This time, it was a pay toilet at a McDonald’s.
Now, understand, I don’t actually eat there anymore. I just stopped, on my way to eat somewhere better than McDonald’s, because the Montezuma’s Revenge from hell had finally caught up to me from the last time I had eaten there. I had to either stop or plan on dying my upholstery brown.
I did not want to dye my upholstery brown.
So, in I dashed.
I deposited the requisite quarter in the slot, yanked the door open and, ahhhhhh, blessed relief.
This relief was short-lived, however.
When I concluded my communing with the porcelain god, and prepared to be on my way once again, the door would not budge! And it was one of those stalls that had an eight-foot door that was flush (no pun intended) with the floor, so crawling out underneath was not an option.
I tried calling for help. You know . . . at first, tentatively.
“Hello? Is anybody there?”
Yeah, right. As if anybody would sweep to the aid of an unknown, disembodied voice emanating from a toilet stall at a McDonald’s in Brooklyn, New York. What in hell was I thinking?
At any rate, my pleas soon became more urgent.
“Hey! Someone get me out of here! I’m locked in! Help! Help!”
The only thing this accomplished was to clear out the restroom completely.
So, I did the only thing I could do. I sat back down to wait for a sympathetic soul or a police officer . . . whoever came first.
I am a writer by profession, and I have never yet been oppressed by the demon “writer’s block.” I can find something to write about in almost any given situation.
This one was no exception.
At the time of my entrapment, I was in the middle of writing a novel and was mentally chewing over some pivotal plot details that didn’t seem to be working. As I sat, my mind set of humming and, low and behold, the solution came to me.
But I had no paper – only a pen. And the toilet paper was far too thin to use.
This will never stop a writer.
I pulled out my felt tip and proceeded to jot my next seven chapters on the wall of the restroom. It was brilliant, and I was ultimately thankful for my unwilling incarceration.
By the time an employee (who wanted to use the stall I was in because all the others were occupied) finally bailed me out, all four walls were covered with my scribbling, and it was the finest work I’d ever done. I strutted out of the stall, proud as could be, until I came face-to-face with THE MANAGER.
“Hey, lady, what the hell ya think ya doin’ writin’ all over the wall like dat? Ya know how long it’s gonna take to clean it all off?” he demanded.
“I don’t want you to clean it off! This is the final seven chapters of my novel!”
“I don’ care if it’s the final seven chapters udda Bible! It’s gonna be washed off and youse gonna pay for it!”
I told him that I would be happy to wash it off after I’d transferred it to a pad.
“I ain’t gonna wait that long! Customers’ll complain!”
“Well, if your customers are getting stuck in here on a regular basis, they might just be glad of something to read while they’re waiting!” I retorted.
“Read? Read what? Why would they wanna read?”
“Look at it this way – you could start a whole new trend. Entire books on the walls of the stalls at McDonald’s! Why, people would come from far and wide just to eat your food, then go rushing to the toilet, as they usually do, immediately afterward. But you’d have something for them to focus on besides the gut-wrenching pain tearing through their digestive tracts! You’d be a legend! A pioneer! Just think of the repeat business,” I cried.
Though unaccustomed to the agonies of coherent thought, this seemed to give him pause.
“Awright, it stays. We’ll have an experiment,” he said, proud of the fact that he knew a word over three syllables and could pronounce it correctly.
“Great!” I cried. “I’ll be back tomorrow to transcribe it.”
“Oh, no, lady,” he said. “Dis is the property’a McDonald’s. If youse write it down and publish it anywheres else, we’ll sue youse for copyright infringement!”
He wasn’t as dumb as he looked. Then again, he couldn't be.
So, friends, the upshot of the whole deal was that I had to pay McDonald’s a ridiculous sum of money in order to use my own work in my own book! And if you know of anyone who would like to own an authentic souvenir pay toilet from McDonald’s, please let me know. I have all four walls!