There Are Gaps In This Story

, , , , | Friendly | February 12, 2018

(There’s a random difference between American public restrooms and restrooms in a lot of other countries. In America, 90% of the time there’s a large gap of space under the walls and doors of toilet stalls. Sometimes there are even gaps in the door jams that you can see through. I am around 13 years old. I am shopping with my mom, and I decide to stop in the restroom before we leave the store. We’ve also just gotten pedicures, and my brightly colored toenails are visible through my sandal straps. I sit down in one of the stalls, minding my own business. A lady bustles into the stall next to me. I hear lots of rustling from shopping bags behind hung on the hook behind the door.)

Random Lady: “Oh, dear! That’s not good!”

(I am a shy kid, so I don’t say anything, hoping she is talking to herself.)

Random Lady: *knocks on the wall between us* “Excuse me? Excuse me? Could you please pass me some toilet paper? I don’t have any in here!”

(I quickly gather what I hope is enough, and pass it under the wall.)

Me: “Here you go.”

Random Lady: “Oh, thank you, dear!” *chuckles* “Us girls have to stick together!”

(I mumble something noncommittal and quickly get myself ready to exit the stall.)

Random Lady: “Wow!” *her hand appears again under the wall* “I love your toes!”

Me: *trying to get my own bag off the stall door and keep an eye on her hand at the same time* “Um… Thanks.”

Random Lady: “They’re just so pretty! Let me see!”

(She LUNGES against the stall wall — the plastic actually groans from the impact — and tries to TOUCH my big toe.)

Me: *practically shouting the first thing I can think of* “BYE!”

(I throw the stall door open and hightail it out of the bathroom, without even remembering to wash my hands. I reach my mom and grab the bottle of hand sanitizer she keeps in her purse.)

Mom: *watching me vigorously sanitize my hands* “Are you okay, [My Name]?”

Me: “Yep. Let’s go.”

(Later, I tell her about the odd encounter I had in the bathroom. She is kind of upset that I didn’t tell her sooner, but we reason that the lady was probably just overly friendly, as opposed to dangerous. After that, though, I am nervous to use public restrooms for months. It isn’t until I have the opportunity to travel outside the country that I realize there are bathrooms that don’t have huge gaps people can see or reach through.)

Me: *calling my mom while on a trip for work, I tell her about my discovery* “Not even a sliver of a gap! I guarantee you no one will be able to touch my foot in one of these bathrooms.”

Mom: “[My Name], that was over ten years ago.”

Me: “But still…”

Mom: *sigh* “Tell me about something besides the glory of public bathrooms without gaps!”

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