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Prejudice Can Be A Handicap

, , , , , | Working | September 4, 2014

(I have a seizure disorder. I have a service dog and wear a medical alert bracelet. When I use public restrooms, I tend to use the handicapped stalls. After doing some shopping, I walk into a busy bathroom. I start walking to the stall when a janitor emptying the trash steps in front of me.)

Janitor: “Where do you think you’re going? That stall is for handicapped people only.”

Me: “Oh, I have a seizure disorder. Here’s my medical bracelet, see?”

(The janitor looks less than impressed.)

Me: “And this is my service dog.”

Janitor: “You can walk just fine. You can use a regular stall.”

Me: “‘Handicapped’ doesn’t just mean an inability to walk.”

Janitor: “You are not allowed to use this stall. It’s the law.”

Me: “Seriously? There’s no such law. I have a legitimate reason to use this stall.”

Janitor: “Listen. You are not going to steal this stall from these ladies! So pipe down your attitude! You aren’t anything special! You and that ridiculous mohawk of yours can go in that smaller stall, missy!”

Me: “The last time I was in a regular stall, I had a seizure. I fell and hurt myself. The stall was so constricted that I hit my head on the walls and toilet. My doctor wants me to be safe.”

Janitor: “You expect me to believe that?”

Me: *turning my head, revealing a long, thick purple scar running under my spiked hair* “This stupid mohawk is a result of the 70 stitches I had to get after cracking my skull open on the side of a toilet! I had no way of avoiding everything in that constricted space when I fell so I hurt myself and a janitor had to pull me out, unconscious. Now, if you could let me access the stall with more floor space and more room for me to avoid head injuries and a lawsuit, I’d appreciate it!”

(The janitor turned pale while the line behind me erupted in a chorus of “Ooooohhhhh”s. Apparently, a woman at the end of the line alerted another nearby janitor to the incident, so when I left the bathroom, I was told to wait by the employee main office. The head janitor offered his apology and granted me a gift card to the mall and a treat for my service dog!)

This story is part of our Epilepsy roundup.

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