The Grand Communal Urinal – The Hawk-Eye View

The Hawk-Eye View

I bounced from job to job, having plenty of interesting experiences. But none can compare to the night I found the Grand Communal Urinal.

Author’s Note: I posted this story on a different blog, a few years back. Some of my friends know the story, but I thought it might be fun enough to share again. I hope you enjoy!

Sometimes you look back, and it’s good to remember those experiences, those situations that make you smile. And anyone who knows me can tell you I am completely full of crap fun stories to tell, stories to make you smile. I swear up and down and on a stack of Action Comics, what I am about to say is one hundred percent true.  It’s a story I’ve shared before, but I thought it might be worth telling again.

There was a time in my life, a few desperate years after leaving Bible college, when I bounced from one job to the next. During that time, I worked at a cheese factory, a fiberglass manufacturing plant, as a pizza delivery driver, and a number of other places, mostly through temp agencies. One of the part-time gigs I picked up was a little telemarketing work for the local newspaper, the Rochester Post-Bulletin. The department where I worked was located on the top floor near the back of the building. It wasn’t a bad little cube-farm, but it did put us quite a distance from the pristine marble vanities of the public restrooms downstairs. (I don’t know if they were pristine, and I don’t know if they were marble, but I’m making assumptions, since it was Rochester.)

grand communal urinal

It looked like this, but without the row of urinals in the background.

About halfway through the night – after having downed four cans of Mountain Dew and a quart of Gatorade (you can already see the historical basis for my poor health shaping up!) – my bladder informed me of its need to be drained, pressuring me to hurry. Serious rush order here, so bad I could have opened a lemonade stand. Knowing I’d never make it down to the front of the building in time – I had already been holding it while on the phone with a few customers – I asked if there was another “little boy’s room” nearby.

As luck would have it, one was located just fifty feet away. I said a prayer of thanks and quickly made my way to the blessed room.

The door opened to reveal an unusual sight. The wall just to my left was lined with lockers, like the kind you find in high school gym locker rooms. To my right along the wall sat a large wash basin, similar to the one in my mom’s basement, the type usually reserved for laundromats and janitorial supply closets. Across the room a door, ostensibly to the closet, hung closed. And there, in the middle of the floor, was the most perplexing sculpture my eyes ever had the opportunity to see. Round, about six feet in diameter, a mid-thigh-high bowl of carved and polished granite. In the center, a spire of stainless steel rose upward, punctuated by four spigots. Around the foot of the basin hovered a circular chromed bar, a lever that when stepped upon caused water to flow from the spigots and carry anything in the bowl down the drain.

Never before had I witnessed – or even heard of – such a thing! I know… you probably have. Everyone who hears this story has. Go ahead. Laugh.

I believed I was looking at a Grand Communal Urinal.

Who would use a communal urinal was beyond me. Nudists? Exhibitionists? I couldn’t imagine standing around in a circle, doing my business while chatting it up with co-workers, friends, or fellow members of my local church.

No matter. I did what I came to do in the Grand Communal Urinal, and it was glorious. Maybe if I had not been the only one present I wouldn’t have been able, but I was and I did. My foot depressed the silver ring and water showered down from the spigots and into the bowl, rinsing it clean. Then I strode to the wash basin and cleaned my hands with a worn old bar of soap.

Suddenly, I heard a familiar sound, the whoosh! of a toilet flushing. It was not, however, coming from the Grand Communal Urinal, but rather from the door I had mistaken for a closet. The door swung open and a man stepped out, still zipping up his pants. Behind him, I could see a toilet in a well-lit restroom.

I said nothing as he sauntered up to the Grand Communal Urinal, stepped on the silver ring, and washed his hands in the water sprinkling from the spigots.

I even tossed him the bar of soap.

Simon Hawk
Chief Diversionist

Simon Hawk is a thinker, writer, satirist, and full-time oddball. As Chief Diversionist of Knozzle, his job is to write, baby, write with the intention of making his audience think and laugh. Or at least chuckle.


When not hunched over his computer, he spends his time on a balcony overlooking the Arkansas River (pronounced ar-KAN-zas, people!) playing Death Metal’s Greatest Hits on his diamond-studded kazoo. He sometimes pretends to know the meaning of life, but mostly just knows the meaning of obscure words like “sesquipedalian”.


Simon Hawk

Simon Hawk is a thinker, writer, satirist, and full-time oddball. As Chief Diversionist of Knozzle, his job is to write, baby, write with the intention of making his audience think and laugh. Or at least chuckle.

When not hunched over his computer, he spends his time on a balcony overlooking the Arkansas River (pronounced ar-KAN-zas, people!) playing Death Metal’s Greatest Hits on his diamond-studded kazoo. He sometimes pretends to know the meaning of life, but mostly just knows the meaning of obscure words like “sesquipedalian”.