Monthly Archives: April 2013

All in the Family

The reason we ate grilled lamb all week was that we were traveling, we were young, and we were poor. My brothers and I were still in sticker shock from London when we arrived in Paris for four days, so we were looking for the cheapest food imaginable. I had been in Paris the year before, so I was in charge of accommodations; my two brothers were there for the first time. I found us an inexpensive but terrific hotel room in the Latin Quarter, tucked away on meandering street with little shops and lots of windows with food you could carry away.

And carry it away we did: greasily delicious, grilled lamb packed into a baguette with French fries. We two oldest, just out of college at the time, were so taken with this cheap food that we ate it for lunch and dinner. We’re big boys; sometimes we’d even order a second baguette, even though one was plenty. Our younger brother, Albert, a skinny high school student, quickly tired of the lamb, but skinny people don’t eat that much, and he was spending our mother’s money. My older brother, Simon, and I were spending our own, but more significantly, we were cheap. We stuck to the lamb.

The inexpensive but terrific hotel room had three single beds and a large bathroom with toilet, bidet, and shower. My brothers eyed the shower suspiciously – a showerhead sticking from a wall, and a drain beneath it in the tiled floor, the shower area marked by a ridge of tile. The best feature of the room was a big French window; we were on the third floor, and by spreading the windows wide, we had a view of the neighborhood and even of the Panthéon’s dome, if you stuck your head out and craned your neck a little.

It took perhaps two days for the Lamb of God diet to work its magic. We were on a crowded Métro train, and I expertly released what I thought would be an undetected fart. I was wrong. This wasn’t silent but deadly; this was silent but pestilential. Simon looked at me, his eyes wide. He glared.

“You are nasty,” he hissed. He didn’t have to ask whether it was me or Jean-Jacques next to me. We’re brothers; he knew. Then as the potency of my vicious fart revealed itself, he started laughing. A fart like that — sour, eggy, sweet — calls for appreciation. It was just fucking incredible.

Albert made a face and moved away from me, rolling his eyes in embarrassment at his older brothers. He knew perfectly well that the fart was just as likely to have been Simon’s and that Simon was redirecting blame.

I remember that particular fart well, not because it was the worst, but because it was the first. Almost immediately, Simon began to replicate my swamp gas, and the two of us were poisoning the air in a twenty-foot radius. Whatever genetic makeup we share includes the ability to manufacture the same grotesque stench. Our manufacturing plant began running 24/7.

We spent that day traipsing around Paris, incapable of stopping the fumes enveloping us like a cloud, Albert fifty feet ahead of us at all times. A lot of farting is not out of the ordinary; this was out of the ordinary. Never have I farted like this, and never in stereo. We came back to our hotel room after a day at Versailles, and the room still reeked of brimstone.

By the third day, Albert was in despair. He’d spent the entire night awake with his two older brothers tear-gassing the hotel room. “You guys have to stop it!” he cried, in actual tears. What could we do but fart some more and roll in hysterics while Albert hung his head out of the French windows, gasping for air? We discovered that when you lay on the bed, it smelled worse. Yes: this was the heaviest gas known to man, and it sunk to the floor. Albert eventually abandoned us, leaving us to giggle in our own stench while he explored Paris unmolested.

After a full day of Parisian fart tourism, we settled in to sleep. The French windows were wide open, and Albert had scooted his bed closer to the fresh air. Simon got up for the bathroom. He was in there for a while; I heard water running, splashing, possibly the shower. I don’t fall asleep easily, and I was beginning to be curious. Eventually, the door opened; light from the bathroom poured into our room. Simon was backlit in the doorway, but I could see that he was tracking wet footprints into the room.

“I couldn’t get the toilet to flush,” he said, loudly.

“We’re trying to sleep,” I told him.

He said, “I took a dump. It wouldn’t go down. Then I turned on the faucet and water sprayed up in my face. But the shit still wouldn’t flush. I had to smash it into the little holes with my heel.”

“What little holes?” I asked.

“The other toilet,” he said.

“What do you mean, other toilet?” I asked.

Simon was silent a moment, and I realized that he meant the bidet.

“I couldn’t get the shit to flush,” he said.

“That’s a fucking bidet!” I shouted. “It’s for washing your ass!”

He said, “Well don’t use it, because there are little pieces of shit caked around the drain.”

I started laughing.

“You are both so gross,” Albert moaned as he pulled the sheets over his head.

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The Ugly American

I hopped the pond to visit a friend who was going to school in Scotland. We met in London.

The four days prior to my UK trip, I was away from home for a work conference. At the conference I shared a hotel room with a co-worker. During the day, the only bathrooms around me were public bathrooms. I get a bit gun-shy in those circumstances. The time between returning home from the conference and the red-eye flight to London was about 5 hours. There was no time to fool around. I had laundry to do, packing, litter box cleaning, etc. Not a lot of time to take care of a bunch of crap, including crap.

By the time I got to London, there was much I had to express.  Also, I was joined by cousin Flo as I hopped the Atlantic. At this point, I knew my reluctance to use a public toilet for releasing the hounds was diminishing. I could not do it on the plane. The chaos of the airport was enough diversion to make me forget there was a storm a-brewin’.

After all the car rental bit and figuring our way out of Heathrow and into London, my urgent business became top priority. And there it was: an unsuspecting public restroom near Westminster Abbey. Embarrassed, I warned my friend as we went in that she might not want to stick around, and I offered to wait until she was a safe distance away from the scene of the crime.

Being the good, old friend she was, she said not to hold back and she understood.

It was a lot. A lot. And cousin Flo’s luggage.

As it’s happening, my friend and I talk about it, at one point joking that I’m going to clog up the toilet and how awful it’d be if this spilled over or didn’t flush.

I finish up and reach to flush. This is not a normal toilet; it’s one of those cool, wall tank thingamajigs. This was right up there with seeing a red phone booth. Excitedly, I yank the chain. Nothing happened. Yank again. Nothing. My friend is still in the bathroom so I ask if there’s some trick to this? Not really, just yank and hold for a little bit. I keep trying and no go.

Panic starts. I cannot possibly leave this for some unsuspecting stranger. I’ve seen a lot of assaulted, abandoned public toilets and am always horrified that someone would leave it. I am that person who, in most cases, mans up and flushes vandalized toilets to get rid of a stranger’s mess. Admittedly, there have been a handful of times when it was too heinous for me stomach. Because I am so disgusted that people do this, I never want to be the culprit.

This toilet did not care at all that I’ve set this standard in my life. It was not cooperative.

Despite my friend’s best efforts to talk me through the process, we were both convinced I was, at that point, incapable of figuring out how to flush this toilet.

Then she said it: let me in, I’ll do it. I was horrified.. but I saw no other option. Leave it behind and step all over my principles or accept my friend’s help? It took her a few minutes to talk me out of the stall so that she could come in.

She promised she wouldn’t look at the bowl. She did anyway. I can’t remember if it was “Jesus” or something more British like “for fuck’s sake,” but something came out of her mouth to indicate she’d seen IT.

It turned out the toilet must have been broken before my rearward assault. For the short period of time she could stay in the small space, my friend couldn’t get the toilet to flush.

We were defeated. We washed our hands very quickly and as we were leaving, the first other visitor came walking in. I imagine all blood drained from my face right then. My friend and I looked at each other and walked out as quickly and quietly as we could, until we were outside. Then we burst into giggles.

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Trifecta: The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

I.

by Kimberley Lynne

I was running a healthcare conference at the Marriott and PETA protested by leaving a big stinky pile of human poop right in front of the ballroom doors. As the hotel staff scrambled to remove it, we poured bags of coffee on it to kill the stench.

***

II.

I had been drinking Sambuca after the bar closed. We decided a two-hour road-trip to DC was in order, and as we drove I finished off the bottle. We got to DC about 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning. We started to walk up an empty road, and I was hit with the need to go. I think at this point I was barking like a dog, just for fun. It occurred to me that dogs just go in the road so I dropped my pants and pooped right in the road. Really odd. Didn’t drink Sambuca after I sobered up and realized what I had done.

***

III.

I ran into the house already unbuckling my pants – it was time to go. I bolted up the stairs and found the bathroom door locked. The one bathroom in the house.

I jiggled the doorknob to be sure, and my teenaged son’s voice croaked out from the crack in the door: “I had to come home early. I’m sick.”

I tried to hide the panic in my voice. “Do you think you’ll be in there long?”

He said, “I’m sorry.” Sick as a dog and the dear boy still knows his father has a short poop fuse. “I have diarrhea.”

I shouted a “No problem!” over my shoulder as I shuffled down the hall and back downstairs. My pants were around my knees, and it was hard to run. But I needed to run, unless I wanted to shit on the stairs, because it was coming, uninvited like the plague, hammering the gates of the citadel like the Hun army.

I raced to the kitchen, where at least there’s linoleum. I spied the kitchen trashcan. Perfect.

I pulled the trash can out from the wall, and with the grace of a ballerina, spun, dropped trou, and parked my woebegotten ass in the top of the trashcan.

This was not a firm one. Spraying, sputtering, machine-gun fire. I was thinking that maybe I had what my son had, and I glanced guiltily back toward the stairs. My dog sat in the doorway to the kitchen, watching me with his head cocked slightly to one side. I shouted at him to go away, and he retreated a few paces, still watching me.

See, what’s perfect about a kitchen trashcan is that not only is it strong enough to support your weight and only slightly too tall, but it has a plastic liner. When I finished, I stood up and cleaned myself off with paper towels, tossing them onto the mass of angry Huns. I tied the bag tightly shut and carried it out to the big garbage can behind the house. I shouted at my dog to get away from the outside garbage can, and I returned to the house fresh as a daisy.

Kitchen trashcans: totally my go-to place to go in the future.

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Venetian Bathroom

I had the fantastic opportunity to take a cooking course in Tuscany, a glorious week filled with amazing foods, fabulous classmates, a little sight-seeing, and copious amounts of really good wine. It was the best of times for sure.

After the course was over, my little party boarded the train to Venice for a week of culture, shopping, and some basic, unapologetic tourism. Shortly into the trip, I felt the rumble. I knew that rumble. The non-stop copious amounts of wine were taking their toll. It was time for a cleanse.

I passed the time ignoring the rumble by chatting with one of my classmates — a Brazilian and about the most stunningly exotic creature I have ever met. She got off somewhere along the way to catch a connecting train to Milan, and we continued on to Venice.

The urge to purge was getting to be intense, but having experienced this before, I was determined to not use the public restroom in the train station. I was likely going to be in there for a while, so the privacy and comfort of my own private hotel room was what I wanted. It’s what I needed.

When the train came to a stop in Venice, I grabbed my luggage and bolted. I got a cab and made a bee-line for the Marriott, checked in mercifully fast, and received the card key to my room.

My room. The room was lovely and well appointed. At least I think so; I only caught a passing glimpse as I dashed to the bathroom and set about taking care of some simmering, long-overdue business. Once the gates were opened, there was no stopping it. Nothing to do but relax and let the cleanse progress. I checked out the facilities: bidet, sink, glass shower with a chain hanging down that said “Emergency,” TP on the wall to the left, big walnut door —

And then it happened: the lights went out. The air cut off. It was dead dark and calm in there. I felt the wall for the door handle to crack the door for some light. Found it. Turned it. Nothing. Try as I might, the door would not budge.

I started fiddling with the lock, thinking maybe it had auto-locked. Still nothing. It got more and more still in there and hotter and hotter. That’s when I knew I was going to die in a Venetian hotel bathroom without ever seeing Venice, that most beautiful city of canals and gondolas. Nope, not for me. A Marriott bathroom: that is Venice to me.

I made a concerted effort to leave the toilet and cleaned up as best as I could. This seemed an inappropriate time to try to master a bidet, though it could prove useful in the cleanliness department. In the pitch dark, how do you know if you are fully fresh down there? Still, not the time to learn a bidet.

The room was now stifling hot. I wondered if perhaps my group would come looking for me. I deemed myself clean, and I felt my way along the wall to wash my hands. What would happen if I pulled the emergency cord? Did I want to risk finding out? Would it be better to just die in here and let housekeeping find me the next day?

I returned to the throne and made an effort to get out of that hellhole. After about 20 more minutes of tinkering, I learned that there was a fine art to turning the lock halfway while lifting the handle at the same time and pulling. One hour in there — cleanse, clean, and panic totaled — and I was out.

The bathroom door was never shut again the rest of the week.

It turns out I didn’t know the most basic of facts: European hotels are fond of an energy-saving feature where you put your room key in a power slot in the wall to enable lights and air. Leave for the day to tour about, and it eliminates your ability to leave the lights on and the air blasting. Nice feature, but I was unaware.

I was grateful I got out of the bathroom and discovered the power slot, but not grateful enough to tell the others in my group about it. I let them figure it out their own damn selves.

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The Poopetrator

by Peggy Hoffman

On the last Sunday of the every month, we hold a belly dance performance in Minás Gallery, our art gallery/boutique. This particular performance went as planned. When the performance was over, we closed the gallery and went home.

Shortly after arriving at home, we got a call from the police. Apparently, one of the spectators had been in our bathroom pooping for so long that the event had ended, we had cleaned up, put the chairs away, locked up the store, set the alarm, and gone home.

When the finally lady emerged from the bathroom, she set off the burglar alarm. She immediately called the police, identifying herself as the Poopetrator. We had to go unlock the store and let her out.

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Kill the messenger

One day at my school in Georgia during PE we were playing flag football on the football field, and a boy that no one (literally no one) liked named Jacob went out on the field, lowered his pants, squatted, and deposited a warm poop onto the freshly mowed football field. He stood up, raised his pants, took his HAND, and picked up said freshly baked turd. He then walked with it in hand to the nearest sideline trash can and threw away his shameful wrongdoing. The PE coach quickly but loudly told him he was being sent home for the day; he burst into tears for the fear that his parents would uncover his dirty secret.

Jacob and I were not only classmates, but we also belonged to the same church youth group. After I witnessed the unsightly event, I felt the need to share my horror with the other members of the group. However, some of the other kids told Justin’s parents that I’d fabricated this unchristian and unbelievable story – his parents were still oblivious to all of it. Within hours both of his parents showed up at the main office screaming and throwing things because their innocent baby was being bullied by a little girl. I was later forced to make a brutally awkward public apology for “weaving this tale of lies,” and Jacob gave me a dead stare and said nothing –  even though I’d just covered his behind by convincing every adult that I’d made up that true story, which also happened to be telling a lie in church. To this day no one’s entirely sure if the bathroom was locked, the line was too long, or there was some wager lost. There was also a quiet rumor that he may have been protesting the fields fertilizer. Or maybe he’s just that crazy.

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And this is why you should never wear khakis

by Patrik Moss Satta-Fleming 

It was 1986 and the latest rage in beautiful Dundalk, Maryland, was PHOTON, an early incarnation of laser tag: smoke machines, flashing lights, ramps, tunnels, and even an computer-automated female voice that announced the commencement and conclusion of the game. This place was awesome!

I was 16 and just had gotten my driver’s license. My sister Amy is 19 months younger, and the fact that I drove gave us both an enormous amount of freedom. Our best friend Scott (two years younger than me) also reaped the benefits of our new-found mobility.

It was a Friday evening in the early fall and the three of us were going to PHOTON. Having gone several times before, we all had our PHOTON ID cards (required for play) and money to burn. My sister and I drove around the corner and picked up Scott and we were off. The facility was about five miles or so from our house, and it typically took about 15 minutes to get there.

We were on our way when I felt a rumbling down below. Then another. Glump…gurgle…errrrk…glump. We were about seven minutes from PHOTON when I decided to relieve what I perceived to be a large amount of gas. Nonchalantly, I lifted to one side and did my best to be discreet, that’s when all hell broke loose in my pants.

Unbeknownst to Scott and my sister, I had just done a very successful job of pooping myself. It burned and I felt it begin to saturate my underpants. Panic set in: Mom and Dad’s new car with velour seats! What was I to do? An idea came to mind – I could just turn in to BRADLEY’S department store at the next light. I made the announcement, “Hey guys, I need to run to BRADLEY’S for a second…I want to look for a new cassette tape.” This idea was met with immediate opposition. “What? Now? Why now? No! Let’s go to PHOTON before it gets to crowded,” Amy commanded.

I submitted and kept driving.

Not 30 seconds later it occurred to me that I could fake forgetting my PHOTON card and would need to go home. I made my announcement…disgruntled and irritated, my passengers conceded, and I turned the car around and proceeded home.

Once I pulled up in front of our house, I hopped out of the car and waddled in. It was getting dark so I was certain they would not see any evidence of my dirty deed through the seat of my pants.

I threw the front door open and announced to my parents, “I pooped my pants and have to shower and change…don’t tell Amy and Scott!” And with that, I dashed into the bathroom.

I began peeling off my khaki pants and soiled underwear – it was WAY worse than I thought. EEEEWWWWwwwww. I jumped into the shower, working feverishly to clean myself up before Amy and Scott (waiting in the car) suspected anything. This was no small task. The 10-minute shower lasted for what felt like a lifetime. Finally, I was clean!

I hurried out of the tub, dried off, bundled the evidence up in an old towel, wrapped a fresh, new towel around my waist and walked out of the bathroom. If I could get upstairs and get dressed quickly, I could still pull this off without Amy and Scott suspecting anything, or heaven forbid, finding out! – a fate WORSE than death.

As I walked through hallway on my way to my bedroom upstairs, Amy walked in the front door. I stopped and froze as we locked eyes. The look that crossed her face was priceless…shock, anger, frustration, confusion. I softly offered an explanation, “I pooped my pants in the car, DON’T TELL SCOTT!”

She busted out laughing, turned on her heels and proceeded out to the car.

After getting dressed and collecting what little dignity I had left, I took a deep breath and proceeded out to the car.

The car was silent, Amy and Scott looked straight ahead with expressionless faces, then the giggling started – followed soon by full out hysteria.

Scott, trying unsuccessfully to control his laughter, managed to ask, “Did you get your PHOTON card?”

“Thanks Amy!”

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Animal House

In college, I was driving in my big Caddy on my way to class one summer, and I got hit with a real need to go. I didn’t think I would make it to the classroom building in time, so I pulled off and went to my frat house. Nobody was around, and at this point I thought I was going to die. I rushed into the house and up the stairs to the bathroom. Everything was gone. The bath was being renovated. I looked around desperately, and there was no bucket. Not even a trashcan. I ran to a room at the back of the house on the second floor and stuck my ass out the window and let it all out. Not sure if any saw me, but they would have been ruined for life if they had.

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The Guardian of the Gate

by Guy Petzall

Bolivia, November 1994

During the past few days, I’ve been visited by that all-too-common traveler’s companion, intestinal bacteria — you know, the ones that turn otherwise perfectly healthy stool into noxious, primordial ooze. The little scoundrels are everywhere, in the vegetables, the water, and everyone I know down here has, at one time or another, gotten got. It is easy to throw blame around, to cast aspersion upon that suspicious pasta salad, or perhaps it was the ice cream (I thought it tasted a little funny), but to do so is of no use. The bug is, sooner or later, without fail or evitability, sure to arrive and nest in your bowel. And the cure is simple, really. Just go into any pharmacy, make a sad face, and pat your belly, and they’ll take care of you right quick, usually selling you an unlabeled antibiotic of questionable origin, but which works nonetheless. And, I suppose, in a very general way, the advent of antibiotic pharmacology is the hero in this instance. But, from a more personal aspect, I revere a hero which is in my view far greater, far stronger, and far worthier of praise. For while antibiotics may be capable of killing the little buggers in my bowel on a strictly cell-by-cell basis (and believe me, I’m taking my pills), my hero accomplishes a much greater feat; my hero controls the whole of the problem; my hero is capable of stemming the black tide for unbelievable quantities of time. I speak of none other that the mighty sphincter, guardian of the gate, keeper of the peace.

My first hint that all was not strictly firm in the nether organs came in that proverbial and much recounted of situations, the beginning of an 18-hour bus ride from La Paz, Bolivia to Santa Cruz, a city of 800,000 across the Andes and down into the Amazon Basin, a journey from high altitude to low, from brilliantly cold to blazingly hot. And, like ice melting in the sun, I could feel the once firmly established material in my intestines begin increasingly to gurgle about, assuming a more and more liquid form. Great. I began to rationally assess my circumstances. The bus, as they say, no tiene baño. Two stops were scheduled, six hours apart, but already, only 45 minutes into the trip, I could feel the internal pressure mounting. Pressure to expel. To bow to it would have been catastrophic. So, with no other recourse, I simply resolved to batten down the hatch, clinch up real tight, and wait. The pain was spectacular. Like the tides of the river Styx, it ebbed and resurged cyclically, as the assorted fluids and gasses rearranged themselves in my gut. BUT — my anus held true. Its ringed clamp, in accordance with my determined will, braved the no doubt tempestuous storm within without so much as a pucker, and the first leg of the trip, although no joy, remained leak-free.

Finally we arrived at Cochabamba, our first scheduled stop. With a one-hour hiatus before the continuation of our journey, I headed for the bus station bathroom. 50 centavos. 10 cents U.S., and ten of the best cents I ever shelled out. If only they had known what they could have charged me, I’d be a poor man today. I entered the stall, placed my feet on the designated footprints, and, squatting into position, muttered quietly, “OK, my friend, time to open up.” I was actually speaking to my butt-hole — and politely, because I knew that my happiness depended upon its future cooperation. And, like the obedient little muscle that it is, or perhaps more like an iris widening to accept the light in a dim situation, it opened, and unleashed the waters of hell which it had kept so successfully at bay.

I shall refrain from the fullest description of the fiery carnage which ensued, in complete audiolfactory Sensurround™, for the next half-hour or thereabouts. Just trust me, it was truly something to behold, and 10 cents shouldn’t have been able to even begin to cover it, regardless of what country I was in. It was spectacular, but eventually I had to once again restrain myself and return to the bus.

The second part of the trip went off much like the first, except that my anus, having acquired my thorough respect during the initial portion of the journey, seemed to want to expand — not its aperture, so much, as its range of sensitivity. It seemed to feel itself capable of distinguishing between the varieties of that which it was incarcerating, and I let it, allowing it to release only the gaseous inmates from its pestilential prison. I trusted my friend my anus, it was worthy of my faith, and as a result the remainder of the drive to Santa Cruz became so much more bearable.

And now that I have turned the problem over to the products of medical science, I feel the need to commemorate my faithful friend and trusted ally, to acknowledge its loyal service and unwavering tenacity in the face of grave adversity. If I could, I’d throw it a party or something, because I still have a few weeks left in South America, and you never know where those pesky bacteria are lurking, waiting for the chance to spring again. But when they do, I’ll be ready. In this regard, I am not traveling alone. I have a friend. Hail Sphincter!

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Not my job description: a triptych

I.

When I was 14 and working in a restaurant, someone laid, seriously, a two-foot coil in the loo. So us kids stared at each other dumbly, all grossed out, and asked the head cook what to do. He walked in with the knife he was using to chop green peppers and sliced the log up, then went back to the peppers with the same knife.

***

II.

A woman came into the emergency room saying that she was having a baby. Turns out she gave birth to a HUGE poop that had to be broken up with a tongue depressor before it could be flushed.

***

III.

It was a Saturday. I was the only one working. Earlier that week I had a case of the runs but it had cleared up by Saturday. Or so I thought. I had some gas and because no one else was in the office, I was free to let it rip.

Saturdays were quite slow but I was on a call when another gas pain hit, so I let that one go also. Only it wasn’t just gas. It was a blow out. Well, it could’ve been worse because even though I was talking to someone, I realized I had to do some damage control and held back what I could.

Within a couple seconds I told the client I’d have to call him back, that there was an emergency, and I asked for his number. I sat there wondering what to do. The bathroom was three hallways away, and I was, well, squishy. I was worried I’d run into someone and be forced into a conversation. I thought about closing up for the day but that would require a long, moist trip to the parking lot.

After deciding I couldn’t clean up at my desk, I glided to the bathroom as quickly and motionlessly as I could.

I cleaned myself up using toilet paper and toilet water. A pair of poopy underwear was stashed in the hygienic products bin that day, wrapped in about half a roll of toilet paper.

Got back to the desk, called the customer back, and finished out my shift.

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