You all know what I’m talking about – you have to use the bathroom, you’re in the middle of nowhere, and the only one available to you is this podunk gas station. You know that if you use that bathroom, you’re taking your life into your own hands. After traveling to Southern Indiana last week and having to in fact use a gas station bathroom (GSBR), I thought that I would share a montage of some of my GSBR experiences. Try not to laugh too loud.
Say you’re on a trip, and you need to get gas. Husband is filling up the tank, so you decide to take advantage and use the facilities. You walk into the smoke-filled gas station and peer through the dim interior, trying to find the restroom. You desperately hope that it’s not one of those unisex bathrooms. You know the ones that I mean – the kind that reqire a key with a huge wooden keychain stating “Bathroom” and located outside the gas station in a back corner. That’s the one. Those are far and away the worst, and you can pretty much guarantee that if that is the bathroom, I’ll be making Chris drive a ways up the road to a Wendy’s. But you don’t see that – this gas station actually has a bathroom designated for females and one designated for males. A slight improvement.
You go into the bathroom, and the smell reminds you of the lake at your 4th grade summer camp mixed in with something dead. There are 2 stalls, both of which have doors that are hanging on for dear life by means of a rusty screw and a paper clip. You think about using the larger handicap stall, but if you’re like me you worry about what will happen if an elderly person comes in behind you and needs the handle bars. So you opt for the skinny stall. The door creaks open.
Your first view is of a toilet that has not been flushed. You re-think the handicap stall and back out, only to discover that the handicap stall is in even worse shape. Sigh. You decide to sacrifice the sole of your shoe to flush the skinny stall’s toilet, reaching from as far a distance as possible to avoid any splashes. After the toilet is flushed, you walk in, looking suspiciously at the creepy stains on the seat. Gross. Looks like you’ll be hovering.
You seriously reconsider driving up to the Wendy’s, but now that you’re in the bathroom, you realize that you really have to go. You turn around, shut the door, only to realize that there is, in fact, no locking mechanism on the stall. Instead, there’s a giant hole where someone wrenched it out. Okaaaay. You look for a hook to hang your purse, only to discover that it, too has been jerked off the door. Someone somewhere is running around stealing gas station bathroom hardware, and you’re left to suffer the consequences. You decide to hang the purse around your neck so that you have both hands and arms free.
So you loop the purse around your neck and hover above the toilet seat, all while holding up one hand to block out the giant hole left from where the lock used to be while simultaneously keeping the door shut. Man, this purse is heavy! What did you put in here?! You do your business, only to discover that, no surprise, there’s no toilet paper. Great. Just great. You don’t have a friend waiting outside who could grab some from the next stall, so you ponder the situation. And then you remember the Kleenex in your purse. Salvation!
So there you are, hovering and holding the door shut, digging through your purse that’s wrapped around your neck, and making yourself cross-eyed while trying to see into it using the light from the single 40 watt bulb hanging from the bathroom ceiling. Curses for having so much stuff in your bag! You find your breath mints, pen, wallet, hospital ID badge, keys, receipts (hmmm, could you use a receipt instead of the Kleenex? Better not), and still nothing. You’re going to have to take off the purse to get a better look.
You try to remove it with one hand (because remember, your other hand is still holding the door shut) and the buckle on the strap gets stuck in the back of your ponytail. Perfect. You hold it in place while taking your other hand off the door and trying to unsnarl the buckle from your hair, but then you hear the bathroom door open and 2 girls walk in, talking loudly about some guy named Jerry. Girl #1 starts to open your stall, and you have to bang your hand back against the door while loudly yelling, “I’m in here! Just a minute!” She says sorry, and Girl #2 starts making gagging noises because she’s just seen the handicap toilet.
At this point, your purse is actually hanging from your ponytail, and you give a quick tug to get it out. You’re now half-bald, but at least you can see the Kleenex and can finally exit the stall. Of course, you come out and your face is red and your hair is a giant mess thanks to your purse. Oh, and your sunglasses are irrevocably contaminated after falling on the bathroom floor when you removed the purse from your head. No way you’re picking those babies up. But at least you got out of there alive. As a kindness, you tell Girl #1 that there’s no toilet paper in there, and to head for the Wendy’s up the street.
Not surprisingly, there’s no soap in the dispenser. But thankfully, you have the spray pump bottle of antibacterial spray that your grandmother-in-law gave your for Christmas last year and that you always keep in your purse because you didn’t know where else to put it. Knew it’d come in handy some day!