Always Lock the Door
By Joe Wagner

I work in an old office building in Hollywood and there's this snack shop on the first floor. It's run by this middle-aged Armenian guy. I go in there everyday and buy something. That was pretty much the extent of our relationship. Until a week ago...




One afternoon, I went to the office bathroom,  walked up to the big stall, and swung the unlocked door open without a care in my mind. And right there in front of me was the Armenian guy, right on the pot, his pants around his ankles, reading the paper. Now the whole thing lasted a fraction of a second, because I have the reflexes of a jungle cat and was able to close the door, without making a sound. 
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The next day, I walk right into the shop, I get a drink, and I look right into his eyes. He gives me my change - and that's it. There was no discomfort on his part, no awkward smile, no squinting his eyes, like "I know it was you, you perverted son of a bitch."

I saw the guy half naked. I interrupted one of the most intimate, vulnerable moments anyone can have and what's worse is that I didn't say anything like, "Hey man, I have seen you on the pot, and I still respect you."

Instead, in a moment of rare sensitivity, I decided to write him a letter.

Dear Mr. Snack Shop Guy:

I know in my heart that you are a decent man, and I hope that by writing this letter both you and Almighty God will have mercy and forgive the selfish deception I have committed. My days have been filled with an anguish I never thought I would ever feel, at least until I did something like have an affair or shoot a man from behind. Or have an affair with a man from behind.

Mr. Snack Shop Guy--I have seen you on the toilet. And it is this violation of your basic human dignity that I hope to atone for by telling you how this happened.

A week ago, I entered the bathroom, just outside of our suite. I am an operations manager in the office, ordering supplies and whatnot. I imagine you also have to do a lot of ordering yourself. The only difference is that when you get hungry, you can eat your stock. Although once when I was alone in the storeroom, I drank a bottle of rubber cement and hallucinated that a toner cartridge was a delicious chocolate pastry.
I feel a little strange calling you "Mr. Snack Shop Guy." I don't know your real name, but I think you should have one. My first impulse is to call you "Stavros" because that's a Greek name, and frankly I don't know what the difference between Greeks and Armenians is. I do remember I had a classmate in high school who was Armenian, and he asked everyone to call him Jay. His real name was Hagop. So I'd like to show my respect for you and your culture by calling you "Hagop" for the rest of this letter. In fact, you and my old classmate have the same wavy, black hair. Except yours is mostly gone.

Anyway, I opened the door to the stall, and there, plopped right on the can was you, Hagop. And even though it was for a split second, I stood there and watched. Are you a religious man, Hagop? I'm Catholic and I wish God had struck me blind at that very instant÷ but God doesn't do things that cause people pain and suffering÷ except for when he's mad and they're homosexual. Technically, I don't know if accidentally looking at a man defecating is even a sin, but one thing I can tell you is that it sure felt wrong.

Anyway, I closed the door and left the bathroom. But since that moment, I have had an image of you with your pants down floating in the darkness imprinted on my brain. Like when you stare right at a light bulb, then you shut your eyes, and you still see it glowing. Except in this case it's not a light bulb and I see the image of you even when my eyes are open. Yesterday, I swerved to avoid a phantom image of you and ran into a schoolbus.

It's not every day you get a letter like this in the mail. 'Cause if you did, then I'd say you have very bad luck with so many people walking in on you. But I know you're someone who's confident enough to live life not caring what other people think. The fact that you often adjust your privates and wear very strong cologne is proof of that.

I'm sorry, Hagop, it was an accident. I wanted to say something sooner, but how you do tell someone something that you know is going to hurt them? I bet you know what that's like. Maybe you didn't have the guts to tell your dad you didn't want to run the snack shop. Maybe you wanted to be a dancer. Or a circus strong man. Or even a computer programmer. But, unfortunately, you will never be these things. It's just too late and besides, you've got snack cakes to arrange!

You seem like such a private man, except for the fact that your shirts are always unbuttoned down to your waist. All I ask is that you don't keep in your pain. Talk about this with someone. Maybe try some counseling. In college I went to go see a counselor about how I thought everyone didn't like me. Granted, it turned out that my feet stank because I had a fungus, but the counseling showed me how paranoid and self-pitying I could be.

My greatest fear is that you will turn to violence and beat my face in. Instead, maybe you can just put up a sign in your store that says, "No Joe Wagner Allowed." And in a strange, offensive way I'll feel a little bit what it was like to be a black man in the deep south of the 1950's.

I wish you all the best and continued prosperity.

Joseph Wagner

Now I should say this was the letter I was going to send but then I made a slight revision. Here's the version that I just slipped under the door of the snack shop.


I recently had the displeasure of walking in on you while you were taking a dump in the bathroom outside our office. You were reading a paper so I bet you didn't even see me staring at your pathetic ass. I just wanted to drop you this line to say...YOU SHOULD TAKE A GODDAMN MINUTE AND LOCK THE FUCKIN' DOOR! And the next time I walk in on you stinking up the place, I'LL STAND BY THE DOOR AND WAVE PEOPLE IN LIKE A CARNIVAL BARKER TO MOCK YOU UNTIL YOU DIE!

Joe Wagner

Joe Wagner is the funny fat man at Ooze.

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