampire realizing he’d forgotten something, I got out of bed, threw on a tshirt, and went to the door. I looked through the peephole and saw someone who was decidedly NOT the Vampire, but instead very much a Stranger. So I went back to my room and put on some pants and then went back to the door. I opened it slightly and asked him what he needed.

Me: Hi! Can I help you find something?
Him: I’m here to pick up your cable box.
Me: What?
Him: Your cable box. I need to pick it up.
Me: I’d love to help you, but you guys actually picked up the cable box last week. So it’s not here.
Him: But I have to pick it up.
Me: I appreciate your situation. Sadly, I cannot produce another cable box out of thin air.
Him: We’ll have to charge you.
Me: You are being ridiculous. Y’all already have the cable box. I must ask you to halt your shenanigans.

(It’s important to note here that I cannot remember our exact conversation, so I’m making up some words to make it more interesting. You get the gist though.)

Him: I don’t know what to do.
Me: I appreciate your situation, really. I hope you find the cable box you are looking for, sir.
Him: Thank you.

So then he left. And I went back to bed, grumbling because I’d *told* the cable company that they’d picked up the box, and surely they were supposed to let me know if they had a service dude coming. Then, more knocking on my door. I got up, put on my shirt and pants, and went back to the living room. It was him again.

Me: Did you forget something?
Him: (pushes past me into the apartment) I’m sorry I really need to use the bathroom, please is that okay, thank you so much.
Me: (frantically trying to figure out what just happened, I direct him toward Toommate’s room/bathroom.

15 minutes go by. And he doesn’t come out. By this time, I’m FREAKED out. I’m not great at remembering to protect myself from strangers when I’m alone. I have my phone in hand, ready to call the Vampire should things get interesting, and I’m hitting send as he finally comes out of her bathroom. I shuffle him out the door and go back into my room. So then I call the cable company to do some good, old-fashioned hell raisin’.

Cable Company: Hi, this is Gloria, may I help you?
Me: Hi Gloria! I have a small bone to pick with you about one of your service dudes.
Gloria: What happened?
Me: (telling her the whole story)
Gloria: Oh, I’m so sorry. He shouldn’t have come into the house at all. We’ll definitely see that his supervisor talks to him. Thank you for letting us know.

As Gloria is talking to me, I hear more pounding on the door. So I tiptoe out into the living room again while cradling the phone against my cheek. Slowly, I stood on my tiptoes and looked through the peephole. Sho’nuff…

Me: (whispering) GLORIA! You aren’t going to believe this but he’s HERE AGAIN! Can you hear the knocking?
Gloria: (also whispering, which was awesome) What is he DOING? Girl, don’t answer the door. I’m going to call the service provider we use and have them radio his supervisor now. Just step away from the door and don’t worry about it. I’m so sorry this is happening, baby. You just hang in there.

So I did. Hang in there, that is. I hung up with Gloria after thanking her for being so wonderful and tried to get my groove back for my day. But I had this nagging suspicion that something was rotten in Denmark. (Denmark being Toommate’s bathroom. And Something being the fact that he’d been in her bathroom for nearly 20 minutes. Ew.) So I crept into her bathroom and again, sho’nuff…

It was gross, but I cleaned up the toilet. I figured it was silly to call Gloria again because what was she going to do about it? So I tried to get my groove back and enjoy my day off. But I couldn’t help being a bit pissed off at the jerkface cable guy.

Now. Please join me as we fast forward in time to three weeks later.

THREE WEEKS later.

Again, it was a Wednesday. This time, it was 6am. I was not off, nay, instead I had to open the spa. I was rushing around getting ready for work when all of a sudden the light in my bathroom burned out. Instead of dealing with bulbs and ladders, I rushed into Toommate’s bathroom to use her mirror and sink. Please realize this was the first time I’d ventured into her bathroom since The Incident.

The first thing I noticed were the tiny little gnatty bugs flying around. The second thing I noticed, a nanosecond later, was the smell. There was a definite smell. I looked at the toilet, but it was fine. I’d cleaned it well and it remained clean. I looked in the trash can but it was empty. Toommate had taken it out before leaving for camp. I pulled back the shower curtain: nothing. I was perplexed. But then I noticed the bath mat. And how it was folded over on itself. And how it seemed to be the place the gnatty bugs wanted to hang out. So I gingerly took a corner and flipped it open.

You guys. YOU GUYS. Evidently Toommate had been out of toilet paper when Cable Dude had used her bathroom. And there was no spare kleenex or tissue in her bathroom. So apparently, in his mind, the next best thing to bath tissue was…the bath mat.

YOU GUYS.

I *freaked* the hell out. My stomach rolled and I had to run out of her bathroom. I grabbed my makeup and bag and bolted to the car, where I spent the entire drive to Southlake saying this, “WHO DOES THAT???”

The minute I got a break at work, I called the cable company. Y’all won’t even believe me, but who did I get connected to? None other than my old friend Gloria!

Gloria: Hi, this is Gloria, can I help you?
Me: GLORIA!! Oh my gosh, I’m SO glad it’s you!!
Gloria: Franny?
Me: No, sorry!! I called about 3 weeks ago when a strange service guy was banging on my door and used my bathroom without my definite permission.
Gloria: Oh, I remember you! Girl, that was so crazy! How are you?
Me: Not good, Gloria. Not too good. Remember how he was in the bathroom for 20 minuteS?
Gloria: Yeah, I remember.
Me: Apparently there was no toilet paper in that bathroom when he needed it.
Gloria: Uh oh.
Me: But there was a bath mat.
Gloria: NO!
Me: I KNOW!
Gloria: WHO DOES THAT?
Me: THANK YOU!!!
Gloria: EW EW EW!!
Me: I KNOW!
Gloria: THAT’S AWFUL!
Me: WHO DOES THAT??
Gloria: I KNOW!!!

(We did this back and forth for about 4 minutes. We had no filter for how to process this shock. So we leaned on each other. And bonded over the bath mat.)

Gloria put me in touch with the company they used for their service providers and I spoke to the Big Boss Tim. Big Boss Tim couldn’t believe it either and asked me if I still had the bath mat. As I like to learn from history, I’d saved the bath mat, figuring it was like the blue dress of the 90s. Big Boss Tim asked if he could come by and get it. I said sure, but why would he want the bath mat (which was now sitting on the balcony hidden in 4 trash bags).

His answer? “So I can give him a special severance package when I fire him.”

So Big Boss Tim picked up the bath mat, leaving me a check for $50 and telling me I should buy a new $10 bath mat and then treat myself to a nice dinner or a new outfit for my suffering. Which I totally did.

It explains why the service dude was so frantic about getting back into the apartment. I have to ask though, in that situation, HOW HARD IS IT to not yell out, “Hey, out of toilet paper! A little help please!!”

But the bath mat?

I shudder even remembering this.

So there you have it. The Legend of the Bath Mat. It can also be called, “Why Alida is anti-cable guys.”

The end.

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