Potty Privileges For The Privileged Pottymouths

by admin on March 13, 2013

Several years ago I used a public washroom (at a small movie theatre during low traffic hours) with two stalls, one regular and one handicap. One other person was in there, using the regular stall. I went into the handicap stall. While I was in there (maybe a minute or so, not long), I heard someone come in the door. When I came out of the stall, a little old lady with a walker snapped, “What are YOU doing in there?  B*tch!”
I was too surprised to say anything. I washed my hands and left. But this raises a question. I have never in my life heard of avoiding a handicapped bathroom stall for possible handicapped people needing to use it. I would absolutely never park in a handicapped parking spot. But a handicapped bathroom stall? I’ve told this story to others wondering if I missed some moral or ethical consideration and apparently I haven’t. They usually laugh at the idea of a little old lady swearing at me.  I would avoid a handicapped stall in a bathroom with regular stalls available. But to avoid using an available handicapped stall if no one else needs it and all others are in use?  0311-13
As a holder of a handicapped parking placard and user of handicapped bathroom stalls, I can assure you that no one has a right to unobstructed, immediate access to any bathroom stall regardless of whether they are handicapped or not.    That means sometimes handicapped users might have to wait their turn to use a stall just like everyone else may need to.    The scenario you mention of two stalls, one regular and one handicapped, is a common sight in US restaurants and it is absolutely ridiculous to not utilize both stalls if there is no handicapped person obviously in need of it.    Good heavens, what if Crabby Granny had walked into the bathroom to find the handicapped stall in use by another handicapped person?   Pitch a fit because access wasn’t immediate?

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah March 13, 2013 at 4:41 am

I was taught that proper etiquette for a handicapped stall is that if a handicapped person comes into the bathroom, they get the handicapped stall next, superseding any line. Otherwise, the handicapped stall is free-for-all, treated just like any other stall. It is certainly not rude to use the handicapped stall, even if there are others free. Certainly you shouldn’t set up camp in there for 20 minutes with a magazine (true of all stalls, not just the handicapped one), but waiting 2-3 minutes for the stall to open up isn’t going to kill anyone.

It sounds to me like the little old lady was just looking for an excuse to be nasty.


Sazerac March 13, 2013 at 5:31 am

As people age, the frontal lobe of the brain, where impulse control lies, begins to atrophy somewhat, which may explain why some older people tend to blurt out whatever is on their mind, etiquette or not. Also, manners tend to go out the window when someone is in deep pain. There’s no way to tell if this was the case here, but those possibilities might mitigate her rude speech somewhat. However, OP, you were not in the wrong – there is nothing wrong with using a handicapped stall if all others are occupied and no other person with a disability that needs it is currently in the restroom.


Marozia March 13, 2013 at 5:42 am

Some weeks ago, I twisted my ankle quite severely and had to use crutches.
I used a handicapped stall at the Dr’s surgery washroom and got bawled out by an elderly person with no handicap. She said I was ‘healthy looking’ and ‘used up urgent facilities for handicapped persons’.
The reason why I used that stall was, it was roomy, I had crutches and needed to hold the railing to sit down and get up.
The nerve of some people!! Elderly does NOT mean handicapped!
The worst part was…..she came from the Pilates Studio (she was wearing exercise gear) next to the surgery!! How’s that??


Kimstu March 13, 2013 at 6:22 am

Good call, Admin. Were I in the OP’s place, I would have been tempted to give Crabby Granny a bewildered stare and say “Why, ma’am, I was using the toilet; what did you THINK I was doing in there?”

And when she snapped back, as I’m sure she would, “No, I mean what were you doing in the handicap stall instead of the regular one, you ?”, I would say “Oh, the other stall was occupied” and leave it at that. Any subsequent scolding and griping on Crabby Granny’s part should be ignored. (Although it sounds like the OP did just fine by ignoring her altogether.)


The Elf March 13, 2013 at 6:32 am

That’s what I was taught too, Sarah. A bathroom stall is not a parking space. Barring some sort of medical difficulty, no one is going to spend more than a few minutes in the bathroom stall. A handicapped person (or elderly, the railings may make it easier for them) can get to the front of the line (if there is one) to use that stall, but it doesn’t have to be kept open for them. Handicapped stalls are handy for anyone who needs a little extra space, like a parent with a kid in tow or anyone changing clothes.

It might have been painful for the woman using the walker to stand, and that may have made her snappish. But you did nothing wrong and she shouldn’t have snapped at you.


bloo March 13, 2013 at 6:34 am


I wasn’t taught by any handicapped persons I know that handicapped=No Wait.

Now the only lines I get stuck in are at religious conventions and if we are in a sporting arena that’s 30 years old or more, the hallways to the line of restrooms are tight and, as such, non-handicapped will usually part the way for wheelchair-type, handicapped persons because traffic in/out of the bathroom would be impossible if such a person had to wait.

Of course at those same conventions no one would dream of letting a handicapped person go to the facilities by her/himself – those would always have someone aid them (either someone that came WITH them to the convention or just someone quick to volunteer to help when they spot a need).

Their helper will usually ask if it’s okay to move ahead (we always say ‘of course’) but they never expect it.

Our religious assemblies are smaller and are usually conducted in places we own and, therefore, the bathroom facilities are more than adequate to accommodate someone in a wheelchair being able to wait without causing interference in the flow of traffic.

And those that are handicapped are (mostly) able to wait with probably the same ability as those that are not handicapped. You can’t tell by looking at someone if they’ve Crohn’s or IBS. Some mothers have children that are ready to have an accident in their pants and will beg to go next.

I think that handicapped should not feel entitled to not have to wait, but on the other hand, non-handicapped should try to accommodate the handicapped whenever possible.

I’ve never, in my life, seen an exchange like in the OP. And I use handicapped stalls all. the. time. (gasp) even when there are available stalls. I’m a small person and I struggle to be able to use a regular stall – I’ve no idea how people of larger-than-average size deal with it.


Lo March 13, 2013 at 6:40 am

You weren’t rude for using the stall. You weren’t taking it away from a handicapped person. That lady is a jerk.


Haley March 13, 2013 at 7:14 am

Any sort of retail/service location must provide a bathroom accessible to the handicapped, not specifically FOR the handicapped. These stalls are there for ease of access (and to avoid a hefty lawsuit!) Incidentally, every handicapped stall I’ve ever seen utilize the extra space inside for the changing table. Tell me, do only the handicapped have children in diapers?


Louise March 13, 2013 at 7:28 am

I agree with others that if the stall is empty and there are no others available, it’s fair game (unless there is a disabled person waiting, of course).

Consequently, I’m aware that this is an American site with mainly American users, so I wanted to ask whether ‘Handicapped’ was the standard term over there for disabled people? I’m British, and ‘handicapped’ is considered pretty rude and un-PC over here!


Ergala March 13, 2013 at 8:01 am

You’d be amazed at what people will say and do if they think they hold some higher power over you. I had knee surgery several years ago and I was in my early 20’s. My husband and I were in walmart with our young son and I was on a motorized scooter supplied by the store. My left leg was in an immobilizer (basically a giant brace that goes from mid though down to your ankle and keeps your leg perfectly stiff) and I had crutches. A person saw me from the right side and immediately started telling me I was lazy and should leave the carts to the handicapped or elderly. My husband came up behind me with my crutches in the cart and they caught a glimpse of my left leg….they rushed off without even an apology. I couldn’t believe the cahonas on that person!


Green123 March 13, 2013 at 8:03 am

Like Sarah, I have always believed that the accessible cubicle is just another cubicle until someone with a disability (or a temporary mobility problem, or a child in a pushchair etc.) needs to use it, in which case they come to the front of the queue.

As an aside, how I loathe the term ‘handicap’. I know it’s commonplace in the US but it is a word non grata here in the UK and has been ‘politically incorrect’ here for some years.


Andrea March 13, 2013 at 8:12 am

This reminds me of an incident I had at a rest area a few years ago. I have two handicapped children. One of them was in the process of being potty trained and had told me that he needed to use the bathroom, so the clock was ticking. This rest area had the handicapped stall at the far end of the bathroom and we were headed for it. There were a large number of stalls and the bathroom was pretty much empty. Another woman walking ahead of us kept opening the stall doors and rejecting each one. She finally rejected probably six or seven toilets when she rejected the one across from the handicapped stall and turned to go into the handicapped stall. We were a few feet behind her and I said something to the effect of “could you use another one, we need the handicapped stall.” To which she responded “you don’t look handicapped” I replied “I’m not, but my son is” To which she responded “He doesn’t look handicapped either” At this point I bit my tongue and said “Really” with an incredulous look and entered the stall. She walked off in a huff. (did she not need to actually use the bathroom?) I couldn’t believe it. When I walked out and called my husband we both laughed, really what was she expecting? Should I have apologized that my child doesn’t look stereotypically handicapped i.e. not in a wheelchair, even though he does display may traits of children with his disorder and I have had strangers approach me and ask about him. Really I have no clue, but I still chuckle about it.


ShellyLynne2611 March 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

As a large woman, I almost always use the handicap stall because it is roomier. In all my years of doing this, I have come out to find a handicapped person waiting ONCE. I cannot stand when people equate using handicapped stalls to the parking spaces. The stalls are handicapped ACCESSIBLE. The parking spaces are handicapped ONLY. Huge difference.

One thing I don’t do is wash my hands in the handicapped stall. I always use the regular sinks for that so as to free up the stall that much faster.


Cami March 13, 2013 at 8:39 am

Not every handicap is immediately obvious. For example, I have knee problems that can make sitting and standing back up quite difficult at times,, so I may need the handicap stall to use the bars. If you saw me walking or standing, however, you’d never know I have any problems.

So aside from the obvious rudeness, this woman also displayed ignorance. Such people are not worth wasting your time thinking about.


Elizabeth March 13, 2013 at 9:13 am

I don’t think you are in the wrong. The woman was pushy and rude. Similarly, some years ago I was visiting a different office in my company network; I came out of the handicapped stall to find a woman in a wheelchair waiting. I apologized and she laughed it off, saying ‘it isn’t MY stall.’


Mary March 13, 2013 at 9:15 am

The disabled stall in most public bathrooms also contains the changing table for little ones. So for many years I always had to use that stall just so I could change my children’s diapers!


Lynnie March 13, 2013 at 9:25 am

I was always taught that a handicapped stall was for the handicapped. Was the woman rude and uncivil–yep. But unless I have an extreme emergency, I usually can wait for the regular stall to open.


Kristi March 13, 2013 at 9:29 am

As ShellyLynne stated above, the stalls are ACCESSIBLE but not reserved for the sole use of only handicapped people. I don’t feel it necessary to let a handicapped person bump to the front of the line either, just because you are in a wheelchair does not make your need to use the bathroom any greater than the rest of the people who are waiting in line.


Amy March 13, 2013 at 9:32 am

I’ve always yielded the stall to someone who I am aware needs it, and I use another stall if available. I’ve never left it empty when nothing else was available though. That’s just silly. It’s akin to not using a ramp and instead going up stairs every single time, or stepping down off a curb instead of walking on that sloped bit designed to accommodate a wheelchair.

I include moms with children in that “need” to use the larger stall. The changing table is often in that stall, a stroller will fit in there with you, multiple kids would be a tight fit in the regular stall, etc. Are moms supposed to change diapers on the floor in this lady’s world?


Angel March 13, 2013 at 9:33 am

I routinely use the handicapped stall when I have my girls with me. They are little and need help going to the toilet. What if you had been in there with your kids or something and they had been subjected to the swearing? That is just awful! Handicapped stalls are for anyone to use, provided a handicapped person wasn’t there first. And I don’t know about anyone else but, when my 4 year old needs to use the bathroom I’ll be damned if I use a regular stall when there is perfectly good handicapped one available and unoccupied!


Serena March 13, 2013 at 9:36 am

I just have to wonder how many times Grumpy Granny used the handicapped stall in HER younger years, before she had to use a walker.


LonelyHound March 13, 2013 at 9:40 am

The majority of the handicap stalls in the area I live have the child changing table in the stall. Since I have a baby I usually wait for that stall when we both need the facilities. It is rather obvious that if you have a baby in the handicap stall that you were probably changing him/her. We have never once been yelled at. I have, though, had people cut the line in restrooms, people who thought their need to pee was greater than people who have been waiting in line for five to ten minutes. The most frustrating time was when I was eight and a half months pregnant with my first, had been waiting in line for five minutes, there was a line of people waiting behind me and one woman thought that she had the right to cut the line. Before I could speak up the lady behind me shouted out to her friend, who was right next to her, how rude the woman was for not only cutting the line but cutting in front of a pregnant lady who had obviously been waiting a while. The woman was so embarrassed she left the restroom completely and did not even wait at the end of the line. I thanked the woman behind me and peed as fast as I could. Whether the lady behind me was right or wrong for what she had the needed affect on the cutter and the thanks of all the women who had been crossing and uncrossing their legs in that line.


Rebekah March 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

You were not wrong, OP. It’s ridiculous to not use an empty stall if there is no handicapped person in need of it. A stall is a stall. If there is no one in immediate need of it, it can be used by anyone. How did she know that you are not handicapped? Not all handicaps manifest as walkers and wheelchairs. Just because someone is “healthy looking” does not, in fact, mean they are healthy.

I’ve had elderly people bawl me out for parking in the handicapped spot because I am “too young to need it,” (I was 17 at the time), even though my parking permit was very clearly on display, and I was limping quite badly. Yes, how dare I be very nearly crippled by a sports injury.


Jewel March 13, 2013 at 9:48 am

Handicapped toilet stalls are built to accomodate the handicapped, but aren’t built to be exclusively reserved for use by just the handicapped. Anyone who plays the “handicapped card” as an excuse to yell at an able-bodied person for using the handicapped stall, deserves any verbal smack-down they get in return.


Binne March 13, 2013 at 10:19 am

I’m afraid I have to object to Sazerac’s characterization of the older among us as being of atrophied brain and poor impulse control. There are unpleasant people in every age group and every demographic. Bad manners, substandard conflict-resolution skills, and excessive confidence in the soundness of one’s point of view are rife in American society, at any rate. Just the other day I was blind-sided by a volley of foul-mouthed invective from a young mother, couldn’t have been more than 25 or so, with a toddler in tow. I had probably 40 years on the girl, and kept my cool. I’ve been thinking I need to write this one up for e-Hell; think I’ll try to get to it today.


MsDani313 March 13, 2013 at 10:23 am

The term handicapped should not be used for people. It should be used to describe parking spaces. I live in a large city in Midwest USA and cringe every time I hear someone refer to a person with disabilities as “handicapped” or “disabled”. Put the person first. As in “Johnny has a disability. Johnny uses a wheelchair.” not ” Johnny is a disabled person. Johnny is handicapped” Johnny is not handicapped. A building that does not have a wheelchair ramp or an elevator is a handicap to Johnny because he will be unable to fully use it. Same thing for Adam is autistic. No Adam has autism. Don’t use the word to describe the person. They are more than their disability. Susie isn’t schizo and Larry isn’t LD (learning disability). People have disabilities but, they are not their disabilities.

As far as the bathroom goes, OP you weren’t rude. Granny was! The bathroom (accessible or not) is for all. That being said. Don’t set up camp. As their could be someone waiting. And although a disability may be visible that does not mean that someone is “normal.” (Another term I cringe at) People say my generation is the “entitled” one but I think there are some older people who feel because they are older they should get their way. Yes it is nice when I allow you to go in front of me. But don’t feel entitled to it.


Library Diva March 13, 2013 at 10:24 am

I do try to avoid the handicapped stalls whenever possible. My behavior is influenced directly by an episode of MTV’s True Life about disability that I saw years ago. One of the women featured in it says that she could have a stroke if she “holds it” for too long. She also used a wheelchair and could use only the handicapped-accessible stall. So, if I don’t have to go badly, or if there are other stalls open, I’ll avoid the handicapped stall.

It was really rude of the older woman to yell at the OP and call her a bitch, though. I don’t view avoiding the handicapped stall when you’re not as any sort of hard-and-fast rule for living, just something that’s considerate to do if you can, the same way that I usually take a parking space a bit further away so that the closer ones are available for people who really need them. Even if it was a hard-and-fast rule, you’re still not supposed to scream and swear at strangers.


Rug Pilot March 13, 2013 at 10:40 am

I don’t mind able bodied people using the handicapped stall when a conference has a break and all stalls are in use. What I object to is the hotel employee smoking in the handicapped stall when all other stalls are available and I need it because I have to use the grab bars to get up. When this hotel employee came out of the stall after her smoke break she saw me with my cane waiting and apologized in that half hearted way “Sorry”. I also object to a young woman using the handicapped stall at a conference center to try on clothes and get ready for another event at the center. It is not a dressing room. She apologized when she came out with her clothes over her arm and saw me waiting for her stall. I said nothing to either one. I didn’t have to.


Mae March 13, 2013 at 10:47 am

I agree with many of the posts. Handicapped accessible does not mean handicap only.

At work, I always use the handicap stall. Most of the people at work are not handicapped but some do have issues with leg/knee injuries and the rails in the handicap stall are a great help.

Also, the other two employee stalls are quite small~ you basically have to straddle the toilet or try to squeeze to the side of it to close the door! I have asked about it several times and have been told that they meet the “requirements” for size. I have no idea who wrote up those “requirements” but I bet they would be edited/updated if they had to try to use one of those small stalls every day!


Ashley March 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

You are not wrong OP. How were you to know she was going to come in? Like someone above said, the stall is handicap accessible, not handicap only.

I mean, yes, if someone came in with a walker and I SAW them coming in, I would probably let them in before me, but I wouldn’t stand around avoiding the stall all day til another normal one became available.

The only time I’ve ever been given grief for using a handicap stall was at a convention where my costume had a lot of parts I had to take off in order to use the bathroom and the handicapped stall happened to have an actual shelf in it which I was utilizing for this. I got out and some girl yelled at me and said “You should have saved that for if a handicapped person came in!” I was too dumbfounded to say anything and just left.


Pinkiu March 13, 2013 at 11:44 am

These stalls are to accommodate accessibility not privilege like getting a parking placard. The parking placards require going to a Dr. and applying for one. No one has to apply for a bathroom stall. This same privilege then would need to extend to sidewalks that slope down to the street or using a ramp instead of stairs. It’s to accommodate by giving extra room. Parents using strollers appreciate slopes, ramps and extra room in stalls. So do people on crutches. Women who are menstruating appreciate the extra room to navigate their needs. And so do large people or anyone else for that matter. I guess if confronted, you could say, “You don’t know me. Please respect my decision to use this bathroom.”


Cat March 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

Well, now we know what happens to young people who feel entitled to do whatever they wish, where they wish, and to yell at people who don’t accommodate them immediately-they grow up to be old people with the same take on life. How dare you use my stall! It’s mine!
Perhaps the best reply, should you feel need to reply, is “Oh, yeah? Where’s your handicapped sticker?”
I think it would be a rather fun project to make yourself a badge on your computer. You could flash it at anyone complaining about your use of “their” facilities. “Handicapped bathroom user permit. I get dibs!”


Calli Arcale March 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

Louise — yes, “handicapped” is an acceptable term here in the States. It is not generally considered rude. “Disabled” is also widely used. “Handicapped” is preferred for indicating facilities designed to be accessible to those in wheelchairs or with other disabilities, while “disabled” is preferred for indicating eligibility for services, support, or insurance payment or whatnot. Compare “handicapped parking space” to “short term disability”; the latter is pay to keep you funded while you recuperate from an injury or illness that prevents you from working but is too long for normal sick or vacation pay to cover, usually managed through an insurance policy.

The trend towards deprecating these terms due to offensiveness has begun over here, but I find this somewhat ironic as “handicapped” and “disabled” are themselves both PC versions of their predecessor, “crippled”. “Differently abled” is too much of a mouthful.


Chicalola March 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm

ugh! it’s handicap accessible….not handicap only! I got dirty looks using them when I was pregnant too. I was huge! I couldn’t fit in a regular stall….and those handles came in handy when I had to stand up. Being handicapped is not easy, but doesn’t put you in a position to be mean to others…..or be treated like a queen/king. While I was on chemo I was given handicap parking access. I got dirty looks then. Why all these dirty looks!!!


La March 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm

My father is severely (and visibly) disabled, and as a result I’ve grown up knowing (and working out) the ‘etiquette’ of the disabled loo:

1. If it’s in with the rest of the loos, and there’s no person expressing an urgent need for it, use it.
2. If it’s not in with the rest of the loos, I would personally wait. This is kind of a ‘discretion’ thing.
3. Believe someone who says they need the disabled loo, even if they look healthy. Invisible disabilities exist. And even if they are, in fact, a lying liar who lies, it’s better to believe 100 liars than to disbelieve someone with genuine need.
4. This is for architects and public loo designers: PLEASE DON’T PUT THE BABY CHANGING IN THE SOLE DISABLED LOO. Put it in the standard loos (both please, dads need to be able to take their kids out without mum) or in its own unit. You could make the baby change unit a second disabled loo as well if you want.
5. Don’t use the disabled loo for extended activities. Peeing, yes, pooping, not really. I think the worst suggestion was for someone to use the disabled loo to engage in intimate activities because they weren’t allowed to at home. *shudder* I did politely but sharply respond that this was a terrible idea.
6. If you don’t feel safe using the standard loos, and there’s no-one with urgent medical needs, then feel free to use the disabled loo. If there’s someone with an urgent medical need to go, then wait behind them. In many cases it’s the only loo that’s unisex, and many trans* people feel unsafe using the standard gendered loos due to other’s predjudice.


Mary March 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm

POD to ShellyLynne2611 – I use the stall because it fits me best, and when I have DD with me, to change her diaper and just to generally “corral” her while I use the facilities. The stalls are handicap ACCESSIBLE not handicap EXCLUSIVE. I think the OP was fine, the elderly woman was out of line, and I would not avoid the larger stall even if the regular stall had been available.


Miss Alex March 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Handicapped is a standard term for people with disabilities in the US, British commenters. Over here, ‘retarded’ is the really offensive, non PC word.


MichelleP March 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

As a large woman, I usually use the handicapped stall, especially when my young daughter is with me. Never been fussed at, thank goodness. I’d be so flustered I wouldn’t know what to do. You did nothing wrong, OP.

@Andrea, you owe no one an explanation or an apology for your son’s disability. Don’t even respond to that level of rudeness.


Otter March 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm

The handicapped stalls are built to accommodate someone who uses a wheelchair or crutches or otherwise needs to use a larger space. They are not reserved ONLY for them, especially when there are only 2 stalls in a restroom. That would be ridiculous and lines would be out the door. Cranky lady was wrong, wrong, wrong.

On that same vein, my daughter used to have trouble with zippers and buttons because of mild autism. We used to wait in line for the handicapped stall to open whereupon someone would inevitably say “that’s for the handicapped.” I would politely say “Some handicaps are not visible” and proceed in. No one ever protested beyond that.


The Elf March 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Kristi, the idea behind the line bumping is that an able-bodied person can go in any one of the stalls available, but the disabled person is limited to the one. The idea works better when the line is small and there are lots of regular stalls. It makes less sense when the line is very long or it’s a two-holer like in this scenario.


Shalamar March 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm

That woman reminds me of an elderly woman who once cut in front of my dad in a queue. My dad said politely “Excuse me, ma’am, the end of the line is back there.” She sniffed “I’ll have you know that I’m eighty years old.” Dad: “In that case, it’s about time you learned some manners.”


Elizabeth March 13, 2013 at 1:46 pm

just because you are in a wheelchair does not make your need to use the bathroom any greater than the rest of the people who are waiting in line

I used to believe this, but have been educated by friends that many of the same conditions that can land you in a wheelchair in the first place can in fact make it much harder to “hold it.” Since I have no way of knowing whether that applies to any particular person, I generally try to take the policy of not blocking access to the handicapped stall by using it if it’s equally easy to use a regular one (but I will definitely use the handicapped stall if the regular ones are too small for me to turn around and shut the door, which happens from time to time), and giving someone who is going for the handicapped stall preference ahead of me in line.


Lita March 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I’m disabled, and I don’t see any problem with using the handicapped stall if there’s no other stall. Heck, I’ve been known to do it myself when I’m at a busy event. (I will, even though I hate to consider myself bad off enough to do so, also occasionally use it when there ARE normal stalls empty – on the days my vertigo issues are so bad, and my body so sore and tired, I can’t get up without a grab bar. But I think that counts as an approved use!)

Crabby Granny is just old and cranky. Don’t pay her much heed. She’s not entitled to the stall even if she does have a walker.


Kirst March 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I disagree with everyone who is saying it’s ok to use the accessible stall. If there was true equality of access, every cubicle would be an accessible cubicle. But when only one in five, or one in ten, or one in 20 cubicles are accessible, then people with disabilities can only use that one stall, whereas everybody else can use any of them. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people without disabilities to stay out of the one accessible cubicle.

Also, toilet cubicles and parking spaces can’t be handicapped. They’re inanimate objects. They can be accessible, or (if you must) “disability” or “handicap” facilities, but they can’t be disableD or handicappED.


Jinian March 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Wow, what a jerk! Having had an injury that caused me pain and further damage if I stood for more than a couple of minutes at a time, I sympathize with a desire to find the accessible stall open, but being next in line was adequate even for that situation. There’s no need for name-calling.

(Once I did get snottily informed by a young girl that there was a line, and as I was feeling too much pain for my polite spine to be available that day I just left that bathroom for another. That was the same community college where the elevators were constantly packed with able-bodied twenty-year-olds to go up one or two floors, though. I suppose they just hadn’t had any exposure to disabilities.)


Anonymous March 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I agree with the rule about the handicapped stall being a free-for-all, unless a handicapped person comes into the bathroom, at which point they get to use it next, even if there’s a line. That’s because, suppose there’s more than one regular stall in the bathroom, but just the one handicapped stall? For the able-bodied people, as soon as ANY stall opens up, they can use it, but the handicapped person has to wait specifically for the handicapped stall, and that means they’ll end up waiting longer. So, to paraphrase: Actual handicapped people who are there should get priority for the handicapped stall, but hypothetical handicapped people, who may or may not appear while an able-bodied person is in the stall, should not. That’d be silly, because in most places, able-bodied people are in the majority, so if nobody EVER used the handicapped stall, who wasn’t handicapped, then it’d sit empty for hours, or even days, at a time.

Also, on another note, does anyone else here HATE public bathrooms? I mean, okay, they’re a necessary evil, but even with the partitions, there’s no getting around the fact that they force people to conduct a private part of their lives in a public place. Maybe that’s what breeds so much rudeness–people are uncomfortable already, and that discomfort manifests itself in less-than-stellar behaviour towards other people in the bathroom.


Lo March 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I never realized people in the UK considered handicapped to be offensive. For the record I’ve never heard anyone here in the US use “handicapped” to refer to a person and not a parking spot, I merely said “handicapped person” in my post to make the connection. In school I learned that the PC term was “physically challenged” for those with physical disability and “mentally challenged” for those with mental disability. Though nowdays I would have guessed that “disabled” was okay to describe a physical disability, at least here in the US.

I do think it’s silly that the changing tables always seem to be in there.

As for parking spots, which are only for those with permits, I have a family member who admitted that after he got his cast off he kept the permit in his car to use it for his own convenience. Shameful. It’s because of bad behavior like this that other’s have to suffer the judgement of those with unapparent disabilities who use those spots.


Marozia March 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I showed my husband this post and he reminded me of the time when he went to the mens’ loo at a shopping centre. He was washing his hands and got in conversation with another man there. That went on, and husband told him his was on a low protein diet and had PKU, sleep apnoea and knee arthroscopy. The gent said “Why did’t you use the disabled stall?”
Hubby: “These stalls are OK for me, plus I got bawled out by someone who said I don’t have a ‘visible disability, when I used one after knee surgery'”.
It’s true, not all disabilities are visible. If someone is using a disabled stall in the washroom, and you are disabled, wait your turn.


whatever March 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Marozia: If you were on crutches, you did have a temporary disability.
MsDani313: People-first language is appropriate for most conditions, but as an aside, there are people in the world who feel that their autism is more of an inborn personality trait instead of a disease. They feel they are indeed “autistic” and not merely “people with autism,” which implies that the autism could be cured or removed without affecting who they are. In fact, most of them would not want to be “cured” of their autism even if that were possible. Autism activism is something that I’ve had a peripheral interest in, but I’m sure there are other conditions where the people who have them object to people-first language.


EchoGirl March 13, 2013 at 5:51 pm

MsDani313, I have to disagree with you on at least one of them. Many people in the autism community prefer to be addressed as “autistic” (it’s an intrinsic or essential part of the person) rather than “with autism” which suggests that it’s something that is seperatable (I know that’s not a real word but it’s the best one I have to describe what I mean) from the person.


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