Some people regularly play cripple crapper roulette. When they enter a public restroom they look both ways, and if there is not a wheelchair in sight they head straight for the stall specially designed to accommodate people with disabilities. If I ride my scooter into a restroom that has two urinals, one regular sized stall and one cripple crapper, the only other person in the facility will be an able-bodied man standing at the toilet in the stall with the grab bars, and peeing on the seat (Lord forbid he should touch it).
Most of the time there is no penalty, but every once in a while he has to avert his eyes, and slink out past a gimp waiting to use the single restroom fixture designed for their use. The wheel sometimes hits the 00.
I call it the cripple crapper for three reasons:
- I dislike the term handicapped stall because a person with disabilities is not handicapped or disabled—words matter
- I have been fond of the poetry and alliteration of the sobriquet cripple crapper even since I first heard it used by Daniel Lawrence Whitney (Larry the Cable Guy)
- Because I can. It is hard to criticize me for political incorrectness in this arena.
- One stall is larger, less claustrophobic with more room for luggage (in airports), and possibly a bit cleaner since most civilized people avoid it when other stalls are available.
- The stall is usually at one end of the row. It is better to sit next to one other person rather than two.
- There just aren’t that many people with disabilities for all those luxurious stalls. The odds are good.
Many people with disabilities have written many treatises on civilized restroom behavior. It may get boring, but it really affects us in very real ways. If your parents failed you by not teaching you these things, try to incorporate these behaviors into your restroom routine:
- If possible, leave the cripple crapper free. If the restroom is crowded, by all means use every stool (The Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC locks these stalls, and the attendant opens them for bona fide users).
- Your aim is not that good—pick up the seat. If you must pee on the seat, do it in one of the standard stalls. At least most people have a choice of whether to use a stall or pass on it. People with disabilities have no choice.
- Have the shame to apologize if you come out of the stall and find me waiting impatiently on my scooter. Then go out and apologize to my wife and explain why I had to wait longer than anyone else for my stall to be free.
- Then go apologize to the parents who really did teach you better.
The office I work in just moved to a new building—probably the highest rent office space in NYC. High class companies with high class employees, right? Well, two of the last three times I used the men’s room, the cripple crapper was occupied. Thankfully, it was being used respectfully, but it was the only fixture being used of the seven available. It will take a few weeks, but the male occupants of the 29th floor will eventually figure out that the local odds of cripple crapper roulette have dramatically changed.