Monday, November 30, 2009

Everyday ethics: The bathroom

So I was thinking about the things that we do everyday, that arn't exactly earth-shattering moral dilemmas, but have a significant moral component to them.  What do we do in these circumstances?  And there are a plethera of them.  So I'm going to try to work them out here on my blog, under the label everyday ethics.  I'm not the first person to think about these by a long shot, but I doubt that there are tons of scholarly articles on them (but in all honesty, I haven't checked).

So my first entry...  I work at a community college and I know I'm not alone in finding public bathrooms kinda gross.  But when you're on campus all day, you really don't have other options, and when you have to go you have to go.  But to the point, usually one has choices on where one goes... and there is inevitably the handicapped stall. A wide open stall, about the size of my home bathroom.  There's something nice about not being enclosed in metal all around, inches from yourself.

But the handicapped stall is for handicapped people, and I'm not handicapped.  Should I use it?  I think there is a pretty good analogy with handicapped parking spaces.  They're the closest and thus most desirable parking spaces.  Many people kind of fume about the fact that the spaces arn't utilized very much sometimes, and so whats the harm in utilizing them when in all likelihood nobody will be inconvenienced by it? 

However, the problem is the occassion when someone will be inconvenienced by it.  The fact that the other stalls are so narrow make it difficult for handicapped people to use them.  Its difficult to turn myself around in them, let alone a wheelchair.  Occupying the stall may be nice for myself, but it would be akin to putting a locked belt on a handicapped person.  We all know the sensation of NEEDING to relieve ourselves, and anything that gets in the way is just that much more painful.  Add to the discomfort the fact that one is disabled, and the stall that they would be able to utilize with more ease than the stall that they would have difficulty using is occupied, it seems like an unfair burden to place on handicapped people.

Most people are fairly good about not using the handicapped parking spots (mostly because there are fines involved, but also because most people are good people).  But I wonder how many people use the handicapped stall when given the option.  I know I used to do it.  Then, one day a handicapped person came in while I was occupying the stall...  I felt like a pretty big ass, for a skinny vegetarian. 

1 comment:

  1. It feels kind of guilty when you are using that stall. I used to but then I decided not to because the feeling of guilt was not worth it. But on the other hand once in while I am a little agitated when I am waiting patiently because all the stalls, except the one for the handicapped is available, and a person walks by me and rushes to that stall. To top it all stares at me or gives me a glance that suggests something is wrong with me.