My friend Joyce had a complaint. “Those handicap stalls in public restrooms?” she said. “They don’t put the grab bars in the right place. There I was, stuck. The bar was on my right, but they also need to have one on the left, or closer to the front. Or hanging from the ceiling. Something, anything! I had a real scare a couple of days ago.”
“Tell!” I said. “What happened?”
Joyce was trapped in a restroom at a clinic noted for its excellent level of care. She and her husband Jim had driven almost two hours so that she could be tested and perhaps treated for the condition that had rendered her nearly helpless.
When this incident happened, however, she wasn’t “nearly helpless” – she was completely helpless. But given her inner resources of humor and perspective, Joyce was not terribly alarmed. Mostly, she was annoyed.
Anyone in here?” she called, “Hello?” Silence. What if no one came in? Could she drop to the floor and crawl to the door? No, she might as well have been super-glued in place. No choice but to wait, and think. What if no one ever came and a janitor found her cooling body hours into the night? And if someone did come, how embarrassing would it be, given the situation? Nothing to be done about that. Maybe whoever it was would be a medical-type person who never flinched at any challenge.
After what seemed a very long time, she heard footsteps! The click of feminine heels. “Hello?” she called, “Can you maybe give me a little help, here? Or a lot of help?”
“Oh, my! Of course! What do you need?”
“I can’t get up. I seem to be stuck in here,” she said.
“I’ll try to unlock the stall,” the woman said. No luck.
“Maybe you could go get someone,” Joyce said.
“No. I’m not leaving you. We can do this!” Welcome words indeed.
After a pause, Joyce heard her say, “Okay. I’m going in!” And she saw hands, elbows, a head, and finally a whole body wriggle and shimmy its way under the door, into the stall.
“Well, hi!” said Joyce, “So nice to meet you. Not under these circumstances, of course. I’m Joyce.”
“And I’m Margie,” said the woman. “At your service, Ma’am.”
They began to tug and shove, the ridiculous situation producing many a giggle. As their efforts progressed from worry to hope to triumph, they became increasingly hysterical, finally mopping up tears of laughter.
Later during the day they met briefly here and there as tests progressed. Their story began to circulate around the clinic. Margie became a minor celebrity.
Two days later, hearing the details, I said to Joyce, “Greater love hath no woman than this, that she will crawl on the floor of a public rest room for her friends.”
“And,” said Joyce, “have you noticed that good things like that happen just when you decide definitely that the world is going to the dogs?”