Sometimes You Have to Choose to Laugh So You Don’t Cry, Especially When It Involves A Gas Station Bathroom

gas station men's bathroom sign

So everyone has a gas station bathroom disaster story, right? 

We have several…

Normally I wouldn’t share them, but you know how sometimes you have to choose to laugh instead of cry?  This is totally one of those moments, and the laughing will come easier if I share it with you.  (No worries – no descriptive toilet findings will be part of this post!)

So we found ourselves in a desperate situation the other evening.  Two of the boys were at swim lessons, and I was running errands with the other pair.  I knew we needed to make it to a restroom quickly, but I misjudged and thought we could make it back to the pool in enough time. Instead of stopping at one of the nearby fast food joints, I continued on my route until there was no other public option than a not so lovely gas station. 

We quickly climbed out of the van quickly and rushed into the back of the gas station.  There was a note on the women’s bathroom door that read,

“Sorry the light isn’t working. We are working on it.”

I knocked on the adjacent Men’s Restroom, and a rough man’s voice told me I was out of luck.  I scurried the boys back into the Women’s Restroom, and shut the door behind me.  Well, you can probably guessed what happened.  The room was completely pitch black, and it quickly became apparent that this would not work.  The not so great situation turned uglier and filled with tears and screams of “I can’t stay in the DARK! I don’t like THIS!”

Thankfully, a few moments later I heard the other bathroom door open and shut.  I knocked on it again and much to my relief there was no answer. If you think a gas station’s women’s restroom is raunchy, the men’s is in a whole other category of grotesque.

However, we made it work.  It was OVER, we made it.

Well, not quite.  The toilet refused to flush.  I waited for the water to stop running, and tried again several times with no success. 

If only I had a piece of paper and a pen, I would have written a note on the door saying,

“The toilet doesn’t work either. Work on it.”

Instead we used their cheap liquid soap liberally and high tailed it back to the van, leaving the smells, flies, and memories behind us.


11 thoughts on "Sometimes You Have to Choose to Laugh So You Don’t Cry, Especially When It Involves A Gas Station Bathroom"

  1. TechyDad says:

    My story isn’t exactly a bathroom, but a port-a-potty story. We went cherry picking one year and, as we headed back to the car, NHL (then 5 years old) declared that he needed to go to the bathroom. Now, the cherry fields are out in the middle of nowhere, so I took him to the port-a-potty.

    As soon as I opened the door, NHL refused to go in there and I didn’t blame him. I’ve never gone in a port-a-potty before so I don’t know if this was normal, but you could see under the seating area where all of the accumulated “remains” were. It was extremely disgusting. So we packed up and drove as fast as we could until we saw a McDonald’s. There, NHL used their restroom and we bought a drink as well. (Would have been tacky to just make it a potty stop.)

  2. MandyE says:

    Baby A is recently potty-trained, and so we haven’t had all that many public potty experiences. I quickly learned, though, that I had to chill out a bit…chances are, she will touch *something* at some point. 🙂

    We were heading home from our little mini-vacation, which was about a 3-hour drive. The girls napped the first couple of hours in the car. Although she didn’t ask to potty when she woke, I decided to be proactive and stop right away. We were not in a populated area, so we didn’t have a lot of options. We stopped at the first exit, and went to the first gas station. It looked normal enough…but both the doors were open (despite the 100-degree temps), and there were big fans blowing. Of course…the air was out.

    We did our business successfully…but it was not the most relaxing rest stop, by far. I guess I should be thankful I didn’t have to use the men’s room, though, huh? 🙂

  3. Amanda says:

    When my first was potty training and newly trained, he would not go to the bathroom anywhere but home–and believe me I was eternally THANKFUL!!! Still to this day, we will go out for all day and he won’t go until we get home (he’s 7 now).

    Now…my youngest (age 3)…every time we go in a store, restaurant, ANYWHERE, he has to go potty. Yesterday we were at a restaurant for an hour and 45 minutes….he went THREE times to the potty there. UGH.

  4. Debbie says:

    Too funny…..glad you can laugh about it now!!!

  5. Melissa says:

    Somethimes I think it’s a good idea to keep a potty chair in the back of my SUV…I think after reading your story my idea sounds better and better to me.

  6. Angela says:

    We do not have kiddos to take to a gas station bathroom. However, my husband is disgusted by the men’s bathrooms and will if necessary go in the women’s bathroom.

  7. blech! My daughter is so bad about waiting until the last minute to tell me she has to go so there is no other option other than what is first available. We were recently at a park where the only option was a nasty porta potty. I spent about 5 minutes trying to wipe it down some, clean the seat and make it ok to have her sit on…and then she looked at it, smelled the inside and said “nope, I’m not going in there.” Seriously!?!?!

    Somehow, she held it for another hour until we went home! stubborn!

  8. Kori Gammon says:

    my advice: next time find a bush! (but I guess that won’t work too well if #2 is involved if you know what I mean.

  9. Alle says:

    Oh, my word! I’m so glad you can laugh about it, but I’m sure it was stressful in the moment! A few years back I was on a 2 week production shoot in Israel with my Dad and during one of our trips to the middle of no-where, it became apparent that I needed to find a bathroom, pronto! We stopped at a gas station – wow. If you think gas station restrooms are gross in the states – try one in the middle of the desert in Israel. Once I moved past the gross-factor and did my thing, I went to get some toilet paper – only to discover that you needed money to actually get the toilet paper out of the dispenser – 3 sheets at a time! Whaaat??? Yeah – totally didn’t have a shekel with me at that moment – not the most pleasant of memories! Haha! Moral of the story – always carry change when you need to go to the bathroom in the Middle East!

  10. Ashleigh says:

    Uggh, I would have seriously had the boys stand and pee BEHIND the gas station or in some park by a tree rather than deal with using that nasty gas station bathroom. I am so OCD when it comes to germs! Or, better yet, you could keep a portable potty in the van for emergencies and some hand sanitizer!

  11. Pam McCarren says:

    It’s easy with boys and somewhat easy with girls to use a plastic cup. we call it the potty cup, the ones you get at restaurants or any cup for boys. They pee, you put the lid on and flush it at home. With girls you squeeze the plastic cup to fit between their legs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *