As you know, I spend between six and ten hours every day commuting to and from work, because I now live in France. Sitting on the same trains day in day out for that length of time means I have become closely acquainted with the interiors – the pattern on the seat upholstery, for example, and the strangely metallic sound of the chimes that indicate that the doors are opening. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking more and more about the toilet signs.
Every carriage has a few of these, pointing the over-hydrated traveller towards their nearest convenience. I am increasingly concerned by the picture on the sign.
We will leave aside, for now, the obvious issue over the size of the people you can see. Whatever pair of binoculars we are looking through is clearly in need of adjustment, because the left lens is showing us a baby that appears to be almost as tall as the two adults visible through the right lens.
No, what bothers me is this. The baby on the left is wearing a nappy – that much is clear. The nappy is white and the baby is pale grey. We can deduce from this that the baby is clothed, at the most basic level. On the right, we see two adults, who are white all over. But we know, from our recently concluded examination of the infant, that people in this world have grey skin, and there is no grey visible.
The two adults, therefore, are covered from head to toe, and what’s more they are apparently dressed in some horrendous all-over body suit made out of nappies.
This is very inappropriate clothing for travel on public transport – the face covering, for example, is bound to lead to problems if they are season ticket holders because the conductor will need to see their photo ID and match it to their appearance. It is also extremely inconvenient clothing for any toilet visit. They will need to unzip their terry towel gimp suit and somehow extricate themselves from it in order to make use of the facilities, all within the tiny cupboard-sized cubicle on a moving train. Nightmare.
The more time I spend on the train, the more it bothers me that the baby on this sign is one colour and the people are another. You may tell me that I’m overthinking it, and maybe I am. But spending this long on the same trains day in day out will do that to you. I’m just trying to survive in this world, and my healthy fear of grey people in jumpsuits made of nappies will keep me safe.