Dear Public Health Department:

This last Friday, we were touring our fair state in search of amusement. Having awoken far too early in the morning due to an unpleasant incident involving a cat and a bug, we had consumed copious amounts of coffee, and were forced to stop far more often than usual to visit the facilities.

Now, as a seasoned roadtripper, I’m well aware of the quality of the rest areas in various states around the country. I’m happy to report that Minnesota’s are among the best. They’re generally clean, plentiful, and unhindered by church groups and 4-H club tour buses. Therefore, it was with little hesitation that we pulled off the road at the Moose Lake stop on I-35. How was I to suspect the danger that lurked inside?

As we stood at the hand dryers, Heather pointed up at a sign on the wall, which had been lovingly crafted by someone who had far too much spare time and unrestricted access to clip art. In vibrant, happy colors, it warned us not to drink the water under threat of serious illness, as it had tested positive for coliform bacteria.

I froze, considering the implications. I had just washed my hands with bacteria. Bacteria from poop. I went back to the sink, filled my hand with soap, and washed again. As I held my hands under the water, I realized the futility of my actions. More bacteria. Millions of them, all over me. Spreading up my arms, under my clothes. Fighting their way towards my mouth, rushing me towards my inevitable death following a protracted battle with flu-like symptoms.

Whimpering, I followed Heather out of the bathroom, holding my arms out away from my body, hoping to stem the tide of infection. I cursed the friendly woman behind the information desk, sitting there so smugly with her colorful maps and brochures, fully aware of the carnage that was going on right in her workplace. She probably even printed the signs, humming contentedly to herself as she scotch-taped her masterpieces carefully around the building. I suspect she may harbor the secret of just how the water in that location became contaminated in the first place. All I ask is that at the inquisition following my demise, she’s considered an accomplice to the crime.


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