As a rideshare driver, it’s important to know your way around the city and to make note of certain landmarks, the fastest routes and the best spots to snag new rides.
It’s equally important to know where to find public restrooms.
A few days ago, after a long chain of back-to-back rides, my bladder hit the brink. I put my rideshare app in pause mode and drove to the nearest gas station.
Once inside, I was met with a sign: “We are a small store, so we have no restrooms.”
I crossed my legs, because merely reading the word “restroom” triggered the urge.
There was a man behind the counter, probably about 22 years old or so.
I wanted to ask him, if the store was so small, where did he relieve himself? Then again, maybe I didn’t want to know.
Instead, with a huff, I said, “No store is that small!” And I stomped out the door.
I got in my car and drove to the next gas station, which was ridiculously far away … at least three whole blocks.
Once inside, my pathway to the restroom was blocked with one of those orange construction cones and a sign that read, “Our restrooms are out of order. Yes, seriously. So don’t bother asking the clerk.”
That’s it, I thought. I’m asking the clerk!
Because bursting bladders mean short fuses. But my bladder was having none of it.
I got back in my car, and just like that Carrie Underwood ditty, I sang, “Bladder take the wheel!” OK, I didn’t say that. But I did close my eyes and let the Force guide me.
A few minutes later, I was parked in front of a Starbucks. Somehow managing to keep my legs crossed, I speed-walked inside. (Don’t try to picture the logistics of that.)
One restroom was out of order. At the other one, the latch read “occupied.”
Customers came and went. Scones were consumed. Godot arrived. I began to wonder if this was some cruel joke, along the lines of, “You don’t have to be a paying customer to use our restrooms, but you will also never use our restrooms.”
A woman came and stood beside me.
I shrugged. “It’s gonna be a long wait. There seems to be no sign of life.”
She frowned and didn’t say anything. I figured she was annoyed like me.
Finally, the latch clicked open, and out walked a man.
I looked at the woman. “I’m not sure I even want to go in there now, know what I mean?”
The man passed by me and put his arm around the woman’s shoulders. “Let’s go, honey.”
I smiled apologetically. It may have looked more like a wince.
“It’ll probably be fine,” I said, in what must be the weirdest reassurance I’ve ever felt the need to give someone. I capped it off with a thumbs-up.
Then, with a bold determination, I walked toward the restroom, all the while saying, “We who are about to die salute you.”
But, of course, the door had a keypad, and I needed to input a code. I didn’t have the code. Like Kiefer Sutherland interrogating a terrorist, I marched up to the barista.
“What’s the code?!” I pointed a finger toward the restroom. “Gimme the *%#^ code!!”
“7, 8, 9, 10,” she said in a shaky voice.
“Really? 1,2,3,4 was taken?”
Reader, I made it. And for all of those rideshare drivers out there, if you want to use the restroom in the Starbucks on 600 South in Salt Lake City, the code is 7, 8, 9, 10. But proceed with caution.
Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an Uber and Lyft driver who shares stories from the road in this occasional column.