I love handicapped bathrooms.Now before you start looking at me that way, let me first put a few things on the table. I have nothing but respect for the physically handicapped. The challenges they face and the fortitude it takes to overcome all that is something I could probably use a little more of in my day to day existence.
I don't park in handicapped parking spaces. Like a lot of people out there, There are times when I would certainly like to -- but I understand that they're there for a reason, and just because they're frequently empty doesn't mean that those accommodations shouldn't be ready at a moments notice for those who need them the most.But this isn't a post about handicapped people.
This is a post about handicapped bathrooms.
Plus, when you get right down to it, outside of it's favorable placement in relation to the entrance to a given store or restaurant, there's nothing truly different or special about a handicapped parking spot itself. They're no bigger or longer than any regular parking spot, they don't offer any real advantages once you get between those blue lines.
Roomy, spacious, filled with the little things that make you feel like you're sitting in a bathroom and not just doing your best to contort yourself into a semi-sitting position between two hastily-constructed wooden dividers that are always just a little too close for comfort. Handicapped bathrooms are the ones most likely to have air fresheners. Handicapped stalls never run out of TP.But a handicapped bathroom stall, that's a whole other story.
It's toilet heaven.You should keep in mind that this entire conversation is based on the topography and design of most public/corporate men's rooms -- where toilet stall space is something of a luxury. See, you ladies don't understand. You each get a stall of your own. And while it's entirely possible that like me -- your personal feeling is that those stalls tend to be small, cramped, and impersonal, the fact remains that you all get one.
Fortunately most places provide urinals, which provide a functional answer to a guys most pressing concern at the moment. But once you get past those sorts of biological imperatives, other factors come into play.If some places had their way, guys would be forced to
crowd around a hole in the floor and hope for the best.
Sure some guys go into the stall because they truly need to use the facilities -- but if that was the only reason, then you'd never find folded up newspapers sitting on the paper seat protector dispensers.
There's no conversation, there's no looking at the mirror, or anyone else in the room. There's a mission to be accomplished, a touchdown to be scored -- and that's the only thing on our minds until we are done, our hands are washed and dried, and we're the hell up outta there.See, when a guy's got to go, he goes.
But when a guy goes into a stall -- it could mean just about anything. For example, if you work in an environment where time is strictly monitored, where personal phone calls aren't allowed or Internet access is prohibited, a place where breaking those rules can lead to punishment and termination, the bathroom becomes the back alley.
A boss can't tell someone that they can't go to the bathroom if they say that they've really got to go, and a boss can't really dictate what you do once you're in there. So it's not uncommon at all to hear dudes talking up their cell phones in there (which is annoying as hell, but has become something of an unavoidable fact in modern society).
Which, when you think about it is pretty damn hardcore. I mean, the place I work at is generally pretty open-minded about web-surfing and balancing personal time with professional responsibilities for it's office workers (there's people here who have their iTunes installed on their work computers). The people who work on the manufacturing floor are watched like hawks, but that only makes sense. After all, we build surgical equipment in this place -- so the last thing you want is for your implant to be put together by a guy who's free hand was trying to blow up the Death Star.The other day I stepped into the bathroom to take a whiz, and while I was washing my hands I
heard the unmistakable sounds of a Star Wars video game coming out of one of the crappers.
And who's to say how long a BM needs to take, especially when you're only one Boss battle away from unlocking a secret character?So in other words, someone took an unscheduled break -- went into the
one place where no one could question his actions, and fired up a PSP.
Now I've never personally taken it to that level -- but if I know I've got to be in a bathroom a while, I'll bring the novel I'm currently reading with me. And if I take a few extra moments to finish an extra chapter in private, I don't see the real harm as long as I make sure to dedicate equal time to getting my actual work done.
They're bigger. You can stretch your legs out. There's a sink there if you need a place to put any paperwork you might be carrying (If you have paperwork with you in one of the smaller stalls, it's going to either be sitting in your lap or balancing precariously on the coat hook, or worse yet -- sitting out on the sink counter, just waiting to get soaked). Handicapped stalls have sinks where you can wash your hands in without having to share soap or lame conversation with whoever else happens to be in there at the time.Which is why I prefer the handicapped stalls.
Plus, there's just something about having that extra room that makes you feel more like a human being.
If it smells, you're sitting in that stink. Worse yet, if the guy who was in there before you didn't flush, then it's just you, the walls, and someone else's poop. Ever try recoiling in disgust in a little stall? You end up hitting walls, flailing all over the place like a moron. At least if Mr. can't-remember-to-fucking-flush-like-a-civilized-person does his business in the big room you've got a little space to get away from it.Lets be blunt here: When you're in the little stalls -- it's just you, the walls, and the poop.
So yeah, if I go in a bathroom and the big stall is open -- I'm going in there. And I'm taking my damn time and enjoying it.
Before I start this discussion, I think it's important that you know that to the best of my knowledge there are no physically handicapped people actually working at my office. I've been here almost three years, and despite my preference I feel pretty confident that I've never used the handicapped stall at the expense of someone who actually needed it.But it begs the question -- does this make me a bad person?
I realize that kinda sounds like a weak excuse, but I know for a fact that if I was in a bathroom with an actual handicapped person, I would never try to take that stall before him -- I'm not that guy.
But at the same time, if I were to go in the men's room one day when there was no one else there -- step into the handicapped stall and start taking care of business, and THEN a handicapped person came in and I was, how shall we say ..committed to my task --
It's not like I could you know, stop.Of course then I'd have to have that moment where I stepped out of the stall and had to look the guy in the eye like everything was cool, when clearly it wasn't.
Which when you think about it is always a possibility. Like I said, we don't have any handicapped employees here as far as I know -- but people visit this place for training and sales meetings all the time.
Just because it's never happened doesn't mean that the risk isn't there every day.
Is it because I know no one's going to write me a ticket? Is it because there's no real penalty?Which makes me wonder -- why do I do it?
Think about it. If you knew you were gonna go to a store and just be in and out, and you knew that there wasn't a policeman anywhere in the area -- you could probably get away with taking that blue parking space. Sure if you get busted it's $250, and the kind of shame I would imagine would be impossible to shake, but as long as you knew you weren't going to be in there for an hour or whatever, why wouldn't you take the shot -- especially on a busy day when there aren't any other spots available?
I'll roll through certain stop signs. I speed up on yellow lights when I think I can make it. I push speed limits. I eat grapes from the produce section, and occasionally grab candy our of the dispensers at the grocery store. I think most of us do these little things. They're not exactly totally harmless offenses, but in the grand scheme of things it's not the end of the world.But we don't.
But I'd feel like a total douchebag if I ever parked in a handicapped spot. And I get kinda pissed off whenever I see a car in one without a sticker.
So what the hell am I doing in the big bathroom?Do you do this? And if you do, does it ever bother you?
Do you even think about it at all?
[Listening to: Sevendust - "Silence" ]