Sometimes, I do a slow burn when something really makes me angry. Like the time this spring, when I got trapped in a public washroom. While I did “share the moment” on Facebook, it took me the whole summer AND a post from another blogger to get off my behind to craft an appropriately snarky article that you also could contribute to.
On that day, while there was a handy sign indicating that the washrooms were “wheelchair accessible”, after I washed my hands and tried to leave I noticed the handle on the exit door was five feet off the ground! With my short stature, stretched to full height, I did not have the leverage to pull the door open.
Worse still was the fear that while I stood there, pulling uselessly, some able-bodied person would smash into me when they opened the door from the other side. Because of course, there was no window in the door so you could at least step back before someone came in.
Who knows how long I would have been stuck there, if another gentleman had not been sitting in another stall. Here’s the kicker: He was one of those people who takes FOREVER when on the can. At least, it felt like forever while I was waiting there, plotting my potty room rescue.
I actually started chatting with him, because my fear was, he would think I was some kind of stalker, standing at the sink, waiting for some ungodly reason. The conversation went something like this.
Me: “Um, sorry to bother you. I’m only waiting because I’m stuck, and can’t open the door to get out.”
Stranger: “OH.” Slight chuckle. “No problem, I’ll be done soon”.
Me, slightly embarrassed: “Thanks.”
After he flushed and came out of his stall to wash his hands, we both marveled at the stupidity of it all.
I think these “wheelchair accessible” bathrooms need to be tested by the able-bodied contractors and builders who create them. Tested while they are in a wheelchair, and then, walking on their knees. Tested while they are hung over, or sick with the flu, to really understand our predicament, and how our various states of health can affect our access to their less than brilliant designs.
Also, their testing should take place only AFTER they drank a full bottle of water, AND, taken a dose of powerful laxative AND forced to wait past the point of no return waiting for the ONLY accessible stall available on a busy day.
Here’s a brief list of some of the obvious things they might discover:
- Are all the door handles the right height?
- Can you get into the accessible stall, with a wheelchair, park it, AND close the stall door?
- With that wheelchair in the stall, is there room for an attendant?
- Are the sinks at the right height for knee clearance?
- Are the faucets, soap, and hand-wiping/drying materials also accessible?
- If the door is NOT automatic, do you need the strength of Hercules to pull the damn thing open?
I’m sure there are other scenarios and stupidities we encounter that I can’t even begin to imagine. In your experiences while using public “accessible” washrooms, what other features and tests do you think should be required? What other amazingly asinine design flaws have you had the displeasure of encountering? Please share your thoughts!