I had just finished a shift. I needed to use a restroom, and so I stopped in at a Walmart on the drive home. I went over to the far end of the store, and I walked into the bathroom. Stainless steel, was everywhere–walls, stalls, doors, dispensers, utilities–everything, was stainless steel. No one else was in the bathroom, at the time, so I went into the handicap stall. Every time, in which I do this–every time in which I use the handicap stall–I always think of how awkward it would be if a handicap person were to walk up to the stall door and I’m behind it.
I was in the stall, and about a couple of minutes into this, a human head appeared, just below the bottom edge of the door of the stall.
In that moment, my mind refused to believe what my eyes and brain had just seen. But what was seen, was still there. There was indeed a human head, intruding into the space of the bathroom stall. Before I could even so much as react to this, that human head grew a neck, and then shoulders, arms, a chest and a back. I was absolutely terrified. There was a grown man trying to crawl his way into the stall.
Though I froze with fear, I did manage to utter a statement to the intruder:
“Hey! Hey! You! What the fuck! Get the fuck! Out of here!”
Those were my words. It was all that I could manage. He responded to this, as if he’d not even heard me, despite the shouting. He kept trying to crawl his way inside. He was emphatically relentless. At this point I was almost certain that the intruder was a mad man, that he was a killer, that he was coming into the stall to murder me.
My plan, for a last resort was to boot the man in his face. There was at least one moment, in which I had come admittedly close to doing this.
I was still terrified, and my reactions were rendered with significant delay. It was not so unlike a bad dream, wherein you cannot move, wherein you are helpless to save yourself. That is how I was in those moments.
Though the time had seemed to be moving slowly, in it’s entirety it was a relatively brief encounter.
The man was struggling to crawl his way full in through the door space. His body was contorting, and he’d kept scraping his back against door’s bottom edge. He just kept thrusting his back directly into it. I was dumbfounded, on as to why he would not just flatten himself–by only a couple of inches, as this was all that was needed; it was all which was stopping him from gaining entry.
It was then I had discovered, what the man was looking for–why he was doing what he was doing: there was a sticker on the bathroom floor. He wanted the sticker. He was clawing his way after it. For the sticker. It was price sticker. The kind that they slap onto the legs of pants. The long strips, with pants sizes labeled accordingly. That’s what this man was after. His hands were but inches away from reaching the sticker, at the point in which I’d realized this. In all of that time he had not even looked at me. Not even once did he look at me. It was as if, that in his mind I was not even there. He was grunting, loudly, panting, still thrusting himself and in pain–from the door’s edge.
I was not very scared anymore, but I’d remained though, overcome, all the same. I didn’t know what was going on, to be perfectly honest, but I knew though that at least he was not there to murder me. Then, someone yelled. It was a woman. She had opened the bathroom door, but she didn’t walk inside. She stayed at the door line, and she yelled.
“Thomas, come here, now!”
The man did. He slinked himself flat, and he slipped his way back out the stall.
[ a true story ]