Yesterday I had a strange encounter. One that left me thinking quite a bit. I started my day in the usual fashion, the morning hustle to get lunches packed, water bottles filled, breakfast ready, some quick house chores squeezed in and everyone dressed in the right outfit for the day (since when did schools have SO many different theme days). Finally out the door and on our way (we've been on time to school almost every day this year so far!). After school dropoffs I typically head to the gym for about 45mins before taking a quick shower there and then heading to work. I've upped my water intake so I went straight for the restroom as soon as I walked through the gym doors.
Now, this is the part that was a bit different. As many moms know, most handicap accessible restrooms offer added comforts. When my children were little, I often chose this restroom stall for things like breastfeeding when I was a young and embarrassed mother (although I outgrew that rather quickly), packing three kids in a restroom with me while everyone took care of their business, using the changing table which is often located in this stall, taking advantage of a private sink for many feminine reasons when flushable wipes are not at your disposal. In the four years as a member of this gym I have used that stall maybe 4 times, and, yesterday was one of them. Now let me add, during the same four years at this overloaded Hialeah gym where literally hundreds of people frequent at any given hour, I have never once seen a person who would be restricted to only using this stall. People at gyms tend to be routine in their arrival times and during those 4 years I have learned the faces of almost every frequent member. But I digress.
So I rush into the coveted stall, which is typically occupied for the reasons I listed above but never once for its handicap accessibility. I am a multitasker in everything I do, so even in the restroom I am quick. I'm typically not even done and I already have my t.p, in hand ready to wipe and go. Right when I'm about to wrap things up I notice an electric wheelchair move up to the stall door. I'm immediately horrified by my own lack of consideration. I call out instantly, "I am so sorry, give me a minute and I'll be out". No response but the chair moves in closer so that I can now see the person's feet. I'm reaching for the t.p. only to realize, to my horror, there is none. I repeat my apology a second time and add the fact that there isn't any toilet paper. No response. I scurry over to the sink with my pants around my ankles and am relieved to find paper towel in the dispenser (doing this is never fun but you do what you gotta do to get things done). If a timer was set, I'd swear that I was out of there in less than 25 seconds.
As soon as I open the door I apologize once again but I am already being yelled at. She begins to tell me, in Spanish, how inconsiderate I am and starts yelling about the fact that I have no business in that restroom. I apologize in Spanish and let her know of the missing toilet paper situation but she's not hearing it. She continues on to tell me that it is illegal for me to be in that restroom which is designated for the old and disabled. I repeat again that there isn't any toilet paper and if she would like for me to get her some. She forges on to belittle me with insults refusing to hear me. Now, I start to get upset. Most people that know me well know that I can be very nice and understanding but also am intolerant of arrogance and entitlement. Had this been a one stall bathroom this person would have had to wait till I was good and ready to be done to use the restroom as one stall restrooms at any establishment are also the handicap accessible restroom.
When she starts quipping laws I start losing my patience. The one remark that set me off was when she stated that it was illegal for me to use "her" restroom. I had already moved on to washing my hands (which I didn't do inside the stall, even though there was a sink, to give her access as quickly as possible). Instead of hurrying into the stall to do her business she turned her chair around to face me, while I washed my hands, to scold me, with absolutely no rush on her part to actually use the restroom. This is the point when I decided to dry my hands and walk out completely aware of the fact that there was no toilet paper in the stall she was about to use.
Sometimes not everything is our problem to solve. Sometimes you just have to turn around, walk away and not feel sorry.