It was a few years ago when my work colleague Jennifer and I drove to the city for an important meeting with some clients. We'd decided beforehand that she'd drive her own car, giving me the opportunity to read a financial report I needed for the meeting.
On the way back home Jennifer decided we stop at a cafe for some refreshments. She knew that this place served every kind of coffee you could wish for, and of course, she was right.
It was mid-afternoon when we set off again on the way home, Jennifer in the driving seat, and I sitting beside her making notes about the meeting and every so often seeking her advice and opinions on financial matters. She was a keen accountant equal to no one, so her views were invaluable.
An hour into the journey home we met a delay on the highway. All three lanes were full of cars as we slowed down to a snail's pace. Pretty soon we stopped in what turned out to be the longest car park I'd ever seen. Ahead of us, for as far as we could see, there were stopped cars in all three lanes. Behind us, within minutes, a longer queue of parked cars developed into eternity.
Every so often, we moved forward a few yards and stopped again. There'd probably been an accident ahead, or perhaps road works. There was no way of knowing. We were travelling at about 5 miles an hour if not slower.
And that's when the coffee came into play!
I felt I needed to go to the men's room; but unfortunately Jennifer's car did not have such a facility. At first I put up with the slight discomfort which, with every passing minute, grew into ... a more pronounced pain.
"Why are you fidgeting in your seat?" she asked me.
Embarrassingly, I told her. She sympathised by hoping we'd soon be out of this slow traffic.
Fifteen minutes later I became desperate. We'd been at a standstill for quite a while with cars parked all around us.
Jennifer said she had an idea. She got out of the car, opened the boot, and came back holding a small potty in her hand.
"We always keep this in the car for my young son," she said, "perhaps you could use it and then discreetly empty it on the road."
"What?" I asked in a panic, "I couldn't possibly ... besides, it's too small."
"I'm not asking you to place it on the ground and stand on the seat aiming at it!" she said irritably, "just do it sitting down."
"With you here beside me watching me? It's too embarrassing ... " I replied crossing my legs together.
"Forget it ..." she said with gritted teeth as she drove forward a few yards and put the brakes on suddenly turning my pronounced pain into extreme agony.
"What I meant ..." I said soothingly, "the potty is too small for me to use fully ..."
"Do it in stages ..." she replied increasing her level of irritability.
"I can't just turn it on and off like a faucet," I pleaded sheepishly.
And that's when I realised the reason for her uncharacteristic bad temper.
"And I can't exactly lift my dress up, pull down my underpants, and sit on the potty inside the car, can I?" she hissed under her breath, "or would you prefer me to sit on the potty in full view in the middle of the road? Besides ... what exactly have you got to hide? It's tiny size?"
She was obviously in the same coffee predicament as myself.
We drove silently for about twenty minutes when we eventually reached an exit on the highway. As soon as we left the highway I asked her to stop by some woodland and I ran behind a tree and some bushes to commune with nature.
Jennifer, on the other hand, was much more of a lady than I ever was, or will be. She got out of the car and asked me to drive.
I sped to the nearest diner a mile or so ahead where we welcomed a much earned comfort break; and then we sat down and enjoyed their variety of coffees.
Excerpt from my memoirs "AS I QUOTE MYSELF"