Not Your Moral Compass

There were three stalls in the public restroom and one of them was wheelchair accessible. I had just come out of the accessible stall, and as I headed to the sink saw that the other two stalls were preoccupied. I stood up on my foot rests and leaned forward to soap'n'scrub and in the mirror's reflection saw an older woman smiling all the while as she inched closer to the stalls. I smiled back, and continued rinsing the soap off my hands. Trying to look like I wasn't really noticing her slow approach towards the stalls, while also smiling at me in the mirror every few seconds.
Immediately in my mind I assumed she would have just gone into the stall after I was finished. Most people do, and it's something I expect people would do. And after the third or fourth time our eyes accidentally met in the mirror's reflection, (all the while we were both trying to avoid contact with one another at the same time..) I wanted to tell her "you know you can go ahead and use that stall now.." But I didn't end up saying anything. Instead I dried my hands on my jeans and left, all the while being somewhat amused by the whole situation.

Because why did I need to say anything? It was a public restroom and I didn't think it was my place to be giving other women permission about whether or not to use the accessible stall; particularly if I didn't need it and it was the only stall open. Sure some other woman in a wheelchair, or a mom pushing a stroller could have come in and required the use of the larger stall - but that's not really what I'm trying to get at. In that moment it felt like she was waiting for me to give her the "yes" or "no" - looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to say something. She also had that look of discomfort that was poorly hidden by the placid smile, an uncertainty of whether or not she would be judged for using the accessible stall. Specifically, whether or not I would judge her because I do require the use of that stall.   (The answer is no!) If a non-disabled, or non-wheelchair-user came out of that stall (and in this hypothetical situation I am not present) - would that same woman hesitate to use the accessible stall? My educated guesstimate says "no."
Though quite opinionated, whether others choose to use the accessible stall when it's the only one available isn't really an issue I feel compelled to assert myself. To be blunt: I have more interesting things to question and judge than whatever your bladder compels you to do. Having a disability doesn't mean that my life is somehow lived in a 'morally upstanding and righteous' manner. At all. Like AT ALL! A lifestyle of adapting to challenges does not somehow give me access to a life of clarity, and knowing what is right vs. what is wrong. (Never mind a life of 'really appreciating life' because it's assumed I am constantly breathing in the air of morally sound fumes, and butterfly farts.)

Besides I only judge women who use the accessible stall for the sole purpose of changing outfits. When I can clearly see you kicking on and off five different pairs of shoes, and bulging shopping bags are on the floor, and whenever I can see your feet jumping up and down to get in those skinny jeans - my bladder hates you a little bit more with each grunt.

But maybe the woman was teaching my own moral compass something: just because I expected and assumed she would behave a certain way, isn't necessarily right for me to have that assumption and expectation in my mind. Maybe my moral compass could have used a little tick in the 'right' direction from her actions.

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