“Oh God, what do I do?” I thought, suddenly frozen by indecision. I hadn’t expected to have a moment of social crisis, in here of all places, but here I was, presented with one of the more awkward situations I could remember. I would have to make a decision- and soon. Wondering why these sort of things always tended to happen to me, I almost giggled as I imagined that everyone, some time or another found themselves facing a similar situation and thinking that same ‘why me?’ thought.
“Do I say something? Do I check? Do I just leave and hope for the best?” my options spun through my head as I sat immobilized by the thought of actually having to act. “Maybe it’ll resolve itself? I shouldn’t pry… it’s none of my business after all… I don’t want to make it worse, or embarrass them…” the excuses to remain hidden and uninvolved wrapped me in a shroud of guilty comfort.
A few more minutes passed and it was beginning to become difficult to breathe. The increasingly noxious odor perforated my rationale and suffocated any hope for logic. I had to get out of there… but how would I handle my exit? Graciously and humanely, demonstrating a genuine concern for my ‘fellow man’ or just cut my losses and high tail it out of there, social responsibility be damned?
Suddenly, the choice was made for me as I heard the other patron collect themselves and indicate their own exit. Would I really get off this easy? Tempting fate, I slowly made to come out as well, and looking around the small austerely decorated room, locked eyes with the source of my social dilemma. “Should I say something?” I wondered. But again, as if understanding the fix I found myself in, the young woman bowed her head to break eye contact and swished by me and out of the ladies room.
“Whew, that was close,” I said to my reflection in the bathroom mirror spanning the back wall. The relief I felt at not having to interact with the woman as she puked her guts out in the stall next to mine only moments ago was overwhelming, almost guiltily so. Hearing the initial few heaves was enough to make me want to run out of the place- hands unwashed and all. But I stuck through it, half afraid to leave the ailing woman, should she need assistance, and half paralyzed by a strange feeling of embarrassment at having born witness to the event. Either way, it was over now… I had escaped from another socially ambiguous situation wholly intact- that is, all but my appetite.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Public bathrooms are already weird in my book. Here I am, doing a very private thing, in my opinion, surrounded by at any given time up to six other women (more if there’s a line) doing that ‘thing’ as well. Knowing this, as soon as I enter the ladies room I am transformed into an awkward weirdo, who’s just on the cusp of having a mini-breakdown should someone choose to talk to me, make too much eye contact, ask for a paper towel or do that little dance you do when you’re trying to leave and they’re trying to come in but the space is too small and you both move in the same direction a few times before awkwardly snort-giggling as you finally get out of each other’s way… Anyway, today as I’m trying my darndest to get in and out of there, I suddenly here the unmistakable sounds of a person retching in the stall next to mine. Great. Now what do I do? The girl is obviously getting sick, so do I hang out, make sure she’s ok? Do I ask if she’s alright, offer to get someone or bring some water? Do I just ignore it and assume she can manage on her own? What’s my role here? What’s my responsibility? Doing the right thing, however uncomfortable it made me was something I was highly concerned with, and as a result forced me to sit immobilized on my porcelain ‘thinking seat’ as I weighed my option. Then, before I could do anything, I hear the other toilet flush, the door open and the water from the sink begin to run as the ‘puker’ washed up. Oh thank God! Collecting myself and checking for the tenth time that my zipper was up, I emerged from my stall just in time to see her flip flop disappear out the door. Crisis averted.
Love & Squirrels.