Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bonding with coworkers somewhere outside Fukuoka, Japan

At the end of my first two months back in Korea, work organized a trip to Fukuoka, Japan, using PTO days, and arranging for us to travel in a tour group with a tour guide who feigned no English and talked incessantly.

The first stop on our tour was the Kirin Brewery. Our visit was short, and much like our bus tour, it did not include much English. We all looked forward to a beer after what had already been a long first morning of vacation. When it came time for beer tasting, our tour guide stopped us, gave us the run down, and gave us a time limit.

The gist? Three beers and fifteen minutes.

Suddenly, our relaxing vacation had turned into a drinking contest. We had fifteen minutes before we had to be back on the bus, but we were welcome to try as much beer as we would like. Needless to say, we all downed the first glass of beer and went for a second, some of us a third. Then we all hopped on the bus and headed for a resort in the mountains that was supposed to take all our work stress away.

The resort in the mountains that would take away all our worries.
No one had any idea when our next stop would be, and after about an hour of riding through forested mountains, I began to wonder how far away this fabled resort was. My bladder was starting to feel the pressure of the two beers I had ingested. I held my breath a bit and tried to ignore it.

Then I started squeezing my pinky finger.

Finally, a coworker mentioned her bladder. It was time to build up the courage to demand a pit stop.

Just as I was about to speak up because we kept passing rest stop after rest stop, our bus pulled off into a turnout in the middle of the mountains. I stopped. I looked around. I was confused. This did not look like a rest stop. It looked like the side of the road. It consisted of an information sign, a parking lot, and an old, rundown and closed restaurant. The bus turned around and finally came to a stop. A man from our group jumped up and ran off the bus. Clearly, I was not the only one suffering. 

I said, “Are we stopping? Is this a restroom?”

I knew it was not, but it did not matter. I had to go, and it was either going to happen in the bus and on myself or in the grassy area beside the bus. As I stood up and began the journey from the back of the bus to the door, the tour guide (who “did not speak English” mind you) said to me quite emphatically and in perfect English, “There is no toilet. There is no restroom,” as if men are the only ones who could possibly piss in the woods.

I placed all shame aside and said just as emphatically, “Yes, but I have to GO.”

I felt as if I was going to cry, and I’m sure the tone came across. One of my American cohorts followed suit and was right behind me off the bus. I had no time to be baffled that we were the only ones with full bladders. At this moment, necessity trumped shame, but had it not been for my coworker, my embarrassment at the situation might have been too much. I needed someone to empathize with me. She too could not hold it.

As we looked around for a spot out of view of the road, the bus, and the man already pissing, we realized we would have to wait for the first man to clear from his spot. It was literally the only place hidden from the road. By the time he finished, we had been joined by two more of our coworkers.
After what seemed like hours, the first man left our new found haven.

Without a second thought, three of us, all women, ran to the grassy, overgrown area. We pulled down our pants and shamelessly relieved our bladders. Side-by-side we pissed. None of us cared that we squatted nearly too close for comfort. Instead we laughed at the absurdity of the entire situation.
 If this is what my boss had meant by team building, that is what she got. Get us drunk on too much beer, too quickly, and then do not provide a toilet. There was no time for shame or modesty. When you have to pee, you have to pee.

 Of course, after relieving myself, the shame set in.  As I stepped back on the bus, I averted my eyes and avoided eye contact with everyone. I was humiliated. When I had a moment to think, I realized that no one else on the bus had gone, and they held their bladders for the next two hours.

Later, my coworkers and I theorized that they were either all wearing diapers or had some high-tech catheters. I would not put it past Korea. There are things here that you never even knew you needed.

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