Stress and Ladies’ Room Etiquette
Dateline: Ladies’ room. Big Rig Stress Management Truck Stop, Sonora, Texas.
More thoughts on anxiety and fusion, that is, when the “togetherness force,” the push to go along with the group is winning over the “individuality force,” the push to operate separately from the emotional
preference of the group.
The stress level in the ladies’ room at the Big Rig Truck Stop wasn’t as intense as the stress in the sweat lodge of James Arthur Ray’s “warrior” training exercise, but the bathroom was crowded. We’re talking August in Texas so maybe the atmosphere was more like the sweat lodge than not. For sure, the togetherness force was in high gear. The ladies competing for stall space were off a large tour bus in route from Houston to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. Interstate 10 can be a long and lonely road when viewed out the window of a bus. (Think endless desert. Add cowboys and Pancho Villa.)
Stress and Bolting from the Herd
When I arrived at the scene, the line was at least thirty deep waiting for one of the three stalls. I’d made it to about tenth in line when I noticed one stall was handicapped equipped and being courteously left unoccupied. However, courtesy, or group pressure to appear courteous, appeared to be unwarranted in the situation at hand. First I checked around to see if anyone with noticeable challenges was in the line.
Then, finding none, I asked those ahead of me in line if any of them wanted to make a run at the handicapped stall. My question was met with icy stares as if I’d just asked if anyone in line besides me was a serial killer.
I knew how long I would tie up the handicapped facilities, and that I could be in and out before anyone with a disability could even enter the bathroom much less her way through the pack. Thus, without further ado, I made my break out the flap of the sweat lodge tent. At the sink three minutes later, the glares of angry tourists burned into my back. And yet, I continued my disapproved of behavior.
Before continuing, remember the mysteryshrink code. Read after me, “I am just as big a pain in the rear and just as capable of being foolish and anxiety-driven as anyone else.” Though I may have been a big star in the bathroom of a West Texas truck stop on one afternoon, I make no claim to be more functional than the other chicks in line. Also, I can’t be sure what I’d do if some charasmatic guy making millions had wandered into the bathroom promising, if I just drink the Kool-Aid, I can have “harmonic wealth in every area of my life”. I cannot say what I would have done if, say, George Clooney told me to stay the heck in line.
The Big Rig ladies’ room isn’t a garden spa sporting French milled hand soap or even a generous squirt of generic pink detergent. The soap dispensers were calibrated to automatically drop a quarter teaspoon of foam when a hand crossed the motion detector. And, cleverly, the dispenser is timed to avoid breaking the budget the timer allocates each user gets only one poof. Well, one poof just wasn’t going to get it for a chick with lupus and a low white cell count. Thus, as there were four sinks and I was the only current washer, I stuck my hand under three dispensers since they would reload before another person stepped up.
Stress and the Thinking Guidance Syste
Now, here’s the process going on in my head. Surveying the facts of the situation, I’d determined that refusing to include the handicapped stall in the rotation was not based on fact, but group pressure to operate alike. Knowing my time occupying the stall would be brief, waiting made no sense. As far as hogging the soap, my actions—while they might appear piggy—were necessary and I wasn’t convinced my extra soap or if every lady took an extra two poof—would cause hardship for the Big Rig requiring them to declare bankruptcy spiraling Sonora, Texas into economic decline.
This revelation in the Big Rig Ladies’ Room might not be as dramatic as the lesson learned in the Sedona sweat lodge. But then, it didn’t cost you $10,000 either.
WARNING: Pulling free from the togetherness force is not the same as being rude. The chattering chick on the treadmill, for example, is not an instance of taking into account the facts of the situation.
Next: One more on fusion, manners, and defining a self when the pressure is on. Then Mexico City and the fire-eater who laid down in the street in from of my car.