I had just rounded the ramp from North bound I-95- to West bound Route 528, also known as the Beach Line, when I had to press the brake pedal, hard, due to the standstill bumper to bumper traffic that I saw ahead of me. The Beach Line is a 30 to 40 mile road that connects the east coast of Florida (beaches like Cocoa and Vero) to Orlando, which rests in the center of the state. I scanned the two West bound lanes ahead of me and I saw nothing but cars. The East bound lanes, that were coming towards I-95, were empty. I figured there must be an accident ahead of me and that it may only take a little bit of time to get through the jam of onlookers. I waited a few minutes to assess the delay before calling my wife.
“Hey. It’s me.” I said as she picked up the other end of the phone. “There is a bunch of traffic on 528. I figure I may be a while later than I originally thought. Don’t hold up dinner for me.”
“Okay.” She said. “ What’s going on?”
“I don’t know if it is just normal traffic for this time or if there is an accident, but either way I do not know how to get home except for THIS road.”
“Okay. Be careful. I will make you a plate.” Lauren then asked, “How were your appointments in Miami?”
“Everything was going great up until now. I knew I should have stopped to pee about 20 miles ago.”
The Beach line is a stretch of road that runs between acres and acres of either farmland, triple canopy woods or swamps. There are no exits to stop and use a bathroom. “I think I should be okay.” I said half trying to convince myself. “I will call you once the traffic starts moving, which, will be, hopefully soon.”
I sat in my car, inching up a few feet every few minutes. I could feel the pressure on my bladder increasing with every push of the gas pedal and then the brake. I looked around at all the cars that surrounded me; delivery trucks, midsize cars and lots of SUVS, all waiting for traffic to clear. I really had to pee.
I started to eye the right side of the road as a possible place to go, but the land was dense, dense brush without much means to hide myself. Besides if I pulled over I was sure all the eyes on the road would be watching me and I know I get stage fright. I contemplated this for about a half an hour.
As I looked forward, through the windshield, down the congested highway, about a half a mile ahead, I could see smoke billowing from the side of the road. “It must be a brush fire.” I thought. “Man, maybe I should go and help them put it out.” My bladder was starting to hurt.
I called my wife, Lauren, just to touch base and to explain my predicament. “If this does not clear soon, I am going to have to go in this Gator bottle that I have.”
The empty 16-ounce bottle of Gatorade, along with the empty medium sized coffee cup, were the reason I was feeling the need to go so bad. I told Lauren I would call her back once I knew something. I kept checking ahead of me to see if traffic was clearing. I could see the flashing lights of fire engines ahead. I peered through the smoke and could see firemen with hoses dousing a good size brush fire. Just what I needed, not the brush fire, but the sight of hoses endlessly spraying.
After watching the sprating hoses for another fifteen minutes I decided I would have to use the Gatorade bottle.
While idling in traffic I undid my belt and my unbuttoned my dress pants. I was in the right lane, so I kept an eye on the cars on my left to make sure no one was watching. Just as I unzipped my pants an SUV of college aged kids pulled along side me. They were clearly returning from one of the beaches. Their vehicle was higher than mine and if they looked over they would clearly see me trying to pee in a bottle. I waited. The car passed after a few minutes and I started to build up the courage to use the bottle again. As I was positioning myself, a giant van filled with a family of kids slid up next to me. I waited again. I was hurting. Bad.
I started to eye the side of the road as my only option, but I was now close to the fire and I did not want to be caught in a fire with my pants down, literally, plus there were firemen and workers all over the side of the road. The pressure was becoming unbearable. I loosened my seat belt hoping for some relief of the pressure.
As I passed the thick of the fire, my car filled with smoke. It was the perfect cover for me to pee in my car. Just as I was about to relieve myself both lanes quickly merged into one, through the thick brown smoke, and then opened back into two lanes. Once out of the smoke it was open road. People in their cars started hitting their accelerator. They went from zero to 80 mph in a few seconds in hope of making up lost time. I realized I was not going to be able to urinate and do 80 miles an hour safely. I went along with the speed knowing that I could pull over up ahead and not worry about onlookers on the side of the road.
While I was looking for a spot to pull over I kept seeing cows roaming the side and shoulder of the road. They must have been smoked out form the fire. I saw a sign that indicated that was only 14 miles to Orlando. I told myself I could hold it until then, instead of suffering the potential wraith of a pissed off cow. I floored it.
A few minutes later I paid my toll at the end of the 528. I could feel my eyes watering partially from the smoke of the fire and partially due to the pain I had in my lower abdomen. The first spot I knew I could use the restroom was a Wendy’s a few lights away. I, of course, caught every red light. I called Lauren and told her I was stopping and that I would be home soon.
I screeched into the Wendy’s parking lot during their busy dinner time hours. I found the closest spot, right near the dining area with the giant windows and parked. I jumped out of my car almost at a sprint. After the first few steps I realized there was something wrong.
I never zipped and buttoned up my pants or fastened my belt.