on sunday night i made my usual pit-stop between killeen and houston at the mcdonald’s in caldwell, texas. this is a very slow-service mcdonald’s with a slightly creepy evening staff, but caldwell is half-way between danny’s apartment and mine. and most of the other small towns along the way feature only hole-in-the-wall joints with name’s like k-bob’s* that probably serve armadillo carcass. with sweet tea.
so i’m stopping in caldwell and feeling really thankful that i’m finally there because i’ve had to pee for about 50 miles. i enter the bathroom to find a gaggle of women speaking in very quick spanish. one of them motions to a stall that is apparently unoccupied.
i try the door. it is locked. i return to the line.
the woman who had offered the stall is confused until i tell her it is locked. her eyes light up with an “aha!” and she motions to a little girl leaning against the greasy tiled wall — probably her granddaughter.
“she is just playing a little prank!” the woman says.
in horror, i watch this child — wearing a very short yet pristine dress — crawl on the floor of the caldwell mcdonald’s, underneath the stall door, to unlock it from within. she emerges triumphant. even does a little curtsey. her accompanying gaggle of women applaud. they applaud this demonstration of complete disregard for infant well-being. i am convinced that during her brief stint on the toilet-paper littered floor of the caldwell mcdonald’s this child has contracted lupus or scabies or something equally horrible.**
as i smile weakly and close myself within the stall (being careful not to touch anything), i realize that this girl must have already crawled on the floor once to leave the stall locked in the first place.
** i know nothing about how one actually catches these diseases