Roadside discomfort

The worst roadside restroom I ever visited was in northwest Indiana. It was 1989 and a friend and I were on a late-night motorcycle ride from Chicago, where we lived, to Michigan, where we planned to spend the night. I had only owned a motorcycle for a week and felt unsteady on it, so we stayed off the Interstate and kept to state highways.

This particular roadside rest area was not one of those brightly-lit affairs with tiled restrooms, vending machines and space for big trucks to park. On the contrary, this was more of a picnic area that happened to have a toilet on site.

The toilet was within a ramshackle wooden structure, the kind of building you tend to see in television news reports of serial killings. It brought to mind the outhouse behind the pre-oil Clampett family in Tennessee.

Even before I entered it I slammed into a wall of stench. The urgency of my visit, however, left me with no choice but to hold my breath and proceed. There was no plumbing in this toilet. There was only a cess-pit with a seat affixed over a hole in a plywood box.

Here is where I will discontinue my description of the Indiana rest area toilet I had occasion to use in 1989.

I would show exactly where in northwest Indiana this roadside restroom was, but the Indiana Department of Transportation rest area locator map displays none in that part of the state. In fact it shows no rest areas anywhere in Indiana.

One likes to think this is the result of a technical glitch on INDOT’s website and not because Indiana has no roadside rest areas. I suppose it is possible that there are no roadside rest areas in Indiana, that the state eliminated them for budget reasons with the assumption that travelers could relieve and refresh themselves at Pilot Flying J Travel Centers.

The locator map on the Pilot Flying J Company’s website, by the way, is somewhat more expressive than INDOT’s.

In Texas they used to call these places “comfort stations,” but the only comfort that roadside restroom in Indiana provided was the comfort of not soiling my pants.

I do not care to go into further detail about the worst roadside restroom I ever visited so please, don’t ask me to. I’m serious about this; don’t ask me.