Andy went hiking in the mountains with his outdoors group one day. He arrived home soaked and smelly. It wasn’t from rain and sweat.
After returning to the trailhead following the hike, Andy noticed a vile odor nearby. Turns out it was coming from beneath his right hiking boot. Somewhere along the trail he’d stepped in the leavings of a dog whose owner did not pick up.
Off he went to a nearby stream intending to scrape and rinse the pungent excrement from his boot. But before he finished, the hiking group leader called everyone to board their chartered bus for the two-hour trip home.
Thirty minutes later the bus was down the mountain, where early morning temperatures had been just above freezing, and was heading across the plains where afternoon temperatures now were blazing hot. That would have been less of a problem had the air conditioning in the aging bus been functional. It wasn’t.
As the heat increased people sitting near Andy and his offensive hiking boot began glancing in his direction, their noses twitching in discomfort. He quickly recognized the urgency of tending to his still soiled boot, as well as a now pressing need to remove his long underwear, worn for the chilly start of the morning hike.
Andy headed for the toilet at the back of the bus.
A sign inside the door assured occupants the light would go on when the latch was engaged. It did. But when Andy was half disrobed the light went out.
He felt around to find the switch, all the while being thrown around bouncing off the walls as the bus lurched side to side down the highway. He found the switch and turned the light on. He resumed disrobing. A few seconds later, off it went again.
Once more, and now down to those long johns, his outer clothing somewhere on the floor beneath his feet, Andy fumbled around again in the careening bus for the switch. Just then, the bus suddenly lurched sideways, throwing him hard against a wall. Andy’s hip slammed into a button that flushed the toilet. It sounded like a 747 taking off.
Andy remembered another sign on the wall when he’d entered. It admonished occupants to sit while doing their business. Convinced of the wisdom in that advice, he decided to sit in the dark while changing his clothes. After that, he’d somehow figure out how to clean the rest of the doggie detritus off his right boot, most likely in the dark.
But first, being a fastidious soul, Andy thought it prudent to wipe the seat before depositing his posterior. He lifted the lid. That’s when he learned two pivotal facts: 1. the lid and the seat itself were dripping wet, and, 2. the lid had been concealing a rush of air now screaming loudly skyward from the depth of the toilet bowl.
What to use to wipe it? Andy felt around in the dark until he found the toilet paper… you know, that’s the stuff when not on duty in public toilets finds service elsewhere as sandpaper.
Amid the deafening rush of air in the darkness, he used the toilet paper to wipe the lid and the seat. Then he balled up the soaking wet remnants. He pushed the button for a few more seconds of light, and prepared to throw the wet ball into the toilet.
That’s when Andy made another big mistake. He decided to flush the wadded up toilet paper. Wrong move! The intense wind screaming up from the depths of the toilet grabbed and disambiguated the soggy paper ball, and then flung it to the ceiling where it stuck. And the wind also reversed the direction of the flush water, with dire consequences. Then the light went out again.
There was Andy, standing in the dark, undressed. His body and clothes were soaked with a mysterious liquid of dubious origin… his bushy hair also dripped with the unknown moisture. The walls and ceiling were soaking wet. And his right boot remained obnoxiously odiferous.
Andy struggled out of his long johns and into his wet pants and shirt. He reluctantly stuffed his feet clad in dripping socks back into his hiking boots, and located his semi-dry jacket hanging on the door.
For a fleeting moment Andy considered using the toilet for its intended purpose. He lifted the lid and then promptly abandoned the notion. The wind screeching up from the depths was convincing; he’d be left wearing anything he chose to deposit.*
The wet hands of a now soaked and disheveled Andy located the door latch. The light came on and this time stayed on, for one final insult. Andy clenched his teeth and headed down the aisle of the bus to the front. There he informed the driver of the malfunctioning toilet.
And as a damp and disgruntled Andy, long johns draped over one arm, began making his way back toward his seat under the curious gaze of fellow passengers, the bus driver announced over the intercom that the only toilet was now out of service. All eyes focused on Andy as the presumed culprit.
The rest of the trip back shall be left untold. For Andy the best part was that his 82-year-old seat partner had the habit during bus rides of installing ear buds for his iPod, and then promptly falling asleep. Mercifully, he had obliged again and missed all of the drama.
At home, it was easy to tell that Andy had arrived.
Outside on the front steps were his hiking boots, damp and still smelly. Just inside the door was his now semi-dry jacket lying in a heap in the hallway beside the closet.
On the stairs up to his bedroom slumped his damp shirt. And beside the steaming shower were the rest of Andy’s clothing.
Just another day of hiking… well, kind of.
* (Later, the rushing air was found to have been caused by a cap left off the holding tank drain, allowing 60+ mph winds to enter the tank and flow directly up the drainage pipe and out the toilet.)
“A Ride on the Wild Side,” is Copyright 2015 by James Osborne. All Rights Reserved
Image Credits: Photos and graphics courtesy of Google Images.