Tuesday, June 14, 2005

THe Curse of Murtle

As I walk into the state-of-the-art bathroom at our multi-million dollar building, I am reminded of a story. It is a tall-tale, a campfire yarn, and it is completely fictional. The story was created to "spook" a former co-worker, and yet...

Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in the story, to start to believe in its roots, and to cause you to look around cautiously.

The story is of a haunting of the women's bathroom located in the center part of the building on floor two. It is specific to this bathroom in particular, none of the men tell their tales of odd sounds and movements.

Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped with everything modern. The toilets flush themselves and sensors start the flow of water to wash our hands. As far as public restrooms go, it’s not a bad place to relieve ourselves. But…

The modern mechanics sometimes backfire. When only one person is in the bathroom, toilets will start flushing. The sinks will start running without anyone near them. This is where the tall tale of Murtle has originated.

One of the girls who worked with us had an experience one night in the bathroom. As she was finishing washing her hands, the sinks next to her started to run water in succession. She then heard banging on the steel walls of the stalls. Being one who easily believes in spooks, she ran out of the restroom, pale as the “ghost” she believed to be haunting her in the restroom.

When she returned to the floor, she told all of us about her experience. Everyone had a story about the bathroom, each exaggerating it to scare her a bit more. Another team lead told her, “Ghosts only show themselves to those who believe, so those who keep telling you nothing happened are just blind to the possibilities.” A few made-up incidents, you know, spooky sounds, whispering in the stalls, and towels being moved without anyone near them. Anything was told to her to convince her about the ghost named Murtle.

A person was creative enough to establish a story about our building being built on top of an old cemetery. It is a completely unsubstantiated rumor, a bogus story, but it had her freaked right out. No one left remembers where the name Murtle originated, but it makes me laugh. We’ve been in this brand new building for less than three years, but fictional stories have already emerged. I wonder about the future, in twenty years what will the story be?

As a participant in the story telling, I have to admit I helped to spook myself. I know, full well, that there is no ghost haunting the restroom at our call center. The toilets flushing and the sinks starting with no hands to trip the sensors were problems with the electrical system. The incidents have decreased. Then one night, when I was in the restroom by myself, the sinks started to spray water. And I hightailed it out and back to my desk! Maybe it is management’s way of making people get back to work faster or maybe Murtle really does exist…

For those wondering if I believe in spirits and spooks, I feel the answer will come when I tell another "tall tale" about a swimming pool and my youth. I promise this tale within the next seven days.

What tales do you know not to be true? Are there urban legends in your life? Stories that started as a joke but quickly became a campfire yarn?