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Sunday
Aug242014

The Handicapped Stall

I really wish I could have been more patient yesterday.

The rest room used to be a place of retreat. Even in the mall. A restaurant. A store. The buffering echo of the stalls somehow insulated me from the mania outside. But not so much anymore.

I've mentioned briefly before about frustration when the handicapped stall is occupied by someone who bounces about. The first thing I look for under the door is anything with wheels (I'm a sucker for moms with strollers. It's the roller derby girls that get to me.) I even went so far as to ask one lady who pranced out of the stall to please, please leave these stalls for people who need them? She paused. Looked up. Then down at me. I'm quite short nowadays. It was one arc short of an eye-roll. With one eyebrow raised, she replied in a confrontational tone, "I got a bad ankle."

'You must have one large ankle.", I thought to myself.

So now, every time I roll up to a stall with the little man in a chair, it's like a crap-roll in Vegas. No pun intended. I never know what's going to pop out of there. Yesterday, I rolled up to one. It was locked. I could see no wheels, hear no baby. I waited. And waited. A slight flapping of the toilet paper role echoed beyond the door. My time was near. But by this time, I was brewed inside, like a day-old pot of coffee that lost its perk.

The toilet flushed to a tussling of pants and a zip. Then a shuffle. A long shuffle. As though she wore a rack of petticoats donned one by one. Then she began to emerge. Black orthopaedic shoes peeked through the bottom of the door as it creaked open, like blind dogs sniffing for a plate of food. Her face coiled around to mine. Betty White's body double.

Then it hit me. The handles. She needed the handles. The silver bars around the toilet to keep her steady. Wheels had nothing to do with it. The other three-hundred stalls did not have safety handles.

Man did I feel like, well, you know.

I left wondering how I began to think this way? Expecting the worst, rather than the best? No matter how difficult these past three years have been, the one thing I never want to lose is my faith in the goodness of others. But it's so hard when sprung back out into a world where my reality is not the norm. It's not realistic to expect others to understand how deeply it cuts when able-bodied people pop out of our stalls. There will always be women with bad ankles. But I have to remember that not every woman ahead of me, is one of them.

I went home, did some Googling and found an interesting post online: "

"Sorry to inform you that in California it is a finable offense to use a handicapped-designated restroom stall if you're able-bodied. The fine for the first offense is $271. I was riding my bicycle on the state beach at Huntington Beach and was arrested and given a ticket, which the court has upheld."

I Googled some more.

"...there is no law, just rude people."

This was getting serious.

My heart asks this of ye olde public. If you walk into a bathroom and there are any available able-bodied stalls, please do not use the disabled stall. Even if you don't see anyone disabled at the moment, we could rear our heads at any moment. If all of the able-bodied stalls are used, and the handicapped is open, just think about it for a moment, how you would feel if you opened the door and I was waiting for you. With drool running down my chin and head spinning with green vomit spewing from my ears. OK, I digress.

So, I don't believe it is illegal to use 'the stall', but is it worth it? If you really have "to go", I'd understand, but please, please, I beg of you, for the love and God and all that is holy and on sale at Marshall's, please leave the handicapped stall to those who need it. This also means for people who need the extra space because they need to change a colostomy bag. I'm learning so much as I journey through this challenge. It just goes to show that even those of us that need 'the stall', are learning, too. And I promise, the next time I start to brew, I'll remind myself we are all so often handicapped, simply by being human.

 


 

 

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