A backroad somewhere along the Suwannee River. The world was covered in bald cypresses, live oaks and beards of Spanish moss. And I really had to pee.

I had been driving all morning through the Twenty-Seventh State. We are moving this week. These are my last 24 hours as a Floridian, which is almost surreal. Tomorrow my home state will no longer be my home.

My urinary pains were getting worse with each passing mile. Ever since Lake City I had been doing the ceremonial dance of the loaded bladder.

I finally found a gas station tucked in the sticks. It was an old joint with rolling-number pumps, a rusted tin roof, and plywood on some of the windows.

“Here?” said my wife. “You’re stopping here? This place looks like a tetanus farm.”

I hopped out of the car before I could answer.

In front of the station were old men. They were seated in fold-up lawn chairs, chewing the fat. Their caps bore the logos of heavy equipment brands.

Inside, the woman at the counter looked to be comfortably in her eighties. She wore cat-eye glasses á la 1959, and I could smell the unmistakable scent of Opium perfume my granny used to wear. She was in a rocking chair, reading a “Woman’s World” magazine with her non-smoking hand.

“Do you have a bathroom?” I asked.

I was jogging in place.

She adjusted her hearing aid. “Huh?”

“A bathroom,” I said. “It’s urgent.”

“A what?”

“Bath. Room. Please.”

The woman moved about as quickly as a semester of veterinary school. She took her sweet time digging behind the counter while my bladder swelled to the size of a football.

Finally, she gave me a key with a Ford hubcap attached to the chain and sternly told me to bring it back when I finished. I smiled at her and tried to imagine a world where a man would steal a bathroom key with a hubcap attached.

On my way to the john, the old men on the porch stopped me.

One man said, “I wouldn’t go in that bathroom if I were you.”

“Why not?”

The men just laughed.

And as much as I would have enjoyed hearing the punchline of the joke, if I didn’t hurry we were all about to witness the failure of a very weak urethral sphincter.

So I raced to the rear of the building and fiddled with the lock. But because this is me we’re talking about, the doorknob was rusted over. I had to kick the door, Starsky-and-Hutch style.

When the door opened, I found a dark room about the size of a water heater closet, and I could hear flies buzzing. Suddenly, I had a bad feeling about what I might find once I flicked the light switch.


Sweet baby Jesus.

It was bad. This bathroom was—and I mean this in the nicest way possible—the Fifth Circle of Hell. Do you remember the movie “The Exorcist”? Just imagine Linda Blair with severe digestive problems.

I couldn’t do it.

I found the old men on the front stoop again, this time they were choking on their own saliva with laughter. And I believe they were laughing at me.

“We tried to warn you,” they said.

“That bathroom hasn’t been cleaned since the French and Indian War,” added another.

“If it were me,” said one guy, “I’d go water a tree.”

The old men pointed to the woods.

So I tore off toward the trees, clutching my bladder in both hands. Except, of course, I couldn’t get to the trees because there was a barbed-wire fence standing between me and the untrammeled forests of the Alligator State.

“You gotta climb over the fence!” one of the men shouted.

So I crawled over the razor-wire fence and felt it snag the seat of my blue jeans until the back leg of my jeans tore, exposing me to the world. Soon, I felt a draft of cool air on my bare fundaments.

The sound of elderly laughter bounced across the woods.

Anyway, after I took care of business, I walked back to the car. By now the old men on the porch were purple-faced and practically rolling on the floorboards. They were at that age where laughing and coughing fits go together, so it sounded like they were having mutual strokes.

“Had a little problem hopping the fence, did ya?” said one wiseacre.

“Someone needs to do something about that bathroom,” I said, “it’s horrible.”

“Tell me about it,” said one old guy, “but it came like that when my wife and I bought the place fifty years ago.”

I’m going to miss you, Florida.


  1. carolofree - March 5, 2022 6:54 am

    I’m 62 and I wear Opium Cologne. My husband and I both love it! My first bottle was from him. ❤️

  2. MaryAnn Meier - March 5, 2022 8:43 am

    Love your WITING SEAN~~~ I have an idea that will make you a millionaire SUPER FAST, but there isn’t enough room to express it here. Is there any way I could e-mail you, with my idea? Thanks for the GREAT stories. HUGS from SoCal. MA~~~

  3. oldlibrariansshelf - March 5, 2022 11:22 am

    You, Sean, are entirely too cute for Florida. I hope you enjoy Birmingham.

  4. Stacey Wallace - March 5, 2022 11:26 am

    Sean, thanks for making me laugh at 5:22AM; I really needed it. I’m waking up in the morning too early, and I can’t go to sleep because of a very stressful situation. However, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who never leaves me, will get me through this rough time. Also, He will make you feel at home in Sweet Home Alabama in no time. Love to you and Jamie.

    • pegdye - March 5, 2022 2:14 pm

      Stacey, I am going to pray for you. Not knowing your situation, I can relate to the type of stress you are describing, so, let’s agree together as “ living stones” in the church and body of Christ that He will bring you through the situation unscathed with an acceptable outcome and giving all the Glory to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit of Truth is present in each moment helping us work out our sanctification. Amen and God Bless You

  5. Joy Jacobs - March 5, 2022 11:43 am

    Thanks for the laugh. Wish I’d read this BEFORE I read the news. 😊

  6. 🇿🇦🇿🇦 Norma Den - March 5, 2022 11:49 am

    Someone could write a book titled “Bathrooms from Hell”. I’ve seen a few in my time too, walls “painted” in real blood among them. To Stacey Wallace, hang in there sister; going through stressful situation myself. The Lord is good & promised never to leave or forsake us. We will get through this, WE CAN & WE WILL. GOD BLESS

  7. Lucretia Jones - March 5, 2022 11:50 am

    So fun, Sean. My husband has been there, done that. Now we carry a light blanket and a urinal for emergencies.
    Praying for you and Jamie that this new chapter in ya’lls Book of Life will have joy in the journey.

  8. Kathryn - March 5, 2022 12:04 pm

    Lot of stories behind these comments!

  9. joan moore - March 5, 2022 12:17 pm

    Welcome to Alabama,where the Jack’s have bathrooms you can do open heart surgery in they’re so clean!

  10. Carolyn - March 5, 2022 12:24 pm

    😂 love this one

  11. Debbie - March 5, 2022 12:55 pm

    Think we all have seen that bathroom before on a road trip.

    • Bonnie - March 5, 2022 8:00 pm

      LOL…last time I assisted with this problem, it was for a 4-year-old boy to whom I was his nanny. I told all my (especially boy) children that it is of last resort. They tend to find it quite amusing to out squirt their friends whenever outdoors. Besides the fact it is convenient. I let David out of the van and let him turn his back to me and the road while he relieved himself. It wasn’t even a minute before I heard the sound of a rattling noise and realized David was headed for it. Yes, it was in Florida. Yes, it was a snake the size of a log. I did a football tackle under the arms thing and carried David back to the van. ​As far as I know, it was the first and last time David made that request. I promised him a trip to the zoo in his future.

  12. Paul McCutchen - March 5, 2022 12:57 pm

    Great story Sean. “Been there, done that and bought the t-shirt”. That is why winding around country roads so much fun. That and stopping at a gas station and the lady inside is frying chicken, in a cast iron skillet.

  13. Nancy in Your Ole Panhandle - March 5, 2022 1:47 pm

    And we will continue to follow you through The Suwannee Fifth Circle of Hell, over razor wire fences to the sparkling commodes of Sweet Home Alabama!

  14. Charlotte Virginia McCraw - March 5, 2022 2:42 pm

    🤣🤣🤣🤣 Your story reminds me of being about 11 when one of the jokes travelling amongst the other 11-year-olds was to ask someone if they had read the book “Yellow Stream” by I. P. Freely. Ohhh, I know . . that’s a groaner . . but we thought it was hilarious.

  15. Tim Peace - March 5, 2022 3:01 pm

    At least…if you a a guy…the world is your urinal! 🙂

  16. Cathy M - March 5, 2022 3:07 pm

    No tolerance for unclean bathrooms. I am not a high maintenance woman but I have my standards. Be safe on your way to your new home. We are anxiously awaiting your arrival. You and Jaimie have an army of people waiting for your arrival. Do you feel special? I hope so. ❤️🙏🏻

  17. Beverly Wynn Bua - March 5, 2022 3:22 pm

    I hope that’s not your last story from Florida …….we are so much more than unsanitary bathrooms….
    Safe travels and wishing you many new stories as you leave our beautiful State…

  18. Ruth Mitchell - March 5, 2022 3:29 pm

    You are a master of making a “good” story a “great” story with your images that stimulate our senses. If I were still teaching, I’d use samples of your writing to show how to lead readers to see, hear, taste, smell, and feel just what the writer has (sometimes with exaggeration for humor). Today’s story would be at the top of my list!

  19. Suellen - March 5, 2022 3:32 pm

    I had a stop like that once at a small gas station in a small town and surprisingly found it was run by East Indians. Through me speaking loudly (why do we always think that will work?) and some hand motions they finally took me back to their tiny bathroom in the store room. Ugh! but I was desperate. I was probably more afraid of the two dozen extension cords that were in there and hoping the fire wouldn’t happen until I was gone.

  20. Millie Ericson - March 5, 2022 3:38 pm

    As another native Floridian now living in Alabama, your stories bring back so many memories of growing up in the Sunshine State, especially today’s and yesterday’s about Palatka. [I grew up in DeLand so knew Palatka pretty well.]. I’m so glad to have discovered you.

  21. Susie Flick - March 5, 2022 4:48 pm

    Sending wishes for many clean restrooms in your future.

  22. Mel - March 5, 2022 5:52 pm

    This one has me peeing my pants! Good luck, Sean!

  23. Linda Moon - March 5, 2022 6:09 pm

    Lookit, Sean, you men can “go to the bathroom” behind one of those trees you mentioned, so don’t pull that “looking for a clean bathroom” complaint on me, Mister. Welcome to Alabama where there would NEVER be nasty bathrooms and old guys hanging around. Yeah…right.

  24. AlaRedClayGirl - March 5, 2022 6:16 pm

    I loved this! 😂

  25. Jan Werbish - March 5, 2022 8:13 pm

    Just left Destin Fl as a snowbird and driving thru Birmingham , why Sean? Your going to miss the beaches , fishing, diners, etc for a huge town with skyscrapers? Nothing against Alabama, but hope you and Jamie are happy there. Loved your bathroom story!! What a talent you have for painting pictures with words!!!

  26. Larry Wall - March 6, 2022 3:58 pm

    I am laughing just as hard at you Sean as those fine old fellows at the station did. We had a few of those great places around our parts until the developers moved in and ruined everything. (:-) Thanks for the memory of them.

  27. Susan - March 6, 2022 11:58 pm

    This is so funny. Thank you.

  28. CS - March 8, 2022 11:37 pm

    What about the key? Did you leave with it?

  29. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - March 16, 2022 3:31 pm


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