The Talking Port-A-John
While working for BE&K Construction company as an industrial nurse and running their medical department for them, I noticed a Port-A-John sitting outside my office window. A thought occurred to me as I looked at the back of the porta-potty. I decided to give my boss a taste of my morbid sense of humor.
For the first time ever, I left the compound for lunch. When I came back, I had an intercom system with me. I borrowed some electrical tape from the electricians working across the compound and taped the receiver to the outdoor vent behind the Port-A-John; then I strung the wires up and fed them through my window to my desk where I had the other piece of the intercom system. Then, I sat back and waited.
I couldn’t see who went in but I could hear the door as it squeaked open. Suffice to say it went all downhill from there when my first victim entered. I heard the door open and waited a few minutes so they could drop their britches and then I said, “Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?”
I could hear them as they moved around inside the cubicle. It sounded like they were bouncing around in there. I spoke again. “Oh my God, I would put that thing away if I were you! You don’t show that to anyone, do you?” I heard the door open and then slam shut.
I think I started a trend because within two hours, I had people from all over the paper mill coming to hear my talking Port-A-John. I had some funny incidents, too.
I had an electrician come over one day and tell me to look outside my door. There was an iron foreman and his ironworker standing near the electrician’s mill hut. I could see they were arguing. The ironworker was very adamant in his gestures as he pointed to the potty and the foreman just as adamantly pointing to my office next to it.
Finally, he came in and said, “Michelle, you have to stop scaring the workers. He thinks the shithouse is haunted and is out there telling me there’s a ghost in it. I told him it was you!”
“Well, tell him to come here, I’ll tell him what’s going on then.” By this time, I must have had five more electricians crowded in my office. The guy came in and the iron foreman said for me to tell him what was going on out there. I said, “It’s haunted and there’s a ghostie in there looking at your Mr. Winky Dinkle when you tinkle.”
I think after I said that to him and the other men in the office cracked up, the poor little ironworker realized it was just me, not a ghost, and laughed too. He was okay after that.
One man went in and when I told him to stop tinkling on my head and in my eyes, he said, “I’m not going to the bathroom, Michelle. I just wanted to see what you would say.”
Another man laughed hysterically when I tried to talk to him about “the tiny size of things” while assuring him, he should be very embarrassed. When he left the porta-potty, I went to the door to see who it was. I got the joke when I saw him. He was a six-foot-five black man and he was still laughing hysterically as he walked across the compound.
Several days into this, I heard the door open and slam closed. If I could have smelled the dang cigar, I would have kept my mouth shut but, as I said, I couldn’t see who went in so there was no way of knowing. I started my spiel about him being embarrassed about his anatomy and then I heard a voice I knew: Jack Simms. He was the big boss; the one running the entire show.
“Michelle,” he said, as I pictured him removing his cigar long enough to say my name.
“Uhm, yes, Jack?”
“I have to hear this shit whenever I go home to my wife. Can you please lie to me and tell me how huge it looks? Oh, and by the way, I want some of those boiled peanuts you had your father-in-law bring you thirty minutes ago. I hope you didn’t eat them all ready because I think I deserve half of that five-pound bag you had him smuggle back here.”
Jack didn’t miss a trick. We sat in the office eating boiled peanuts for an hour. During that time, he took control of my intercom box. He was barking orders at the men about “getting their asses back to work,” in addition to “trying” to flirt with some of them. With his gruff and booming voice though, I think he scared the bejesus out of most of those men. Can you imagine a man suddenly talking to you as you’re trying to relieve yourself, saying “Hey honey, want to go out Friday night? I hear Jack is going to give you the night off.”
On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I went over to visit our friends, Sam and Lori Kavanaugh. Sam worked at BE&K (he still does work there) as a foreman. While standing at the sink he said to me, “Michelle, I almost sent one of my men home for doing drugs or drinking on the job. I know I made him to go the personnel office and submit a drug test.”
“Why,” I asked while sitting at his kitchen table.
“Have you heard anything about a talking shithouse and …” his voice trailed off as he looked over his shoulder at me.Laughing he said, “I should have known. Especially when he said it was at the nurse’s office.”