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Is That How He Thinks Disabled People Bathe?

, , , , | Right | February 9, 2021

I work at a copy shop in a small shopping center in Austria. We’re located right next to the toilets. The disabled toilet is always locked, as it has a standardized lock and most disabled people have a key that unlocks any such bathroom door.

Occasionally, people come into our shop to ask if we can unlock the door for them; most of them are surprised to hear that there are standardized locks. In these cases, we usually call the management of the shopping center to send someone down to unlock the toilets.

I’m near the entrance, talking to a coworker, when a man enters and asks, in English, whether we could unlock the disabled toilet for him. I talk to him, as my English is better than my coworker’s, and explain the key situation.

Me: “If you need to use the toilet, we can call someone down to unlock it for you.”

I turn to my coworker and speak in German.

Me: “Could you call upstairs, please, and ask if they can open the disabled toilet?”

My coworker calls house management.

Customer: “No, that’s all right. I don’t want to cause you any inconvenience.”

Me: “It’s really no inconvenience at all.”

Coworker: *In German* “They’re sending someone down.”

Me: “They’re already on their way. The door will be open in a bit.”

Customer: “Oh, thank you. I’ll wait outside, then.”

The man goes outside to wait in front of the toilet. My coworker turns to me.

Coworker: “He doesn’t really look like he’s got a disability.”

Me: “Yeah, but I wasn’t going to say anything. Maybe he’s got something that’s not obvious; I don’t know. It’s not really any of my business.”

Coworker: “Yeah, guess you’re right.”

After a bit, the janitor shows up. He speaks to the man for a bit before shaking his head. The man leaves, still as cheerful as he was when he came in, and waves to me as he passes by. After that, the janitor comes into our shop.

Me: “What was that about?”

Janitor: “Apparently, he didn’t need to go to the toilet. He asked if he could take a shower in the disabled bathroom.”

I was left slightly speechless. I mean first of all, what disabled toilet includes a shower, and second of all, why would he think to take a shower in the disabled toilet of a small shopping center?

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