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Like a Pit-Stop in Oz

a story about a woman having to go to the bathroom, with-out facilities, around a crowd of men.

A bracket that holds the steering wheel to the dash came loose. The convoy of military vehicles pulled over and waited for a mechanic to come and fix the problem. We were parked on the side of a freeway in Korea, just before twenty little tollbooths, along the side of a tall cement wall. Everything was gray, the freeway with its buzzing gray cars, the wall, the sky. The trucks were technically green, but they seemed gray in the shadow of the wall.

I had to pee. As time passed, it began to hurt. I looked through my pack for my poncho, so I could put it on and have some privacy. I couldn’t find it. There was nowhere to hide, and no one good enough to guard a spot between vehicles for me.

I noticed a drain in the wall that was barely large enough for me to crawl through. It looked dark in there…but there was light on the other side. I was desperate enough, that crawling through seemed like a good idea.

When I got through the ten-foot-long tunnel, I emerged into a garden that followed the curve of the freeway wall. The dirt was warm, brown, and freshly tilled. The trees and yards were green. The sun was warm. The sky was blue. I heard birds. Standing before me was a small elderly Odashe, a Korean man, clothed in loose trousers that were tucked into his boots, and a huge untucked flannel shirt. He wore a floppy hat like my grandpa. He spoke to me, but I didn’t understand him.

“Samimasan …Hiwashiti…Namja Hiwashiti….” I tried to say that I wanted to use a bathroom. I could tell he didn’t understand. I was hopping up and down, doing the universal bathroom dance. He began yelling at me. In desperation, I sprinted around the curve of the cement wall so the man couldn’t see me go to the bathroom. Odashe chased me, so I tried to run faster. Running when you have to go to the bathroom is painful and awkward. I couldn’t hold it any longer. I leapt into the soft earth with both feet, dropped my pants and peed in a powerful stream. Meanwhile, Odashe continued yelling at me. I couldn’t stop peeing…it felt so good to get rid of it…When I finished, I pulled up my trousers and buckled my belt. I used my feet to shovel dirt over the big wet spot.

I faced Odashe. He stood gaping at me. He looked flabbergasted.

“Sorry….ahh…Comsehamneda.” I grimaced and shrugged and ran back to the drain and began to crawl through, but he ran after me and firmly grabbed my boot. I backed out, and he used a hand to block my way. Odashe beckoned me to follow him. I hung my head and obeyed. I wondered if he was leading me to the police station for trespassing and peeing in his garden. Instead he showed me a gate in the wall.

“Casayo.” he bowed goodbye.

“Causayo.” I bowed and walked back into the gray buzzing freeway world.

With a burning face I told my sergeant about the encounter, and he relayed the story to everyone else.

Awhile later one of the guys said “Hey Anderson, your friend just popped his head out of the drain. He looked like a gopher. He says he wants your phone number.” I blushed again.

# # # #

Six years later, beside a convoy in Iraq, I pulled my pants down and confidently urinated when I had the need to. It seemed like every time I had to do this, I saw some sergeant's eyes ogling me through the side mirror of a truck.

“Did you enjoy the view?” I said to a group of guys who purposely walked over to watch me go to the bathroom. There's something to be said for Europeans and their nudist-activities. If nudity were more mainstream here, maybe American men wouldn't be such perverts.

Eventually, one of the other ladies taught me how to drop an empty water bottle into my loose flight suit and fill it without exposing myself.

END
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