Monday, June 2, 2008

One of the Things They'll Never Tell You in Parenting Class

Alright so I've never taken a parenting class but if I did I assure you this little lesson would not be included.

It's true that when the topics "parenting" and "public bathrooms" collide the stories are endless. So here's another one for the book.

As you can see from my previous post, we attended Grand Old Day yesterday. Grand Old Day takes place on historic Grand Avenue in St. Paul, MN. If you're not familiar with this street you should know (for the story) that Grand Avenue is about a 4-mile stretch of shops and restaurants where old meets new. It's where you'll find a Pier One next to an antique store. You would also see a quaint sandwich shop a block away from a hoppin' sports bar. And there's a J. Crew across the street from an apparel boutique.

I'm sure these businesses both look forward to and dread Grand Old Day all at the same time. It could boost their sales and brand. But it can also be a huge nuisance to have gobs of people (who may or may not be potential customers) rummaging through your shop. This is why all the shops close their individual public restrooms and divert people to the plethora of portable potties on the street.

This is all great and fine until you find yourself alone with a baby and a stroller packed with valuables. This is exactly where I found myself after I dropped Brian and my sister off at the 5K starting line.

I parked the car (free street parking after 15 minutes of looking!) and unloaded everything from the trunk into the bottom of our stroller. And then it came. The urge to pee right. now.

I passed a line of 10 potties on the way to Grand Avenue. But how would I finagle that? No, really, I'm asking. I could possibly manage to get William in there with me but then what to do about the lonely stroller with purses I would have to leave behind just waiting to be taken?

I first tried Walgreen's. I thought this drugstore would probably be most unfazed by the crowds of people and they might have left their restrooms open. Isn't Walgreen's pretty used to people wandering in and out? They are, after all, open 24 hours a day if you catch my drift.

No dice. Walgreen had their restrooms locked with a big sign that said "Restrooms closed today."

Next I tried my BFF Caribou Coffee. Maybe Caribou doesn't know it's my BFF but it would if anyone took the time to look up credit card transactions and the name Jennifer Nash.

So I walked in and lucky for me the place wasn't that busy. I saw that their restroom was blocked off with a bunch of tables and overturned chairs. But that didn't matter to me because I had a plan. I walked up to the cashier and put on my best "damsel in distress" face and ordered an iced coffee. (I knew this drink wouldn't help my bladder situation but I thought it might give me a few bonus points while I pleaded my case.)

I said, "I have a huge favor to ask. My husband is running in the 5K race right now and I'm all by myself. I really need to use the bathroom but I can't leave him [pointing at William] alone to use the portable restrooms. Do you think there's any chance I could just sneak in your bathroom real quick?"

With ZERO emotion he responded, "No, I'm sorry."

Me: "Really? I mean I don't really have any other options here."

Him: "There's nothing I can do. The bathroom is full of chairs and tables."

I looked at him suspiciously detecting a made-up excuse. "Really?"

Again zero emotion. "Really."

C'mon! Where's the love Caribou man?

We had a momentary stare-down and then he said, "Do you still want to go through with the order?"

I should have said no but this proves how much I heart Caribou.

So now I was back on the street, still with a full bladder and now with a full cup of iced coffee. And then it came to me. The best idea!

I walked across the street and down the block a bit to one of my old college stompin' grounds, The Wild Onion. In the parking lot there were about 20 men working to set up a stage for a band later on in the day. A few people were also setting up outdoor bars for the event. And what do you need when you set up a bar? Bathrooms! About 30 to choose from to be exact.

I put my "damsel in distress" face back on and walked up to three bartenders setting up their stand.

Me: "Excuse me. I have a huge favor to ask. My husband is running in the 5K race right now and I'm all by myself. I really need to use the bathroom but I can't leave him [pointing at William] alone. Do you think there's any chance you could watch him for a minute so that I could sneak into these bathrooms real quick?"

All three men in unison: "What? Of course! Sure! No problem!"

And that's how I bought myself 30 seconds to use a bathroom all by myself.

When I came back one of the bartenders was crouched down playing and talking to William in his stroller. And that's when I knew I came to the right place.

When you're with child and in a rut it doesn't hurt to ask a complete stranger for a little help. Sometimes they'll say no. But sometimes the most unsuspecting person will say yes and it will make for a great story.

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