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Thursday, January 12, 2006


I'm not a fan of public restrooms. Something about them just screams at me, "Germs! EVERYWHERE! Don't touch ANYthing. Don't even breathe!" Outside, I'm not by any means a germophobe (I've even been known to occasionally subscribe to the 5-second rule), but inside the den of fecal microbes, I'm like pre-vacation Bob.

Still, if one is to leave one's house for any significant length of time, there will be moments when one must rely on the restrooms of strangers. Unfortunately, the issue of equality for women has not trickled down to public lavatories. Given a similarly equipped men's room and ladies' room, the men will enter and leave with ease while the women do the pee-pee dance in a 45 minute line.

Having reached the end of such a line once, I recall hearing the complaints of a woman who was obviously the caretaker of a mentally handicapped (challenged? retarded? what's PC here?) middle-aged woman. The caretakee was not wheelchair-bound, but was obviously unable to care for herself, which likely required the use of a larger stall.
Fortunately (or at least thanks to the ADA), there was a stall reserved for handicapped lavatory users. Unfortunately, it was in use by a presumably non-handicapped person.
The caretaker was complaining loudly, under the guise of speaking to her charge, "Yes, Milicent. I know, it's TERRIBLE when people use the special stall! They're just BAD people who don't care about others! It's not right that they use the handicapped bathroom when they're not handicapped!"

Here are my thoughts on the situation:
Is a handicapped restroom stall like a handicapped parking place? Should one avoid the stall at all times, even during times of heavy bathroom use? Should the stall remain open and clear for any handicapped people that might want to use it? Should handicapped people - be they wheelchair bound or otherwise - automatically get a free pass to skip the line and use the bathroom set aside for them?
Or is it just a stall that can accommodate them, but can also accommodate anyone who waits in line for it?

Am I just a callous person for even pondering the issue?
posted by hilary at 1:57 PM |


Anonymous Mom said...

How the HELL does anyone know who needs a handicapped bathroom stall and who doesn't anyway? I think the point of handicapped access in bathrooms, parking lots and grocery store lines is that they have useful features: extra space for caregivers or a wheelchair to turn around and railings for maneuvering (rest rooms); proximity to the front door (parking lot); sufficient width to accomodate handicapped shopping carts (grocery lines). Of course those features should be available for people who need them. Only in the case of parking lots are those features unshareable - if someone else parks there the handicapped person can't. But how dumb would it be to leave one of maybe three stalls empty in a crowded restroom on the off-chance that a handicapped person will show up to use it? Similarly, it's silly not to get into a wider line at the grocery store - should the clerk be standing their only to wait on people in wheelchairs?

1/12/2006 5:24 PM  
Anonymous suzanne said...

If it's open...and cleanly...than I am peeing in it.
Of course, if there is a genuinely handicapped person also waiting, I will acquiese to them...

1/12/2006 11:30 PM  
Blogger ~ Jayme ~ said...

Oh yeah, if it's open (and clean)...I'm using it! Infact, when I take Saira to the restroom we go to the 'handicapped' stall, just for the room.

1/13/2006 1:18 AM  
Blogger Hilary-Dilary-Dock said...

My daughter, Meghan, received a $5.00 McDonald's certificate and wanted to take us all out for ice cream since they cost $1.00. She did the math and realized that 5 of use would be exactly $5.00 (Paul covered the tax part - LOL).

Anyway, I had read this story earlier that day and when the girls had to use the bathroom, I paid attention to the stalls. There were only two stalls in the McD's that we to. However, both of them were set up for handicap people. But they don't have the handicap sign on them anymore.

I notice a lot of stores have taken the handicap symbol off the door. But newer coding regulations for buidlings that have public restrooms is that a handicap bathroom be installed. But it's not just for them like parking spaces. In fact, if you notice, a lot of the times those stalls come equiped with the baby changing tables as well as those on the wall booster seats to strap a toddler in while you pee. Ever see those? Those have come in handy a couple of times when my kids were under 20-30 lbs or whatever the weight limit is.

My father-in-law's wife started a daycare/pre-school and he was told the bathroom had to have at least one handicap stall. So he made both of them that way. It's just a way to help accommodate those with handicaps.

But, like someone said up there, I'll use the stall if that is what is opened, but if I see someone who truly needs it, I let them cut in line. And if I am there with my girls, I will go in the stall simply for the space!

The "Other" Hilary

1/13/2006 11:37 AM  
Blogger Tedd said...

Are you callous? Not at all. I've often wondered if I could be ticketed for using the handicapped stall the way I would for using their parking space. Personally, I like using the handicapped stall; it's like the First Class section of the restroom. And as a parent, I appreciate having the extra room when I have to facilitate two kids going to the restroom.

1/14/2006 1:14 AM  
Blogger Roy said...

Yeah, I always feel bad whenever I take the handicapped stall, but it's only ever when I can't find any other.

It's times like this when I'm glad I'm a dude.

1/14/2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger Blue said...

LMAO! I prefer the "special" stall,'s much more roomy, and I generally have a toddler (and sometimes a stroller) with me...I need the room! And when I was pregnant, there was no way I was getting my big belly through one of those tiny stalls! Like some of the others have said, I'd definitely leave it available to someone that "needed" it more than me...but why let a perfectly good stall go to waste?

1/14/2006 7:19 PM  

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