An Open Letter to the General Public,
In every restroom in America you will find a different size stall. It is a bit wider, sometimes a tad longer than the ones near it and the toilet is generally raised a bit. Bars along the sides of the toilet allow individuals the help the need to raise and lower themselves on the toilet. Sometimes, you will find other extras in this stall. These handy extras may include a seat for little ones to sit on while Mom takes care of business. There may be a changing table in this stall. This stall is clearly marked as the Handicapped Accessible one.
Like handicapped parking spaces, it took a lot of voices speaking up to make it known that such a set up was truly needed. Unlike handicapped parking spaces, you do not need a permit or sticker to use them. Still I wonder if you have ever thought about the people who really do need the handicapped stall. I see teenage girls dart into them running past open regular size stalls; I guess in need to a place to put their shopping bags while they talk on the cell phone. You need more space to multi task I suppose.
I have been in restrooms with 15 open regular size stalls, standing there waiting for the handicapped one to open, only to see a smartly dressed skinny lady run out of the special stall. I wonder why you need that if you are skinny and alone and physically able to care for yourself? I have had people give me ugly looks as I stood waiting for the handicapped to open up, because I have my grown disabled son with me in the restroom. Sorry, most places do not offer family restrooms, that would allow me the privacy we need.
I need that special handicapped stall. My son is grown, and has cerebral palsy. He wears Depends. When they are wet, I must take him and change him. Regular stalls are too small for us both to fit in, let alone have room to undress my son. I am not alone in needing such a special stall. Disabled little old ladies, who have had a stroke or other issues, need space for walkers and higher toilets. Mothers with little children need to have space for the children, and access to the changing table. Some ladies who are over weight have difficulty in smaller stalls; they too, need and should have access to that special stall. Let’s not leave out the people in wheelchairs; you know the only ones you think the stall is for.
I know what you are thinking; nobody ever needs it when I am in there. I always take what is open, handicapped or not, big deal. You can just wait like everyone else. Problem is, there are many open stalls, but I still have to wait, and trust me, nobody likes to see a grown man in the ladies room. I do my best to duck in quickly, and check to make sure the area is clear before I duck back out with my son it tow. Still there have been many times I have had to stand and wait and apologize to everyone in the room while I do. If only the handicapped were open when we entered, we could make a fast entrance and exit.
I am going to ask, next time you are in a public restroom and you do not need the handicapped stall, please leave it open for the person who does. They thank you, and I thank you.
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