I woke up in a world where people use litter boxes. They were very much like the boxes used by house cats, only a lot larger—about the size of a small kiddie pool. People would climb in, drop their pants, and do their business, right there in the open for everyone to see. And nobody seemed to mind. Not even a little.
Of course it was beyond disturbing to me, especially at work, as there were litter boxes in all the conference rooms. Yesterday my boss was in the middle of giving our team a formal presentation when the urge came over him. He just walked over a box in the corner, climbed in, crouched down, and got to it, all while still discussing the monthly sales numbers.
For two days I tried to hold my fire, hoping that somewhere in this strange place I would find a normal bathroom, but there were none. Toilets didn’t exist and never had. Nor outhouses. Nor porta-potties. Nor anything other than colorful plastic boxes filled with scented litter. This was the world I now inhabited. So I would have to adjust. I had no choice.
The first time I used a litter box was in the privacy of my own home. I turned off the lights and drew the shades, but still felt very odd, especially when I had to scoop out the clumps at the end of the week. Of course, I couldn’t avoid the inevitable. Eventually I had to relieve myself in other places—public places—even places where people might know me and recognize me. Movie theaters. Grocery stores. Train stations. It wasn’t easy.
But most difficult was the first time I had to use a litter box at work. I kept telling myself it was no big deal, as I’d already seen dozens of coworkers squatting on the crunchy gravel with their pants around their knees, acting like it was nothing. Still, it felt wrong—humiliating and dehumanizing—and not just for me, but for all the other people in the room with me. Of course, they didn’t care. To them, this was just the way the world was.
It’s been three years now and I’m still stuck in this place. Although I’d like to tell you otherwise, I have to admit that over time, I got used to it. In fact, it almost seems normal to me now. So normal, I have to think back real hard just to remind myself that the world wasn’t always like this. At least I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.
Either way, I realize now that people can get used to just about anything, no matter how degrading or dehumanizing or demoralizing it might be for everyone involved. It’s kind of like Donald Trump being our president. Every day people act more and more like this is all just normal life. It’s not normal life. And it can’t last forever. At least, I’m pretty sure it can’t.