Midnight in Seattle

The following account is a true story, with parts embellished for dramatic effect.

Either the bus was late, or I was late for the bus.  If the former, it would be arriving soon.  If the latter, I had roughly an hour to kill until the next one arrived, around 1:15 in the morning.

At about 12:30, I realized that it was probably the latter.  Not wanting to wait around for the next bus, I walked from 115th Street to the Northgate Transit Center, which took about 20 minutes.  Approaching it, my bladder was already beginning to fill with the beer I had drunk earlier that night, in celebration of a friend’s farewell party.  I hadn’t had much, but once the seal is broken…

On the way there, I saw some police cars with their lights on, and had to navigate through a construction site.  Near where I saw the cop cars, the bushes on my right rustled, and I hoped some dude wasn’t hiding out there, waiting to pounce on me.

The transit center was silent when I approached it.  Since there’s always people there, I considered it a bad sign that I saw no one.  Worse, I saw no buses.  When I looked at the schedule posted there, I saw that the last bus heading towards my house had left at 12:35, which was about the same time I had set out for this stop.  It was now a little before 1 am.  Would I be able to make it back in time to catch the other bus?

Since I had traveled south and west to get to the transit center, I decided to travel east in order to shave off some minutes in reaching 115th again.  Unfortunately, the roads in Seattle don’t work like that, and walking down 1st Ave NE, I saw every bush as a potential porta-potty, for my bladder was reaching its limit.  Street lights and the possibility of hidden cameras near the stores I passed dissuaded me from relieving myself on them, though.

Otherwise, it was a nice night outside, and I ended up recognizing my surroundings after crossing a bridge over I-5.  I was at North Seattle Community College.  Unfortunately, I also knew that the bus that ran from here to my home had started its final run over 30 minutes earlier at Northgate Transit Center.  This is where I had flashbacks to a night in Japan where, upon missing the last train going south, I walked three stations down to the Chuo Line in order to hop a train one stop east to Musashi-Koganei.  I don’t remember how long that walk took.  I think it took an hour or less.  Regardless, I didn’t have to pee a river that night, and my pleasant buzz hid the fact that a 10-minute train ride would take much longer on foot.  This time, I was sober, but again, I decided I was going to walk home.  I also knew a bar on the way where I could stop to pee, if it were still open.  In the meantime, I kept my eyes peeled for shrubbery hidden by the dark of night.

Unfortunately, the road was too well-lit for late night tinkling.  And then I thought, “Would I want some dude peeing on my bushes at 1:30 in the morning?”  Imagine putting lots of time and energy into your yard, only to have some dude piss on it.  Plus, some people were still up, probably watching Craig Ferguson.  He’s a funny man.

Turning left up a hill, I saw three drunken college girls across the street, two of whom were having a fight (I say “saw,” but I heard them long before I saw them).  Not in a catfight sense, which would have been awesome, but more in a “stop following me, bitch,” sort of way.  It was amusing.  I’m sure they would forget their argument in the morning.

The bar I had hoped was open was still open, but I worried that if I went inside, I’d have to buy a drink.  I could always threaten to pee on their floor if they didn’t let me use their restroom sans purchase, but then they might call the cops, and that wouldn’t be good.  I also thought I was close enough to another bathroom without consequences — at a supermarket — that I could hold it until then.  So, I walked past salvation, and my bladder became heavier still.  At one point, I passed a Bank of America, and while they deserve to be pissed on, I refrained.

Finally, the supermarket appeared in front of me, and to my right, a gas station.  That one had no sign on it that said they had bathrooms, however, and I couldn’t see any when I looked at the store.  Plus, the supermarket — where I had worked for two unhappy weeks — was just across the street.  I went to the supermarket.

A sign said that the customer bathroom was located upstairs.  I went to the foot of the stairs.  “Bathrooms closed between 11 pm and 5 am.”  Damn you, supermarket.  You haven’t forgiven me for leaving you so suddenly.

After that rejection, I only hoped that I could make it the rest of the way home.  At least I knew how much longer I’d have to hold my bag of liquid poison.  Air bubbles pushing on my bladder, however, forced me to slow down until they dissipated, which stretched out the length of time it would take to reach my door.

So that is how it was for the rest of my journey. I’d be walking normally.  An air bubble would press dangerously on my sack of golden goodness.  I would slow down and wait until it found its way out of my body.  Then, I would commence walking again.  Within a block or two of my house, my bladder came dangerously close to opening the floodgates on several occasions, so I had to give it a pep talk, telling it to be strong every time an air bubble threatened to break its resolve.

Finally, I made it to my house.  I didn’t even bother taking off my backpack before straddling the porcelain god and pouring forth my offering in an unending stream of urine.  Well, okay, it did end, and when it did, I discovered that I was either still woozy from the effects of alcohol, or that I was exhausted. Probably the latter.  Including the journey to the transit center, I had walked for roughly 90 minutes straight.  I’ve held my bladder for longer, but I’ve never held it while walking for that long.  I hope to never do so again.  But the fact that I’ve done it twice now proves one thing:

I need to be at my stops earlier.


Author: Greg Salvatore

Writer. Voice Actor. Humanist. Feminist.

3 thoughts on “Midnight in Seattle”

  1. My bladder is approximately the size of a lentil, so 90 minutes of ‘holding it’ sounds like 90 minutes of hell.

    I had a bus scheduling snafu of my own several years ago in Our Fair City that involved several miles of walking due to eff’ed up transfer times. I was working late at that time, so my work schedule didn’t help things any. Basically, I spent a ridiculous amount of time waiting for a bus at Aurora Village, and when it arrived, the driver forgot to change his route number on the reader board. So I ended up (unknowingly) boarding the wrong bus, which went to wrong place at the wrong time of night, and I had no way to get back home except on foot.

    I ended up walking four miles in four inch heels. It was…


    In retrospect, I suppose I’m lucky I didn’t get accosted. Or arrested.

    1. I had a friend in college with such a small bladder that we used her name when going to the bathroom, as in, “I’m going to pull a [her name].” Also, glad you survived your ordeal, but 4 miles in four-inch heels? Yikes.

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