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“Everything’s going to be O.K.”

Highway in Pennsylvania: While on the road to Cleveland with my wife and twin girls, a nefarious odor fills the cabin of our rented Dodge minivan. A quick scan via the rear view mirror reveals that I’m the only conscious soul in the vehicle. Nonetheless, it’s evident that someone has suffered a massive diaper blow-out. A mere seconds later, Penny erupts with a demonic cry. I consider rousing my wife for damage control, but rest is paramount. There is a moment of sheer panic; then, off in the distance, I see the welcoming logo of a Flying-J, and I think: “Everything’s going to be O.K.” I burst through the sliding doors of the Flying-J like a paramedic ushering a gunshot victim. As I brush past the cashier, a friendly voice attempts to deliver a trite greeting. I avoid eye contact, and march directly to the men’s room. A mere seconds later, I reemerge with beads of sweat partially masking my vision. I take a moment to wipe my glasses and calm myself. Joan happens to be the daytime manager. “Yes, we have a changing table in the women’s restroom,” replies Joan. “Can I go in there? It’s an emergency,” I plead. As Joan ponders how to resolve this modern dilemma, a drop of liquid poop oozes down Penny’s leg. Without another word, Joan grabs a “closed for cleaning” sign and clears the women’s restroom. A loan middle-aged woman exits in distress. Joan shouts “all clear” before giving me the green light. I hurriedly cross the threshold into foreign territory, but still mindful of the historic moment. The women’s room has a familiar feel but with subtle differences— like an alternate reality. As I pull down the changing table, I hear Joan apologizing “for the inconvenience.” I place Penny on the board like a slab of meat, and focus on the task at hand. Instinct takes over. “This is why you practice,” I think to myself. I triumphantly bound from restroom a few minutes later. To my surprise, a line of women has already formed. I can feel the tension in the air. I want to run and hide, but my path is obstructed. As I hesitantly step forward, the women part like the red sea. A collective swoon fills the gap as they fawn over my happy blue-eyed angel. I think to myself, “The lack of changing stations is a struggle for dads, but the lack of bathroom access for women is a powerful reminder of the oppression in which all women are perpetual victims — kept in a subordinate position by the iron fist of patriarchy.

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