Friday, January 28, 2022 Jan 28, 2022
43° F Dallas, TX

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

When a driver's license falls into the murky blue water of a public port-a-potty at White Rock, one woman is faced with a choice. A very gross choice.
By  |
Mark Fredrickson

Gearing up for a run at White Rock Lake the other day, I felt the call of nature. So I went into a port-a-potty to handle what one handles in a port-a-potty. As I stood up after completion of my business, I heard a sound that devastated me.

Even though I’d never in my life heard this particular sound, in a split second, my ears accurately identified it and alerted my brain to engage Full Body Panic Mode Sequence.

“No,” I said. “Nononononononononono.”

I turned around, and my eyes confirmed it: my Texas driver’s license had fallen out of my back pocket, right into the blue water of White Rock Lake’s community toilet. I hadn’t really looked that closely before, but port-a-potty water looks exactly like Magic 8 Ball water. And my ID was slowly sinking farther and farther away from me, into the deepest, darkest places you can imagine.

Was I excited about the choice before me? Signs point to no.

My breathing accelerated. It should go without saying that this four-plastic-walled doo-doo basket was not the ideal place for one’s breathing to pick up. My nose identified a multilayered casserole of terror. A complex, innovative mole of doom. “I can’t tell. Is that? Am I getting notes of fennel, or did a squirrel die in here a week ago? Both? Yes, it’s definitely both. That’s aggressive. Stings the heart. Such an interesting bouquet.”

I yelled at the blue water. I called it terrible names, shrieking all the best four-letter words in some combinations I’d never used before and that probably don’t even make sense. After I ran through the classics, I somehow ended with, “Oh, trash fart!” Complete system failure. My brain simply couldn’t keep up with the impact of this.

Cyclists speeding by this crapper, hearing my muffled swear streak, must have worried about my fiber intake. That gang of green monk parakeets that lives at the lake showed up just to see how this episode of Dumbass Runner would play out. Stroller babies ate their travel cup Cheerios outside the door, judging me. “Why the hell is she carrying her driver’s license in the first place? Hasn’t this woman heard of a Road ID? OMG, this is the perfect ad for a Road ID.”

And all the while, I was watching my state-approved-photo face slip into the blue void. Like Jack in Titanic. I was losing her.

So I made a choice. I couldn’t let me down like that. I couldn’t walk away knowing that my ID was living at the bottom of the dumper by the Stone Tables.

I took a deep breath. And then I regretted that deep breath. “I’m a mother of two,” I reminded myself. “Nothing is scarier than a newborn’s diapers. I’ve trained for this moment. How bad can it be? It’s just a poop soup cooked up by hundreds of strangers. Oh God, oh God, oh God.” I cracked my knuckles, stretched out my neck, and jumped a couple of times, preparing to crapper dive.

Left hand on the wall of the stall to brace for impact, and my right hand shot into the water. About elbow-deep. One clean, targeted strike, and I fished out the driver’s license.

And then more scream-shouting at my now fully feces-ed photo-face as I held my horrifying driver’s license. Suddenly a thousand new questions ran through my mind that I hadn’t considered. “Where am I going to put this? What do I do with it now? How do I even begin to clean my arm? Can I bleach my brain? It is apparent that I have just won what is perhaps the worst crane game ever in existence?” Sometimes success still feels like failure.

Later, the Clorox wipe bleaching of every surface I came into contact with after this moment would look like a murderer-cleaning-up-the-scene montage from American Psycho. Minus “Sussudio.”

Life gives you choices. You can either dive in and deal with the shit, or you can go to the DMV.

Also, the water isn’t blue water. It’s pee. It’s definitely thousands of pees.   

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