The door opens. Footsteps enter. The other two stalls are empty. And yet, this stranger immediately chooses the stall right next to mine.
This baffles me, and my bladder tightens.
Maybe there was something bad in the other stall. Maybe this middle stall is her "safety" zone. Whatever the contemplation, my fear is heightened when a hand is suddenly reaching underneath my stall...dangerously close to my leg.
"Hey," the extremely irritating stall-neighbor says. "There's no toilet paper in here. Grab me some, would ya?"
Her demanding tone is annoying. Her tact is nonexistent. But to get her to stop talking and remove her hand, I grab about 20 ft of 1-ply toilet paper (standard in most public restrooms) and give it to her.
She removes her hand and goes about her business. Then she begins whistling. It's the kind of whistling that reminds me of a horror flick where some guy gets stabbed by a whistling psycho while he's on the pot.
I have entered hell.
Some people envision hell as a giant fire-pit with devils dancing around it. Mine is being trapped in a stall next to Whistlin' Wendy with a terrified (and very full) bladder. And yet the fun has only just begun.
While my business is the most simplistic (a.k.a. a cup of water too many), her business is graphic, violent, and seemingly unending.
I try to focus. Just pee and get the hell out of here!
"Fuck!" She exclaims. "I guess that breakfast burrito wasn't the best choice." She pats the way-too-thin barrier between us as if to pat my shoulder. At this point, my bladder is so frightened it has retreated up to my neck. "Grab me some more toilet paper, please."
The hand returns. It's greedy. The long fingers are desperately reaching around. I pull more paper maniacally from the roll and hand it to her.
At this point, I'm considering giving her the entire roll. The *entire* roll for freedom--for her to finish this road of revulsion and leave. Then a phone starts ringing. She answers it. My horror increases.
"I'm in the shitter. What's up?"
At this point, I have to make a crucial decision. Stay in hopes the madwoman leaves, or exit quickly (and silently) with whatever dignity I have left and find another bathroom.
Then a miracle happens. Her toilet flushes. I hear buttons being snapped closed. The stall door opens. The faucet at the sink is turned on. Even though she's still babbling on her phone (which I can only assume carries Typhoid now), I know the end is in sight.
The water turns off. She ends her phone call. That's it...just go. GO! But she stands silently in front of the mirror.
I am glaring at her through the cracks of my stall. And if I had any psychokinetic powers, she would have spontaneously combusted on the spot.
Instead, she pulls a cosmetic bag out of her purse...and begins applying makeup.
If Dante's Inferno has 7 levels of hell, this would be level 3 of mine.
Suddenly the door opens. More footsteps. Level 4.
"Hey girl, how are you doing?"
Great, they know each other. Level 5.
"You would not believe how crazy last night was!"
Five minutes of dialog commences. At this point, I know I'm trapped. I don't want the madwoman to see my face for fear we work on the same floor. Plus, we just don't need to be toilet friends. I also fear my bladder has slipped into a coma.
When the bathroom is finally empty, I sigh heavily. My bladder descends back down to its proper position. Relief blessed by the gods envelopes me. I've somehow been spared levels 6 and 7.
I just have to explain the epic saga to coworkers who have possibly organized a search party by now...because who takes SO LONG just to pee?!
But each day, the saga continues...