You’ve come to the mall straight from your favorite Indian buffet, and there’s one thing on your mind: finding a place to appropriately dispose of all that delicious curried meat you just ate. You make a beeline to the restroom.
You survey the scene. Several tall, metal boxes, each containing a porcelain throne and (presumably) toilet paper, stand at attention, at your service.
You never pick the first one, unless it’s the only one available. Everyone knows that. So you leave it feeling rejected and alone, just as it was expecting, and move down the line.
There’s TP on the floor in stall #2.
Someone went #2 in stall #3, and flushing was only half successful.
Stalls #4, #5, and #6 look ok, but they don’t really have anything special to offer.
And then, all the way at the end, it catches your eye. The One that is not like the others. You know, The One. There it is, standing tall and proud in the corner, with three of its four walls reaching all the way to the floor. Almost real privacy.
It’s also large enough that you could use it for a variety of activities. You’re giddy just thinking about it.
Did you bring your yoga mat? There’s plenty of space for some midday Oms. Or your sewing machine? Talk about cutting out the middle man – you’re in a mall restroom with retailers all around to whom you could sell your creations. Porcelain Throne Creations. Catchy.
Well, that seals the deal. You march straight into your destiny, lock that metal door, pop in your earbuds, slip off your shoes, and get comfy. You’re planning to be here for a while.
I’ve just consumed two large blueberry slushies from the Target Snack Bar, and I’m in emergency mode. If I don’t find a restroom soon, my wheelchair cushion is going to be leaking blue.
I wrestle my way through the heavy Ladies’ Room door, which seems intent on keeping me out. My Service Dog, Bright, senses my increasing anxiety and starts doing the potty dance, herself.
Head down and teeth gritted, I glide as quickly as possible to my place of refuge. The only cubicle among many that can bring me relief.
I pull on the door handle. It bounces off of the lock and makes a sound like I’m the one acting inappropriately.
My eyes start to water. Insult is added to injury as a row of perfectly good cubicles sit to my left, mocking me, knowing that there’s no way I’m going to squeeze my wheelchair, my four legged friend, and myself in and close any of the inward-swinging doors. The discomfort in my abdomen has turned into pain, and I begin to panic.
I hear you humming. Is that Mumford and Sons? ARE YOU POOPING IN MY STALL AND LISTENING TO MUMFORD AND SONS? That’s track 8! HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THERE?!? I see your socks!
There. A plop, a splash, and a sigh. Are you done?
Nope. More. Then nothing.
The TP roll creaks. My excitement over this fact actually makes my need to pee worse. Then a flush. I’m so close!
I get out of the way, so as to give you ample space to make a quick exit. You’ll come out, I’ll go in. It’ll be graceful and perfect and then I can reply appropriately to the call of nature.
Am I fantasizing about entering a bathroom stall? Yes. Yes, I am.
But a new sound jerks me out of my fantasy. Shopping bags. Under the stall wall, I see you rummaging through your J.Crew and Banana Republic bags.
You’re picking out a new outfit and changing your clothes.
I have now resorted to crossing my legs and rocking a little, and you’re CHANGING YOUR FREAKING CLOTHES. I could kill you. I hope you bought some new jeans and are prepared to hand them over in the event that you leave me with a need for them.
Finally, the door unlocks and you step out, wearing a new cardigan. The tag’s still on, just so you know.
You stop between me and the stall and ask if you can pet my dog.
No. No, you may not.
You don’t apologize, and it probably doesn’t cross your mind that you’ve just put me in grave danger of soggy pants.
I plug my nose (you were in there a looooong time), and take what’s rightfully mine. But my tummy’s going to hurt for awhile, and the trauma of the last 15 minutes will stay with me, at least for the rest of the afternoon.
Please friends, help me put an end to Inconsiderate Toilet Use, a condition that plagues Americans.
Legitimate reasons to use the accessible stall include, but are not limited to, being a wheelchair, walker, or crutches user, having a mobility disability that causes you to need the bars on the walls, having a small child in tow, and severe claustrophobia.
Reasons that are not legitimate include, but are not limited to, “liking” the big stall, needing a place to smoke pot with your BFF, needing a stall big enough in which to have sex, and wanting to re-try on everything you’ve bought at the mall.
This has been a Public Service Announcement. Pass it on.