Snow Train
Snow Train


Please be advised that this story contains the word “pee.”


I really had to pee.

There I was trying to get to work early, for the taping of Canadia 2056. I wanted to get there and test the microphones, the console, and still have time to sit in on the read-through. Figured if I left by seven, I could make it in by eight-thirty, with the first cast members arriving at ten.

Snow and freezing rain messed everything up. The damned bus didn’t show up ’til seven-twenty. Then the train was late. Forty-five minutes late. Waiting for it, standing in the freezing rain, it occurred to me:

I really had to pee.

But I couldn’t leave the platform in case the train came. The train was already late and the subsequent train had been cancelled. If I left to pee, I’d miss the train and I might never get to work. If I couldn’t get to work, I wouldn’t be able to record the cast of Canadia 2056. I’d let a lot of people down. The train would come soon, I knew. I’d be able to go to the washroom on the train, or maybe even be able to hold it until I got to Toronto.

The train took its sweet time coming. But it came, and I got on it, and I thought I’d better sit down if I want to get a seat, and sure I had to pee but I could hold it ’til Toronto. Lots of other people got on, we stopped at Ajax, then Pickering, and by then so many people were on the train that we couldn’t take any more. There was no way I could get up from my seat and get to the washroom because there were far too many people in the way.

No problem.

I’d be able to go to the washroom in Toronto.

“Sorry folks, we’re gonna have to wait here on the platform for a while until they figure out what to do with us,” the conductor announced to the train. “It’ll just be a few minutes.”

Tycho Brahe -- Too polite for his own good
Tycho Brahe — Too polite for his own good

Half an hour later the train hadn’t budged an inch, and I began to think of Tycho Brahe. Brahe was a sixteenth century astronomer who, once upon a time, attended a banquet (and famously wore a fake brass nose after losing part of his real nose in a duel). It was considered the height of bad manners to leave the banquet before its conclusion, so Tycho didn’t go anywhere, even though he really had to pee. He stayed the course right up until his bladder exploded, and he died several days later. Some physicians these days think that this sort of thing is impossible, and that Tycho actually died from something else (such as mercury poisoning, though opinions differ). But sitting on that train with my bladder poised to explode, I was fairly certain that not only was that how Tycho Brahe died, it was how I was going to die.

Fortunately the train began to move. I would be spared such an ignominious fate.

Unfortunately, we moved about two hundred yards and then the train stopped again. A frozen switch. No problem: a mere half an hour later and we were on the move again.

By then I was in agony.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have created a world in which we cannot pee when we have to. And it’s just plain wrong. Because you see, everybody has to pee. It’s a natural body function. Why, you yourself have probably peed this very day. You may be returning from a pee (did you wash your hands?) Or you may have to pee right now. If so, I suggest you go and pee. Because it’s really not the sort of thing you want to put off.

Once I had to pee and I thought, I’ll just take the elevator down to the second floor. I’ll be able to pee once I get to the second floor.


Didn’t the elevator get stuck between floors. I was stuck in an elevator in Toronto. Security had to call Wisconsin to Otis Head Office to locate an elevator repairman. Otis Head Office woke up a repairman who lived in Barrie (it was one in the morning). He drove all the way into Toronto and a mere hour and a half later I was able to pee.

And I’m here to tell you that that pee felt good.

And so (for that matter) did the pee I had after being stuck on the train.

Which is, perhaps, why we’ve created this crazy world in which it’s not possible to pee whenever we want to. So that sometimes, after we are required to hold our bladders for interminable lengths of time, when at long last we are finally able to pee, we can appreciate just how unbelievably awesome it feels.