Food Poisoning Abroad: A Cautionary Tale

***Warning: Gross***

I was in a bar in New York, seconds away from my first American beer, when a wave of sickness swept over me and I was overcome with the desire to be near a toilet. For both ends’ sake. This bar had two unisex toilets. I proceeded to barricade myself in one of them. I won’t go into detail with regard to what happens next. I will just say that it is the most shameful thing I have ever done. It was bad. And I’ve seen an old man with diarrhoea on a composting public toilet next to the highway in remote WA. So when I say it’s bad, it’s bad. I tried to clean up my mess but it was futile. It’s of the highest imperative that I make a speedy exit at this point. My boyfriend won’t leave right away – he has to pee. Typical. I warn Dan off one of the bathrooms and wait outside. It’s only a matter of seconds before one of the 20-odd people in the bar realises what I’ve done.

I’m feeling faint on the footpath. I’ve got roughly 10 more seconds of standing up left in me. We’re near Central Park, where the Natural History Museum and the Met are: the opposite end of New York to the apartment we’re staying in. Dan emerges with a plastic bag that has our glow-in-the-dark planets, a pink rock and a couple of other miscellaneous treasures inside. He hails a cab and I pray for the best. It’s not a long journey – I think around 40 minutes all up. The radio show the cab driver’s listening to is talking about the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 pilot. I’m looking out the window, trying really hard to suppress feelings of nausea. The more time that passes in the cab, the more I feel like I really have to throw up. I was almost at breaking point when it pulled up outside our building.

I get out knowing it’s unlikely I will make it up the seven flights of stairs before I reach a toilet without another… incident. Luckily, it’s just the top half this time – realistically, that’s probably the luckiest I’ve ever been. After about three flights of stairs, I have to mitigate damage (and I have to do a better job than I did at the bar). And that’s when it happened: I had the best idea I’ve ever had. I tersely ask Dan to pass me the plastic bag. I empty the bag’s contents into his hands. It’s during the day and mid-week, so none of the buildings’ other occupants are around. As I walk up the fourth flight, I vomit into the plastic bag, holding it by the handles up around either side of my face. Honestly, I’m both immensely relieved and incredibly proud that I so cleverly utilised the bag in this way.

I’m trying to think now what I did with the bag. I suspect I tied the handles and gave it to Dan.

And that’s why you never, ever eat the pulled pork at the American Natural History Museum.

Author: Emma Carroll

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