Trapped in Girl’s Bathroom Without Cell Phone

Trapped in Girl’s Bathroom Without Cell Phone

The thought of using a public toilet raises my anxiety to threat level orange.

My fear started at Girl Scout camp in 6th grade. Locked in a ripe latrine during a Midwest heat wave gave me a case of toilet phobia.

And yet with only five minutes left of my daughter’s basketball gameFoothill High Schoolversus Amador Valley High School, I could not fight the urge to use the toilet any longer.

With shortness of breath, I banged open the women’s restroom door, rushed for the closest stall. Thankfully it was a tiny bathroom, three spots, all empty.  Mindful to touch as little as possible, I did my business and exited faster than Apolo Ohno.

Washing and drying my hands on a paper towel, I turned to the left of the sink toward the door. Yanking the handle, I realized I was trapped.

The janitor must have locked the door becuase the game was almost over.   Sweat broke out on my chest and armpits. Worst fears realized, stuck in a bathroom with no way out. Cell phone out of juice.

Pressing my ear to the narrow crack in the steel door, I prayed for human contact on the other side. Hearing the crowd scream during the final moments of the game, I panicked and clawed at the door like a caged animal.

With a dry mouth, I yelled, “Help me. The door’s locked. Anyone there?”  Nothing. Silent as a funeral. Mine.

A nervous twitch formed at the inner corner of my eye and worked downward to my neck. Irregular heartbeat. Spasms.

Trying to pull the door off its hinges, I leaned back on my heels and began shaking again. No luck. My eyes blinked with the speed of a strobe light.

But then I heard an angel, a low, melodious voice from the other side of the room, “Don’t worry. I can help. You’re okay.”

Turning toward the voice, I witnessed a mother, eyebrows twisted with concern, holding the hand of a small child. She looked familiar. How did this genie get into the bathroom? Ah, two doors! I accidentally tried to exit the door that backed to the boy’s locker room.

My chest flushed bright crimson.

I am so embarrassed. Big hurry to get back to the game and tried to go out the wrong door.”

“Don’t worry about it. Are you okay?”

“Fine now. Just mixed-up. Thanks.”

I bolted out of the bathroom, passing a group of kids from the boys’ locker room. They paused, foreheads wrinkled in confusion.

“Don’t worry. That lady in there yelling. I helped her get out, she’s fine now,” I said.

In my dictionary, agoraphobia means fear of being locked in a bathroom with no way to escape.

This story was previously published in the Pleasanton Patch.

About staceygustafson


  1. Oh! Thank you for this, Stacey. Being locked in a bathroom (or just about anywhere) is a fear I’ve been working to overcome for years. I’m so glad yours had a good ending, but I understand how you could have gotten disoriented. I’ve done that, and nearly gone crazy with anxiety till I found the correct door.

  2. Well we have two things in common: avoiding public restrooms as much as possible (eewww!) and getting turned around in new places. 🙂
    I loved the ending how you told the boys you’d helped “that yelling woman” 🙂

  3. Howdy! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I am going to send this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!

  4. Gerald Kovac says

    One of the biggest surprises of going public with restrooms is the lack of toilet paper. Always check before you do what you have to do. Don’t learn the hard way!

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