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Shoe marks on the toilet seat (1991) Back to stories index

I was a junior engineer and a fresher sailor onboard a chemical tanker operated by a Singapore based company. I worked in the engine room two four-hour shifts plus day work of another four hours. I was given a small cabin sharing with another engineer. Our cabin did not have its own toilet, so we used a common toilet in front of the cabin.

A few weeks after I joined the ship along with several other sign-on sailors, there was a rumor that people saw shoe marks on the toilet seat of the common toilet in front of our cabin.

Shoe prints on the toilet Since I was one of the newest, and I came from Myanmar (Burma), a country regarded widely as one of most primitive places in the world, many fingers pointed at me. They did not talk to me directly though. They talked to each other behind me. They talked during the lunch and dinner and elsewhere. However one day this gossip arrived at me.

One of the senior engineers was speaking to other sailors on a deck where I was cleaning the oil spills. He said in a loud voice, 'Whoever sit on the toilet seat in his shoes will break the seat and get his ass dipped with the debris.' I was curious and at the same time felt he might be accusing me of squatting on the toilet seat.

At first I thought I needed to talk. But within seconds I decided I should better stay quiet. I did not squat on the toilet seat. However who would believe me?

Six months later our company went bankrupt while we were just south of the Gulf. Somehow our ship was moved to the anchorage off Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. We were then left there with some provision and water. We did not have our salaries for months. All of us felt drained and disappointed. Everyone wanted to get salary and go home. During the waiting for unknown future there had been lot of quarrels among the sailors.

One evening while I was reading on the lifeboat deck my roommate, apparently drunk, approached me and said, 'I thought you Burmese people were all cheap dirty animals.' I did not reply to him. He continued, 'You know I didn't like to sit on the toilet you used.'

(Note: the same story was published in in Dec 2003)

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