My wife and I have been practicing social distancing – she stays on her side of the house and I stay on mine. Also, other than the essential trip to Walmart or Dollar General, we have done our part to stay home and Shelter-in. However, today we had to go on a little adventure to Jackson to pick up our two youngest grandsons who had been visiting their other grandparents in the Delta. I call it an adventure since after 45 years of marriage my wife and I have a common calling when we travel – neither of us is capable of passing too many roadside parks, convenience stores, or fast food restaurants without pulling in for a biological pit-stop. Most folks these days straight out say, “We gotta pee.” However, I am a bit old-fashioned and such language, especially in mixed company, in my opinion, is just not becoming of a lady or a gentleman. Therefore, we say things like “It’s time for a pit-stop,” “Stop when you can, I have to tinkle,” or “Honey, it’s time to pull over; I need to see a man about a dog.” We are polite that way. Unfortunately, in these trying times of curve leveling social distancing and closures, when it comes to basic essentials such as going potty, as a nation, we have lost our daggum minds!
A grave situation that kick started the Coronavirus in our area was the sudden disappearance of toilet paper, so we prepared for the trip by carrying a 12-roll package of toilet paper in the back seat of the truck in case there was a shortage at our destination. Little did we dream toilet paper would be the least of our problems. Our dilemma unfolded when we discovered public restrooms between our home and the rendezvous point were padlocked! Now, anyone who knows anything about traveling by automobile knows the number one reason for rest stops is not to rest, the number one reason for convenience stores is not to buy Twinkies, and the number one reason for fast food restaurants is not their gourmet menu! The number one reason rest areas and businesses exist along our nation’s highways is they are crucial havens for us poor groin scrunching, eyeball floating souls whose bladders have shrunk with age to the size of a pea.
After an hour and a half on the road, we stopped at a convenience store outside Jackson with one thing on our minds, and it wasn’t the grandkids. We walked into the store cool and calm, and my wife headed straight to the back where a sign read “ESTROOMS.” I, on the other hand, tend to be a bit self-conscious about using a business’s restroom without purchasing something – gas, candy, or a maybe a Twinkie. Therefore, I casually meandered up and down the isles picking up and putting down candy bars and Twinkies like I had intentions of making a purchase. As soon as I was convinced no one was paying attention to me, I tucked my chin against my chess, locked my inner thighs around my groin, and did the Chinese hustle to the back of the store.
My wife was standing outside the “estroom” door pointing to a small sign with one hand and wiping a tear with the other – “Closed for Coronavirus,” the sign said. I don’t know which was worse, seeing the lost pained look on her face, or my own discomfort, but if not for the padlock, I am quite sure I would have ignored the sign and gone about my business. I have been in enough single pot public restrooms in my lifetime to know the Coronavirus would have been out of its league against the crud already crawling under the toilet seat and swimming in urine puddles on the floor. Besides, the chances are good if a person travels a good deal by automobile and has yet to catch a fungus, disease, or rash from a public restroom, they most likely will not, so the lock on the door made absolutely no sense to me! I repeat – we have lost our daggum minds!
So, out the door we scrambled, hopped into the truck, and headed towards a Wendy’s billboard directing us to drive north for a “Four for $4” value meal. Pre-Coronavirus, Wendy’s and McDonald’s were our “go to” emergency on the road restroom stops , but this time, except for the drive through, Wendy’s was locked down tighter than Fort Knox. We were now in deep dodo! I told my wife I remembered a couple of side roads back a piece before we arrived in the suburb of Jackson that possibly had a tree or stump where . . . . “Find me a tree!” she interrupted with a scream throwing her seat belt aside and drawing into quivering fetal position against the door.
I whipped around the “No U-turn” sign in front of a Sonic Drive-In and headed south pass Richland High School. Have you ever asked yourself why your mind goes where it goes in such moments of mental and physical despair? I was dodging in and out of traffic trying to find a tree, a building, or anyplace that would provide an ounce of privacy. Visions of waterfalls, oceans waves, and foaming water churning down mountain rapids sloshed cruelly through my head shooting knives into my nether regions. The end was near when miraculously a blue building appeared in my peripheral vision. Walmart!
On two wheels, I jerked the truck onto the service road, which was out of service for paving. Knocking over orange cones, I jumped the curb and bounced into the parking lot racing to the front of the store. My wife yelled, “Let me out!” The look in her eyes said I would die if I didn’t, so I skidded the truck sideways through the loading zone. She was out of the truck and racing through the front door before I could fully stop. Finding a nearby parking space, I skidded into place, jumped from the truck, and ran towards the Walmart Market door. It was not a pretty sight. If you have ever tried to run with your buttocks squeezed tight, you know what I mean.
Inside the store, focusing on the most beautiful blue and white sign I had ever seen – “RESTROOMS,” I raced past the front cashiers and customer service . I looked up, and there was my wife, a beautiful glow of relief on her face, as she signaled me towards the restrooms like an air traffic controller bringing in a distressed plane for a landing. I passed an old woman helped by an older man with a cane. I heard her say as I rushed by, “He’s either scared his wife has his wallet, or he has to pee.” Once in the restroom, I don’t know how many times I said, “Thank you God for Walmart!” but it was probably at least thirty or forty times. I have never been so relieved in my life.
We picked up the grandkids shortly afterwards and returned home without further incident. However, we learned our lesson, and until this crisis is over, we are staying put. At least at home, we can tinkle gracefully without fear of messing up the upholstery.
©Jack Linton, March 29, 2020