There are rules aboard tugs- some written, some not. Today, the rule about closed head doors was violated.
I was having a shit and looking at some news on my phone, when the door burst open. I was startled and looked up to see the sleepy but equally startled face of the other hand, Termite, looking in through the foot and a half wide gap of the open door. He had been in the bunk and woke up for a piss. His hair was disheveled and he was shirtless. His face had a disturbed look upon it; one eye squinted, still not adjusted to the light, the other popped wide open in surprise and staring straight at my lap.
“Da fuck?” was the only thing I could say at that moment. He pulled the door shut and I finished my visit to the head. When I left the head, the door to his room was closed. I walked back out on deck thinking about the rule.
When the head door is closed, it means that the head is occupied. The door doesn’t need to be locked; no one will open it. The only time that the door to the head needs to be locked is in the case that the head is between two rooms and shared. Then, if the mate is inserting a suppository deep into his ass with one leg hiked up on the sink, the engineer won’t accidentally walk in on him. But that’s another story.
If the door to the head has been pulled to and closed by accident with no one in there, the crew will still observe the rule. They won’t begin to test the door until quite some time has passed. When the possibility of an empty head presents itself, someone will knock and listen for a voice from within to announce that the head is being used. If no voice is raised, the door is slowly opened as more knocks are applied and if the head is empty, the door is set to right again.
This isn’t a difficult rule to follow, and for the vast majority of the time, it is observed without fail, observed to point that a popular prank is to pull that door closed for no good reason, just to watch the crew nervously monitoring the door for signs of activity.
Termite paid for his lapse. When I saw him again, he couldn’t make eye contact with me. It was as if he were now unclean, having seen the naked thighs, the sides of the buttocks, and possibly the privates area of another man. Termite is a churchy type. Any reference to homosexuality makes him squirm so the vision of me on that commode probably twisted his well-being into knots.
“Ah doan know, preacher. I seen the penis. You sher I ain’t full a sin and vice today?” I could just hear his nasally little voice now, panicking and fearful, the call to his minister, as he sought answers to the questions posed by the sight of pasty man flesh.
Well, good for him. I hope he cried himself to sleep. And maybe next time, he’ll see the closed door of the head and observe the rules, the way the rest of us do.