Justin Lo (7300)


“Sir?”  he asked hesitantly.


The older man gave no reply, but instead continued to stare at the blurry ATM machine’s monitor.


“Er – excuse me, sir,” he said.


Once again, only silence met his ears.


“Sir!  Would you happen to know where the men’s restrooms are?” he cried, a natural sense of urgency adding defiance and anger to the words that on paper would be so gentle and respectful.


“Hold a moment,” came the late reply.  “I’m waiting for my money to pop out.”


He stole a look at the ATM screen and realized that there was in fact nothing on it but a blurry photograph of a dog.


“Well, sir, I don’t think any money is coming out of that machine anytime soon.  This has got to be some sort of joke!  It ought to say “thank you for your business” or “please take cash now” if it’s about to give you the bills for your withdrawal.”


The old man’s brows furrowed, and he growled, “Oh, unprincipled!  Unprincipled!  By my shoe, you’re just trying to convince me to walk over there to the restrooms and then you’ll come and take my cash while I explain the route we took!”


“No, sir, no!” cried the younger man in denial.  “I simply have to go to the restroom!  You know where they are, don’t you?”


“Of course – who do you take me for?”


“And so you could direct me – verbally that is – you don’t have to budge a single inch, sir – direct me to the restrooms?”


The old man replied without hesitation, “Indeed.”


“And … so may I have the directions?”


“What directions?” asked the old man.


“To the restrooms!”


“Oh.  Well indeed, I am waiting for my cash right now.”


“You don’t really know where the restrooms are, do you …,” sighed the younger man.  He trembled slightly, and remembered that he urgently had to use the toilet.


“I do, I do!  But you see, I haven’t used the ones in this facility for some time, and so I should hardly recall exactly where they are, unless I were to leave my guard of this ATM machine.”


The younger man bid the older man farewell and tried the second floor of the building.  He scoured one hallway after another, and at the end of one of the shorter corridors, he found a boy dressed in a basketball jersey and cargo shorts.


“Ah, excuse me,” began the man.


“Can’t.  Talk.  To.  Strangers,” replied the boy with a stern glare, like one of those robots with the glowing red eyes and cold metallic bodies.


“I was just wondering where the -,” continued the man.


“Go.  Away.  Or.  I’ll.  Blow.  Your.  Head.  Off.”


“Okay, okay!” conceded the man, who left for the third floor.


On the third floor, he found a teenage girl who was comfortably slouched on a sofa, reading a popular novel and sipping iced tea.


He stood next to her, somewhat hovering, not knowing whether he ought to bother her or not.  After a page or two, she looked up at him with an apathetic glance.


“Yeah?” she asked.


“Do you know where the bathrooms are?”


“Well, not the guys’ bathroom, but the girls’, sure.”  She laughed a little, a mixture of an innocent giggle and a coarse chuckle.


“Oh oh, I really don’t care what bathroom, any will do!”


“Wow, pretty desperate, huh,” commented the girl.  “Well okay.  The closest girls’ bathroom is on the twentieth fl-”


The man’s eyes widened: “T-t-tw-twentieth floor?  Good God, who designed this building?!  No, no, I mean to ask, how in the world do you ever go?”


“Me?” asked the girl.  “That’s none of your beeswax.  Just run along, use the girls’ bathroom if you’re that freaking desperate.”


“But, the elevator doesn’t go any higher than the fifth floor.”

“That’s what stairs are for, Einstein.”


The man fumed silently but thanked the girl anyway,