By Tom Hardesty | Assistant Sports Editor
I love coffee.
I started drinking the stuff during my days at the University of Akron, for the express purpose of pulling all-nighters studying the night before an exam.
Coffee was vital to staying awake for said all-nighters — and also for remaining upright and at least semi-coherent during the day that followed. I quickly grew to like coffee enough to drink it every day long after I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communications from UA in 1992 (proof that all-nighters are indeed effective) — a ritual I carried right into my career at the Record-Courier starting in 1994.
I quickly settled into the habit of brewing a pot of coffee before I left to cover a sporting event, taking my java with me in a large travel mug as I traveled to points throughout Portage County.
On one particular day, that point was Kent Roosevelt High School, where I was assigned to cover a baseball game.
I dutifully arrived at the Rough Riders’ field, found a good spot from which to view the game, and settled in with my notepad, pen — and, of course, big travel mug of steaming hot joe.
Life was good as I kicked back to enjoy a pleasant afternoon of America’s pastime.
Around about the third inning, however, life began to deteriorate just a little as I started to suffer the consequences of guzzling an entire pot of coffee.
As the inning ended, I decided to take the opportunity to make a break for the restrooms at Roosevelt Stadium, only a short jaunt across the football practice field from the baseball facility.
There was just enough time during the inning break to answer nature’s call and get back to the baseball field for continued coverage.
I breathlessly arrived at the men’s room door at the vacant stadium, pulled the handle to open the door — and, to my horror, discovered it was locked. I pulled several times, just in case the door was stuck.
I looked around, hoping against hope to see a maintenance worker traipsing around the area who might have keys to the men’s room door, but unfortunately I had the place to myself.
This was a problem.
By now I had given up any hope of returning to the baseball game in time for the next inning. At this point I was in full self-preservation mode, trying to think of some way to alleviate the problem.
Then it occurred to me: There was a women’s room at the stadium as well — and by now I was gladly willing to trade shame for comfort. I headed for the women’s room post haste, pulled the handle — and the door didn’t budge so much as a centimeter.
By now my situation was reaching critical mass.
It was as if a fish tank had taken up residence in my midsection.
With both stadium restroom doors locked and the closest possible facility being the high school building several hundred yards away — a destination I didn’t have a prayer of making in time — I was out of options.
At least, out of socially acceptable options.
I won’t go into further detail, but suffice to say I rectified the situation in a manner of which I’m not entirely proud — but which was entirely necessary.
Needless to say, my trusty big travel mug remained safely in our kitchen cupboard on all future coverage endeavors.
Some lessons you only need to learn once.