Sunday, September 2, 2012

Road Trip

Want to know something that causes me a crap-load (heh) of anxiety?  Being in a car, for 2 entire days, driving in unfamiliar territory, with no easily accessible bathrooms.

You see, over the past few months I have been drawing up a mental map of every single gas station, Tim Hortons, McDonalds, and any other possible place in the city that I can get to in a hurry.  Most of the time I can make it to one of them before disaster strikes.  Most of the time.

But on a road trip, I am at the absolute mercy of the highway architects, city planners, or whoever it is that decides where the exits and rest stops will be.  I am also at the mercy of the one who is in the driver seat.  And since I wasn't the only driver this time, it meant that I was not always going to be the one calling the shots.

For someone who doesn't have a digestive disease, this anxiety may be hard to understand.  I don't think I would have been able to wrap my head around it before experiencing it myself.  But I want you to remember a time when you had a terrible stomach flu.  The kind where you camp out in front of the toilet because you don't trust yourself to be even a room away.  The kind where when the cramping starts, you literally cannot think of anything other than evacuating the vile contents of your colon.  Ok.  Remember that?  Good.  Now apply that feeling to Every. Single. Day.

We were leaving early in the morning, which only added to my worries.  Mornings are rough.  Apparently this is common, as the waking process releases all kinds of hormones and stuff.  I'm sure there is a scientific explanation to it all, but I'm too lazy to look it up.  All I know is that I am woken up between 6-6:30am with a need to dash to the toilet, and then (on a bad day) it's a pretty sure bet that I'll be in there 6-10 times before 9am.

In any case, we got on the road in good time and headed towards the border.  I was actually feeling pretty good, which was encouraging!  But then we got in line.  You know what the border crossing looks like, right?

No U Turns, and no bathrooms in sight!

So of course, since my brain is connected directly to my colon, my panic about not having a bathroom available meant that I suddenly and desperately needed to use one.  We were crossing in Niagara Falls, where quite a few pedestrians walk across.  My dad's girlfriend offered to walk with me to the pedestrian crossing to see if there were bathrooms available there.  It wasn't too far of a walk and the need was great.  So we got out of the car, hopped the barrier to the sidewalk and headed for the gate.

Uh yeah.  Apparently Canada doesn't have a bathroom on our side.

So I'm waiting at this locked door.  Border guards are doing their thing, and I'm clenching and dancing.  All I can see is the ladies room sign at the other side of the room.  After a few minutes, the guard calls us in.  I shove my passport across the desk and launch into my now routine explanation:

"I'm really sorry, but I have a digestive disease and I have an urgent need to use the bathroom!"
"Ma'am, I need to clear you first, where are you going?"
"Yes sir, I understand, but if we could do this as fast as we can because I really need the bathroom"
"Ma'am I will do what the law requires me to do.  Where are you going?"

Now, I do understand that the man had a job to do.  I truly do.  But at that moment, I could not care about anything else than getting across the room.

 After explaining where we were going, and also that we'd hopped out of the car specifically for the bathroom, he very bluntly said that we had to get back in the car and go across with the rest of them.  When I frantically asked about the bathroom again, he told me that he would escort me to the ladies room and then back outside.

That's not mortifying at all.  Nope, not at all!

In any case, I got across the room.  He then escorted me and my dad's girlfriend back into the lineup of cars, and walked us about 200 feet away from the border.  He asked if we could see the van we came in, and we pointed to one that looked about right.  He handed us back our passports and walked away.

We walked up to the van we'd pointed to and realized that it was not actually our van.  Not knowing what else to do at that point we started weaving in and out of the cars in the lineup, desperately looking for our family.  I can only imagine what it must have looked like to everyone were 2 women who had just been escorted out by a border guard, and now were running through the traffic looking panicked.

And in the middle of it all, I hear someone calling my name!  It was the father of one of my daughter's friends, laughing and asking what the heck I was doing.  I don't even think I said something intelligible, just mumbled something about needing to find the van and ran off.

We finally spotted it, and ran as fast as we could.  We got in, laughing, relieved and buckled up.  They were literally next in line, and I don't have a clue what we would have done if they had already crossed!

Disaster averted, thank goodness.  And mercifully there were plenty of exits that first day of driving.  And now I have a funny story to tell, right?  Bright side.  Bright side indeed.

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