Toilet Terror in Killarney, Ireland
I never thought I was claustrophobic until I became stuck in a bus toilet.
At the start of my journey as a blogger, I thought it would be a smart idea to invest in a ticket to TBEX (Travel Blogger Exchange). It's a conference for Travel Bloggers & Industry Professionals to gather from all around the world and network, learn skills and get a bit drunk. It became one of the best decisions I could have made but I'm still amazed I actually did it! It's one of my proudest solo trips to date. I threw myself waaaay out of my comfort zone and survived! I got to meet incredibly ambitious and inspirational people, as well as learning a shed load of information about Blogging, SEO, Social Media Marketing and Business.
The TBEX Arrival.
The thought of going to a conference on a topic I knew nothing about, with nobody I knew, in a place I'd never been to made me almost shit my pants. My mind was racing with all the terrible scenarios that could (& "definitively would") happen. I had an image of me, clambering off the bus from the airport, sweating with nerves from asking the driver where to get off, then walking the opposite way from my hostel and getting lost in a field, making friends with a cow and riding out the week in my own version of Charlotte's Web.
Instead, my arrival went fairly smoothly and I made my way to the Black Sheep Inn without any major problems (I'd stopped to take money out and accidentally taken out twice as much as I needed... Cue me, trying to look nonchalant while carrying a WAD of cash on me lol). I found it surprisingly easy to meet some new pals within my first few hours! I'd met Ben from Ben's Tripping through Instagram a few days beforehand and the hostel had a bunch of friendly bloggers on their guest list for the week. We banded together and decided to go to the Official TBEX Launch night as a group. "Safety in numbers", I thought...
The Launch Night.
We arrived at the launch event at Killarney's Racecourse and headed straight for the free whiskey tasters (of course). I never drink whiskey but with the TBEX tickets (nearly £300), flights (£200), hostels (approx £130) and spending money, mama needed to get some free shiz y'know!! So naturally, I started tanking the booze. I feel so much more extroverted and confident after a few drinks so I'm guessing this is my internal reasoning for hitting it hard. On the plus side, it allowed me to network like cray and have good chats with fellow bloggers On the bad side, it risked me having "The Fear" Hangover the next day, made me spend more money and made me pee like crazy! As all of my pals will tell you, I'm constantly going to the bathroom. I'm 99% sure it's a mix between anxiousness, too much caffeine, too much water or the slightest sip of alcohol. I should mention at this point that I cannot hold my pee. At all. When I need to go, I need to go.
After a night of great food, fire performers, Irish dancing and frequent trips to the bathroom, we decided to get a bus back into town to carry on the festivities at the local bars round Killarney. Luckily, we had positioned ourselves outside the event, close to the buses when the event staff started to herd the black sheep bloggers for dispatching. Black sheep was an ideal nickname because I took the opportunity to rebel and order one last drink (a pint nonetheless) to "down" before we got on the bus. Terrible Idea.
The Bus Banter.
I quickly knocked the pint back and shuffled onto the bus with the rest of the group. While we were waiting for the bus to fill up before leaving, I decided to quickly duck into the on board toilet to save myself from dampening the bus seats on our journey into the City Centre. My timing must have been off because I stumbled into the small 1 metre x 1 metre toilet, locked the door, finished my tinkle and felt the bus engine roar into life... I didn't think anything of it at first so I carried on washing my hands in the tiny sink before fixing my hair in the worlds smallest mirror and psyching myself up to join in on the "Bus Banter".
The lock wasn't the easiest to figure out sober, let alone after practically swimming in alcohol all evening but I tried turning the handle and nothing happened. I jiggled the lock back and forth and tried again but still nothing. I took a step back a few inches to assess the lock situation. "Was I this drunk?" "how many shots did I actually have?" "will anybody find my body in here or will I meet the end of my existence in a bus toilet in the middle of the Irish countryside?".
Luckily for me, I'm never completely out of it when I drink and I formulated a very sensible plan. "I'll just call one of the group and ask them to come unlock the door from the outside (or call the driver to help)". I realised I didn't have anyone's mobile number and immediately started to panic. All of us had added each other on social media but forgotten to exchange numbers! Millennial problems, am I right? "No Problem!" I thought, "I'll just use Facebook messenger to call since I have roaming data!". Disaster averted. Technology to the rescue!
The Ring of Flames.
I calmed myself down a tad and sat on the toilet. I pulled my phone out of my pocket, quietly smug that I'd beaten Debbie the Downer (my anxiety) at the unhelpful thinking game. I noticed my screen was dimmer than normal and looked at my battery percentage. 1%. One. Not Seven. Not Two. ONE. I felt my eyes widen and my butt clench with nerves. I was legit going to be STUCK in this toilet. I quickly started calling each member of the group and became increasingly erratic when nobody answered. Out of all the people I was on the bus with, every one of them either missed the call or didn't have data!!
I started to bang on the door for help but the bus was becoming more rowdy with the gaggle of bloggers so it went unnoticed. When I started kicking the door, I noticed a small gap at the bottom come away from the frame. I thought "THIS IS MY CHANCE!" before realising that shrinking down to the size of a door mouse wasn't the most helpful solution (or the most possible). I decided to wait it out and try to control the impending panic attack that was happening. The toilet was the smallest toilet I think I've ever been in so it didn't take long for me to start imagining the walls slowly closing in on me. I was sitting on the toilet trying not to gag over the smell of urine with each deep breath I was taking, when though all the noise I heard someone shout "Steven's been in there for ages! Less 'Ring of Kerry' more like 'Ring of Fire!!!'".
NO WAY. Not only was I stuck in a toilet with nobody helping me, my new friends thought I'd had a bout of diarrhoea half way through our first night out and that I was currently dropping a whole school bus of kids off at the pool (if you know what I mean...). I was mortified. I have no problem talking about natural bodily functions but I was considering staying in that toilet on my own free will from that point on! Luckily enough the bus stopped at the club and people started piling out. Of course, all my friends just thought I was cleaning myself up rather than trapped, fighting a panic attack and gassed on public bathroom fumes so they all left. Without me.
It wasn't until Steph (from ThePinkBackpack) noticed I wasn't there for role call and came back for me. I was rescued by the not-so-impressed bus driver that had absolutely ZERO sympathy for the terrifying ordeal I'd just been through. I'm British and polite so I apologised profusely and left - even though he had locked the toilet before checking it was empty!
I spent the rest of the night trying to forget about the whole situation as well as convincing everyone I was actually stuck instead of experiencing that dreaded "Ring of Fire"...
Lesson Learned: I highly suggest you invest in a portable battery pack to prevent situations like mine. It'll save your ass! Or, you can always just drink responsibly and make sure someone knows where you're going! (and if it's a number 1 or 2!).
Have a great day and be your best self!
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