My “Pay it Forward” story- one square of TP at a time


Don’t believe that kindness still exists in strangers? I can’t blame you. After having doors slammed in not only my, but my kids’ faces when someone easily could have paused momentarily to continue to hold the door open, having my damn parking spot jacked when I was clearly waiting first, being cut in line with no apology, and the general assholish nature of most people these days, it’s been hard for me to believe it’s still out there, too.

I like to consider myself a pretty optimistic person even though I’ve never actually been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness, but we all have our days where we swear if the earth were to open up and start swallowing people, we’d just start shoving assholes in. My moment has finally come, and I’m not exactly sure how to pay it forward.
No, I’m not the twatwad who had my mocha-pumpkin-crackalatte paid for in the Starbucks drive-thru and decided not to continue the chain that had been going for umpteen weeks. There was no grandeous gesture recorded on cellphones and posted on Youtube that is currently spamming your Facebook newsfeeds screaming “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!”
No, no no. This was far more…. intimate. But still deserving of a mention, and a continuation; at least, in my opinion.

I’m going to need a moment to set this situation up for you, because I want you to understand the kind of dire straits I was in so you know that the person who came to my rescue was a bonafide angel.

My chronic pain issues aren’t top secret, I’ve made them pretty well known, but as far as the medications I’m on to treat it? I can’t go into too much detail about because I don’t want nor do I need Doogie Howser with the Google doctorate trying to diagnose me, so please don’t take this as the invitation it isn’t.
Let’s just say that my medication was ripping up my stomach and really complicating my life, more than the pain it was supposed to be helping already was…. Alright, FINE, you don’t have to twist my arm- it was giving me the shits. Constantly.

We have ALL had a raging case of sting ring after eating something we maybe shouldn’t have. Those brief affairs with Taco Bell and the diarrquesarito, that delicious, stomach churning bastard, comes to mind. I’m no newbie to having to race to the bathroom in fear of poo-splosion- but imagine worrying about that all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. That has been my life as of late, and trust me when I tell you, it’s not fun.

If you can, imagine that fear, that feeling, and toss in a vacation in a place you’ve never been before. No clue where the bathrooms were, or how quickly you might need one, and the horrible thought of not being able to find it. Yeah… not exactly the relaxing retreat I had hoped for.
Somehow, I’d managed to mostly hold it together (read: in) until the very last day. About 002halfway through the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium, I felt that oh-so familiar pang shoot through my stomach. Fan-fucking-tastic, I thought. Just as I thought I was going to need to take a seat and admit defeat, like a unicorn bounding on clouds and farting blinking red arrows, I caught sight of the bathroom. OH BLESS YOU, ARROW FARTING UNICORN! YOU HAVE SAVED ME AND MY FAVORITE JEAN SHORTS FROM BOWEL DEMISE!

Okay, so it wasn’t that bad yet, but I figured, if I was feeling any pangs, I might as well go ahead and try while there was a bathroom within dashing distance.  I walk in, and it’s empty. SCORE! There are a few stalls, so I chose one in the middle, closed and latched the door, and went about my business. I hate to have to tell you this, but… it wasn’t pretty, y’all. My ass wasn’t rocketing off the pot from force or anything as heinous as that, but I was pretty sure my insides had died and whatever was coming out was the rotted remains. It was like a squirrel caught in a radiator, or a zombie after eating cow remains that were set on fire. I KNOW, I’M SORRY! THE SHAME!! IT’S NOT MY FAULT! But at least I was alone! I didn’t have to torture anyone else, which I always consider a win. Rejoicing in my bowel eruption victory, I reached for the toilet paper. Then I reached again. Then I frantically reached in thinking I MUST have missed where the end of the roll was, maybe some turdwaffle put it on backwards and I just needed to reach farther back to find it. No. There was nothing.


I assessed the situation quickly. Did I want to try crawling under the stall divider to the one next to me, lock that quickly and use the toilet paper in there? Did I want to try to penguin waddle with my pants around my ankles into another stall? What if someone walked in? What if someone saw? This wasn’t pee; I couldn’t exactly DRIP dry. Even if it had been a solid #2, I could have just pulled my pants up and made a run for it and could have still come out clean, but no. This was not one of those situations, and just as I was about to make a decision, the bathroom door opens and in comes a little girl.
I freeze. What do I do? Is she going to smell? Is she going to faint? AM I GOING TO CAUSE A POO RELATED DEATH?!

Remembering we are in Ripley’s, she is in high spirits, but not even 3 seconds through the door and she pauses. I can’t see her, but I know the worst has happened.  She has caught the whiff of the death of my insides. That poor child. Just when I think it can’t possibly get worse than being stuck on a toilet with no butt-wipe in the only occupied stall in a museum full of tourists with no hope of ever getting out, in walks her mom.

Just as frantically as I reached for the TP, I start trying to find the button on this stupid newfangled toilet so I can safety flush. Get rid of the perpetrator, so to speak. THERE ISN’T ONE! I AM STUCK! WE ARE ALL STUCK WITH THIS SMELL AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

I can hear the mom, quietly trying to shush the child who wants to ask why the paint is peeling off of the fucking walls, and then I realize I must admit defeat. If I don’t, I will either be sitting in that stall all day while my family wondered if I’d flushed myself down the toilet, or I will have to chance the pants-down penguin poo waddle. I couldn’t do the penguin poo-waddle.

“I’m so sorry” I called out “but the stall I’m in has no toilet paper.”
There was a short pause
“Oh no!” the voice says, there is some clicking of heels along the floor, and then a hand appears under the stall gripping a big wad of butt-wipe. “Is this enough?”
“Yes!” I breathed, though I wasn’t really sure it would be enough, I couldn’t imagine torturing this woman any further, “thank you!”
“I’m so glad you asked. That is an impossible situation to be in.”

I was saved. The poo fairy saved me!! She didn’t have to respond, and she certainly didn’t have to be so kind about it, but she was, just because it was the right thing to do. And by the smell permeating the air, she knew I was already pained enough without having to resort to waddling, crawling, or flushing myself.

I left that stall victoriously, only to be accosted as I washed my hands. Not by the poo-fairy or her daughter, mind you (the fairy was now in her own stall, and the daughter eyeballing me), but by an apparition of a janitor that appeared in the mirror right after a loud, long, farting sound.
“Hey! What’d you do in there? A #1 or #2? What’re you gonna make me clean up??”
It was the Ripley’s ODDitorium, after all. Couldn’t possibly end my brown note on a low note, now could I?
Everyone left that bathroom laughing; even me.

The outcome likely wouldn’t have been the same if it weren’t for that kind soul walking in at the right time, but how does one pay that kind of thing forward? I can’t exactly steal the last square from a stall and stand around in a public restroom waiting for someone to desperately need to wipe. That would lead to jail time, not happy times!
Maybe this blog in itself is paying it forward. Telling people everywhere- pass the TP! You could make someone’s day a whole lot less shitty!
Or… maybe I’ll just buy someone’s mocha-pumpkin-crackalatte, because any random act of kindness, no matter how small, is pretty fantastic.

Posted on August 29, 2014 by Holdin' Holden 3 Comments
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