When my little niece (Elizabeth, who has now become a lovely lady with children of her own) was learning how to use the potty, it was a nightmare for her. She would get so upset when “the time” would come, and she did NOT want to go to the bathroom. My brother finally asked her why she got so upset when she needed to go potty. She looked up at him, with those big, beautiful, blue eyes, and said, “Dad, it’s DANGEROUS in there!” We all got a good laugh at that, and eventually, she got the hang of it and overcame her fear of the bathroom. So here is this week’s story…
I was on a business trip with a friend and we had quite a layover in one of the major airports. Not wanting to “just sit,” we had walked over the entire length of the airport two or three times (several miles it seemed…); had eaten as much food as we could possibly hold; and had “window-shopped” as much as we could. (Neither one of us are much on shopping to begin with….) It got a little closer to the time for us to board the plane, and I thought that maybe I should visit the restroom one more time before getting on the next flight. I asked my friend if she would mind watching my stuff, and off to the restroom I went.
Now, airport bathrooms have changed over the years, and the “improvements” that have been made are always a “challenge,” depending on which airport you are in. The first improvement involved providing different seat heights for the toilets….some sit tall, some are short, some are in-between. There’s nothing more comforting than to rush into a cubicle, thinking the seat is at a certain height, and realize (when you hit the seat a little harder than anticipated) that you picked a cubicle with a “short” toilet. Then came the plastic rotating seat covers…did you rotate the plastic before you sat down…after you sat down…where was the button to initiate said rotation…and HOW would I know if they were just not recycling the same piece of plastic over and over to save money…I came up with a solution for that problem: mark an “x” on the plastic seat, press the button to rotate the seat cover, and look to see if your “x” came around again. (Now before you think that I have lost my mind and have a germ phobia, let’s look at this rationally…have you SEEN the people who fly on planes nowadays???? I need not say more…) Then came the paper seat covers. Great idea, I thought! So, I got the seat cover in place, turned around, unzipped my pants, and just as I was about to make contact with the seat….SWOOOOSH!! The toilet had automatically flushed itself and I no longer had a paper armor against the germs of society (the flush took my paper seat cover with it…). I stood up and tried to figure out how to “outwit” the toilet…So, this is what I did: I unzipped my pants, assumed the position and got ready to make contact. At the last minute, I slipped the toilet seat cover into place, and hurriedly sat down before the toilet flushed. SUCCESS!!!
Now that I had conquered the challenges within the cubicle, I was ready to face the remaining few…the automatic soap dispenser, the automatic water dispenser, and the automatic hand-drying options…Now, you need to know up front that there is something really goofy with my body (no snide remarks from those who know me really well…). Apparently, I do not have within my chromosomes the exact chemistry that will respond to, or activate, any type of “automatic” dispenser. It is indeed an effort to get anything to work for me, and I usually end up having to make numerous attempts at different sinks. I went to the first soap dispenser….no matter what I did, what motion I performed with my hands….no soap. So I went to the next sink…same thing…a lot of motion and activity on my part, but still no soap. (Please understand that I have to complete this same exercise in EVERY airport bathroom that I visit…) I moved on to the next sink with even MORE enthusiastic motion and play of my hands…STILL no soap. I moved to the final sink. That was when disaster struck…the soap dispenser not only worked, but it was a super sonic dispenser! The flow of soap squirted out, shot completely OVER the sink, and landed directly on the front of my pants! I looked down and all I saw was a great big wad of white soap beginning to ooze slowly down the front of my pants. Of course, I panicked and thought, “get some paper towels, and DO IT NOW!” (I did mention that the paper towel dispenser was “automatic” also; didn’t I?) I waved my hands across the sensor. It did nothing! I tried two hands, wildly motioning in the senseless attempt to just activate it. STILL…nothing!!! I went to another dispenser…nothing. I was wild by this time because the soap had spread on my pants down to the crotch area. I began dancing and moving my body all different ways in front of the sensor to JUST GET SOME PAPER TOWELS!! By this time, I had drawn a crowd, who could not figure out if I was having a seizure of some sort, or that I was just a really weird air traveler. In a way of explanation to my “audience,” I was uttering under my breath as I was dancing…”soap”…”flew out of dispenser”…”on my pants”…”got to get it off”…”doesn’t work for me.” I finally realized that I was not ever going to get a paper towel, so I ran back into a cubicle to get some toilet paper. Wiping rapidly, I attempted to remove the gummy soap from my pants. The toilet tissue, being dry, began rolling into little balls and STICKING to the soap that was STICKING to my pants. It was time to wet the paper towel and see if that would help. Guess what? The water dispenser was “automatic” also….On the fourth attempt, at the fourth sink, the water began to flow. Others began to help me. THEY were able to get some paper towels, and we made a valiant effort to remove all of the particles that had become a permanent part of my pants. Everyone, including me, eventually accepted defeat and gave up! As I was leaving, I noticed a woman having a little difficulty of her own in getting the paper towel dispenser to work. I leaned over and confidentially whispered, “you have to dance!”
I finally came out of the bathroom and headed in the direction of my friend. She took one good look at me, and those soap-gummed pants, and asked “What happened to you???” I just looked at her and said, “The bathroom has become a very dangerous place….”
There are people in our lives who have fears, whether actual or perceived. At times, we may dismiss those fears as being “silly” or unfounded simply because they are not our fears. As a result, we are not compassionate, patient, or understanding. I am going to be more understanding and tolerant of those who express concern or fear over events, tasks or actions that they face. I am going to provide the necessary support to assist them in facing their fear, and let them know that they are not alone…that I am there with them. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…
But of course! You would not love me any other way…
Oh holy cow, you have made me laugh till I cried – once again. At least I did not fall off my chair. Hi gal, hope we can catch up sometime. and PS, I can’t get the dispensers to work either. I think we will all soon start carrying our own bar of soap and towels.
Glad you did not fall out of the chair!! (Good times….) and, yes, we do need to catch up!