I’ve got about five seconds before I explode. I hit the brakes harder than my antique Chevy Malibu can handle and bring the car to a screeching halt. The instant I pivot-step myself out from the side of my car I can see it. There’s a decaying metal door only a stone’s throw from where I stand in this otherwise abandoned parking lot, it’s so close I can almost smell the stinging stench of rust and chipping paint. The only problem is; time’s almost up and right now that door might as well be a million miles away.
No time to waste. I gotta move. I gotta hustle. I gotta pee, real bad. Gotta pee, gotta pee, almost there, gonna make it, hurry up, wow that’s a heavy door, almost there, gotta pee, kinda dark, here we go, here we go, here we go and….Eldorado! I let out a big sigh followed by a few huffy chortles of relief. I strike a victory pose, Rocky Balboa style using my unencumbered hand to form a fist in the air. You made it, you’re the champ, I am the champ. Today’s the day.
This is exactly why I was out the door two hours earlier than necessary, a move my roommate Alex deemed “compulsive”. “Loosen up man” he’d said “You’re like the poster child for the National Association of Neurotic Spazoids.” He’s convinced I sabotage myself, and sure perhaps in the past I’ve had a tendency to overthink these things, but look at me now. You have to be nimble on days like today, you have to be able to roll with the punches. I’m not going to leave anything to chance. Jeez, I really had to go, a stream this turbulent should be called a ‘dishonorable discharge,’ I chuckle to myself, is that funny? Maybe I’ll try that joke later at dinner, see if anyone laughs. They probably won’t laugh, nobody laughs at my jokes. It won’t matter, by that time I’ll be too happy to care.
If I’d have left the house at a time others would call “a more sensible hour” a detour like this unanticipated whiz in a dingy highway rest-stop bathroom would’ve put me behind schedule. Almost done, here come the pee-shivers. Without fail when I’m wrapping up a pee session I shake harder than a maraca on a washing machine. Just for a moment, then it passes. ‘Pee-shivers’ aka post-micturition convulsion syndrome, why do I know the scientific term for pee-shivers? Must have read it on Buzzfeed or something. Shake it off, zip it up. Can you imagine, botching the biggest opportunity of my career all because my hypochondriac mother had me convinced I should be drinking four liters of water before noon every day?
No soap, no paper towels, no surprise. These bathrooms are always so gross, Alex says the public bathrooms in Japan are immaculate, he says you could eat off the floor and even the most remote of lavatories come equipped with robot toilets. That’s weird, no thanks. I don’t need some mechanical Mr. Belvedere wiping my ass, however a little soap and a hand dryer goes a long way. If I was wearing jeans I’d just dry my hands on my pants, but I can’t risk staining these dress slacks, not today. I remember watching a TED talk where some professor explained we don’t even need paper towels, he called them “the great scourge of our generation.” He claims that if you flick your wrists the right way you can completely air dry your hands in a matter of seconds. Time to start flicking. Why doesn’t everyone do this? We really should do our part for the environment. Everyone’s too rushed that’s why, that’s just the society we live in, those are the kind of impetuous people who think leaving two hours early for a pre-launch meeting are “the actions of a compulsive maniac.”
“It’s a done deal” that’s what Ryan had said, and he’s a VP, a real decision maker. Mr. Santos just wants to meet me in person, he wants to put a face to the new project before it rolls out. “Just be sure to be on time,” he said “Mr. Santos hates when people waste his time, he once cancelled a merger with Prodigious Industries because the CFO was six minutes late to a breakfast meeting, apparently the guy got stuck in his kid’s elementary school curbside drop-off.” Well, that’s not me. I’ve still got plenty of time. After this extraordinarily lengthy urinary pitstop I’ll even have time to hit that smoothie stand across from the office park. What’s it called? “Hector’s Nectar” or “Nectar by Hector” something like that. Whatever it’s called, they have that Mango Bango Berry Blast I like, I think I’ll even spring for the vitamin boost, I’m going to need all the boosts I can get. Today is the day. See that guy in that smudgy mirror, he’s got this. You got this dawg! You got this on lock! Am I using that right, ‘on lock’? I’ll have to check Urban Dictionary later. My hands hurt from all this flicking, and they’re still damp. Professor Flicker-Fist was full of crap. It doesn’t matter, I can let them air dry on the drive down. Operation Brief Relief accomplished, time to move out.
I shuffle to the exit while fervently flapping my hands, still trying to air dry them as much as possible. I reach for the door, but my hand slips off the doorknob before I can get it to turn. Dang it, my hands are still wet. Screw it, I quickly wipe the palm of my right hand against the backside of my pants. I grab again for the doorknob, this time I manage a much tighter grip, only to find the knob doesn’t turn, it doesn’t even quiver, not one nanometer in either direction. In that instant, a preliminary spark of panic strikes my heart, it’s a feeling I know all too well. It’s that stirring sensation you feel when you reach into your pocket to check for your wallet and realize it isn’t there. That twinging electric shock of fear that twists your guts in a knot, a flammable gust of primal dread which, in my case, if left unchecked could ignite me into a fiery ball of complete hysteria. This initial shock is usually quickly extinguished by the following realization that my wallet is actually in my coat pocket, or left in the car. That’s what’s happening here, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this scenario, I’m just not thinking this through.
Take a second, relax. Let’s think, I didn’t have to turn any levers to get into this dump, why should I need to turn anything to get out. This is clearly a push/pull scenario, the handle is just there for convenience. Let’s try all possible options we know for opening a door and we will get out of here. One thing is for certain, you are not locked in this bathroom.