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The Nervous Pooper


I’m a nervous pooper.

I can’t poo if there is someone else in the bathroom with me. Panic sets over me when I hear the door creak open and the click clack of shoes walk in. My body freezes. I just can’t do it.

It wasn’t until I ran Hood to Coast in 2010 that I was even able to poop anywhere that wasn’t my own personal toilet. I had about two hours until my third and final run of the race, and I felt awful. My stomach churned with cramps and I knew I just needed to face the Honey Bucket and get shit done. Literally.

And I did.

And it wasn’t so bad.

But I still can’t poo if there is someone else listening to my bowel movement.

So far, from Oslo to Grado, Italy, in the 20 or so campsites at which we have stayed, I have had the fortune of either having my own personal loo or the bathroom to myself.


Our arrival in Grado signified a celebratory moment for Dave, Sora, and me, as it meant not only the end of the 410 km Alpe Adria Radweg, but it also meant that we had cycled from the Oslo Fjord in Norway to the Adriatic Sea in Italy. We had come a long way on our tour.

After eating a late lunch, we made our way to our campsite, which greeted us with a giant no dogs sign. The next closest campground was 10km away in the direction from which we had just pedaled, and it wasn’t on the beach. We weren’t about to turn around and we certainly weren’t about to sleep somewhere without beach access.

We convinced the camp host to accept Sora, as long as we agreed not to walk her around the campground. We then proceeded to pick a spot that turned out to be the busiest section of the entire place – right near the entrance to the beach and the restaurant. Everyone oogled at Sora as they walked past. Sora doesn’t appreciate stare downs from strangers.


As soon as we arrived at our spot, I felt an urgent call of nature and navigated the maze of the campground in search of the bathroom.

Five minutes later, I happened upon the hidden bathroom, and to my horror, noticed only one wall in the entire construction. The one wall separated the men’s and women’s bathrooms, the remainder was open air, inviting anyone within a 10 meter radius of the loo to listen to me drop a deuce. Further, the bathroom doubled as the dishwashing and laundry room and the restaurant was right next door. To make matters worse, a woman walked into the bathroom at the same time as I did.

I picked a stall and, perplexed with the toilet setup, took a moment to determine how to go about shitting in the curious contraption that sat before me. I faced a normal-looking toilet, but without a seat. The bowl was much larger than a regular John, and I wasn’t sure whether I was meant to sit on the thing or squat in front of it.

I decided on the squatting approach, which quickly burned my already fatigued quads, and went about my business, nervous about the woman beside me and the entire lunchtime crowd listening to me as I did.

With the deed done, I turned to my right in search of toilet paper, but found none. I looked to the other side. Nothing. I twisted behind me to look atop the toilet. Empty. I then scanned the floor. Just a trash can.

No matter, I thought. I’ll just pull up my very tight bike shorts to minimal ass crack level and poke my head out to look for the communal TP outside the stall.

There was no toilet paper anywhere. This was the most expensive campsite at which we had stayed throughout our entire journey and they couldn’t provide the means with which to wipe my ass? There was no sign of warning or a courtesy mention of this at reception.


Mortified, I waddled back to our campsite with my butt cheeks clenched together to retrieve our emergency stash of toilet paper that lived at the very bottom of Dave’s rear pannier, only to find him chatting with the Austrian couple we had met at another campsite two nights earlier.

“Oh, we also have to pay for showers here?”

That’s nice, I have shit in my pants right now.

“How strange that the sea floor is slippery until you reach the dock.”

My sea floor is slippery because I couldn’t wipe my ass.

The conversation continued for several minutes longer as I fidgeted nervously. When they finally departed towards the beach, I grabbed Dave’s arm and said “I NEED YOU TO GET ME THE TOILET PAPER. RIGHT NOW.”

I had no time to explain the urgency and snapped at him as he lallygagged in providing me with the essential paper squares. I snatched the roll from his hand and made my way back to the bathroom like a speed walking penguin and completed my poo.

I then proceeded towards the sink to wash my hands, where I discovered, not surprisingly, there was no soap to be found.

Jen Sotolongo

Hello! I'm Jen. I'm a writer, photographer, dog mom, and outdoor enthusiast. When I'm not writing about awesome ways to get outside with your dog, I'm probably out for a long trail run. I also fancy myself a pretty decent vegan cook, and am always happy to whip up a batch of cookies for friends. I am based in the Pacific Northwest and I never leave home without my dogs.

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