Change The Stall, And Their Attitudes

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 15, 2019

(I have a disability that is invisible quite a lot of the time but does mean that I need to use the accessible toilet when out in public. I’ve come directly from work to meet a friend for dinner and I’m still wearing my uniform. I walk through the back half of the dining room to use the restroom, passing a table of four women on the way, one of whom has a baby in her lap. This occurs a moment after I’ve sat down.)

Someone: *rattles door*

Me: “Occupied.”

Someone: *knock knock knock knock*

Me: “Yes, just one moment.”

(I complete my business and leave the stall to find nobody there. As I am finishing washing my hands, the lady holding the baby comes into the bathroom with a female manager. The female manager asks if I was just using the accessible stall and I confirm that I was. I suspect at this point I know where this was going — those of us with invisible disabilities face this nonsense regularly — but I really have no clue the turn it will take.)

Manager: “In the future, please leave that stall for those who need it. It also has the changing table, and this lady—” *points to the woman with the baby, who is silently but visibly seething* “—needed to change her baby.”

Me: “I needed it, actually.” *gives boring medical history*

Manager: *looking surprised* “Oh, I’m sorry. Of course—“

Woman:No!  Do not apologize to her! I needed to change my baby!

Manager: “Ma’am, she had a reason to use that stall. We—”

Woman: *sneering and turning red in the face* “THAT STALL IS FOR MOTHERS! SHE’S OBVIOUSLY NOT A MOTHER! LOOK! SHE WORKS!” *gestures toward my uniform*

(As someone who has always wanted children and can’t have them, that is enough for me, and I walk out while the manager is still trying to calm the woman down. I have to pass the table with the woman’s three friends, who stare at me as I am passing. Just as I get past the one sitting on the far side, she gets brave.)

Woman #2: “Yeah, she needed that changing table.”

Me: *completely done, stopping dead and walking back to a table of women who are now all tense and not so smug* “AND I NEEDED THE ACCESSIBLE STALL, SO MAYBE TELL THE RESTAURANT TO TAKE THE CHANGING TABLE OUT OF THE STALL AND PUT IT ON THE WALL ACROSS FROM THE SINKS!”

(I walked back to my table, where my friend jokingly asked if I’d fallen in, as I’d been gone so long and he had no idea what had happened. We paid our tab and left. Two months later, when I returned to the restaurant, the changing table had been moved out of the accessible stall.)

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