Dear bathroom users, I’m sorry

Two West Side Story staffers tell their story about a hectic night, involving tampons and a bathroom.


Fenna Semken and Shati Cooper

Once upon a time, on a West Side Story exporting night, I, Fenna Semken, went to the bathroom. This should not have been a problem, people use the West High bathrooms daily, but it was far from being just an everyday bathroom use.

I headed down the hallway in good spirits, wanting to get back to the newsroom as soon as possible so that I didn’t miss too much of the High School Musical throwback music that we had going. But that is where everything took a turn for the worse.

Here I am, just wanting to go to the bathroom, spacy and overheated from the exporting activities, entering the bathroom in the commons, when I slip on a paper towel and slide ever so gracefully into the tampon dispenser. There’s a loud crash, but it is not me falling head on into this unused dispenser. It is that dispenser exploding off the wall, expelling its contents onto me and everything else.

Tampons and pads strewn across the yellow tile floor, a metal box separated into two parts, and a slightly more bare bathroom wall is what police would have found at this crime scene.

I look around and think, ‘Should I leave, or should I go to the bathroom?’ I should have just left. Falling into the dispenser should have been a sign to get out of that bathroom, that that trip was not going to end well. But want more could go wrong?

Oh, a lot more. I tiptoe into the stall, careful not to step on any misplaced tampons, and close the door. I am about to sit down when I elbow the off-white, scratched up feminine product disposal box. If this had been a normal ‘hit with your elbow,’ the outcome would have probably been different, but this was not a normal bump. I must have gained some super inhuman strength in that moment because I pummeled it, sent it off the wall, under the stall door and out into the open area among the previously displaced tampons and pads.

I am standing in the musty bathroom stall at eight o’clock at night, praying that the contents stayed inside the disposal bin. ‘Deep breath, it’s okay,’ I am saying as I unlock the door and prepare myself to see the damage.

Blood. Everywhere. What have I done? ”

— Fenna Semken

Blood. Everywhere. What have I done? The lid on the disposal bin has become unattached and is in the opposite corner of the bathroom than its friend, the actual bin. The contents of the box is everywhere in between.

I stood there for a good minute thinking about what had just happened, not knowing what exactly to do next. Should I tell someone? Should I clean everything up? Should I just leave and pretend it wasn’t me? I decided the third option was best, and inched my way out of the bathroom, listening for the sound of someone walking down the hallway. After I heard no one, I quickly threw open the door and never looked back.

The rest of the newspaper staff are still well and alive, playing music and exporting the final pages of the upcoming publication. I am standing outside the door, attempting to forget what just happened and act as if I am not the culprit of my recent actions.

I wasn’t going to tell them about what happened, not until someone announced they were heading for that very same bathroom, and I was not about to let someone see the horror story I had created. They decided to use a different bathroom.

I never did get to go to the bathroom that night.



It’s the morning after exporting night. I wake up, I, Shati Cooper, feel indifferent. I go to school, bearing the endless amounts of homework and lectures from various teachers. Lunch time is nearing and I am ready to fly out of chemistry to the nearest bathroom because I had a feeling. But, not just any feeling, the feeling.

I’m mentally freaking out because I wasn’t prepared for this, I already had too much to focus on and the fact that I got my period made it that much worse. I’m rummaging through my backpack for a pad, tampon, something to get me through the day. What did I find? Nothing. Somehow I managed to find a quarter in the depths of my backpack and I let out a sigh of relief.

The lunch bell rings and I dart into the nearest bathroom, only to find that the tampon/pad dispenser was gone.”

— Shati Cooper

The lunch bell rings and I dart into the nearest bathroom, only to find that the tampon/pad dispenser was gone. The wall was plain, obviously missing something. I went to the next bathroom- still no dispenser, but the difference was, there was an outline of where the tampon/pad dispenser should’ve been. I rushed to the next bathroom and the same thing applied. I couldn’t believe it.

On the way to look for another bathroom in hopes of finding a dispenser, I ran into my math teacher. This only increased my problem. I had missed countless days of math this trimester and she wanted to talk about the work I needed to make up, but I didn’t have time to talk about that irrelevant stuff because, more importantly, I’m bleeding. I cut the conversation short telling her that I would speak with her at a better time.

I reported back to my friends that there was nothing in the bathrooms and logically, they said to go to the nurse’s office. But, I don’t want to go to nurse’s office because it just takes away a sense of pride. I feel like by going to the office, my personality screams that I don’t have my life together because I can’t even track my own period. It’s embarrassing. But, I sucked up my pride and shuffled to the nurse. I awkwardly asked the lady behind the counter if I could have a tampon because there were none in the bathroom. She proceeded to tell me how “they” removed them all because of vandalism issues.

I come to a point that I am beyond angry. Two thoughts are running through my mind. One, ‘who are ‘they’?’ And two, Fenna had told me something about how she knocked the soiled tampon/pad holder over. I knew it was because of her.

I’m thinking, all people with vaginas must have their period safety nets taken away because of one woman’s actions. This. Is. Ridiculous. It’s like if some doofus broke his pencil and the ICCSD got rid of every pencil in each school because of this kid. Do you know how insane that is?

Once I got my situation handled, it was time to go back to class. I was devastated. I didn’t even have time to get food. My emotion levels were so high that all I wanted to do was cry in a bed of tampons while eating everything in sight.

I got back to class and the first thing I did was tell all of the girls I was around about what happened. They were just as upset as I. They gave me a pretty bright idea, talk to Dr. Shoultz. As soon as fourth period ended. I headed for the ninth grade center where his personal office resides. The secretary told me that he wasn’t in, and that I could leave a note for him, which I sure did.

About five minutes after I return class, there he is, asking to speak with me. We walked out into the hallway and I explained to him the situation. Come to find out, he wasn’t even aware of the missing dispensers. At that moment, I was ready to sky rocket out of West High and explode into bits and pieces of anger.

Now the next time I decide not to get pregnant, resulting in a blood fest, and I forget to bring a tampon, I must do the walk of shame all the way to the nurse’s office. Which, I might add, is quite a ways from all of my classes.

This traumatic event has led me here, writing to you all, about reason #72936 of why I hate high school.