A Urinary Hostage in Austin 

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Today I was forced to reflect on some of the personal freedoms we are afforded. I discovered today that certain activities we consider to be necessary for life have become criminal offenses, which are punishable by the written word of the law. I also discovered that the justification for these freedom-sucking ordinances are just other people, people like you and me. These freedoms are not the ones provided via the Constitution, but ones that are assumed as a result of being a human - freedoms we need to have as mammals. There are certain activities that all life forms are required to perform, and the failure of an individual being to perform these actions is soon overridden by ones' body.

Simply put, when we have to go, we have to go.

A person can concentrate very hard on subverting the need to 'go', but no matter how much you apply mind over matter, the matter will eventually make its way out.

"Here I was standing in a plumbing supply store, surrounded by bathroom fixtures, and they had no restroom."

As mammals we also know that having to 'go' under controlled conditions is always preferred over 'going' with a lack of control - the latter insinuating that extra clean-up would be required.

But did you know that in most places its a crime to go? Did you know that the last bastion of personal freedom may be the bathroom in your home or apartment?

You may want to spend a little more time thinking about how lucky you are.

None of this used to be something I spent any time thinking about, but as mentioned, I had an incident lately and it reshaped my thinking about 'going'.

I was in Austin trying to get some plumbing supplies. The stuff I needed was fairly hardcore, so I had gone to the Capitol of Texas to get some parts from a place where professional contractors go. As I was browsing in the aisles, I suddenly felt an immediate and impending need to go. I sauntered to the deteriorating particle-board counter and asked for directions to the rest room.

"We don't have a rest room", the gristled old shopkeep replied.

It was at that point that I should have known something had gone horribly wrong. Here I was standing in a plumbing supply store, surrounded by bathroom fixtures, and they had no restroom. I would later discover that this was no faux pas on the part of the shopkeep, it was something that you are supposed to do in this town - something that all the Austin businesses do.

Its interesting that the urge to purge usually comes at a time when you are trying to muster some brain-power. I really needed to spend some time in the aisles of the plumbing store looking for the things I needed, yet the longer I tried to ignore the urge, the more I realized it would be a losing battle. I had to leave the store to find a place that could facilitate my immediate needs - plumbing parts were becoming more and more irrelevant by the second, and one way or the other my current urge would play itself out.

Once I stopped searching the aisles, left the shop and started down the block, things got a little better. But I still needed to go, and I was certain it would only take a few minutes to get my situation resolved.

As I walked down the block there were various private businesses I knew would not have a restroom, and I passed them by. But I soon came to a large office supply store where I was sure there would be a rest room.

"We do not have a restroom", said the 20-something behind the counter.

I knew this could not be true because I saw at least 5 people working there. Where did they go? Did they really have no restroom, or had all of them just resigned to using the bin from a paper shredder? Did they stand over the dumpster? (it did have a ladder on the side) I was perplexed at this situation but didn't have the bandwidth to fight it. My ability to restrain my impending activities was weakening by the second.

I knew I had to move on and hope the next business would be more sympathetic to my cause.

When I was a child there was one universal rule of road-travel in the U.S. - if you needed to stop for a bio-break in any of the great fuel stations in this country, the stations were happy to oblige. So it was only logical to me to try to make it to a gas station where I figured I would be safe, where I figured there would be a restroom, where I could exercise my personal right to 'go'.

The problem was that the nearest gas station was 2 blocks away. I was already at a point where holding out for a two-block walk was a 50-50 gamble. I was not sure I would make it, but there were no other apparent options and the tears were welling up in my eyes.

Determined, and having trouble seeing, I changed directions and headed for the gas station.

As I crested the door of the abode I noticed that the counter was right up front. Thank goodness too, because even the few feet to the back of the store may have been a lot more than I could handle at that point.

"You need a key to use the restroom."

This was not a major surprise for a gas station, but I was left wondering why I got the statement and not the actual key. When I asked about getting the key, I was told someone was using it.

Now, waiting to use a restroom is a very uncomfortable exercise - similar to standing in an elevator with more than 2 people. While I tried to rationalize the reasons I was standing at the end of the potato chip aisle waiting to go, the futility of it all was very apparent and I bolted out of the store. I made it about 4 steps out of the gas station before I realized I needed another option.

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