I waited too long this time, and now the call of nature was ringing loudly.
Pulling into a grocery store, I entered and quickly located the restrooms near the front and off to the side.
There were three bathrooms: one for either sex, one for women and one for men. I tried the nearest, the one for everybody: Pushed the handle down – locked. I tried the one marked for men and pushed the handle down – locked.
A woman stood outside the women’s bathroom. I couldn’t ask for cutsies in case someone came out.
A sign on each door said in English and Spanish: If this door is locked, someone is inside. Please wait.
I stood outside the men’s room to block any line cutters.
Every 30 seconds or so, I rattled the door handle in it’s locked position, as if a new person was trying to get in. I wanted this dawdler to picture a line 30 people deep forming outside.
The call grew louder. I shifted weight from side to side.
Leaning in to the door, I knocked loudly. “Come on, dude!”
Two more minutes.
“Come on, man. It’s not a reading room!
“And you can’t be playing Call of Duty in there!
“Hello?” I said, pounding on the door. “You better not be watching the last three seasons you missed of “The Walking Dead.” Let me tell you what happens: Some people walk around and kill zombies while trying to stay safe as the zombies relentlessly pursue and try to infect them. Then a guy with a baseball bat with barbed wire wrapped around it loses his mind and more people die.”
Finally, I yelled to a manager, “Sir, I don’t think anyone is in there.”
He said, “If it is locked, someone is in there.”
“I understand, but I think somebody locked it behind them when they left. Maybe a prank.”
He walked over and said, “Well, the women’s bathroom opens normally by pushing down. The men’s bathroom handle is a little tricky. If it doesn’t open by pushing down, just pull up on it.”
He pulled up on the handle and it opened like a broken beaver’s dam after a heavy storm.
No one was inside.