2007-05-07: Bad Plumbing


Namir_icon.gif Octavia_icon.gif Randall_icon.gif William_icon.gif


A strange turn of events in Starbucks involving a foul plug in the plumbing and a rat's head fused with a toilet seat.

Date It Happened: May 7th, 2007

Bad Plumbing


Starbucks is a place of mingling, mixing, and being, but today there is trouble in paradise. The coffee shop has had a breakdown in the plumbing department and for some strange reason, the men's room is out of commission. At the height of business, this bodes ill for the caffeine-infused patrons of the coffee place. There's already a rather daunting line outside the women's restroom — a line filled with both men and women, naturally — and complaints have already started to roll in about it. "It'll be fixed soon," they've all been assured. "They're working on it."

A calm face in the throng of displeased scowls is Namir Dayan, who stands at the very end of the queue with his attention mainly focused on a book — North and South. He wouldn't normally hang around waiting for the bathroom to clear up, but he's taking his nephew, Essam, for the night to give his parents some time alone, and the Muslim promised he'd meet his nephew and sister-in-law here.

William makes his way in shaking his head at the man he's with. "Nah, I'll just duck in here to use the bathroom. It's a pretty good trip home from here." He says. On spotting the line he blinks. "Well, maybe you'd better get started. Call me soon?" He asks, and after a few more quieter words, the second man takes off. William heads towards that long, long line, ending up behind Namir. He blinks at the man and then slips into Arabic. «Good day.»

Doctor Sandra Octavia Cutler is the only woman in the Starbucks who is not on line for the women's room. She is also the only women who looks utterly casual about the whole affair. Blithely she sips at some sort of cherry-scented chai with one leg crossed over the other, her gaze casually scanning text in an enormous medical text.
If one didn't know better, one might swear Dr. Cutler was behind the strange problem in the women's room.

Namir doesn't know better, but he also doesn't know any /worse/ either. He's quite engrossed in his book until William addresses him in Arabic. Then he gives a small start and half-turns to see who it is, smiling when he recognizes the face. "«Good day,»" he returns the greeting with a small bob of his head. "«Lasertag, skydiving, and coffee — those seem to be our common interests.»"

Octavia continues to sip her chai and read her medical text. When the repairmen in the bathroom let out a terrified scream, the corners of Octavia's mouth lift up for a moment or two in faint amusement. She disguises it promptly with her chai. Mmmm… Cherrylicious chai.

William gives the coffeeshop a quick scan his eyes resting for a moment on the woman not in line before he smiles to Namir. «I was going to call you soon. I found a place for lasertag. If you're still interested, we should get together to shoot at each other.» He states before he blinks. «What the hell?» That's probably a transferable thing whether you speak Arabic or not as he leans towards the bathroom at hearing the scream.

"«Ah, excellent. I might invite my girlfriend along. I think she has reason to want to shoot at me la— »" The scream cuts him off and his head snaps up and around to stare at the door of the bathroom. Namir frowns and reaches instinctively for his off-duty pistol — which isn't there. Damn. He hasn't carried since his suspension. "Excuse me, please." Gun or not, he starts to shoulder his way to the front of the line, taking a firm grip on his book. When in need, use what's available.

William follows right after Namir. And if Namir can't clear a path, William will, with his shoulders if neccessary. "Bring her along, sure." He reverts to English as he makes his way up to the front. He can't not see what he can do.

One of the plumbers comes out of the women's room, carrying a four-foot long section of plumbing pipe. Inside of it, there is a green-orange gank that reeks of nastiness. In the bathroom, another plumber is staring at what appears to be a rat's head peeking out of the base of a toilet. Only there's no hole for the rat's head to be peeking out of.

It's not the first time Namir's picked up a really rancid scent, but there are some things one never gets used to. When the smell hits, he blinks as his eyes start to water and he instinctively places an arm protectively over his nose and mouth. "What is going on?" he asks of the plumbers, peering in at the odd sight. From somewhere behind him, one of the leaders in line audibly mutters, "It's terrorists." Namir ignores him.
William snorts at the person in line. "Like you've ever seen a terrorist." He mutters under his breath. At least he's not still speaking Arabic for that one. He pulls the t-shirt he's wearing up over his nose as he looks in, waiting for the answer to Namir's question.

The plumber holding the pipe looks sick. Like he's never smelled anything this vile or disgusting before. The rancid smell is quickly starting to permeate the place, passing down the line. He stares at Namir for a few moments before replying, hoarsely, "I don't know. I've never seen anything this damn weird. There's a rat lodged in the toilet's porcelain and then there's this… UUUUUWAAAAAAAAAAUGH!" That would be him vomitting on the floor. It looks about the same as the solid gank in the pipe he's holding.
Octavia sips her chai and lifts a hanky to daintily cover her nose.

Oh dear sweet Allah. Namir leaps back a step to avoid being the victim of vomit, then grimaces in disgust — until he notes the similarities between the gunk and the vomit. His expression becomes one of graveness and he turns around to face the crowd, waving one arm as the other reaches into his pocket for his cell. "Everyone, please back up. Get back to the other side of the store." To William, he adds in a low voice, "We need to get these people back, but don't let anyone leave. We may have a biohazard on our hands." Out comes the phone and he starts to dial 911, turning toward the sick plumber. "Step back into the bathroom and throw the pipe over into the corner. Sir— " the second plumber is addressed "— come back away from there."

William moves instinctively out of the way of the vomit. As Namir talks he nods. Namir's the expert in this sort of thing, so William will listen. "Alright." He states, before he moves away. "This way, please. Calmly. Why don't you find a chair and take a seat?" He suggests to an elderly lady before he steps up to the counter to lean in close to speak quietly to the barista. "We have a possible biohazard situation. You need to discreetly lock the door. Keep more people from possible exposure."

Octavia looks up from her medical text with an expression of surprise. Her eyes shift toward Namir and the plumbers, gaining brief glimpses through the crowd of the green and orangey-yellow nastiness the plumber heaved. It's a similar color to what's in the pipe, but much different in texture and general sheen. Of course, that could just be the result of one thing being hard, the other being soft.
She rolls her eyes and gets to her feet. The Doctor minces her way carefully through the crowds and toward Namir, one hand rising to fluff her raven hair for a few moments.
"Can I help? I'm a doctor."

Having gotten through to a dispatcher, Namir is talking quietly into his phone, informing the person on the other line of the situation. When Octavia approaches, he raises a hand reflexively to ward her off and is about to tell her to go back with the rest when she identifies herself as a doctor. None the wiser, he nods and covers the mouthpiece of his phone to give her a response: "Help him." He jerks his head toward the sick plumber.

The barista pales when William speaks to him, but he nods slowly and grabs his keys. Trying to be discreet and fast, he heads for the door and locks it — but inevitably, someone spots what he's doing. "Why are you locking the door?" a loud cry comes from a woman who has begun to panic. "It stinks in here! I want some air!"

William steps between the people and the door. They want out, they're going to have to go through him. "Come on, this is New York? You think the air out there smells any better?" He tries for humor as he shoots a quick look back towards where Namir went. He's calm, outwardly at least, tucking his hands in his pocket with a quick word of thanks towards the barista for the unpopular door locking. "When the police get here, they get to come in." He says softly to the man.

Octavia looks at the plumber and then at Namir. She shrugs a little bit and moves over to the previously vomitted plumber. She spends a few moments going over standard medical questions before nodding and ahrming. She keeps her handkerchief over her nose and mouth to keep the stench at bay, but, somewhere in the confusion and while she has both plumbers counting back from fifty-seven with their eyes closed, she sneaks over to the pipe and starts examining it.

The barista swallows hard and looks about ready to faint when the woman speaks up, but he calms again when William steps in to back him up. He can only offer a relieved and dumb nod in response, though it's a grateful gesture. The woman's panic has started a chain reaction, sadly, and now everyone's focus is on the door and the fact that it's locked. "I can't breathe!" shouts one man. "Open the door!" It's quite evident that this is a result of panic, however, not any sort of suffocating gases.

Namir, meanwhile, has finished his conversation with the 911 operator and closes his phone, glancing up just in time to spot Octavia. He frowns and strides forward to intercept her, grabbing her by the arm if necessary. "Stay away from that," he states bluntly. "What are you doing?"

Randall is part of the crowd on the other side of the door, people who were just about to head into the coffee shop within the next few minutes. A few just grunt in annoyance and wander off to find someplace else to go; others peer inside curiously, and as they catch sight of the panic inside, some of them start to pipe up as well. "What's going on in there? Is there a gang in there or something?" Oh, great, like the situation wasn't complicated enough already.

"Wondering why you're locking the place down for biohazard when this is congealed vomit, coffee flavoring, and jello mixed with something… I think maybe, surprisingly, poo-like."
And that would be when she notices that Namir has her by the arm. If her looks could kill, Namir might be dead several hundred million times over. She restrains herself, for the moment, as she stands up to her full, unimpressive height to stare at him.
"Let. Go. Of. My. Arm."

"You're obviously breathing or you wouldn't be able to talk." William points out to the man with a tone that is still calm and collected. "Take slow deep breaths through your mouth. Maybe someone will give you a seat?" William isn't moving away from the door, however. He glances out to the people outside the store before his attention is back on what's inside. He'll keep them from getting out and trust Namir to handle whatever strange stuff is going on in the back.

Obligingly, Namir does let go of Octavia's arm, and now his focus becomes the pipe. "Are you sure?" he asks, hand back on the cell phone, ready to call off the calvary. "Then what about the rat?" He gives a nod to the head still stuck in the porcelain bowl.

There's more discontented murmuring from the crowd, but panic starts to settle as a few more people begin to take up William's side of the matter and work to calm their fellows. The man who theorized terrorists has suddenly become very popular and suspicious glances are thrown about. One or two of those glances — those of the people who had been closest in line to Namir and William — land on the ex-SEAL standing in front of the door.

"How should I know? It's a rat lodged in the porcelain. I'm a doctor, not a potter or a toilet glazer."
She looks at the pipe again, nodding a bit. She holds it up, gesturing toward the pipe.
"Give me something to break the plug with. I'm sure it's still liquid inside. I mean, it's still a public health hazard, but it's not for the big guns, I don't think. I can't even imagine how this would be related to a rat in the porcelain."

Outside, Randall attempts to be a voice of reason. On the up side, there isn't as large a number to contend with, and they aren't enclosed; on the down side, he doesn't know any more than they do. "I don't think it's a gang, otherwise they'd be hitting the floor, right?" "How do you know? Maybe they told everybody to freeze!" "No, look, they're still pushing toward the—"

William darts a look towards the back. He's going to keep trusting Namir though and do what he can out here. "We'll all be better off if we just relax and stay calm." He says out loud before he mutters something under his breath in Arabic. It's just a habit when he doesn't want other people to know what he's saying, in this case it's insulting their intelligence in acting like fools in this. The language itself probably doesn't help though. Even if he does look like the Iowan farmboy he was.

The phone is out again and Namir is dialing the emergency number. "You never know these days," he mutters as it starts to ring again. The operator picks up and he becomes distracted by the call as he steps toward the bathroom door. He pokes his head out of it and waves to William, shaking his head. All clear. Nothing to be too concerned with, though Namir does state into the phone that there should still be some sort of a response to the hazard. There's still the rat's head to contend with.

Glares are shot toward William when he mutters something in Arabic, and the barista standing nearby pales even more. He wasn't trained to deal with angry mobs.

While Namir is distracted, Octavia quickly moves over to the toilet. She places one hand on the dead rat's head and the other on the bowl. A few moments later, the rat's head is gone. The doctor skitters quickly across the floor, fortunately the plumbers are still counting, and she presses her hands against the pipe. Nothing seems to happen in spite of a look of intense concentration on her face.
"Yeah. It feels like there's fluid in the center… Maybe we should get this into a plastic bag? It might be melting now that it's not in the cool ground."

One of the people outside, seeing forest but no trees, dials 411 on his cell phone to get the franchise's phone number. Randall busies himself with the newspaper vending machines outside, browsing headlines, while most of the others give up and wander back to their cars, or just down the street.

William catches Namir's all clear. He turns to the employee and give the man a smile. "Interesting day, huh? You can unlock the door. The hazard isn't something major. Bathroom's going to be out of order for awhile though, I bet." He steps out of the way, heading to lean against the counter and let the barista get to work.

Still on the phone, Namir turns to catch what Octavia is saying — and then he blinks. That toilet was /not/ like that five seconds ago. "What happened to the rat head?" he asks of the doctor, frowning and not even caring that he's still speaking into the phone and perfectly in earshot of the dispatcher on the other end.

The barista heaves a sigh of relief and quickly unlocks the door, throwing it wide open. Some patrons muscle their way out (most of the anti-terrorists are among these, casting vicious glares over their shoulders as they reach for cellphones and Blackberries) while others still have already found places to settle again and are murmuring about the horribleness of the event.

Octavia looks up at Namir at his question. She blinks owlishly at him, as if not entirely understanding the question before she looks over at the toilet. Her eyes widen and she does a reasonable job of seeming outrageously surprised that the rat head is gone.
"What in the world?! I. I don't get it. What happened?"

Randall and the others remaining outside wander in, comparing notes with one another, until a burly man in his fifties smacks a hand against the nearest wall. "Jesus, you people, some of us came here to eat!" The discussion of dead rat bits doesn't entirely stop at that point, but does settle down to more of a background murmur.

William will have to call Namir to set up that lasertag time, because he was originally in the line for the bathroom for a reason. Now that the excitement has died down, he's off to find a McDonalds or some similar place where he can duck inside and use a non biohazardous bathroom.

But Namir isn't buying it. No. There's just too much coincidence, and Octavia's display isn't cutting it. He peers at her, obviously not convinced, but then he speaks into the phone once more: "No, it's all right. I have it handled. Thank you." And then he hangs up, still eyeing Octavia warily, however he only shakes his head and heads out of the bathroom to find a plastic bag. Someone's got to take care of the crud in the pipe.

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