On a Sunday evening, after construction was complete, I unlocked the front doors to plan how I’d arrange my brand new furniture inside my brand new office.
First, I went in to check out the women’s bathroom. In my book, there’s nothing better than a spotless bathroom. I pushed the door open. Deep oval basins. Faux marble counter. I ran my hand over it. Smooth, cool. No puddles. No paper towel scraps. A slender polished stem dispensed soap from a container hidden under the counter. Nice touch. I took one last satisfied look, pulled the door open, and walked out.
A sign above the next door read Men. I took a few steps past it toward my office. Men. Was I going to let a sign tell me where I could and could not go? I was Assistant Director. I had keys.
I glanced over my shoulder to make sure no spies from the University president’s office had followed me.
I pushed the door open and peeked in. I looked around for security cameras. All clear. I crossed the threshold and let the door close behind me. I walked over to see how I looked in a men’s bathroom mirror. I looked good.
Hah! I’m in the men’s bathroom. I’m in the men’s bathroom. I’m in the men’s bathroom. I skipped back to the door and reached for the handle. My hand closed around empty air. I stepped back. The door handle had not been installed.
Sunday evening. The stores in the mall were closed. I didn’t have a cell phone. Who was I going to call, anyway? Who was I going to admit this to?
I was single. No one would miss me until Monday morning when I didn’t show up at work. Because I was stuck in the men’s bathroom.
On Monday, security would find me in a rumpled heap on the floor of the men’s bathroom. Or my boss would find me in a rumpled heap on the floor of the men’s bathroom. Not because he was looking for me. Because he was a man who’d just finished three cups of coffee.
I tried to slip my fingers between the door and the jam. The space was too small for my fingers. I got on my knees to slip my hand under the door. (Also to pray.) The space was too small for my hand. I creaked back to standing. Tried squeezing my fingers between the door and the door jam. If at first you don’t succeed, do exactly the same thing again. The space was still too small.
There was however enough room for my fingernail. I angled my nail, pried. Nothing. Pried again. My nail bent back and turned blue. I took off one shoe, attacked the door with all ten fingernails, and then stuck my toe in the microscopic opening I achieved. I pried again, wiggled my toe farther into the breach, let go my fingernails and wedged my hand in. A gentle pull freed me. I’d sacrificed a couple of nails, but I’d learned a valuable lesson. Never use public restrooms. Only use the bathroom at home.
Dawn Goes to the Dentist