That all happened on a Monday. Tuesday I became a dedicated Port-a-potty stalker. I sleuthed from my office window, waiting for that one particular worker to appear on stage for a repeat performance. The first part of the morning brought no sightings; the port-a-potty stood a silent, unvisited sentinel while the workers crashed and cursed on the floor above me. My therapy patients kept me busy but bored, pulling out their tedious dreams of the night before, like loose baby teeth. My plan was to have my patients spend most of the 45 minute sessions creatively exorcising their demons and disappointments with paint, markers, clay and drums. If they didn't want to do that I'd ask them to quietly rake designs in the miniature Zen Garden on the coffee table to create “space and permission to just “be”. This removed me almost entirely from active participation in the sessions. I could watch out the window uninterrupted.
Ten minutes before lunch and finally, jackpot! Or should I say jack-potty? My subject arrived on the scene, looked around quickly and stepped through the portable bathroom door. Just like yesterday, he had one arm out of his jacket before the door fully closed. I looked at my watch and started timing. Five minutes later, I hadn’t taken my eyes off the door. No exit. Almost lunch time and another worker appeared on the scene—hard hat in hand, safety yellow coat thrown over his shoulder, heading toward the port-a-john. The shout rose in my throat, I raised my hand up to the glass ready to bang and say, “No! You can’t! Someone’s in there!” I steadied myself. He hooked his work-worn hand around the door handle, looked over each shoulder quickly and pulled the door open. There would be an altercation! Embarrassment! Yelling! I stood on my tiptoes and craned my neck as if that would help me see around the man’s frame, into the dimness of the port-a-john. I saw just enough to realize that the plastic throne stood open and unoccupied, Worker One no longer existed in that space. Worker number two stepped inside and let the door bang shut behind him. I gawked in disbelief.
“Dr. Stigatus? Eve? Hellooo? Did you hear what I said, what I just told you?” My patient's voice cut through my shock. I’d forgotten I was still working.
I could feel my face flush and my voice catch in my throat as I scrambled to answer her. She held a wad of tissues clenched in her fist and waited with huge, wet eyes for what I might offer.
“Mary, it took a lot of courage to say that. Just to let it out into the open like that. I feel a real shift in the paradigm we’re dealing with here. This week, I’d like you to pay particular attention to any wild animals that appear in your dreams. I can see it in your eyes, it's all going to be different now.” I spoke as fast as I could and moved toward the door to usher her out. She jumped up from the couch and violently hugged me, clamping my arms to the sides of my body.
“Thanks, Dr. Stigatus. This was the best session I’ve ever had with you." To this day I have no idea what she confided or confessed. I pushed her gently out of the office, dropped the shade on my door and locked myself in. I ran back to the window.
You couldn't really say that a line formed outside the port-a-john, but every 50 seconds or so a worker would saunter up, glance around quickly and slip inside. If you weren't paying close attention nothing seemed out of place. But I was paying very close attention.
No one ever seemed to come back out. No one ever seemed to walk in on anyone else. No one saw me watching. No one knew I already had a plan.