Friday, April 25, 2008

A Story

I somehow feel that I should round out the week with one final post about my trip to Bavaria. A picture might be nice, but since I did not take my camera out during the entire visit, I can't say that I could come up with an original one. Unfortunately the one I tried to take with my phone, a candid of the Swiss band waiting at the train station in Zurich, was just a blur of green hats (could have just as easily been Mexi standing in Lincoln Square). Sad, that would have been a money shot. (Somehow, the longer I am in isolation over here, the easier it is to say anachronistic things like "money shot." I used "bling bling" in an email yesterday, just because it entertained me for a second. I am like the guy down the river in "Heart of Darkness" – nothing to hold me back.)

Actually, I think I have a good story to which everyone will relate. But I must begin it with a confession: In the Munich Hbf, contemplating the many hours I would be spending on the train, I folded and went to Starbucks to get a coffee. This is very embarrassing for me to admit, so I hope you appreciate that the intimate nature of this disclosure and will be gentle, even in your thoughts. (Though I have to say I was not alone; I do not think I would have had the fortitude to go in and stay in on my own, especially after seeing those American girls descend on the cream and sugar counter as if they were the only people in universe and on top of that the first people to have a hangover after too much beer in Munich.) 

The tall but not small Starbucks coffee is essential to the rest of my story. Otherwise, you would be confused about why I would be actually paying to use the bathroom in Zurich. Even in spite of the coffee, I myself was perplexed by my willingness to spend my only remaining franc on a train station bathroom. But sometimes these things happen, even to the strongest among us. So anyway, it was not without some amount of ambivalence that I withdrew the coin from my wallet. 

Perhaps my fingers, channelling this indecision, gave a miniscule jerk as I reached out to put the coin into the slot. Perhaps my inexperience with public bathrooms kept me from knowing some essential secrets to pay-as-you-go WCs. Perhaps the slot was actually jammed and it was not my fault. Whatever the case, when I tried to put it in, the coin reissued through the air back toward me. My relief was momentary, interrupted by the sight of it hitting my shoe and then rolling, slowly, tauntingly, tragically, under the stall and out of sight. 

I suppose I have felt greater and more important despair at other times in my life, but that did not come to mind then. Instead, it seemed all the unfairness of life had been encapsulated into a freak moment. I might have kicked something had I full range of movement. It really felt like someone was laughing at me, but I think it was just myself.


Julie & Captain said...

Oh goodness. That stinks.

I like reading your stories.

Grandma G said...

But you left us hanging! THEN what did you do??? Sounds like a desperate situation to me! ;-)

fi said...

I remember my late Dad singing:

Here I sit, broken hearted:
Spent a penny and only farted!

Used to crack me up every time, I don't ever remember using a pay toilet...

Swiss Ms. said...

Well, I did what most other people would do: I waited carefully for the train to come and then used the one on board. Which you are not supposed to do at the station. But, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures!

Fi, I suppose I won't ever again use a pay toilet without thinking of that.