The Disability Protocol

In my local Starbucks they have one toilet for able-bodied people like myself and one extra-large one for the disabled.

Now I’ve been there quite a bit (let’s say about 20 times in the two months) and not once have I seen a wheelchair user having a coffee.  If you consider the daily number of able-bodied toilet users vis-a-vis the disabled toilet users it is clear that we have an imbalance.

I completely agree with the equality and accessibility laws that ensure the disabled are catered for in every respect in order to make their lives easier.  But surely this equality stretches to me being able to use their bog if I need a quick slash?  Here is me waiting five minutes outside the other toilet while one sits there empty all day?

I mean we’ve already given up two extra toilets in order to make room for the wider disabled one.  We’ve done our bit here.  Surely it’s ok for me to drop in for a minute?  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  A wheelchair user might be slightly inconvenienced but no more so than I am at the moment.  And, again in the name of equality, that should be fair enough.

After a few minutes of contemplation I was just about to make a decision when the regular toilet door opened and a lady freed up the cubicle.

And, now I think about it, the disabled one was out of order anyway.  Not that anyone would notice.

16 thoughts on “The Disability Protocol

  1. What’s there to think about imo, just use the disabled toilets (if in good working order), you’re only going to be a matter of minutes. Unless, of course, you plan on sitting down with your copy of The Guardian or preferred reading material, then you’d better go home and procrastinate on your own throne! I have a thing about public toilets and prefer not to use them at all if possible, as some of them are just nasty!

    Lucky you, getting twenty visits to Starbucks in the last few months…. delicious 😉

  2. I understand your point of view. And in theory it would be okay to have the larger toilet open to everyone too. If this toilet is taken by a wheelchair user, the second whellchair user will have to wait too, so…

    It’s another question when it comes to hygiene. Public toilets that are frequented often and by many people are often grubby. While an able bodied person might find some way to get around that problem, a disabled person probably can’t. And if they get an infection it will probably become more serious than for you or me. THAT’s the worst thing that can happen (as you asked).

    But as long as the toilets are kept clean I don’t see any point in reserving the larger toilet for wheelchair users only. Thomas wouldn’t mind sharing with you, that you can be sure of! 😉

  3. Thanks for the comments. There was of course an element of humour about this blog 🙂 However, you do see some disabled toilets that are used as storerooms by businesses. Now that’s wrong.

    And, to Nette’s point, I’m ridiculously clean when I use public toilets (I won’t go in to it). I might as well have a bottle of Mr Muscle with me!

  4. Mr. Muscle is hilarious! 🙂

    And you’re absolutely right saying that toilets for disabled people (it’s the people who are diabled, not the toilets *g*) should not be used as storage room!

    I wasn’t refering to YOUR cleanliness though! 🙂

  5. Of course use whichever loo is available !!!! Only yes leave it nice and clean.
    I frequently use the mens never mind the disabled one where there are ten women queuing in our local M and S ….
    They are all doors off an inner chamber I hasten to add … :0 !!!
    Some women will queue for the womens whilst the mens is free which seems bizarre to me.

  6. Yes, Jo. My next article piece might be on the argument that women should be allowed use the gents in night clubs. Sometimes it gets out of control though!

  7. 🙂
    By the way where on earth are we ???
    And great that Goldie was number….three was it ?
    But Helen Mirren. What were you thinking ?

  8. I spent 3 months in a wheel chair after a couple of hip surgeries and it become the first time in my life I had to use the handicap commode in the mode it was intended. Thank goodness it was there.
    Either way feel free. It’s ok for anyone to use the handicap stall. Now the handicap parking spot is another matter.


  9. Hi Mickster
    Thanks for the comment. The handicap parking spots are another good point for conversation. As are those “family parking” spots that you get outside supermarkets only to find them used by people who have a Toy Story figurine in the back seat!


  10. It’s the glaring eyes and disapproval when you emerge from a disabled toilet that annoys me.

    Recently, I’d been on the motorway for several hours and thought wait until next services, but the next services was too far (I wish I had stopped at the last one) so I persevered and then when I finally get into the parking lot for the services I absolutely must go, but all toilets are full and the only toilet available is the disabled one.

    I couldn’t wait any longer but when I emerged from the toilet ladies stared and looked at me and then one woman said that’s a disabled toilet. I tried to explain the urgency of needing to use a toilet quickly and she told me off and said we all need to go urgently why do you think you have the right to use a disabled toilet?

    Was she mad because she wanted to use the toilet but I was using it?
    I didn’t stick around to find out.

  11. Well, I get disaprooving looks all the time so it would be nothing new for me.

    Stupid cow obviously hadn’t read my blog! I would certainly have argued valiantly in the way I have above that the disabled toilet should be used when there is no disabled person in the vicinity. It’s the law of averages not the law of savages (I didn’t really think that one through but I hope it works).
    Thanks for the comment.

  12. I’ve used both disabled and mens toilets when the need has arisen. There is also the fact that if you have a toddler with you a disabled toilet is big enough to fit both of you in (the room that is – not the loo itself). There is no way I’d leave my three year old on her own while I went to ‘spend a penny’.

    Better to use another toilet than pee in an alley way!

    Graham – you can always take some hand sterilser and clean the seat with that before you sit down – much easier than hovering. No need to go further down this cul de sac me thinks……

  13. That’s interesting actually. I’ve peed in many an alleyway. I wonder if there is any law suggesting that particularly narrow alleyways must have a wider, wheelchair-accessible alleyway next to them?

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