Does This Make Me a Bad Person?

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.
But this isn't a post about handicapped people.
This is a post about handicapped bathrooms.
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.

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.
But a handicapped bathroom stall, that's a whole other story.
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.
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.
If some places had their way, guys would be forced to
crowd around a hole in the floor and hope for the best.
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.

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.
See, when a guy's got to go, he goes.
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.

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).
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.
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.
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.
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?

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.
Which is why I prefer the handicapped stalls.
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.

Plus, there's just something about having that extra room that makes you feel more like a human being.
Lets be blunt here: When you're in the little stalls -- it's just you, the walls, and the poop.
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.

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.
But it begs the question -- does this make me a bad person?
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.

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.
Which makes me wonder -- why do I do it?
Is it because I know no one's going to write me a ticket? Is it because there's no real penalty?

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?
But we don't.
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 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" ]

Comments

Heff said…
I'm with you, Bro. Those bathrooms ALSO have INCREDIBLE flushing power. I've never been able to stop one up...and I've TRIED.
unMuse said…
Like you, I don't park in handicapped spaces but I surely will pee in their stalls.

I also park in the Pregnant spaces. How do they know if I'm bloated with baby or with coffee? They surely don't.
unMuse said…
Oh yeah.. I forgot to add this..

Now.. I know chicks aren't supposed to talk about this, but I read FmyLife or play Flight of the Hamsters on my iphone during... (I've gotten my high score up to over 6,000)

Of course, I'm not at work.

And no, you're not a bad person. Just someone who doesn't want to feel the world is closing in on themselves while droppin the kids off at the pool.
Satorical said…
Those stalls accommodate handicapped people. They're not reserved for them. I remember being at a running race one morning with people lined up for a public restroom. Some handicapped guy wheels past the line up to the stall, then starts throwing a fit as the person who was leaving it exited. Fuck you, pal. Wait in line like everyone else. If you're on crutches, that's different. The line will likely let you through. In fact, if you're in a chair and ask nicely, everyone will likely let you pass. But don't assume that the place is reserved for you.
Werdna said…
The handicapped stall in the executive restroom is where I love to bomb. And I've been hassled because I'm not an exec, but I don't put up with the man having a better place to dump than I do...

If they hassle me again, I'll pee on their cars... ;)

Oh and they are handicapped accommodated restrooms, not reserved. We don't have any handicapped execs, which makes it obvious.

And the throne is for reading, playing video games, surfing the net on your phone, but somehow not for talking.

Oh and you better wash your hands or when I'm emperor of the world, I will brand you with a scarlet H on your head.
JerseySjov said…
even if i wash my hands in the big stall i feel the need to wash them again in the regular sinks if there's anyone else in the bathroom at the time, just in case they didnt hear me do it the first time.

and i wouldnt feel bad at all if i came out of the bathroom and someone w a wheelchair was staring me down. waiting your turn in a public restroom is a fact of life...it would be like me getting pissed at the people who change their baby's diapers in the single-room bathrooms instead of going up the stairs to the multi-staller with the baby change station.
Amanda said…
My boss' boss broke her ankle. I used the big stall to poo and damned if I didn't hear her coming on those crutches for what felt like ten minutes while I was trying to wrap it up before she got in there. Nothing I could do. Felt like a total asshole going out.

I have noticed though that more and more places are putting the baby changing stations in the big stalls which I think is a great idea. When I have both kids we always all go in there. So am I setting a horrible example?
Hex said…
Heff -- I've long said that if I ever build a house for myself, I want to get the "swirling vortex of death" flushing type toilet like the ones they have at work.

Unmuse -- Those expecting mom spots are sooo tempting.

Unmuse II -- are you talking about the Cartoonnetwork.com Flight of the Hamsters? I love that game!

Saztorical -- rude is rude, chair or not.

Werdna -- of course I wash my hands. Didn't you read the post where I wasted all sorts of valuable time trying to get all the automatic faucets to come on at the same time?

Jersey -- Like Amanda's comment, I actually was really happy when the boy was an infant to find many changing tables inside the handicapped stalls. I know everyone understands that diaper changes are a part of life, but they're really not the kind of things people like to get an eyeful of.

Amanda -- For every sink counter or whatever where the unexpected diaper change came across, I am totally thankful for the changing tables wherever they might be.
Marshall said…
I completely agree with you on this. I purposely take that stall if it's available. It's typically the cleanest stall and flushed. I will say that ONCE at another job I did have a handicapped person waiting on me and there is that "hand-hangin'" like a bad dog who pooped on the carpet. But that was once and I still do it, because the chance of that happening is sooo rare. My only concern in this posting is that you (or maybe you were talking about it in general) taking paperwork in there with you. That seems a bit disgusting to me. I don't have a problem with taking your own book or magazine or whatever as long as you OWN it, but if someone else has the chance of having to touch it after you, then that's kind of gross for them to have to touch what you've touched while you might've been touching/wiping yourself while pooping. Just my 2 cents though. Good blog overall
Van said…
Our office's spacious, clean Handicapped Stalls are my ally at work. I’ll admit that I did bring a project to the larger stall in out of desperation...

I had a lot of art pieces due for the Riverside Arts Market the next day. I tried my hardest to finish hand-sewing this large, pirate mushroom pillow, but just couldn't finish it off. I bought it to work to encourage myself to finish it by LOOKING at it all day, but that just made me want to finish the final stitches even more...so I quickly snuck it to the bathroom. This created the necessary urgency factor needed to finish it.

And that's my confession. I wonder how many workers stitch mushroom pillows in their office bathrooms…
unMuse said…
hex - yep. that's the one. they have a free app for the iphone so of course I downloaded it. Either that or Adult Swim's Amateur Surgeon are my go-to potty time wasters.
Anonymous said…
@ Heff and Hex...

They have flushing rating system based on tests, physics and how many grams of "matter" these things can power down. I know this because I'm looking at replacing our toilets at the house.

They are cheap toilets barely capable of flushing anything end of the scale (and I found out do 200g). The ultraflush models do 1000g- which I assume is good if you have an elephant visit.

And that is also how I wound up googling "toilet flush ratings"...

The impressive ones are the low water usage, but are still in the highest flush rating category. Of course those cost the most.
Hex said…
Marshall -- If I have a choice I don't take paperwork with me, but sometimes as I'm sure you knows nature calls and you HAVE to answer. Which is why I prefer to set it down on the sink in the Handicapped stall, because even though I admit it's not 100% perfectly sterile, at least it's not touching something that's touched heinie, knammsayin?

Van -- I have to admit, I'd never thought of Knitting in there, but clearly the big stall has 1001 uses.

ps -- Did you make all that ThriftCore stuff yourself? It's awesome!

Unmuse III -- one of the few things that makes me want an iPhone or the iPod touch is that gaming ability. But honestly, I'm lazy enough at work as it is. Next thing you know, I'll be PSP on the toilet guy.

Anon -- "Ultraflush" Just saying that out loud makes it sound awesome!