The Restroom


“You have plenty of time to use the restroom during your passing time, and you have the ability to go during classes. You should be able to make time for something like that.”

Those may not have been her exact words, but looking back on the situation, that’s what I remember her saying, and how her attitude was towards me. It was like she wasn’t even hearing the words coming out of my mouth, as if they were evaporating before reaching her brain. 

I’ve always struggled with being nervous and shy around people, which makes things like walking through a classroom without feeling like I am being stared at, seem impossible to achieve. Having the same schedule every day,  and knowing that once I am relaxed in my seat, I can be settled there for the rest of the hour and not have to worry about being judged or watched if I move, makes it easier to handle. That was a great way to go about school for a little while, but now I’ve hit high school, and things are different. Every Wednesday that we are in school, we have advisory, and a late start. This completely flounces my day, and every single activity I do that day, one of those activities being using the restroom. 

Now, “Using the restroom?” you might ask. Yes, using the restroom. I have classes every hour, making it detrimental for me to try to exit during class. Because of this, I make sure I either 1, go to the restroom on my way from one class, to another; or 2, hurriedly get to my class so I can ask the teacher to use the restroom, in case it takes longer than it would ideally go, or I don’t have enough time. Not every day can be flawless.

For the previous two weeks I had been working on a project that was to be presented that day in my Field and Game Management class. I would not be the only one presenting, so that meant I would need to be taking notes on everyone else’s presentations. Therefore, I would not be able to leave if I wanted to get a drink or go to the restroom, unless it was an absolute emergency.

I sat in my seat, pencil in hand, trying to pay attention and take notes on others’ presentations. 

All of a sudden I heard, “Alrighty, Andrea, you’re up. You can put your box under the visualizer.” 

I had unknowingly been zoned out, so that startled me. I quickly realized that I really needed to use the restroom. I couldn’t ask right then, as it may have appeared as if I was trying to get out of presenting that day, and I did not want to be inconvenient to the class. Walking to grab my presentation with everyone watching me did not help the situation either. 

I stuttered and shook my way through the presentation. Once I finished, I could finally go back to my seat. I should have asked to go to the restroom before I did so, as I had to go to the teacher and hand her my papers anyways. I ended up making the terrible decision to just go back to my seat and wait for the end of the hour, completely forgetting that passing periods were shorter on that day.

Towards the end of the period, I realized it was an advisory day, and the chances of being able to use the restroom during passing time was very low. I knew that meant I had to leave Field and Game Management as quickly as possible, in an attempt to get ahead of the other traffic, and have enough time to use the restroom. 

Knowing that if I did not beat the traffic I would be late to my next class or have to hold it for another 20 minutes, I scrambled to put my items away and get to the door. I tried my best, only to be stopped at the door, as the hallway was plump full with students barreling down it. I squeezed my way through the door and scurried through the people, periodically looking at the countdown clocks hanging from the ceiling, watching my time to use the restroom diminish. 

As I approached the bathroom door, I looked up to observe the countdown clock  and knew that if I would enter, I would be tardy arriving in advisory. So, I quickly changed directions, and continued advancing towards the staircase to take me to my advisory room.

I entered advisory with approximately 1 minute and 20 seconds left before the bell. This would be just enough time to use the restroom and get back about 1 minute after the bell rang. Almost every student was in the room, or in their seat. This led me to assume my teacher would be there too, as teachers are usually in their classrooms, or just outside the door. I scanned the room in search of her, but there was no teacher to be seen. I frowned, as there wasn’t really any other option than to settle into my seat and wait for her arrival. 

I turned to ask my friend behind me if they might know where the teacher is.

“Hey, do you know where the teacher is?”

“I have no clue, I haven’t seen her at all yet.”

“Dangit,” I replied, frustrated.

After 30 seconds went by, she finally meandered her way through the door. I immediately hurried to her in hopes of using the restroom. However, it appeared as if she was one of the “cool kids” strolling through the hallways with their earbuds in, with no care in the world for the bell, or being in their classes. She did not acknowledge me one single bit. I had no other option but to continue following until she had set her items on the desk, and finally emerged from her “cool kid” appearance. 

I smiled at her, then politely asked, “May I please use the restroom?”

To which she responded by giving me a blank face, and sighing. 

She then proceeded to say, “Ummmm, I don’t know if you were aware of this, but it’s actually one of my biggest pet peeves when a student comes into the room and immediately asks to leave.”

At that moment I was understanding. I too am discouraged when one of my peers leave as class begins, only to stand in the restroom for a good chunk of the period. Though, something being your “pet peeve” is a sad excuse for being rude to a student who has done nothing to you and just doesn’t want to pee their pants, in my opinion. 

Unfortunately, I have no history of leaving as class is trying to begin, and at this time there was still about a minute left before the bell would ring. 

This may be to her surprise, but I find it quite upsetting when I have to miss some of my class time using the restroom. I’ve been in this situation before, I walk in and am completely lost, it takes a bit for me to get back on track and understand what was even happening. Frankly, I would rather miss class time, than pee my pants in high school, and make a scene. 

Not to mention, it was advisory. You don’t usually learn anything too new in advisory, and this specific teacher takes a solid 3 minutes to figure out how to present the slide every time, so I wouldn’t be missing much anyways.

I attempted to ease her concern by describing my situation.

“Last period there was no time to use the restroom, so I needed to wait until passing time. Had I gone during passing time, I would be late to this class, and be marked absent, which would be incorrect, because I would be in the bathroom. That is the entire reason why I even came to ask you.” 

To my surprise, she had not a single care for my situation, and she had her heart set on preventing me from using the restroom.

“You have plenty of time to use the restroom during your passing time, and you have the ability to go during classes. You should be able to make time for something like that.”

Those may not have been her exact words, but looking back on the situation, that’s what I remember her saying, and how her attitude was towards me. It was like she wasn’t even hearing the words coming out of my mouth, as if they were evaporating before reaching her brain. 

This filled me with rage, my smile turned from kind and polite, to a scowl that was upset and saddened. Of course she probably couldn’t see it, because we have to wear masks, but if she had any ability to read the room, she would have felt it. By this point almost everyone had settled into their seats, awaiting the start of class. You could have heard a pin drop in that classroom, so I knew everyone was staring at me and her, hearing the entire thing happen.

“There was no possible way for me to use the restroom, and get to this class on time.”

“The passing periods are long enough to do what you need.”

“I still need to use the restroom.”

As she once again said that I could not use the restroom, I became even further enraged. My feelings very quickly overtook me, and I was ready to give her a black eye. Had I done so, it may have got me in trouble, but she, too, should have been in trouble for telling me I can’t do something that is a basic bodily function. 

Imagine if I told you something like, “You actually can’t sneeze right now, it’s one of my pet peeves when people sneeze around me.”

You would think I was crazy! That’s how this situation was feeling in my mind. 

I find that often when I am experiencing a teacher say something that upsets me, or makes me uncomfortable, even a little, I begin to cry.

This time would be no different. 

As I accepted my fate, in that I would not be able to use the restroom until the end of the period, I whipped around, facing back towards my seat. I tried to start walking, but my head felt heavy and the room began to spin. It felt as if I had just stepped into a camper that had been sitting in the beating sun for months. It got harder to breathe without it sounding as if I had just got my head above the water after touching the bottom of the pool. 

I did my best to keep back my emotions and hide them so I could wait until a later time to cry it out, but it was like when you are about to throw up, there was nothing I could do to stop it. I did my best to take a deep breath, so I could at least make it back to my seat without something going terribly wrong. I then rolled my eyes, clenched my fists and carefully returned back to my seat, where I would be stuck there for the remainder of the horrendous period. 

As I got back to my seat, my entire body and mind was fuming, I couldn’t help myself from turning these wrathful feelings into distress. The tears then started trickling down my face, my lips pursed, and the sweat and tears combined into one extremely uncomfortable feeling. My legs would not stop bobbing up and down furiously. I had no clue what was happening, or why. Fists still clenched, I dug my fingernails into my palm, in hopes it might act as a distraction from all this, but all I could think of was the anger and hatred I felt towards that teacher. 

Everything was moving too fast. Now, looking back on it, I can only assume that the teacher made me have a panic attack. I ferociously texted my friend, concerned about my situation, and fearful that I might start crying harder and make a scene. 

“message failed to send”

“message failed to send”

To my dismay, I had no internet connection. The room began to spin even more and my brain kept having more and more thoughts, bad ones. Everything was happening too fast and there was no chance to take a deep breath. I would probably fall or pee my pants before I made it to the door if I tried to leave and calm down.

I tried to think of other things I could do. I turned to my peer sitting behind me, who I am friends with, to try and get them to notice me in hopes they might try to help. Unfortunately, they had no idea what I was trying to do or why I was even looking at them.

As the tears got heavier, I tried anything to distract myself and make it stop. I tried to only observe the teacher, in hopes it would be a distraction, but it just infuriated me further, as her eyes continued repeatedly connecting with mine. Knowing she saw that I was in pain, maybe not even acknowledging it was because of her, made me even more upset.

I made it to the end of class, but I was in pain mentally, and physically. The second the bell rang, I bolted out the door, to the bathroom which was quite literally just outside of it. I knew my passing period was still short, so I couldn’t spend too much time in the bathroom. I was also aware that the teachers in my class after that, Ms.W and Ms.M, would definitely be much more understanding of my circumstances. They wouldn’t have their undies in a bundle over me needing to make sure I did not look like I had just been crying for the past 20 minutes.

I quickly used the restroom, and then hurried to get the tissues out of my backpack, and thoroughly wipe my face of any residue that could lead someone to the conclusion that I had been crying. 

I made sure to wash my hands and throw the tissues in the trash before I scurried my way to my next class, where I would have a much better experience, and allow me to regain my composure.

I sat there, partially out of breath from rushing to the class. I couldn’t focus on what was being said by my teachers, so I zoned out and my mind started to wander. I was trying to figure out why she had treated me that way, or if she does similar things to other students. Knowing how I reacted and how I felt at the time just furthered my concern for any of the students in her actual classes. I guess some people could probably just brush it off and say it’s not a big deal, but it would be really embarrassing, and concerning, if I was the only person who has reacted to that situation in the way I did.

I remembered driving home one day with a friend’s mom who also happens to teach high school; we’ll call her Betsy. It was a bright, cloudy day, you know, the ones where the clouds are covering the sky, but they are so bright, nothing really seems dark? One of those days. It was really cold too, so the seat heaters were on and we did not take off our jackets until the car was warm enough.

I was exhausted after the long week we had, so I began to close my eyes, but Betsy started talking. Eventually we somehow found ourselves discussing what she does when kids ask to go to the bathroom. “I don’t think it’s okay that they even feel the need to ask, they should be able to just get up and go. There’s one kid who asks to go every day, and is gone for 20 minutes, but I’ll never tell him no. I have no place telling someone they can’t use the restroom,” she said.

That still sticks with me, as I completely believe it’s true, I only ask out of respect. That means I also expect that the teacher would respect me in return, and let me use the restroom. I wish my advisory teacher would think the way Betsy does too, but I guess you can’t always win. 

Just a week or two later, I arrived at advisory just as the bell had rang. As I walked in, another student had walked up to her and asked to use the restroom. 

Instead of giving him her little speech of how it is her pet peeve when kids ask to leave at the beginning of class, she just said, “Yes, right once we get through the ALICE procedure part of the slides.” 

You can only imagine how that might make one feel. Sitting here, as I finish this story a week after that encounter, I am still thoroughly upset about the entire idea of going to my advisory, and having an “advisor”. 

It’s just unfortunate because not all teachers want to be teachers, it might just be a short step in their life, to make money and then find another similar job where they might be happier. In the end we are all just people, living our own lives, with our own opinions and beliefs of what is right and wrong. Not everyone can be kind and caring, not everyone will show you the same respect you show them, and there’s not much you can do about it.

Even thinking and knowing that, I still believe it’s sad that every Wednesday I have to go to the class, and sit there with hatred in my heart for a teacher who I am supposed to be able to look up to and have respect for. Ms.K is supposed to be my advisor here at SPASH, but I don’t think I will ever be able to look at her in that way. I can only see her as someone who is disrespectful and doesn’t care about how her actions could affect others.