Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Bathroom Standoff

Sometimes the double wide cripple stalls in public bathrooms are occupied by a homeless person. The same is true of those double wide outdoor cripple port-a-potties.

And I get super frustrated because I know that the homeless person is probably camped out in there for the long term. And my first instinct is to bang on the door and pull rank. “Come outta there! I gotta pee and you’re occupying my space! Cripple trumps homeless, dammit!” But then my second instinct is to feel ashamed of having such a shitty first instinct. If it was some douchebag businessman hogging up the cripple stall, I’d gladly bang the door down. But that homeless person in there, like everyone else, is just looking for a place that’s warm and safe and comfortable. And the cripple accessible stall or port-a-pot may be their best option, especially for free.

And that’s when I get super frustrated because the fact remains that I still gotta pee. And I can’t hold it in until we address all the political inequities that created this situation in the first place.

So what do I do? I don’t want to involve the authorities because I know how they’ll react. If I press the issue, they’ll resort to evicting the homeless person and all their possessions. But that plays right into the hands of the oppressor. He wants us to blame each other for impeding our progress. But he’s the one who caused this conflict. That homeless person isn’t camped out in there just because they feel like fucking with cripples’ heads today. But where else are they gonna go? If the oppressor gave a shit, he shouldn’t have a hard time creating spaces that are more safe and comfortable than a putrid port-a-potty.

The long term solution of the authorities is often to lock the accessible stalls and port-a-potties so that neither cripples nor homeless people can use them. That way, the oppressor gets to fuck over two for the price of one. I was strolling through the National Mall in Washington, D.C. one day a few years back and I felt a sudden urge to pee. There was a line of about 50 port-a-potties that were placed there precisely for occasions like this, but the four or five cripple accessible ones were all padlocked shut! I had to go find a fucking Starbucks!

A crippled buddy of mine told me he recently landed at JFK airport and he really had to pee. But all the cripple stalls were locked! Fortunately for him, he can sort of stand and walk enough to use a standard stall.

So what do I do when I find myself in this kind of bathroom standoff with a homeless person? Well, if it’s a public bathroom, I go use a wall urinal. I realize that when I do this, I’m copping out by asserting my male privilege. I know I’m not doing anything to confront the oppressor and address the root cause of the problem. But when you gotta pee you gotta pee.

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