“Excuse me Ma’am, we have a toilet paper problem.”
I turned to look at the Burger King employee standing beside me who’d just tapped me on the shoulder. I looked at her with a blank face, not sure what she was talking about. Problems? Did she know anything about problems? I was in the midst of several major problems in my life. They say it comes in threes and I was walking through my third loss in a matter of three months. It all started in May when my best friend and fishing buddy Hardin Weaver passed away from lung cancer.
I praise God that I had had the opportunity to fly back to Clovis, California to see Hardin in the hospital the day before he died. He was concious and was able to smile as I laughed and cried and prayed with him. Hardin was one of our first Missing Pet Partnership volunteers in the early stages of our development. He became a close friend and a father figure to me. The plan I had for my upcoming wedding was to have Hardin walk me down the isle and give me away. Sometimes our plans just don’t work out. Losing Hardin cut like a knife.
A few months later, the primary program of Missing Pet Partnership came to a sudden and unexpected end. After helping hundreds of pet owners over the past three years, MPP was forced to suspend our services that involved responding (in the Seattle area) on physical searches with search dogs and equipment to help families search for their lost pets. Until we get the funding to hire a staff to oversee this program it will likely remain in limbo.
I had not quite worked through my grief of losing the MPP program when I was forced to euthanize Sadie, my elderly cat detection dog. In fact, I had just put Sadie down on Monday and was traveling through Ellensburg, Washington on Wednesday (after being consoled by family in Idaho) when I stopped at Burger King. I had used the restroom first and then walked out to place my order when the employee tapped me on my shoulder.
“What?” I asked the woman. She repeated her words again. “We have a toilet paper problem” only this time she was smiling.
I was thinking to myself that this woman knew nothing about “problems” based on what I was going through. And besides, there was no “toilet paper problem.” I had just been in the women’s restroom and there had been plenty of toilet paper. But as the smile appeared on her face, I realized that the “we” of this problem meant that I was some how involved in this. And then the lightbulb came on and my worst nightmare came true.
“No!” I said as I looked down at my feet to see if I was trailing a stream of toilet paper, only there was nothing clinging to my shoe. “Where?” I asked.
She pointed to my butt. I reached back behind me and sure enough, I’d been trailing a 4 foot long piece of toilet paper that was tucked neatly into the back of my pants. I turned red and excused myself as I scurried to the women’s restroom.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. I realized that I was faced with a choice. The easiest thing to do would’ve been to wash my hands and then slip outside without even going back for my burger, avoiding more embarrassment. But as I washed my hands, I noticed they had the best kind of hand drying apparatus around. Instead of one of those cheap blowy machines that leaves you with wet hands, Burger King had installed one of those brown paper towel dispensers with the Pavlov-like-lever that enables you to make one single, giant paper towel. I pushed that lever at least 15 times and created a 7 foot long paper towel train and stuck it in the back of my pants. And like a bride trailing a beautiful train from her lavish wedding gown (which I’ll need one for this December, just in case anyone has one laying around that they want to donate!) I proudly walked out of that bathroom with my head held high.
You should’ve seen the look on faces of the customers in line! I walked right up to that Burger King employee who was still standing at the counter. I laid a hand on her shoulder to make sure she looked at me, thanked her for telling me about the toilet paper problem, and then proudly walked away so she could observe my paper train. She, and everyone else standing there, broke out in laughter. It’s times like these that I thank God for His lovingkindness. He knew exactly how to bless me with a good belly laugh during my season of grief! I have a quirky hobby of collecting “most embarrassing moment” stories and so far, my own most embarrassing moment had only involved driving off from a fuel pump with the gas nozzel still attached to my police car gas tank. Now I have a coveted toilet paper story of my own to share around the campfire.
Life is too short to be embarrassed and to run out of Burger Kings in shame. As depressing as things can get, we all need to hang paper trains from our butts and bring a little laughter into this world!