That song kept going through my mind, over and over again, “Passengers will please refrain from flushing toilets while the train is in the station.” I really had to go, and the train was just pulling into the station, and I would have to wait too long before I could go, do my bladderly duty and flush the toilet. If I refrained from passing water then it would unquestionably pass through both underwear and pants. I definitely could not let that happen. The meeting I was going to was very important both for my company and it was especially for me. This was the first time the boss had sent me on such a mission, and I had to do a good job. It might even mean a promotion. Wet pants would ruin that opportunity, especially as there was a clear sky up above, with absolutely no chance of rain coming down anytime soon.
So I turned around and ran to where the men’s washroom was, trying not to look like a well-dressed criminal who was fleeing after lifting a lady’s purse and hiding it in my leather briefcase. With my destination in clear view, I had no eyes for anything else and almost knocked over an old woman., turning away just in time. But then I come even closer to knocking over a young woman whose destination was clearly next door to mine. She was running like I was. Both of us quickly apologized and completed our hasty trek.
There was one toilet and just two urinals in the men’s washroom, and all three were occupied. I’m tall enough that I could almost pee comfortably into the sink, but with mindful determination I refrained. I’m not easily embarrassed, but that would do it. Fortunately, I heard one of the urinals flush after about a minute or two of my jumping around. I was to be relieved. I soon regretted all the coffee I had earlier, as I stood there for quite some time. I began to wonder how long the train would be remaining in the station before it would leave.
I flushed, washed, then opened the door and heard an unwelcome sound. The train was leaving the station. I uttered the first four letter word that came to mind, and it reflected the room that had I just left, just not what I had done there. I was not alone in this situation, as the young woman that I nearly ran into earlier said the same word, but with more force than I had used. She really meant it.
Somehow, our shared plight encouraged a kind of comradery. She laughed as I sung the first line of the song that had plagued me earlier and had caused me to miss my train. She asked me whether I thought that train toilets still had such an oppressive message written on them. I did not know, but I promised her that when we got into the next train, I would find out. We both sat down beside each other, deciding that we would have a sandwich each but no coffee.
Time passed quickly and easily, and when the next train came, we almost literally hopped on board, and then sat beside each other. I am sometimes a gentleman, so I graciously gave her the window seat. Then she gave me a shove and said, “Find out. Find out. I want to know. I want to know.”
So I walked down the aisle to what passed as a washroom at the end of the car. I pulled on the door handle, only to find out that it was locked. I could not get in. Wondering whether there was someone inside who had locked the door, I knocked, and asked this possible person “Is there anyone in there? You are supposed to refrain when the train is in the station”. There was no verbal answer, but I got the answer to our question sure enough.
She was not happy when I told her what I had learned. Then she said the strangest thing. But I kind of agreed with her. “I feel deprived. I think that I should have the right to go in any toilet when I have paid a fare to get on a vehicle. We must do something about this. I have an idea.” I could see from the way that she looked at me that she expected me to agree with her.” So I did to a degree. I agreed that we were being deprived of something we had paid for. But I managed to convince her that her idea of breaking the lock was not a good one. We would just have to live with it, but complain to the company
After about 10 minutes of silence between us, the porter came down the aisle asking us if we wanted any of the drinks or snacks that were on his trolley. Now that I would have a toilet available to me on the train, I asked if I could have both juice and coffee. My new friend knew what I was doing, and why. She laughed, and we began talking again.
It wasn’t very long before the urge returned. So I stood up, kind of like I would if I were going to applaud someone’s performance, and made my way to the toilet. To my great disappointment, the door was still locked, even though we were a long way away from the nearest station. Again I knocked on the door, but there was no reply.
I saw the porter, and asked him whether ‘someone’ had forgotten to unlock the washroom door. He said that he had unlocked it. I told him that the door was locked and there didn’t seem to be anyone inside. He announced ‘this is the porter’ to the door, but got no reply from inside. So he pulled out his keys, and set the door free. We were both shocked by what we saw. There was an old man sitting on the toilet, and he looked to have passed out. He still had a pulse. I checked.
The porter knew the name of the hospital in the next town, and called them to ask for an ambulance to meet the train. I gave him a copy of my business card, to call when he found out the results. When I sat down, I gave another card to my washroom friend.
The Next Day
The next day I received two calls. The first was to tell me that the old man had survived, but might not have had he remained in the train washroom much longer. The other was from my new friend, asking me if we could “get together for drinks” at a bar tonight. I told her that I would not refrain from doing that.