Yesterday I went to Target to grab a few last minute things I needed before Junior's first baseball game of the season. And since on the way to Target I had dribbled diet coke down the front of my white t-shirt (yes, I know, I am the epitome of grace), I was very excited to find a new white t-shirt on clearance for $2.39. I know! Cyber high fives all the way around. Although I was wearing an adorable brown hoodie over the t-shirt (Notice how we are calling them hoodies now? Beacause it sounds so much more fashionable than sweatshirt.), which perfectly matched my kick ass brown Sketchers, there was no way in aych ee double hockey sticks I was showing up to my son's first game with diet coke all over my shirt. The least I can do is avoid embarrasing the kid by being such a slob.
So after paying for my stuff, I ducked into the bathroom to change my shirt. And since I as in there, I thought I might as well, um, go so I didn't have to go later. When I walked in the bathroom, the only stall available was the handicap stall at the end. I ran in, did my bidness, and changed my shirt as quickly as possible. It was a little after 4:00 and I still had to pick up the kids from Grandpa's and get Junior to the field by 4:45. Well in the constant, yet unsteady fluctuations of publice restroom traffic, the entire bathroom had emptied, leaving me alone in the handicap stall. And while I would swear I was in there two minutes at the maximum, I mean for crying out loud, I am a mommy and have completely forgotten what it is like to have the luxury of taking my time to do anything, I was very surprised as I exited the stall to see two people waiting.
They were a young couple, a pretty girl standing next to a cute guy . . . who happened to be in a wheelchair. Now take this moment in with me for a sec. They enter a seemingly empty bathroom and find the only stall they can use, is taken by someone who doesn't really need it. My surprise to see them quickly changed to embarrassment because they could see me. I smiled my meek little smile. And then proceeded to make it worse.
Me: I'm sorry.
Her: It's okay.
Me: Um . . . When I came in, um, this was the only stall open.
Her (nodding): Okay.
Me: No really, it was totally full (uncomfortable chuckle). But I uh, hurried, you know. Just in case. (Big smile, please please please like me.)
Her (nodding again): Uh-huh.
Silence. Uncomfortable staring at each other.
Her: Can we, um, get in there now?
Me (realizing I was still standing in the way): Oh yeah, sure! I am so sorry!
Me: Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I washed my hands as quickly as possible and got the hell out of there. I mean there are so many things wrong with this moment, where do I start? Happy St. Patrick's day? What the hell was that? But don't think for one minute as I was running out, hurdling a couple shopping carts and small children to get to my car, that my thoughts weren't shouting "Score! New blog topic!"
So I get in the car and whip out the anti-bacterial gel, because there is no way I killed any germs with that courtesy splash I did to my hands back there. I started thinking. It's not the same as parking in a handicap space, right? I mean it's not illegal to, um, park in a handicap stall. But do we save that stall just for moments like this? Do we not use the handicap stall for fear that a person who actually needs the extra room and the little bar things will come in and the stall will be in use? I have had this debate in the past with other people. One who felt very strongly that the stall was off limits. But I disagreed. I always felt that it was still a stall for anyone's use, it just happened to have different specifications to make it easier for a differently abled person to use it. And come on, as a mommy with a stroller, I always went for that stall because it was more convenient.
But now, I gotta be honest, I felt a little ashamed for being in there. I realize there are no laws saying I shouldn't have used that stall. But is it ethical? Was I unethically parked?