Locked Up - My Family Travels
West Virginia Outhouse
West Virginia Outhouse

The last place I imagined being that morning was locked away from civilization, screaming for help, fighting to escape, knowing that every breath I took may very well be my last. Well at least that is what it felt like.

I was locked in an outhouse on the Tuckahoe Outdoor Education Trip, in the middle of West Virginia. Let me give you some background knowledge first. The Tuckahoe Outdoor Education Trip (Outdoor Ed for short) is a camping trip middle-schoolers at Tuckahoe take. Each year the trip becomes more advanced. In 6th grade you are sleeping in cabins and eating at the mess hall for three days. By the time you reach 8th grade (the time our story takes place) you are suddenly setting up tents in the middle of the wilderness, cooking all or your food over a fire for five days.


So okay at first it may not sound so bad, I mean you are probably thinking this kid was trapped in an outhouse on a school camping trip big whoop, but trust me it was horrible. I was locked in with two other people and at one point we were thinking of swimming through one of the toilets for  help.   Either that, or we would live by eating the bugs that crawled the walls, each of us marrying one of the toilets (mine was named Maria). 

For the sake of privacy, I will refer to my fellow “captives” as “Bob” and “Rob.”  It was the fourth and final day of camping and we were putting on our wet suits in preparation for a river rafting trip.  Bob, Rob, and I had to wait upwards of an hour to get into one of the outhouse stalls to change.  When we finally got in, I quickly dressed.  I left the stall and tried to open the entrance door, but it was locked.  I called to my fellow inmates for help. I explained that we were trapped, but they seemed unconcerned.  Each in turn tried the door themselves and found that it was locked.  Their calm quickly turned to panic and we began to scream for help.  We were trapped. 

After what seemed like hours, but was probably closer to ten minutes, someone arrived.  He was a fellow-camper who had stumbled upon us while searching for his water bottle.  He heard our shouts from within the outhouse and asked if we had seen his canteen.  I patiently replied that we had not seen it and that we were trapped in the bathroom, “Could you please try and open the door”? I asked.  He tried, but it would not budge so we convinced him that his water bottle could wait and he ran to get help. 

Some time later, the adults arrived.  They too tried the door, but had no luck.  After a number of failed attempts they found some tools and slipped them to us under the door.  I took the tools in hand and set about disassembling the inner workings of the lock like a seasoned safe cracker.  It was too broken for my limited skills.  The adults decided to seek help and we were left waiting until finally they returned with a State Trooper in tow. 

The wait was too much for Rob. He curled himself up in a ball in the corner and began to cry.  “We are trapped,” he wept.  “We are going to die!”

No, we will get out of this alive,” I joked.  “There are more than enough bugs to eat and we can drink the strange liquid oozing from the walls.  Each of us will marry a toilet and live happily ever after.”

“I call the middle one,” said Rob.

“No way,” I replied. “She was totally checking me out.”

And then we heard a voice call to us from outside. It was one of the teachers. He shouted, “Hey, guys, try swimming through the toilets and coming out from the girl’s bathroom on the other side.” 

The next few hours were a blur of rock-paper-scissors, hide-and-go-seek and tag in our four by four cell.  At one point I could have sworn I saw God looking down through a beam of light, smiling and assuring us that everything would be OK – although it could have been nothing more than the outhouse fumes that were poisoning our brains.  That would explain the flying aardvark. 

Two more hours of waiting and we heard a noise.  The door began to creek open.  We were saved!  We ran from our poopy prison and deeply inhaled the fresh, forest air.  I looked gratefully to the State Trooper who flashed back a look of anger and disappointment.  The others circled around Bob and Rob, shaking their hands, patting their backs and asking them how they were despite the fact that I had also been trapped in that toilet and had worked harder than anyone to free us. I may have been ignored but it was good to be free.

The remainder of my day was interrupted by images of my time in the bathroom. Although now that I am older, I often look back on those hours. Those few hours of being trapped, and I smile. The irony of one of the biggest dorks in the school being locked in an outhouse is something to laugh about. Hey you would smile too if you were the boy who got locked in an outhouse.

By Devin D’Agostino

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