Thursday, June 28, 2007

No Breeze in Breezewood

I was thinking today about an experience which anyone on the east coast of the United States of America should have at some point before they die. There is a marvel of architectural design right in the center of the wonderful state of Pennsylvania, right along I-70 in Breezewood. During the past several weeks, I have been making trips to the Maryland/Virginia/D.C. area to interview for software engineering positions. During such trips, I would often enter the aptly-placed Sheetz in Breezewood in order to refresh myself and purchase coffee. Because I am already jittering from massive coffee intake at this point, I would feel a jingling in my bladder as my happy little neurons start the wondrous process of placing my body in the "I-have-to-pee" state. (For you computer scientists out there, this is state P-sub-192834 on the Matthew Minerd simple state machine.)

Driving down the hill from the PA Turnpike, I glance to my right, seeing the rising red awning which signals my approach to the bastion of traveler's delight, the Sheetz Brothers' Gas Station. The crimson view penetrates my retinal cones, rods, and even my arteries, infusing my entire being with hopes of respite from the road behind. As the scarlet symphony fills me from vision to blood, my stallion approaches the stall in the lot of this Mecca of traveler and college student alike. Exiting from my carriage, I enter into a land of bliss, filled with food on demand and blissful liquid to quench my arid throat and recaffeinate my bloodstream.

As I take in the pure surroundings of this hopeful land, I am inundated by subliminal cerebrations caused by the grand communication from my urinary tract to my lower and then higher consciousness. With a swagger in my step, I think of all the great times had in this Promised Land, flowing with coffee and shmuffinz. Without diminished hope, I enter the bathroom and approach the furthest urinal stall because, hey, I'm on top of the world. Whoever else comes in should take a shorter walk for their personal relief. As I finish my business, I feel the slightest of tapping on my arm, a sensation which increases in magnitude as a hard surface attempts penetrate the space occupied by my right arm.

Looking to my right, I realize a sad truth: This Promised Land is marred by sin like they Egypt from which I have sojourned. Even here, the land is scarred by the incapacity of Man to live in harmony with creation. Like the insidious priests of Ra, who denied me respite along the turnpike other than at their high temples of "service plazas," these Baal-influenced architects have marred the sanctuary of Man's bladder. Here, my friends, the crimson palace falls apart, for a bathroom stall is only accessible by means of passing through the furthest urinal's assigned space. Here, harmony cannot be had if two men must interact within this inter-stall neutral zone. Sin propagates more disharmony and prevents unity by such insidious setups.

Leaving the bathroom, I hang my head in sadness, paying for my coffee without making eye contact with my server. I quietly thank the poor person who must work in such close proximity to this atrocity of architecture, marveling at her fortitude and strength to maintain joy in such a bleak atmosphere. Returning to my travelling stallion, I realize that this pit stop has occurred before. However, I never have learned my lesson on this topic. I suppose I hope for a solution to this problem but never realize that it will have to come from without, for neither the users nor the owners can/will rectify this lamentable situation.

A tear falls from my eye as I see Zion fallen without visible hope of redemption and continue my journey into the dark.

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