This is more than just a case of bad luck or poor planning. I went just before I left. I am very careful like that. I don’t like to get caught out.
I’m sure it must have been the muesli… all that gorgeous, toasted muesli with fresh, crunchy almonds and plenty of fibre. I’m sure you know exactly the sort of muesli I mean. The kind of stuff you only ever find in hotels or upmarket cafes. While it might have looked kind of healthy, I wasn’t stupid. I wasn’t taken in. I knew it was loaded with heaps and heaps of honey and fat. I could see the zeros multiplying on my Kilojoules counter just looking at it. Yet, despite all of that fabulous head knowledge, I still couldn’t resist. I ate it.
Besides, it was almost the healthiest thing on the menu and everything else was much, much worse. That means in a funny roundabout sort of way that the muesli was actually healthy after all. I’m pretty good at spin and as usual, I can justify eating almost anything.
Now, however, I’m having regrets. I shouldn’t have been so healthy after all. I should have had the almond croissant. It doesn’t have anything like all that fibre. But it’s now too late for blame. It’s not going to help me find a toilet any faster.
I’m in the Sydney CBD on a Saturday morning halfway between the Mitchell Library and Wynyard Station. Everything is shut. The place looks like a ghost town and I don’t need to tell you that the ghosts aren’t even at home today. The streets are empty.
I have to find a toilet. There has to be a toilet somewhere. Surely, something’s got to be open in this thriving metropolis?
I’m afraid not! Everything is shut- as dead as a doornail.
I shouldn’t need to go to the toilet. I went just before I left. That was only minutes ago. But none of this helps. The fact is that although I’ve been, I need to go again. My body is faulty and right now, nothing wants to stay inside…the cough, the runny nose, the muesli. I’m leaking all over.
Actually, I don’t think it was the muesli after all. It was actually the book or more precisely doing a writer’s workshop with legendary kid’s book author, Andy Griffiths. In the workshop he explained that his stories are based on real life but they didn’t have to become part of my life. I didn’t need a busting experience today. I just wanted to have fun. I barely ever get into the city, especially without the kids and I have so many better things to do. I mean this is the Sydney Writer’s Festival! It’s better than Christmas.
Only last week, Jonathon and I had read Andy Griffith’s story “Busting” about a little boy who gets stuck needing a toilet in a multi-storey shopping centre. Of course, all these impossible barriers got in his way and as I read the story, I was almost shouting: “just leave the boy alone. Just let him go! He’s busting.”It was getting excruciatingly painful and yet in the true nature of Andy Griffiths, there was yet another twist and the poor boy ends up wetting the bed.
I could really relate to that poor boy now. There was no way that story could ever be funny. It was torture. But I am not a character in a story and I’m certainly not dreaming. I really am busting. This is real life. Right here. Right now. I have to find a toilet. Oh my goodness! I am trying very, very hard not to think about the muesli but it’s zooming through my body like an express train and it’s about to burst through the tunnel.
Just imagine the embarrassment… I mean… I’m not in Infant’s School anymore!
I’ve got to find a toilet!
Now, I’ve got a great idea. One day when they finally elect me to be the Lord Mayor of Sydney, I’m going to stick port-a-loos on every single street corner. Then, nobody would ever be caught out again. How’s that for some sensible urban planning? It’s brilliant. Inspired even. I always knew I’d make an excellent mayor.
But all these brilliant ideas aren’t going to save me now. I can’t wait to be elected. I can’t even wait to set up a campaign. I need a toilet now! Immediately! That’s right an instant toilet.
I had been hoping that I could make it to Wynyard Station. It’s only a couple of blocks away and theoretically I should easily make it. But I’m moving like a tortoise with its house on its back with all these Andy Griffiths books piled up in my bag. My legs are so tired and my feet are starting to drag. Step…plod…step plod…blow nose….cough. I’m not going anywhere fast.
The muesli, on the other hand, is sprinting.
There’s no way I’m going to reach Wynyard Station especially when I have get across George Street without being hit by a bus, a taxi or even a fellow pedestrian. No one looks where they’re going around here- even on a Saturday.
What do you do when you can’t find a toilet? You look for the next best thing.
Now, I’m looking for a tree and it can’t be just any tree either. Remember I’m a lady and this isn’t a number 1.
But there isn’t a tree anywhere in sight. Not even a sapling. I thought I read something in the paper once about them turning the city green. Weren’t they supposed to be getting rid of cars and planting trees? Or were they getting rid of cars and replacing them with bikes? I don’t know. I just had a cyclist overtake me on the footpath and she didn’t even offer me a lift to the nearest toilet. How inconsiderate! I could have been there by now.
Or perhaps some bright spark has decided that all the trees belonged together in Hyde Park. They had to congregate. They couldn’t just scatter the trees indiscriminately around the city. Disperse them a little. If they did that, then every man and his dog would use them as a urinal. The entire city would stink. But this wouldn’t be a problem, of course, if they followed my plan and set up all those port-a-loos as I’d suggested. Then the trees could just be trees and help us win some carbon credits. I’ve heard we’re going to need a few of those.
But now is not the time to think about carbon credits or Sydney City Council’s tree planting policies.
I need to walk as fast as possible while trying to engage my brain.
Surely, somebody has to be open on a Saturday? I don’t know if we are still officially in the Global Financial Crisis but doesn’t anybody believe in making money anymore? Doesn’t somebody work seven days? Apparently not!
If they just charged to use their toilet, they could make a fortune. I’d pay just about anything to use a toilet right now!
Hey! I can hear a siren. Suddenly, red lights are flashing past.
Ah! I finally have an answer. I’m going to ring 000. This is an emergency. It might not be a life-threatening emergency. But an emergency is an emergency. An ambulance could have me at a toilet within minutes. I’ve paid my taxes. I have ambulance insurance. Surely, using an ambulance wouldn’t be a crime, would it?
As desperate as I am right now, I can’t afford to risk it. While an ambulance could get me to a toilet faster, they could also get me to the Police Station just as fast. We all know just how long a trip to the Police Station could take with all that paperwork! I can’t risk being locked up just in case there’s no toilet in my cell.
Calling 000 isn’t such a good idea but what about the NRMA? They’d have to help me. I am a member. Besides, everybody knows that you call NRMA for H-E-L-P. Things are starting to look up.
I pull out my mobile and my membership card and start tapping away but now I’m stuck. I’m looking for toilets in the Sydney CBD. I’m not calling about a car, a house, a boat or a caravan. All I want is a toilet. The voice tells me to hold on for an operator.
“What use is an operator when I need is a toilet?” I scream down my phone, forgetting my manners completely. I was really tempted to hurl my stupid iPhone somewhere I’d regret but had rethink. I’d only just signed up for a 12 month plan and couldn’t afford to replace the damn thing. Phone rage wasn’t covered in the plan.
I keep walking and suddenly a neon sign appears before me like an apparition just when I was about to give up.
Subway is up ahead and it’s open. It’s actually open. I just make it to the entrance and I see a door at the back saying Staff Only. I’m sure the Ladies is just around the corner. I am almost there. There is just this couple in front of me. A couple who can’t decide whether to have swiss cheese or tasty cheese. She looks longingly at him and whispers: “whatever you want Schnookums.”
He looks back at her and in equally dulcet tones replies: “No! No! It’s your choice, Honeybunny.”
Then they have the biggest pash you’ve ever seen right in front of you. Don’t they have any shame at all? Don’t they know the difference between public and private? Apparently not! I’m not usually prone to violence but I feel like punching both their lights out. How could they be so deliriously happy when I’m in such excruciating agony? It’s beyond nauseating. Someone should just lock them up. I’ve stopped being polite. I’ll have to butt in.
I am starting the think about the spare pair of undies in my bag. At least, there’s plan B.
“Excuse me do you have a toilet please?” I ask the cashier trying to appear relaxed. I am sure relief is just around the corner.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have a toilet,” she replies.
“Oh!” I gasp. I don’t think I said another word. A sheer sense of horror sheer horror engulfs me. She quickly anticipates my desperation and for once something is going my way.
“There’s a toilet in the gym across the road,” she says.
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been anywhere near a gym and believe me, I’ve never been keen. I usually break out in hives at the mere mention of the word but all of a sudden the dreaded gym had become my best, best friend. The gym is literally going to save my life.
Fitness First… Actually, today it’s a situation of toilet first. There was nobody in line and I was almost there.
They weren’t going to charge me to use it and I didn’t have to become a member but I did need to sign in.
“Sign in?” I gasped. Every second counted but I was almost there.
It’s the first time I’ve ever signed in anywhere to use the toilet but I didn’t care. I might have signed my life away but I was in.
Well, I felt pretty chuffed in the end. Not only had I found a toilet. I’d also been to the gym. Now that was really something to write home about!