Warning: This post is not for the squeamish. If it weren’t my own true story, I’m not sure I’d even be able to admit to it, let alone, read it. But it happened and there is nothing I can do about it now. I can’t change the experience or forget that it occurred. From here on out, this will forever be part of my autobiography. Part of my life’s adventure.
My church meets in a retirement home’s multi-purpose room. We are small but are actually growing there and we like it. Truth be told, if I could afford it, I would live there. I tell people that I want to live in a retirement community and they look at me as if I am crazy; but a retirement “village” is the perfect set up for me. It’s quiet, except for the occasional blaring of the deaf’s television sets at four am because they fell asleep during the seven pm telecast of the Snuggie infomercial. Every meal is fixed for you, which is perfect for someone who essentially lives on takeout or frozen meals because it’s just not worth it to cook for one person. And this particular home has Wii bowling tournaments and I don’t want to sound all braggy, but I could totally beat those old people at bowling. Plus, they bring in outside entertainment. A friend of mine is in a harmonica band and I went to see them play recently and the home was giving the residents refreshments as they entered the program! Free chips, soda or beer at three in the afternoon while I sit in the AC and listen to a harmonica band? YES PLEASE!
But I digress.
As is my normal custom at church, between worship service and Bible study, I sauntered down to the home’s public bathroom. It’s a two seater. Normally, even if the handicapped stall is open I go for the regular stall because to take a handicapped stall in a nursing home when you are not handicapped is bordering on cruel. It’s a real possibility that while you’re in there, someone who actually needs that stall will come in and then you have to take that awkward walk of shame out of the stall. You know, the one where you open the stall door and lock eyes with someone patiently waiting for you to get out, leaning on their walker. You smile that sheepish smile because you’re busted and they try to smile back but you can tell there are some territorial things going on here.
On this particular Sunday, as I turned the corner to enter the restroom, I saw an abandoned walker by the sink. The handicapped stall was open and I heard someone making noises but I entered anyway, trying to think what I should do if I enter the stall and they are in there but just didn’t close the door. This happens sometimes because I think as you get up there, you don’t care anymore if someone sees you pooping or not. But the noises were coming from the tiny stall so I took my chances and walked in to the bigger stall. Whew. Empty. I put aside my pre-guilt of using the handicapped stall because, really, how long would it take me to pee?
I turned around to close the door and that’s when it happened. I made the mistake of not looking at the door but just grabbing it and pulling it closed. And this is where the regret comes in. As I pulled my hand away, I felt something on it. A sick feeling went through my entire body because just as I felt the sticky goo on my hand, my eyes landed on the handle.
There was something dark brown on it.
And on my hand.
OH NO. OH NO. OH NO. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING TO ME. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING! But it was. I looked at my hand for a brief second. It was on my index finger and thumb. Now, had this been a different time, a different place(not a bathroom) and a different color of goo (anything but brown or red) my first reaction would have been to immediately smell my hand.
I didn’t smell my hand this time. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to confirm my fears. Quickly I grabbed some toilet paper and wiped it off and threw that in the toilet. I still had to pee though so with my one untainted hand, I swiftly unbuttoned my fly and did my usual hover. Buttoning back up was a bit tricky but I made it.
I hurried out of the stall to the sink. All I could think about was what had just been on my hand and how even though I had wiped it off, nearly taking the outer layer of skin with it, it was still there, but was just invisible. Yes, I realized that the proper adult thing to do would be to wipe the gunk off the door. When it comes to bodily secretions or fecal matter, I am not a proper adult. I turned the hot water on as high as I could and as hot as I could stand it. I tripled the amount of soap I would normally use. I scrubbed every inch of my hands, especially the part where the substance had attached itself to my fingers. I rinsed. I repeated the whole thing again. And two more times. I washed my hands four times. I dried them and left. As soon as I got back to my journey bag, I got my hand sanitizer out and sanitized my hands not one or two times but THREE TIMES. I still felt dirty. I spoke to no one of the incident. Whether this was out of shame or shock, I do not know.
Later I texted a friend and told her what had happened. i told her that I may or may not have stuck my hand in….
Old people poo.
She LOL’d me. This was no LOL’ing moment. This was serious. This was traumatic.
I don’t have proof that it was old people poo. In the hours since the incident I have tried to make myself believe that it wasn’t old people poo. It’s a scientific fact that old people like chocolate pudding. Maybe it was chocolate pudding. Or maybe the dining room was serving chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Could have been chocolate frosting. Or maybe, Just maybe, instead of carrying Werther’s or butterscotch disks, or starlight mints, maybe the woman who used the stall before me had a forgotten melted chocolate bar in her pocket. Maybe she sneezed and when she went to get her hankie, instead brushed against the melted chocolate and that’s what was on the door.
I’ll never know for sure. I’ll never have concrete evidence as to what the substance was on my fingers. Could have been chocolate, could have been poo.
I could have smelled it to find out but sometimes it’s easier to not know the truth. I have to accept the fact that I will never know what it was.
Because if I don’t accept that, I have to accept what is probably more likely the truth and that is that I stuck my hand in old people poo. And I cannot fathom living my life with “I stuck my hand in some unknown old person’s poo” as part of my legacy.
I am not down with OPP…Old People Poo…