Wednesday morning I set out for a quick 36 hour, conference whirlwind. As I made the drive from Glens Falls to Lake Placid I played the radio game, and as mountains on either side of me rose, I hit the seek button. I drank a 24 oz bottle of water and a 12oz unsweetened iced tea as I listened to country music, Vermont Public Radio, french pop, and then back to VPR. Travel, no matter how brief, always leads me to drink more water and coffee, the former making me feel virtuous and the latter decadent.
Before checking into my hotel I stopped at a couple of stores to pick up sweets to give away at my table at the conference. I bought another couple bottles of water. Check-in was a breeze and before I knew it I’d unpacked everything and found myself with a spare hour. I threw on my running clothes and went for a hilly and spectacularly beautiful run. Later, I had a long soak and drank more water.
Why is she going on and on about water? I’m almost there, I promise.
The next day I woke up before dawn, another odd thing about me when it comes to travel, I love waking up to see the sun rise. Lake Placid is almost always a good five or ten degrees colder than Glens Falls, so I was ready for a hot drink when Starbucks opened, having been walking in 20 degree weather in wildly inappropriate for the temperature clothes. I bought a latte, a water, and one of those super expensive juices that promised to help me ‘defense up.’ I had to race to get showered and packed to be checked out of my room and at my table before 8.
The conference went really well, I had person after person stop to talk to me and surprisingly I shook off the tongue-tied awkwardness that can so easily accompany these sorts of events. After about 4 hours I had to get to a bathroom. My body is not used to my travel drinking and my bladder was in a perilous situation. I did an ungainly prance walk down two long corridors to the bathroom. As I pushed the door open I heard a woman talking, I moved to the opposite side of the four stall bathroom and unbuckled my belt as fast as my fingers could work.
Just as I collapsed on the toilet I realized that the woman was still talking.
“Well, yeah, I know. I just think that if that’s how she feels, then she needs to step up.”
I waited. Her voice rang so clearly through the bathroom I couldn’t imagine what would happen if I started peeing. Surely it would ping against the toilet like, as they say, a cow pissing on a flat rock. I waited, my knees touching.
“So which hospital? Uh-huh. What about Mack? Yah, uh-huh.”
I scrunched up my forehead, she didn’t sound upset, but she wasn’t peeing. Had she told the person she was in the bathroom? Would she say something if I start peeing? I was starting to feel crampy twinges. I couldn’t do it. I grabbed a handful of toilet paper and put it in the toilet. Please soften the sound of my pee. I was so relieved. It had been nearly silent.
Of course she’d get off the phone, right?
“No, I don’t think so. Kohl’s? Could be,” she sounded bored.
She was still talking and I needed to flush. I waited. I felt naked sitting with my pants down just listening to this woman talk. She walked out of the stall without flushing her toilet. Did she leave stuff in there or just not flush because she was on the phone?
Damnit, am I supposed to not flush because she didn’t? Is there some sort of unspoken rule about keeping up the “I’m not having this conversation in a public bathroom” facade?
I waited. After 30 seconds my lip snarled and I thought, “You know what lady, I’m flushing.” The whooshing of the toilet erupted like a fire alarm. I breezed out of the stall and made for the sink, she gave me a sideways glance, cocked her head, and then said, “I’m hungry” and walked out of the room.
I have honestly experienced a lot of things but it was the oddest, rudest, most bizarre thing I’ve been through in a while.
Would you have peed? Flushed?