I entered the restroom.

There was a line.

The handicapped stall was unoccupied.

I said to the woman at the front of the line, “Hey- are you using that stall?” (for the record I don’t wait on the bathroom line for fun)

The people on line in between me and the front woman groaned…

The woman at the front of the line shot back-

You can’t use that stall. It’s for handicapped.

Now, there were at least eight people on the line and four stalls including the handicapped.

I called out- “Is there anyone on this line that needs the handicapped facility?

No one said a word.

I said to the second person waiting- “Are you going to use that stall?”

The woman looked at me and then looked at the first person in line.

The first person in line said I was ableist.

For the record, the definition of ableist is (per Collinsdictionary.com) if you describe people or their behavior as ableist, you mean that they think people with disabilities are less capable than those without disabilities, and treat them differently or less well.

As the second person in line made her way to the empty stall the line leader glared at me. She started spouting off how we were all horrible people and that stall should be kept open in case someone with a disability came in.

I asked how someone with a disability who might use a walker or wheelchair was going to get down the very narrow aisle with people in it to get to the front of the line, and wouldn’t it be better to just get people out of the restroom as quickly as possible, because really, while the stall itself might accommodate someone who needs a physical aide to help them walk, the bathroom itself might not reflect that.

She started yelling at me. I kind of tuned it out as I went to the bathroom, washed my hands and left…

The questions to ponder today are:

  1. Should the handicapped/disability stall in a restroom be left unoccupied in case someone needs it, or should people just use whatever room is available?
  2. Was I being ableist?
  3. Do people throw out terms without thinking it through?
  4. Has a society that prides itself on being without labels ended up being a society that defines itself by labels?


65 thoughts on “The Bathroom

    1. I’m confused: if there’s a ramp next to stairs at the entrance to a building, are you not allowed to use the ramp even if you’re not disabled or with a stroller? Where does it say that those stalls are only for the use of disabled people? Handicapped parking spots are for and only for handicapped folks, that’s not the same for handicapped bathroom stalls as far as I know? I’ve certainly never seen signage like that?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Yeah. I think it’s one of those righteous vs right things…as someone else pointed out, not being able to use the bathroom on the quicker side can be an issue

        Liked by 1 person

  1. When people have gotten that PC, it’s out-of-control. You can do your business in 45-seconds and apologize to a person in a wheelchair if that happens when you get out within that time frame! Wow.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think, after doing everything I could to make sure no one already in the restroom needed the stall I would do what you did- encourage the line ahead to use it or go use it myself. I think the assumption has always been that the disability stall must be kept open- just in case. In a very small restroom that doesn’t make sense, especially when a long line is forming. I find it rather astonishing that no one had their phones out and that the whole thing hasn’t appeared on Tik Tok right now.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. I think rest rooms are the last place with a little privacy…and, I think the people ahead of me were too afraid to do anything because they don’t know what side they’re “supposed” to be on

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You did the right thing. Ask if anyone present needs the stall and, if not, it should be used. Worse case, someone who needs the stall is next in line. For a few years, any level of muscle flexation would cause a health crash and I had to used the disabled stall and it’s railings to get up and down. Hell, I didn’t mind waiting if the only stall occupied was the handicapped one. Honestly, I think people have become far too casual with tossing around terms like racist, transphobe, ableist, etc. And the woman who called you ableist, clearly, didn’t even know the meaning of the term. I was yelled at and called ableist numerous times for using the handicapped stall, but not once was I asked whether I needed it (my answer would have been yes). People have become trigger-happy with the virtue signalling, and it’s getting exhausting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Virtue signaling. That’s perfect. My 80 year old mother “looks” fine, but has a host of conditions that enable her to have a handicapped parking pass. The looks she gets…how do you define looks disabled? It’s ridiculous to give grief to people who need the accommodation for whatever reason it may be

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I think you did the right thing…asking before using so to speak. I’ve helped handicapped persons in the public restrooms in the handicapped stalls. It takes awhile to even get to the stall and the small amount of time that your ’emergency’ use took would not have been an awful inconvenience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. People will say almost anything to prove they are right. Ask yourself though…Do I know these people? Will I ever see any of them again? Have I ever seen or had to interact with them before? If any or all of these questions is answered by “no,” then why should I care what they think. I liked your point About a handicapped person not being able to navigate through the crowd too. Not to be arrogant, but we can and should use what is available. If that makes me or you an ableist, so be it. Gotta admit, I never heard or used that word before this.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well she didn’t know if you had a condition that you were dealing with. I would have yelled back something that would have caught her off guard. Gave her loud mouth something to think about the next time she finds her loud mouth in this situation.
    You totally did the right thing.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I wonder if people confuse a handicap-equipped bathroom stall with a handicap-designated parking space. While the latter is clearly intentioned only for people with disabilities, the former is for anyone, but is specially designed to help those who have difficulties in standard stalls. You did the courteous thing: check to see if anyone needs that stall, showing the next person in line that it was free and clear. Anything we can do to hasten a bathroom queue is a gift to all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hadn’t thought of equating it to a handicapped spot, but there’s a disconnect in the logic to think that specific thing should go.unused. you’re not camping out for the night but hopefully using it for a very limited period of time

      Liked by 2 people

  8. There was a whole “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode devoted to this. Naturally, Larry got in trouble from a handicapped person.

    I have never had an issue using a handicapped bathroom. Then again, I’ve always been in and out pretty quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel you went above and beyond. I would do the same and ask. Not because I felt they are ableist but to be considerate …. of their handicap? To me, handicapped people want to be treated “normally” thus why are they entitled to line jump? Yes they may need a larger stall and I am all for allowing them to line jump but isn’t that ableist – that they cannot wait their turn because we assume they cannot control bodily funcitons?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Being handicap myself I see both sides of the story but I wouldn’t say you were being ableist. I am a wheelchair user and can literally only use the one stall so for me it gets frustrating having to wait for someone who is not handicap to come out of that stall especially when every other stall is empty. In your case I think you did the right thing asking if anyone handicapped needed that stall and since no one spoke up I think it’s ok for y’all to have used it but I also think that as soon as someone handicap comes in they should immediately be given that stall even if there is a line.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I can’t believe that one lady went off on you, but … nothing should surprise me anymore! You did the right thing for yes, why let it be empty when there is a long line! Makes no sense! You were courteous and double checked that no one handicapped was waiting to use it. Your last line sums it all up!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. It’s perfectly fine to use a public restroom reconfigured for handicap use if there is no one in line that has a handicap. And by the way, I often use the mens restroom if it is empty and there is a line at the women’s. What would she have called me? Hugs, C

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I would have laughed out loud and being called an ableist, and then used the stall! But seriously, the handicapped bathroom stalls are for when someone with a wheelchair, walker, or whatever needs to use one. And of course they get “first dibs” on them. But if no one in line is in need of the handicapped stall, then others can use them. I’m sure the woman who yelled at you just wanted everyone to know how superior she is…because we all know superior people yell at strangers in bathrooms.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. First of all, people with disabilities are less able in some respects than people without them. That’s why nobody is rushing to acquire disabilities to give themselves an edge in the world. Secondly, if a disabled person turned up you would hope that everyone got out of the way for them. But on general principle it’s probably better not to use the disabled toilet if you can wait. Speaking as someone who has used it, on occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. First of all, the only person who has more weird things happen to them than me is…you lol

    1. I always use the handicapped stall. I think it’s there IF someone needs it. EXTRA answer: I also use single-stall men’s bathrooms if no one is in there.
    2. No.
    3. Yes.
    4. Yep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be fair, you and I both say yes, are curious and inquisitive and most importantly, we pay attention and think about the situation. We are participants in the game of life not bystanders. Our approach is different than most so we will experience differently than most

      Liked by 1 person

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