When Scary Things Happen

Dear Creepy Man in the Gas Station:toilet_retro_gas_station_restroom_square_sticker-raf635655033c4e06b5fdd9b111017f57_v9wf3_8byvr_512

You know who you are.

You are 6 foot 4 inches tall and are about 72 years old.  You drive a red SUV and you live in Illinois.  You have white hair and a big nose.  I am not afraid of you. Although as I write this, my pulse rate has accelerated and my hands are slightly shaking.

This is what happened.

We were on a family road trip. Me and my children. We were so excited to be getting away for the weekend and return to a place we had previously called, “home.” Our spirits were high and nothing would get in the way of us having a fantastic weekend.  We stopped at the McDonald’s just on the other side of the Mississippi River in Le Claire, Iowa on Highway 80. We always stopped there on previous road trips.  It was our first sentimental visit.

We finished lunch and headed to the adjacent gas station to use the restroom.  My son used the restroom and came out.  We were getting ready to leave and you came up to my son and started talking to him.  You towered over him and said, “Did you just leave the bathroom that way?!  Do you leave your bathroom like that at home!”  I stepped in front of my 8-year-old child and shielded him from you.  I told you that if you had a problem with my son that you should direct your concerns to me.  You put your finger in front of my face and shook it at me and said, that if I was a better mother, the bathroom would not have been left in such a mess.  I told you to remove your finger from my face.  You then said, “O ho ho”  and you changed your finger to a fist. My three children stood by. Terrified. I said,  “You will not act this way!”

I went to the bathroom and made my son flush the toilet and wash his hands. My son started to cry.  Meanwhile a little man stood at the urinal peeing, while you continued to yell.  I told you that this was entirely unnecessary.  You shouted at me, that it wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t such an awful mother.

We left the bathroom. My children were shaking, “Let’s Go. Let’s Go. Come on let’s get out of here, before he comes out of the bathroom.”

“Just a minute,” I said. “I need to catch my breath.”

The teller behind the counter said, “Is everything alright?”

“No,” I said, “My son was just accosted.”


“My son was just accosted.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“Accosted….it means we were all just threatened.”

We got to the car and waited for you to drive away.

We got gas and drove on.

My children all started sobbing. My daughters were crying, saying they were afraid I was going to get hurt.  My son kept wailing, “You are wonderful, mama, mama!”

It was awful.

I will not try to figure out what is wrong with you, or make an excuse for your behavior.

I do agree that children need to clean up after themselves and remember to flush toilets. You could have simply said, “Ma’am, your son may want to go back and make sure he remembered to flush the toilet.”  You could have done a lot of things.

It took us a while to process what happened.  It was truly terrifying.  But know this:  the power that you think you had over us does not exist, and dude, you need to get a grip.

We have flushed you down the toilet.

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