In public restrooms, I encounter drama. At a large amusement park, women’s bathrooms are crowded with women lined to use the stalls. No one was using the handicapped stall, so my daughter opened the door for me and resumed her place in line. While I was using the commode, I heard a commotion outside my door. When I opened the door, a woman in a wheelchair was rolling into the stall, cursing that this was for physically handicapped only. I started to use my white cane to strike her chair requesting that she back up to allow me to exit. I am sure that the two handicapped women arguing caused amusement and entertained the women lined up in the room.
My understanding of the use of these stalls that they can be used by any person that may need assistance including families with small children. After leaving the restroom, I felt ashamed that I had created a scene.
While on a shore excursion in Mexico, the guide pointed to the men’s bathrooms and encouraged my husband to take me in. He saw the long line at the women’s restrooms and stated the men’s restroom would be quicker. When we entered a young man in a wheelchair was coming out and he smiled and held the door open.for us.
I have been asked by wheelchair users to move out of their way. I usually reply, “Where would like me to go?”. Often, they don’t see the white cane or understand that I can’t see them. I find the chair users that bump me in the legs to get my attention and without a verbal request annoying.
I must take a mental step back and for a moment put myself in their chair. Maybe, they have been unable to reach items on shelves. Perhaps they are hurting and need to get out of their chair for a while. Or they may have been annoyed by another person. I only know that this is a moment of grace to give a smile and apology, to make up for any misunderstanding.
With a change of attitude and a friendly face, the person in a hurry may pause and end up apologizing too.
If we in the disabled community cannot bring understanding into our encounters, how can we expect able bodied people to get along with us and each other. In these times of division, be a healer not a hurter!
Prayer of St. Francis
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
With every step I take. Let this my solemn vow.
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth.
And let it begin with me.