Today’s subject is toilets and if you think we’re going to be doing potty jokes here, please flush that thought from your mind. OK, that’s the last one.
Finishing my workout yesterday at Lifetime Fitness in Vernon Hills, Illinois, I stripped down-not a pretty sight-and headed for the showers. Lifetime has 16 shower stalls, including one that is wheelchair accessible.
Wheelchair accessibility is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and provides a level of access to a variety of jobs, services and facilities that was once unavailable to the wheelchair-bound.
When I approached the showers, there was a guy waiting there with a towel in his hand, wearing nothing but flip flops. I asked if he had checked all the showers for occupancy and he said they were all being used. Except for the handicapped one.
There’s a certain finesse required when chatting with a naked stranger at the health club. You have to be mindful of the movement of your hands and eyes.
I did a quick shower check and, indeed they were all being used. Except for the handicapped one.
That created another awkward predicament for me. If I ducked into the handicapped-wheelchair accessible-shower, like I would normally do, I would not only be cutting in front of the guy waiting for a shower, I would be violating some unspoken taboo about able-bodied folks using facilities provided for the handicapped.
Suddenly, I felt like Larry David in one of the more memorable episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm . According to my wife, I’m just like Larry David, only worse.
So, yada yada yada, I finally get in the shower and I’m thinking about all the times I’ve used the “handicapped one” without a moment’s hesitation.
In 15 years at Lifetime, I’ve never seen anyone roll into the shower in a wheelchair. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge anyone in a wheelchair access to the facility, I’ve just never seen anyone in a wheelchair in the locker room. I’ve seen them in the club, I guess I assumed that they went home to shower.
My daughter used to shower at home because she didn’t like to use a public shower. I don’t know if she still does that, but she still works out religiously. Maybe she just prays in the shower.
I figure it takes me about 3 minutes to shower, even if I pee while I’m washing my hair. Yes, I can multi-task and even the Today Show’s Natalie Morales pees in the shower . When it comes to showers, there’s two kinds of people; those who pee in the shower and those who lie about it.
Save your denials, we already know into which category that puts you.
If a guy in a wheelchair rolls up to shower while I’m in that one, the most he’s going to have to wait is about 3 minutes. 180 seconds. No one, handicapped or able-bodied is ever going to be in such a rush to shower that they can’t wait 180 seconds.
I feel the same way about toilets. If the only choice is the handicapped stall, I’m in it. As a nation, we promise our disabled access to our facilities. What we don’t promise, however is instant access. No one gets that.
For those of you who feel the need to tell me off about my nonchalant use of facilities for the disabled, rest assured that I draw the line at handicapped parking. I am incensed when I see an apparently able-bodied individual jog away from a car he or she just plopped into a handicapped spot.
My mother, rest her soul often tried to talk me into using her handicapped thingamajig-that-hangs-from-the-mirror so I could park in a handicapped spot. Wasn’t for me. She didn’t get the irony of letting an able-bodied person-me-use her handicapped placard, thereby taking the space from someone who really needed it.
Someone like my mother, who actually qualified for a handicapped placard.
Hopefully, it’ll never come up again. But if it does, I’m going to tell that guy that it’s insane to stand around waiting for someone in a wheelchair to show up while there’s a perfectly good shower just waiting for him. Or me.
That guy probably never experienced a shower head at the end of a 6-foot hose. If he did, he might never use the regular shower stalls again.
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