A filling station. Somewhere near the South Carolina state line. I made a pit stop. I have a long way to get to Charleston. I raced inside the store with both hands gripping my bladder chakra.
I asked the clerk where the bathrooms were.
I was already doing the “I really gotta go” dance. A dance that looks like you’re running in place while also undergoing a public brain seizure.
The guy behind the counter was named Jeremy. I know this because it was on his nametag. Jeremy wore a Metallica shirt. His ballcap was sitting back on his head, revealing a sweaty mop of grayish hair. He was covered in a slick film of sweat, reading an auto magazine. He had a five o’clock shadow that was pushing six thirty.
Jeremy slowly pointed to the bathrooms.
“Bathrooms are back there,” he said.
I was so grateful I almost exploded into a river of pure gratitude.
I walked to the men’s room, stiff-legged, trying not to make any sudden movements that would compromise the integrity of strained urinary muscles.
I grabbed the doorknob. I tried to turn it. But the door was locked. So I jiggled the knob a few times.
I walked back to the front counter, moving even more gingerly than before, just in case the spirit moved.
“The men’s bathroom is locked,” I said.
Jeremy looked up from his magazine and gazed at me with the same blank stare often seen on the faces of the comatose.
“Your men’s bathroom,” I said again.
He looked at me but remained silent.
“It’s locked,” I said.
He nodded. “Okay.”
I tried to breathe deeply. But not too deeply. Breathing too vigorously flexes the body’s diaphragmatic breathing apparatus, which is located very close to the urethral sphincter. Breathe too deeply with a full bladder and you’ll end up in the ER.
So I went to the men’s restroom again and waited. I waited for a long time.
After several minutes, I knocked on the door. “Is someone in there?” I asked in an ultra-polite voice.
And while I’m not proud of what happened next, remember, these were trying circumstances.
I went to the women’s restroom. I placed my hand on the knob. I turned it.
As a boy, I never knew men’s and women’s facilities were different. Not until I was 11 years old. Danny Cooper dared me to walk into the church women’s restroom. I did, and I was shocked.
The women’s room was nothing like the men’s room. Our men’s room was nothing but a few crude toilets placed behind plywood stalls. We had no toilet paper, just old newspaper pages.
But the church’s women’s restroom featured floral wallpaper, reading lamps and a settee. They had Charmin quintuple-ply tissue. They had a sofa table, scented candles and a tall stack of “Better Homes & Gardens” issues dating back to 1954.
I rattled the women’s room doorknob. It was open. Hallelujah.
I pushed open the door and barged inside. No sooner had I opened the door than I heard a loud scream.
“HEY! THERE’S SOMEONE IN HERE!” shouted an old woman who, as it happens, was meditating on the promises.
I shielded my eyes and slammed the door.
“I’m sorry!” I said.
Whereupon Jeremy lowered his magazine. “There’s someone in there,” he pointed out.
So I stood beside the men’s room door and waited. And waited.
I rocked back and forth on my feet. I bounced rhythmically. I suffered. Ten minutes passed. Finally I stormed outside. Because there comes a point in a man’s life when he must take care of business. Consequences be danged.
I trotted around the convenience store to the Dumpster and looked both ways. I prayed a little prayer of forgiveness and attempted to be discreet, and even respectful, while doing my business.
I had just begun when I heard an authoritative voice behind me say, “Excuse me, sir?”
I turned to see a man in a deputy’s uniform behind me. He was leaning out the window of a Sheriff’s patrol car. Looking right at me.
I tried to suspend all current activities. I attempted to stop the flowing stream of consciousness. But the male body has a will of its own. Once a guy has started “going,” there is no stopping without causing irreversible damage.
When evacuation sequence had ended, I secured the barn door and turned to find the cop was still looking at me. He was laughing softly.
He pushed the brim of his hat upward and said, “I keep telling Jeremy to get that men’s room doorknob fixed.”
It’s a long way to Charleston.
Debbie g - July 18, 2022 7:02 am
It’s 3am and husband just asked
Why am I laughing so hard priceless Sean 😂😂😂😂love to all
Steve McCaleb - July 18, 2022 8:06 am
Nice story that every male of our species (hoomen) can fully appreciate. And “Jeremy “ is easily recognizeable also. His name ain’t always Jeremy and his hair ain’t always gray but he belongs to an widely spread subspecies called “slothicus imobilus”. Usually found in the back counter regions of 7-11s, gas stations, no-tell motels and drive-thru likker stores. Common traits are lethargy, chronic inattention, and dereliction of duty. The last time most of these guys got in a hurry was the last time their bladder chakra (?) caught afire. Better luck next time nature calls. P.S. might want to give the decaf a try.
Gordon Walden - July 18, 2022 9:30 am
One of your funniest! Great way to start a day!
Lander - July 18, 2022 10:06 am
He-he, something along those lines happened to my wife once. She was taking a group of college students on an out of town trip. A little too much coffee for their early morning departure ended up with her crouched behind a large propane tank because both restrooms were out of order. I suppose having to use the drip-dry method is nearly as humbling as having a Carolina deputy snickering behind you.
Tmitsss - July 18, 2022 10:14 am
April 2020 I drive 120 miles to Coastal NC and I really need to relieve my bladder. I stop at a Circle K and a sign says mens room is out of order use women’s bathroom. I knock and wait and then go in. And that’s how a guy ended up in a public women’s bathroom wearing a mask.
Virginia Russell - July 18, 2022 10:17 am
You were so lucky (and I guess you know it). My brother , while stationed at Maxwell AFB, once defended an airman who, in the same circumstances, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure.
Pilgrim Jax FL - July 18, 2022 11:36 am
As a guy, this is hilarious 😂
Been there done that.
Holly - July 18, 2022 11:48 am
Hahahahaha! Awesome! The last part made me picture “Sonny & Frankenstein” taking care of business after being denied use of facilities in Big Daddy. The sheriff was hilarious. Any state further north and you’d have been arrested for indecency. God bless the South!
Sandi. - July 18, 2022 2:55 pm
Sean: Yes indeed, Holly is correct. It’s a good thing you weren’t arrested by that deputy. In some states above the Mason-Dixon line you would’ve been in deep doo.
Trudy - July 18, 2022 11:54 am
You have me laughing this morning, Sean.
sjhl7 - July 18, 2022 11:59 am
That is the most miserable feeling when your bladder is so full and there is no place to remedy the situation!
Danny McBride - July 18, 2022 12:06 pm
That’s why men should also carr an empty Gatorade bottle with them.
Bill in Tennessee - July 18, 2022 1:05 pm
God save us from the Jeremy’s of the world. I think there must be a secret brotherhood of Jeremy’s, the only requirement for membership being a sub-85 IQ. They abound. They vote. They reproduce. And they will be with us forever. I’m pretty sure the guy who was in charge of Chernobyl was named the Russian equivalent of “Jeremy.”
Sean of the South: Pit Stop | The Trussville Tribune - July 18, 2022 1:13 pm
[…] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]
Roseann R Romans - July 18, 2022 1:59 pm
Love this one. Great way to start the week with a laugh.
Anne Arthur - July 18, 2022 3:15 pm
LOL. Oh, I can feel your pain. Once, in the middle of a busy city, I tried to make it to a gas station restroom last minute. I asked for the bathroom; the guy told me to walk outside to the back of the building. The door was locked. I knocked, no reply, and tippled back to the counter, in cold sweat. I could’ve killed the man when he casually said, “You should have asked for the key.” Really?
Judy Klamo - July 18, 2022 3:27 pm
I read your column every day. It makes my day. Thank you.
Karen Snyder - July 18, 2022 4:02 pm
“Don’t look, Ethel!” 😂❤️
Darcy Schmidt - July 29, 2022 3:23 am
Ohhhh, hilarious! I loved the story!
Dee Thompson - July 18, 2022 4:23 pm
I am very glad to be a female 99% of the time, except in a circumstance like that. Then I truly envy men. I don’t hike because for me, peeing outdoors means peeing on my shoes and that’s unacceptable…
MAM - July 18, 2022 6:21 pm
Dee, the trick is to find something to hold onto, a tree, a large rock will do, and then stick your butt out as far as you can, and squat behind your shoes. Been there, done that. And thanks for the wonderful chuckle, Sean. And thank goodness for understanding deputies!
David Britnell - July 18, 2022 6:25 pm
Gggrrrrrrrrrrr. I hate when something like that happens!
Mary McNeil - July 18, 2022 8:23 pm
Sounds like ol’ Jeremy musta thought you was one of them interferin Yankees boiy.
Margaret - July 18, 2022 9:45 pm
That’s the funniest pee story since the No Dumb Questions podcast episode about peeing into a coke bottle during a car trip with some, shall I say, unexpected results. As a female, I confess to being desperate enough outside a locked and occupied women’s restroom to have successfully used a men’s room. The surprised look on the man’s face waiting to go in when I came out was priceless. I think I mumbled, “Desperate times…”
Suellen - July 18, 2022 11:08 pm
I was in the same situation but I was in the Home Depot. I finally thought I’m only 5 minutes from home I’m going to make a run for it. All the way home holding it and praying then praying harder. I made it home and ran in the house only to look back and see my car rolling back down the driveway straight towards the ice cream store. I don’t know how I did it (because I can’t even walk most days) but I ran after my car jumped in and got it thrown into park. And that’s when I pee’d my pants. That’s also how I got a free chili dog and ice cream from the ladies at the ice cream store. They were in stitches.
Patricia Gibson - July 19, 2022 6:27 pm
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - August 2, 2022 2:03 am