PAL

February 24, 2007

Disabled washroom stalls

stallThere is one thing that really annoys me.  I mean it annoys me so much I swear my blood pressure rises.  It’s when I go into a washroom and pass a half dozen or more perfectly good empty stalls only to get to the disabled stall to find that it is occupied.  Is there another wheelchair user in there?  Of course not!  It’s someone who was perfectly capable of using any of the half dozen or more stalls they had to pass to get to that disabled stall, but they just “wanted the extra room”!

For starters, why would they need all that extra room?  A regular sized stall has enough room to close the door and move around as needed.  There’s enough room to hang your purse or bag on the door, or lay your shopping bags in front of you.  Sure, a little more room is a bonus, but in my case it’s a need.  I can’t fit into regular sized stalls.  It’s impossible for me to use them.  These people who “like having the extra room” can use the other stalls with no problem and be on their way.

While they are in the bigger stall, taking their sweet time doing God knows what, I’m usually sitting outside waitint and wiating.  Not only am I waiting, but I’m in the way of the other people coming in and using the regular stalls. They can’t get to the sinks, I’m blocking the stall next to the disabled one because the door of the disabled stall swings out and I don’t want to get hit with it when the person comes out!  So I sit ther waiting and going over in my head how long it’s been since I peed last.  I have to every 4 hours, but can go up to 5 sometimes with a lot of luck, if I didn’t have a lot to drink.  Now, I’m sitting there outside th occupied stall counting down the time before I absolutly need to go before my bladder decides it can’t hold things any longer.  Should I wait for this person to come out, or should I take my chances and try to find another washroom on another floor of the building somewhere?  (And I say I don’t gamble!)

The stall door finally opens and the person who was in there stops dead in their tracks.  They act embarrassed and most of the time in their embarrassed haste pushes past me to try to get out of there as fast as they can.  Sometimes even tripping over my guide dog in the process! 

Now, you might be thinking why not just tap on the door and let them know you need the stall.  Well it’s because human nature takes over when you do this and the person inside the stall usually takes even longer then.  They somehow feel that they deserve to stay in there longer because of the annoying person outside who disruppted them.  Like it’s someone my fault that they feel so guilty now, or that they would have been able to take their time if only the “person in the wheelchair” wasn’t there.

The worst time this happened to me was when I was at the airport in Miami.  I had gotten off a flight and Julian and I were trying to hurry and find a washroom for me before we went to pick up our luggage.  By now I really had to use the bathroom. Although I can’t feel it I knew I was cutting time very close.  We find a washroom and I go in, only to find someone in the disabled stall.  I waited and waited while other people came and went.  A girl came in and asked if someone was in there.  I said yes and she looked under the stall.  A girl was in tehre with her suitcases.  She let her know I was outside and needed the stall and this girl didn’t even reply.  I waited and waited so long I decided the only thing to do if I didn’t want to wet mself was to find another washroom!

I went back outside to where Julian was waiting and we rushed around until we found another washroom.  I just made it.  All because this girl was rustling around with her suitcases doing God knows what!  Was she changing her clothes?  Was she re-packing her things?  I don’t know, but I do know that she could have at least had the decency to say something or let me know how long she would be!

Do these people realize what they are doing?  I’ve heard a thousand times “well when I went in there, there was no one around who needed it”.  Well, maybe there wasn’t at that moment, but as soon as the stall door was shut someone could have came in!  How would they feel if they walked into a washroom only to find that every single stall was “out of order” and they didn’t know where another washroom was and their bladder was about to explode?!  That’s pretty much what it’s like for wheelchair users when someone is using the only wheelchair accessible stall!

I just hope that people will read this and understand and the next time they “want the extra room” they think back on this! 

changing table On a side note.  For parents, when you use the wheelchair accessible washroom that has the fold down baby changing table in it.  When you are done please fold it back up into the wall!  Time and time again I’ve went to use these washrooms only to find that I can’t even get inside because the changing table has been left down.  It’s blocking the way, and I can’t fold it back up because I can’t lift my arms over my head!  It only takes an extra couple of seconds to push it back up against the wall and twist the button! 

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