Coming In On Your Left

Orange GlassesMay 13, 2017 –
Following a performance by David Sedaris in Anchorage, Jan, Terry, Jessica, and I went to Glacier Brewhouse for dinner. Before requesting a table, we detoured to the restroom. This men’s room contained three urinals. Terry reached them first and selected the one in the middle. A man followed right behind Terry. Above his white sneakers and black socks were spindly calves reaching into khaki cargo shorts. His argyle vest encased a short-sleeved western button-down shirt. Atop his thinning spiked hair rested a pair of safety glasses with orange mirrored lenses.

He moved in on a urinal next to Terry, announcing, I guess as a sort of courtesy, “Coming in on your left!”

I have more than three decades’ worth of experience in public restrooms, and this was the first time I’ve encountered such a proclamation. Was this just a matter of manners? A southern hospitality that I should have expected after seeing his goofy shirt? Or was there something in this man’s past that made him approach fellow urinators in this way?Perhaps he had a bad experience when he was younger.

Perhaps he had pegged Terry as the kind of guy who might have a bad left eye, and he was just being cautious to avoid startling him, much the way you’d act similarly around a dog or horse with such an affliction. If the announcement weren’t made Terry might reflexively turn to face his new comrade to get a better look with his right eye, and inevitably piss on the poor man. Had this happened to that man before? Did that explain the safety glasses?

I followed in and took the urinal on Terry’s right. I didn’t make an announcement. I know his right eye is his good one.