You need to use the restroom just like anyone else. There are six stalls as you walk in, one of which is the disability-accessible stall. There is no one else in the restroom, and yet you still choose the stall made big enough for those with disabilities who are unable to use the stalls made for able-bodied people. You come out and wonder why there is a disabled person waiting patiently for you to be done when there are five other stalls vacant.
Don’t get me wrong, if the restroom is packed and it’s the only stall available, I am not going to get mad about it. I know the changing station is often located in that stall, so if you have a child, I am not going to get mad about that either. But if there are more stalls in the restroom than there are people, and you choose the only stall I am able to use, I am not going to be happy. If you are not disabled or a parent with a child and come waltzing out like you did nothing wrong, my face will say it all. That large stall is not there for your convenience to change in or to have extra room while you pull your pants up. That stall is there for people with disabilities. If you do not have a disability or a child, you need to stop using it.
I have a task-trained service dog that is trained to mitigate several disabilities. He is my medical equipment in the same way someone who is paralyzed uses a wheelchair or an elderly person uses a walker. Unfortunately, he and I both do not fit in the small stalls I used to fit in before I became disabled and got him. We have to use the stall designed for people with disabilities.
It is humiliating to stand in the restroom with five other stalls waiting for a non-disabled person to walk out so I can use it. They often look at me like I’m weird for standing there waiting when there are five other stalls. I have had to stand in line when in reality there is no line, just me standing there while everyone else gets to go who came in after me because they are able to use the small stalls and a non-disabled person is in the only stall I can use.
While not all disabilities are visible like mine, I’ve noticed how people tend to act, walk or carry themselves if they have an invisible disability. Typically, if someone comes out of the disability stall without medical equipment and they see me standing there waiting, they will apologize for making me wait if they too are disabled. Maybe they have chronic pain and need to utilize the bars for help sitting down and getting up. My first assumption is not “oh they aren’t disabled” if they come walking out without medical equipment or a visible disability. I wait to see how they interact with me.
So far every person who happens to be disabled but it’s not physically obvious has acknowledged me in some way. There is a mutual understanding and respect for the rest of the disability community and we tend to acknowledge and encourage each other. If I come out and there is someone waiting for the stall who has a wheelchair or other medical equipment, or they might be someone who needs the assistance of the bars and handles, I always smile and apologize for them having to wait on me. They are always very sweet and tell me not to worry about it and typically compliment me on my dog. The roles are reversed if someone in the disability community comes out and sees me waiting. I always do the same and let them know it’s not a problem that I had to wait.
I do not look at someone and try to pass judgment on whether they have a right to be using the accessible stall. But you know if you are disabled or not, and if you knowingly use it while there are countless other stalls available, you are part of the reason why the disability community feels shunned and lesser than. Nine times out of 10 we can’t even use the restroom in a timely manner because we have to wait for someone who just wanted the extra room to come out. My problem is with the people who come walking out acting like there is nothing wrong with a disabled woman waiting for the only stall that is taken out of six total.
Let me be honest in saying that before my conditions became disabling, I used the disability stall, even when others were available. I saw nothing wrong with it and I always got irritated when the woman in the wheelchair waiting for me to come out would give me a dirty look. Now I know why she used to give me a dirty look. There was absolutely no reason for her to have to wait for that stall.
If you are able-bodied, if you don’t require the use of medical equipment, if you don’t require the assistance of the bars and handles, and you are not a parent with a child, please don’t use it. It is not there for you, it is there for the people who need it.
The disability stall is there for us, not for your convenience.