No rest in that restroom

outhouse, bathroom, camping-2974051.jpg

A good number of years ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time at a recreation area — a tree-laden landscape of quiet.

It was early in the morning and extremely peaceful because no one else seemed to be stirring. I had an urge to leave our camper and go for a quick stroll. I put on my walking shoes and headed into the outdoors.

All alone, I listened to the birds chirp, watched the rabbits scamper across the manicured grass. As I headed toward a boat dock, however, Mother Nature came calling in a way that makes every person panic.

Yes, I suddenly needed to find a restroom. While I contemplated utilizing bushes, I saw a bathroom oasis a little off the beaten path. Like a ray of sunshine coming from a black thunder cloud, there was a wooden structure proclaiming the words “restroom.”

I thanked the Lord and limped to my fortunate discovery. I saw right away that this was not a perfect facility, but rather just a building housing two open holes with old wooden rims.

I reasoned that it was perfectly fine, because at least I wouldn’t be risking exposure to the public or poison ivy.

The heavy steel door was propped open with a large rock.

Seeing how there were no stalls or interior doors, I decided I better close the outside door. I pushed the rock aside with my foot, with my hand near the bolt lock on the inside.

Suddenly, however, the heavy door came slamming shut with an amazing force and somehow my hand must have bumped the bolt, shoving it into the designated slot to lock it.

All was fine until I heard a clang on the cement floor.

I looked down and immediately saw a piece of metal by my foot. I looked up and instantly saw something was missing.

Yes, the little piece of metal you have to push to get that bolt back out of the door frame was no longer connected.

I stared at it for a bit. Oh, this shouldn’t be that big of a deal, I said out loud, as I tried to ease the bolt. It was not only deep inside the door frame, but the remainder was protected in a heavy, metal, well-screwed-in panel.

In other words . . . there was absolutely no way to pull the bolt back out. There was absolutely no way to unlock the door.

I stood there for a bit, thinking a few strange thoughts before the reality really sunk in. I looked around me. There was a window, but unfortunately it was 10 feet in the air.

Unless I was able to scale flat walls or jump like a NBA superstar, there was no way that window was going to be of use.

So I went back to the bolt itself, reasoning there had to be a way to move it. By this time, I was sweating. It was so incredibly hot in there. Absolutely no air was available. And my ever-growing panic wasn’t helping my body temp.

I tried kicking the door, thinking maybe I could somehow jar the bolt loose . . . but to no avail.

As I leaned against the door, scratching on that darn bolt, I started to freak out. I realized I hadn’t told anyone where I was going and I didn’t take my cell phone with me . . . no living soul had any idea of where I was.

Worse yet, this restroom was near a single boat dock — it wasn’t at a busy marina so the traffic would be lighter. Even if boaters were to eventually arrive, I knew it would be hours (because it was still so early). And if I screamed, would anyone be able to hear me?

Time passed and I grew exhausted from kicking. I realized I was in deep trouble. As the sweat poured down my face, I pictured how this would all play out in the news.

I would have simply disappeared . . . search crews would scour the area, worrying about perpetrators and aliens . . . and the whole time I would have simply been dead inside a restroom.

Now in full-blown terror, as the walls of the dark outhouse started to close in on me and my hair became soaked with perspiration, I knew there was only one thing left to do.

I opened my mouth and started yelling. Over and over, I screamed for help. With my vocal cords strained and my jugular vein about ready to pop, I considered taking a break. But I decided to keep going, at least for another minute or so.

Thank God I did.

Suddenly, in the distance, I heard a man yell, “I’m coming! What’s wrong?”

“Are you talking to me?” I asked (thank goodness I’m so loud, this was the only time it paid off).

“Yes, I’m talking to you!” he yelled back.

“I’m in the restroom!” I screamed, kicking with all my might against the door.

I soon heard a closer version of my hero, who I call Mr. Calm.

“Ma’am, can you tell me exactly what the problem is?” he asked, not knowing if I was being attacked by a serial killer or drowning in sludge.

I explained the bolt situation. Mr. Calm soothingly told me to relax, he’d figure this out. That’s when I saw a vehicle key being slid under the tight crack along the floor.

“Try to use the teeth against any exposed area of the bolt to see if you can move it at all,” he instructed me.

I tried, but it didn’t do anything.

Then Mr. Calm grew quiet.

“Are you still out there?” I said in a panic.

“Yes, I’m still here,” Mr. Calm responded.

“Please, please don’t leave me in here,” I begged.

“Oh, don’t worry, I won’t. After all, I’m going to need my key back,” he said, trying to muster up a little joke. “It’s going to be OK.”

I heard him tell someone to get the tool box.

A second man arrived. I call him Mr. Git-R-Done.

Mr. Calm explained the situation to his friend and then my heart skipped a number of beats as I heard Mr. Calm say quietly, “Man, this is really bad. I mean, this is serious.”

“I can hear you!” I loudly reminded them. “You two are supposed to be lying to me right now or I’m going to pass out.”

“Does it stink in there?” asked a younger person’s voice, indicating these men’s children were now probably surrounding my pen of hell.

“No, the smell’s not as bad as the heat,” I yelled back. “It’s getting so hot in here, we really have to do something. I’m really scared.”

“Don’t you worry,” Mr. Git-R-Done said. “Today is not the day you are going to die in an outhouse.”

As I feared heat exhaustion and the need to call a fire department (which I wanted to avoid almost as much as dying), it was decided they would use a crow bar and a screwdriver from the outside and then I would kick with all my might from the inside.

We did it, over and over and over, until amazingly, I saw a glimmer of light.

“You guys, it’s working! I think it’s working itself out!” I screamed in delight as Mr. Git-R-Done coached me on.

Mr. Calm continued to be the mind behind the project, while Mr. Git-R-Done seemed to be the brawn. Slowly, painstakingly, the bolt started to work itself out of the door frame. And then, in one last effort, they pulled and pried while I took a run at the door, hitting it with my shoulder and all my limited strength.

The door flew open and the momentum threw me straight into the arms of Mr. Calm! With joy, the tears started to flow and I hugged my hero.

I have no idea what he looked like, except he was blond, wore a bright blue T-shirt and smelled like musky cologne. Mr. Git-R-Done was dark-haired, wearing a red shirt with a slight smell that indicated he may have just been handling a gas can.

Their children stood wide-eyed, staring at the crazy lady their fathers had just sprung free from an outhouse, as I repeatedly thanked them. They shoved the heavy rock in front of the door and proclaimed the authorities would need to be notified about the problem.

I apologized to the children for delaying their boating excursion. They assured me it was fine and all agreed it was time for me to make my way back to from which I came.

“At least you’ve got a weird story to tell,” I said to the group, now half-crying, half-laughing.

“That we do,” they said, still checking to make sure I was OK. I was wonderful, thanks to my Good Samaritans. Sure, I was soaking wet and shaking.

Once calm and cool, I realized I’d never actually answered Mother Nature’s call. Incredibly, that emergency had been replaced by a different one.

To Mr. Calm and Mr. Git-R-Done . . . thank you for saving me from dying in a restroom, a room where there was no rest.



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