It’s not the “Big Stall” it’s the Disabled Stall
And other ableist things able people do daily
I have mixed mobility. Depending on the day, I may be able to walk more. However, if I walk too much or push myself too hard, I may be paying for it for days or weeks. This is why I prefer to use mobility aides to help me when I’m out and about in the world. When using the bathroom, I have my wife assist me so I don't fall and with any other needs I may have. It's usually a pretty solid system for us...until it comes to other human beings.
My wife and I are often met with someone who doesn't actually need the stall using the stall. Yeah, I'm talking to you...Moms. You don't need to tell your kid to go run and grab "the big stall", you can park your stroller outside of the stalls and use the normal stalls just fine. We've also been met with the "there's a changing table in there" excuse despite there being empty changing tables out in the main bathroom. Do you know why the changing table is in there? Accessibility. Disabled people have children too! Shocker! They need that stall to have easier access for them and changing their child. I would know, I've got two boys of my own. When they were toddlers and I didn't have my wheelchair, we used a regular stall all together and made it work for respect for other disabled people needed the stall more.
We've had many negative experiences even just asking if we can use the stall instead. Just recently we were at Avenger's Campus waiting for a companion stall. Now, companion stalls are for families, for disabled folks, for anyone who needs a hand. They're not for individuals who DON'T need them. The bathroom line for the women was backed up, and we were waiting to the side for the companion bathrooms anyway. An able bodied woman waited next to us and ran in front of us to use it even though she didn't have to use it and was literally just looking to avoid the line. No apologies, nothing. She said yeah, I need this! Smirked at us and went in. It was absolutely annoying to see someone blatantly disrespect disabled people but just be so incredibly selfish in general. Many times we get parents with one child who isn't even in a stroller, rushing ahead of us or even walking over me to "get to the big stall". We've called people out on it, only for us to be called assholes for not falling over and begging them to use the stall. We aren't rude, we calmly remind people that we need the stall and are still met with bitter remarks.
People stepping over me isn't new either. People love to try and pass us up, and often step over my footrests and yell at us for clipping their ankles. It's much harder to stop a wheelchair with me in it, so perhaps able bodied folks should just not climb over me. It really is the better solution for all. There's been times when we're in line for something and people cut through at my feet because there's a slight gap. I'm tripped over, have butts in my face, sometimes, people even have the gall to grab my chair and use it as a handrail as they walk along. My mobility aids are for me to use to function, not for you to use me to cut across some place sooner. Too many people in public places just see me as an object and not a human, which is why I felt the intense urge to write this article in the first place. Disabled people deserve access to the same spaces as able bodied folks, and it takes help from able bodied people to make it happen. One way to start? Use the regular stall. Stop telling your kids it's the big stall and tell them what it's actually for. I shouldn't have to wait extra long to use a bathroom when you're using the only stall I an access, but you can use any of the open ones.
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