Rod Andrew sent us this story and it made us smile. His accompanying email said, “I’m sitting in front of a fire in a small cabin on a frozen lake in B.C. Even with the curtailment of our activities imposed on us by Covid, life can still be good.” You’re right, Rod. Thanks for sharing your story about your bathhouse experience.
By Rod Andrew
The RV park in which this event may have occurred has two bathhouses, which are both rendered in a faux Western manner to fit in with the Western town theme of the hotel and RV park. The entrance is partially hidden by a stone wall, to give some privacy to those seeking relief inside. The door is opened by entering a 4-digit code into the lock, pausing, then tapping the pound key. This has to be done slowly and carefully. If one is too hurried, the lock will be frozen for a few seconds and the process has to be repeated.
The inside keeps with the rustic theme. The floors are bare concrete and are often damp, as some of the pipes aren’t all that sound. One half of the bathroom consists of showers, the other side is for more serious business.
The toilet arrangement
There are two toilets, side by side, with large gaps under the dividing walls and door. Each is locked by an interior slide bolt. Very cozy. Across the far end of the bathroom is a large handicapped toilet, much prized by the residents for its roominess. Privacy in there is protected by a partial wall and a curtain that finishes about 2 feet above the floor.
Upon entering the bathhouse, one sees immediately if any of the toilets are available. Shoes, sandals, slippers, flip flops, and, amazingly, bare feet, may be viewed under the doors to the two stalls, and are a clear indication that the seats are occupied. If the end curtain is pulled, that place is also in use, although a peek under the curtain may be needed to confirm this.
So, the scene is set
I trotted over from our trailer at about 7:30 a.m. and settled into the closest of the two green stalls. This is not my favourite, as the lighting is better in the next one, but both that stall and the handicapped stall were already occupied. As usual, nobody spoke and the silence was only broken by occasional sighs and grunts. Very companionable.
So there we were, three strangers, united by a common emission.
I was happily engrossed in a challenging crossword, multi-tasking, when our tranquility was shattered. The door to the bathhouse was shaken violently, then we heard someone moan, “Oh no. Don’t jam now. Open! Please!!!”
We all knew what was happening. Someone, in a hurry, had rushed the combination. We could hear him panting anxiously, as he waited for the combination to reset. I could also clearly hear each deliberate poke at the keys as he forced himself to slow down. It was obvious to me, and I suspect to all three of us, that he was desperate.
He finally entered the bathhouse
When he shoved the door open and rushed in, I held my breath. I think we all did. “Oh, God,” he moaned. “Oh, no.”
He had seen that the two nearer thrones were in use. We heard him shuffle over to the handicapped toilet and knew that he was taking a peek under the curtain. No relief there.
He groaned. Then he said. “Come on guys. I’m in trouble here. Can one of you hurry up? I’m hurting bad!”
Silence. Nobody moved and nobody spoke.
“You gotta help me!!” He yelled. “If any of you are reading, please give me a break.” He was now begging.
I sat, motionless. Rustling was coming from the next cubicle, so I knew he was reading. I couldn’t be sure that whoever was in the handicapped stall was also reading, but it was a good bet that he was either holding a book or on his phone.
I was the only one not reading
Of the three of us, I was the only one not reading. I was doing a crossword puzzle. Definitely NOT reading. It was up to one of the other two, the readers, to rise to the occasion and help the poor fellow out.
No one volunteered.
Shameful, I thought to myself.
“Oh God,” he moaned again, and he sounded so distressed that I almost called out that I would help. Then, he shuffled across to the door, hauled it open and rushed out.
There is another bathhouse only about 40 meters away. I felt pleased for him, as I was almost certain that he would make it.
Then the door flew back. “I’ll remember those brown slippers and you’ll pay for this!” Out he rushed again.
I was the one wearing brown slippers. Well, technically moccasins. He was blaming me! That was definitely not fair. I had not been reading!
We left anonymously
Now came the hard part. We were all quietly preparing to leave. I won’t go into details. None of us wanted the others to know who we were. The other two were probably ashamed of their behaviour and, while I was innocent, myself, I didn’t want to know who they were and be forced to comment on their inaction.
I heard movement in the handicapped stall. Instinctively, we all knew what to do. I, and my neighbour, sat quietly, while the handicapped guy washed his hands and left. Without a word being spoken, we had entered into a compact with one another, an inspiring example of cooperation among strangers. We would all leave in anonymity.
I was the last to leave. Before stepping out, I tucked my crossword book under my jacket. I had behaved honourably, but there was a chance that my actions might be misinterpreted. As I scurried back to my trailer, I rehearsed the reason I would give to my wife for not wearing my brown moccasins anymore. They were aggravating my plantar fasciitis. That would work.
In the future, I would use the other bathhouse.
Now, what is the 8-letter word for “not guilty”?