Bathroom Stalls are not Parking Spaces

This post was inspired by Christine Wolf’s Bloggin’ When I Got Nothin’ suggestion and two unrelated ChicagoNow posts that got my attention yesterday because they shared a theme: thinking of others before or at least in addition to yourself.

Kim Z Dale wrote about accepting a drink voucher if you are not going to use them. I commented that it certainly seemed odd. Trying to come up with plausible explanations, maybe he was collecting them for his next flight (either a connecting flight or a longer upcoming one)?  Or maybe he jumped at the free thing not realizing that he didn’t want/couldn’t use it and didn’t know how to walk it back?

Mary Ellen Smolinski wrote about using the handicapped stall in the bathroom when other stalls are available.  What we don’t know is if this person simply wasn’t paying attention or wouldn’t have bothered even if Ms. Smolinski had been able to communicate in time: “hey I really need to use that type of bathroom stall because of my physical disabilities.”

I cannot speak for Ms. Smolinski but I suspect she used a strong headline to get everyone’s attention and she fathoms the various nuanced scenarios involved in her ask, and doesn’t expect everyone to avoid the Handicap Stall ALL of the TIME.   In software and systems engineering, there is this concept of a Use Case.  She cited a particular Use Case where someone could have performed the desired action but did not.  If you check the comment pond under her post, you’ll find many Internet Justice Warriors quick to point out other Use Cases where this is perfectly acceptable.

While I would hope to have enough presence of mind to not beat out a person who really needs that type of stall more than I do, I have no qualms about using it even if any of the other stalls are available.  If I walk into a bathroom and all or most of all the stalls are available, I’m going to take the cleanest one I can find.  Sometimes that also means the Handicapped one because it has more space.  Also these days I’m rarely doing my business alone and the Handicapped Stall is the one with the baby changing station.

Here’s the thing….bathroom stalls are not the same thing as parking spaces.  They really aren’t.  Maybe they should be, but in the world today, they aren’t.The turnover in the bathroom is probably faster than that of a parking spot. A car can be parked for hours and hours. People usually are  on the toilet for a relatively briefly fraction of that time (one would hope).

In the world today, if you get caught parking in a handicapped parking spot, you get a ticket.  If you use the handicapped stall, you get a little more leg room.

Tying this all back to the aforementioned common theme, Kim and Mary Ellen have reminded me that we all need to be more woke (as the kids say) of what’s going on around us and think beyond our own wants and needs.  I’m still going to use the best stall available, but I will make more of an effort to avoid using the handicap one if I can.
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Would you wait to use a regular bathroom stall when the Handicap one is available? Tell me about it here in the comments, then swing by my Facebook page and LIKE it! You’ll find funny, informative links and interesting pictures. Don’t worry, your FB feed won’t get overwhelmed.

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