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In which I discuss networking in public facilities

So today I went to an excellent geek conference – and a very good day it was too. Apart from my networking #fail. Oh. And my paper towel dispenser #fail

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

I struggle to network unless I’m on my own, or tipsy. After a beer or two I will happily talk to anyone, including (quite often) homeless people and cleaners. I was a cleaner myself (think chambermaid in England, public toilet cleaner in Israel) so often feel a kindred spirit connection type thing with other of this ilk. For example I recently (on the night of the faketanman) got into a chitchat with a lovely lady at the public bathrooms in a mall – she was singing beautifully in Xhosa, and I had had the required amount of beer. Hey presto – instant conversation!

But today geeks were buzzing around, high on caffeine and networking like nobody’s business while I sat with my trusty colleague Mrs. redzxber and my man G (Note: Must blog sometime about G’s first experience at a geek function.) with whom I felt very comfortable, and thus found no desire to ‘go forth and network’ lurking in my alcohol-free bosom.

Then I went for my first trip to the bathroom. No, there wasn’t a cleaner. But there was a ‘friendly’ woman washing her hands at the basin alongside mine who started telling us about how her kids had been crawling all over her just before she arrived and went on to point out marie biscuit and yoghurt stains on her clothes. I’m a mom, so I made sympathetic noises. Mrs. redzxber is not. She was clearly bored. I tried to play mediator and bring up the subject of cats which I thought might be of mutual interest but that failed. So we left. Not much of a story there.

Until the next time I had to make use of the facilities.

This is around an hour or so later. While ensconsed in my stall I hear a familiar voice asking another woman (at the hand basins) how she was finding the conference. The two strike up an animated conversation and when I emerge sure enough the instigator is Mrs Marie Biscuit Stain. I wash my hands and, as is my way, was heading for the door wiping my hands on my jeans when Mrs MBS interrupts her new friend to bark at me that if I simply wave my hands under the paper towel dispenser it would dispense a paper towel. I feel I have to turn around and go dry my hands like a good girl (barking women tend to have that effect on me.) So I stand there like a prize idiot ineffectually wafting my hands under, alongside and above the thing but no paper towel. I can feel them both watching me. Eventually I turn around and tell Mrs MBS “You lied”, rather accusingly. She rolls an eye at her new BFF and leans over to expertly waft HER hand in just the right way and of course it worked.

Some time later (several session later) Mrs. redzxber needed to return to the bathrooms and she comes back and reports that Mrs MBS is BACK (still?) in there, talking to someone else she’d just met.

Now I am a woman. And I have had many random, some pretty deep, disturbing and personal chats to strangers in public toilets. There was even the one time when some girl (this at the Red Herring in the last 4 years) insisted on coming IN to the stall with me so we could both pee – I had never seen her in my life before.

But networking in the bathroom? The entire conference?

Was Mrs MBS simply a shy geek who couldn’t face networking in open spaces?

Was she OCD and couldn’t leave the basins?

Was she on a diet and finding the sight of food too overwhelming?

I’ll never know…

It seems wrong on a number of levels.

But maybe that’s just me. And Mrs. redzxber.

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2 Responses to In which I discuss networking in public facilities

  1. Mrs. redzxber says:

    No Bru… that chick was w.e.i.r.d. Full.Stop.

  2. karin says:

    Mrs redzxber always seems to be around when something weird goes on. Have you made a connection?


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