The Lav Of My Life: The Public Toilet That Was There For Me
Back in the early 1980's, I was a young high school dropout with a baby and a very angry wife. So I decided to go to a trade school and learn welding. I lived out in Beaumont, California; the trade school I decided on was in Los Angeles, about ninety minutes away. Of course, I could barely afford the fees for my career aspirations, much less fuel to get there and food to eat. Since I had a pick-up truck with a camper shell, I decided I would sleep in the back after classes and just go home on Fridays.
After a couple days, I chanced on an odd bit of no-man's land lodged between some residential houses and a freeway off-ramp that was magically free from police harassment and suspicious homeowners. And -- joy of all joys! -- there was a park nearby that had an honest-to-God working toilet that was open at all times. Imagine that!
I felt truly blessed. For the first night, I felt safe and relaxed. And for the first time, I slept like a baby, unworried and peacefully content in my new campground.
But early the next morning, just as I was getting ready for another day of excitement learning my chosen trade, I began to feel that familiar sensation of really needing to take a serious dump. In a few seconds the urge had increased to a painful level that was not so familiar. Panic set in as I began to fear some kind of fecal catastrophe in my pickup.
As quickly as I could, I got my truck going and took off without even lacing up my boots. I swear, while on the way to the park's toilet, I thought I would EXPLODE in my pants. It was a war between me and my bowels, with my bowels threatening to drop the mother of all brown bombs in my tightie-whities.
Fortunately, *I* control the anus. But just barely. I have no control over what's above the anus, though, and this fact became painfully obvious to me as the seconds went by -- seconds that, at the time, seemed like excruciating minutes as wave after wave of fecal birth pains surged through my colon. I broke into a cold sweat, desperately trying to outrace my bursting bowels to get to the toilet.
At last I came to a screeching halt at the parking lot of the small community park. As I rushed to the door of the toilet, I felt a wave of immense gratitude that it was indeed unlocked. In the back recesses of my mind had been the sneaking fear that perhaps the iron doors to the park privy would for some reason, in my moment of dire need, be shut and locked. My fear was thankfully completely unfounded and -- Yes! I was going to make it.
The iron doors to Browner Heaven were wide open. Oh, yes!!! I rushed in and positioned by myself over the throne of mercy, getting my pants down with my undies in one swift swipe. Another miracle. Then the release! A huge rush of a splashing fecal flood exploded under me; and with that initial burst came a gasp and a groan of relief, like a drowning man who at long last gets that coveted breath of life-giving air. Only I had been drowning in my own feces.
As I sat there in utter relief and gratitude to the city founders for installing a public toilet and forgetting to lock the door, I suddenly heard a snoring sigh. Someone breathing. Dang! Someone else was also taking a crap?
I looked around the wall of the stall. It was a homeless drunk guy, sleeping it off. My explosive fecal decompression had failed to rouse him.
I used that park toilet many mornings after that, but never so urgently; and never again did I see the sleeping drunk guy. I went on to finish my welding course and establish myself as a first-class welder; and I'm a welder to this day, more than twenty-five years later. I often wonder how things would of turned out if not for that free public toilet.
I submit this story in praise of ALL public toilets, in whatever condition.
Oh, and one more thing: I read that the homeless drunk man died one cold night in a public toilet. RIP, Homeless Drunk Guy. May the next world have cleaner, warmer public toilets.