accessible-restroom-signI am not exactly certain when having children became a disabling condition, but based on all the baby changing stations now located in almost every female accessible stall, it must’ve happened in the past 15 years or so. Now, after waiting on a seemingly endless line at the ladies room, when my turn does arrive, I must wave people in front of me while announcing to the world, “No, you go ahead, I have to wait for the accessible stall.”

Sometimes the wait is brief, but other times, as was the case a few months ago at the Pilot gas station, there are four or more children occupying that accessible stall while mom scrambles to dress and undress each one, periodically pulling a wild toddler back from escaping under the door. When my turn finally arrives, the stall is often left with a disgusting mess to navigate through.

For short walks, like a potty stop during a road trip, I can use a walker rather than my chair. If in the chair, I’ll hold it for eternity rather than risk driving through some tyke’s yuck-puddle. The walker is easier to navigate. However, there have been times when I’ll hear Mega-Mom setting up a small dinner party in there “Joey, drink your juice while I change Kathy, OK? Ellie, no you can’t have candy, eat an apple! Jason, don’t eat that!!”

At that point, I know I’m doomed.

How to Pee Standing Up

Luckily for me, I have a bladder bigger than the state of Texas, but the downside is when that gigantic bladder of mine is full, I really gotta go!! We’re talking half a liter or so, and I often wish the toilets in the regular stalls were high enough for me to use. Alas, necessity is the mother of invention, and I finally achieved what most women secretly desire, the ability to pee standing up.

It took some research and quite a bit of practice, but thanks to Amazon, I was able to experiment with a few products. First, I found a soft plastic unit called the Go-Girl. Now if you have a small stream, this one might work for you, but for my gigantic bladder this was an epic fail as the soft plastic simply wasn’t capable of handling the flash flood. My next and final purchase was called a pStyle, which is made out of harder plastic, but also requires a better understanding of where to hold the unit without getting soaking wet. The pStyle must be held firmly in place and is placed a tad further back than one might initially expect. Both units cost under $15, and require advance practice.

Ladies, I cannot emphasize this enough, do NOT attempt this in public without first practicing this in the privacy of your own home!

The ADA Will Not Save the Day

For giggles, I phoned the Department of Justice to ask why America has seemingly put nondisabled families ahead of the disabled. Shouldn’t changing tables be placed where they don’t interfere with those of us who require the larger stalls, grab bars, or higher toilets? The spokesperson’s response was that the ADA takes no issue with it, but if was a problem for me, I should contact the business owner to ask for “a reasonable accommodation” such as the relocation of changing tables or installation of higher toilets.

OK! I decided to give it a try and asked the business owner to do just that! His response was, “There is no legal requirement for me to do that!” Translation: “So sue me!”

Meanwhile, just last week in the State of Arizona, Governor Ducey signed into legislation S.B. 1406, which requires the disabled population to put a business owner on notice of any accessibility issues and then wait for a minimum of 90 days, and a maximum of until hell freezes over for the business owner to “self regulate” their compliance. My local paper publicly boasted this as “a great compromise between the business owners and the disabled.”

For those of us with mobility impairments, this means our public restrooms have taken three steps backwards for those who need the extra space. According to the CDC website there are over 39 million of us in this country, and yet we are still marginalized.

Out of curiosity, I would like to know how others handle the line etiquette. Are people receptive to someone asking, “Excuse me, may I go ahead of you as I require the accessible stall?” or do I just live in Podunk, where they assume it’s more of an urgency vs. logistical issue and quip something along the lines of, “Then you should’ve gotten here earlier.”

Patricia Perez resides in in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, a charming lakeside tourist town, and home of the London Bridge, that is strangely lacking in the area of accessibility and disability awareness. Alas, that is a story for another time. Follow her on Twitter at @MsPatriciaPerez.