In case I haven’t shared this before, I usually use the women’s room. No, not because I identify as such, or am considering the transgender thing, but, because being blind, I have a choice. Either Pam guides me into the men’s room (not exactly the most comfortable of situations for anyone concerned), or, since I can’t see anything, she leads me into the women’s room. In 14 years of sightlessness, this has never been a big deal.
Thursday, we’re out having lunch, and nature calls. The place (a popular chain I won’t name) is pretty slow, but as always, Pam checks, waits for the bathroom to be empty, and we go in. Moments later, a manager enters, telling her I can’t be in there. Pam explains that I’m totally blind and need assistance. The woman says, “I’m just explaining our policy. He can’t be in here.” So, Pam asks, “Should I take him into the men’s room? Is that what you want?” To which the manager says, “No, you can’t be in there.”
Now, I’m in the stall already, about 45 seconds into what’s usually about a 90 second pit stop. Still, I did think about calling out, “No problem. I’ll just go into the dining room and piss on the floor.” Better judgment prevailed, though, and so I finished up, Pam led me out, and the manager finally left, after staring Pam down the entire time. I did wonder, had I simply told her, “This is how I identify. Ignore the goatee and moustache, call me Laverne. I’m covered whichever toilet I pick now, right?” But then, making the news wasn’t on the agenda. Because, I had no agenda. I just wanted to empty my bladder.
Before leaving, we got the place’s phone number to call someone more senior and to get a clarification on rest room policy for the handicapped. Pam posted on Facebook, and got a slew of responses. Everything from folks wanting us to give out the chain’s name so they could torch ’em to considering a campaign to try and take it viral, to folks suggesting we sue. (What for, I don’t exactly know, wasn’t like there were any damages, per se, but I guess that’s kinda the way folks think nowadays. Have an issue, even a minor one? Find an attorney.
So, we called up the next day, spoke to the manager-manager, who was tremendously apologetic, and promised that someone from even higher up the chain would be in touch. Sure enough, few hours later, my phone rings. Someone from corporate. Also, terribly apologetic. Aware of the whole situation, had already addressed this with the staff-particularly the mgmt team in question. And, as I’d suspected, barring assistance for the disabled is not their policy, and that point had been made clear to those who work there.
You know, I get it. This whole LGBTU thing has made a lot of folks jumpy. If you don’t have a unisex or family rest room, you may run into a situation from time to time. I wasn’t terribly bothered by anything about the incident, save for the fact that Pam was made to feel uncomfortable while I took a leak, and the situation was handled poorly. Mishandled, truth be told, but then, so be it. I know what I would think if I were working somewhere and saw a couple heading into the can without one obviously needing assistance/being handicapped. “Damn. Floor’s gonna be really sticky now.” I used to go to a club in Miami where you couldn’t even get into the john without seeing a tryst of some sort going on in one of the stalls. So I understand where the manager was coming from. But.c’mon. You can’t just expect a blind guy to go into an unfamiliar bathroom and start guessing. Plus, I’ve been in places where there’s been a sign on the stall door saying: Out Of Order. But – how would I know? If I’m in there, guess what? Out of order or not, I’m gonna use it, and then, well, the consequences? Your fault, not mine.
The woman from corporate? Sure seemed to be relieved that I wasn’t calling to bitch, or threaten, or talk lawsuit. I was just calling to be sure that, should I need to use the facilities at this particular restaurant in the future, everyone was on board with Pam leading me in there. And, the woman I spoke with went above and beyond in promising me that would be the case. So, tomorrow, Pam and I plan on going back, and having sex like greased weasels in the handicapped stall.
No, just kidding. But, sure is a relief to know I won’t have to whip it out on the side of the building and pee on a bush.
Currently listening to: “Miss Construction theme” (Dance) by Miss Construction