Let me start by saying this is a story that should NEVER be told. I intended to take this one with me to my grave, but hey, I’ve shared everything else…
1997 Somewhere, Indiana
I say “somewhere” because I have no clue where we ended up. You see, we had been driving in separate automobiles for over 9 hours on a marathon run – that means, no rest stops. But let me go a little further back before telling you what happened.
Being the Safety Coordinator at my job at corporate headquarters in Maryland, I had the opportunity to visit other locations within our organization, which is always cool. On this occasion, they had decided to try something along the lines of a “worker exchange” event; this is where employees of various job titles and functions switch places with their counterparts at other locations. Although I was the first established safety “compliance officer”, they thought it important that I participate, despite not having someone with which to rotate at the other end.
One of the department managers (who relocated from our exchange company located in Indiana) suggested that I travel with him, inviting me to also visit his home. Me being from East Chicago, I already had intentions to see my own family, 2.5 hours northwest of our destination location in West Lafayette, but I agreed to stop by. To avoid riding in the company van transporting the other employees, he offered to drive his own vehicle, stating he was going to be at that location a few days longer to “help out”. I flat-out told management that I wanted to visit my family and got permission to rent a sedan to drive with everyone, but separately. 3 different vehicles. Management had its perks.
Back to my story.
The company van drove straight to the hotel. I followed William (the name I’m giving him for this story) the entire trip. Even though we drove nonstop, we did in fact stop briefly to use the restroom at one of his favorite truck stops. He planned this stop so he could introduce me to these “to die for” chili dogs & burgers he had been bragging about. Me being a big eater AND quite hungry, I grabbed one of each to go, since we were about 3 hours from our destination.
About one hour shy of his home, I had long since forgotten the greasy chili dog and hamburger I wolfed down on the road. Unfortunately, they hadn’t forgotten me.
Either the chili or the burger (maybe even the dog) had misrepresented itself.
I didn’t have to use the bathroom, but I didn’t like the feeling of liquid boiling in my system either. Not having cell phones (this was the era of the pager/beeper) I decided to wait it out until we reached his home, at which point I would double back to the last convenience store, claiming to have needed gas or something.
45 minutes later, I was shifting anxiously from side to side in my seat, wishing I had pulled aside him and honked my horn, motioning for us to take the gas station stop I had seen about 15 minutes prior. I decided to take the next stop.
There wasn’t one.
Having taken the back roads for the final 30 minutes, I realized my error but knew it was too late to do anything about it. The moment we pulled up to his house, I told him I needed to find the nearest gas station. When I told him why, he insisted that I use the one at his house, not taking “no” for an answer.
“Dude,” I warned, “I need to go someplace else!”
“Oh come on,” you’re just as human as the next guy.
Not my insides.
The moment we entered, we were greeted by 6 people in the kitchen with open arms, all seemingly excited to meet me. While shaking hands and hugging, I glanced back at William nervously, covertly reminding him that the end was near.
“Oh!” he blurted out, remembering my dilemma. “Bathroom’s right there!”
I swiveled, apologizing and started towards the bathroom door.
There WAS none.
What SHOULD have been a bathroom door was, shockingly a CURTAIN, hanging from an actual curtain rod in the doorframe!
Under other circumstances, I would have respectfully declined and found an excuse to run to the nearest convenience store, but there were two problems:
- It was miles (and I mean miles) away.
- You know that psychological effect you have on your own body? The one where the closer you get to the bathroom, the more you have to go and the weaker your excretory muscles get?
I had no choice. The running of the bulls (or whatever was on its way) was seconds from beginning. It was all I could do to get my pants down and sit (or the word that rhymes with “sit”) in time.
Did I mention that this blog post is gross as hell? I didn’t? Sorry.
Too late to turn back now, you’re already fully engrossed. Don’t lie.
It was bad enough that it wasn’t what I thought or hoped it to be. Whatever was in that food, in conjunction with all the riding and bumping through the backroads, made its own mixture of its own density.
Add the fact that my intestines and cave opening thought it was time for a tuba recital.
I told you it was gross. You had a chance to stop reading, but you didn’t. It’s on YOU now.
I was stuck and all I could think about was what I learned in science class about condensation, evaporation and precipitation. Freezing, melting, erosion, etc. In this case, a solid, turning into a liquid…
…turning into a gas.
I honestly don’t know what was worse – the sound, the smell or the product. I DO know they experienced TWO of the preceding.
You still reading? You’re just as sick as I was that day. Ok, to be kind, I’ll jump ahead.
Bereft of excuses or an apology that could eliminate embarrassment, all I could do was sit and sulk in silence. It didn’t help at all that no sound was coming from their kitchen. None whatsoever. For me to notice that through curtains meant that this situation was bad. Really bad.
After washing and drying up (which seemed to take forever), I pulled the curtain aside and walked unsteadily into the kitchen, hoping they had found something else to which they’d give their attention.
Not a chance.
Everyone was sitting, staring at me and smiling. Not a word was uttered.
“Ummm, I’m gonna head to my hotel. I need to get some rest.” I announced.
“You sure you don’t want to relax here?” One of William’s relatives asked.
“No thank you. I’m gonna have to go back and forth to the plant to see some of second and third shift in action. I should go.”
“At least stay for supper.”
All I could do was look back and shake my head in silence and defeat.
I had done my duty. I had scorched the earth. All that was left was the walk of shame to my car, into infinity.
“That poor boy,” someone said softly as I was leaving. “I told you to replace that door.”
As the voices faded, I thought for sure that I’d heard someone talking about the spicy chili being ready for supper.
Thank God for small favors…
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