Just when I think that I am not going to have anything to blog about something new occurs. A bright light has been shined on someone’s ignorance, imbecility, and inanity. My faith in humanity has been knocked down several pegs. This belief backslide of my faith was caused by the total lack of sympathy of society. Lucky for me in my old age I have learned how to avoid confrontation in these situations.
At the fitness center where I swim there are three rooms specifically for changing. These changing rooms are available for families or the disabled to use for pool preparation privacy. In all actuality, anyone can use these three rooms as there is no bouncer at the door. There are a variety of needs that cause the privacy need of these rooms.
I sat patiently waiting as I ate a protein bar and talking to a friend. A woman and her daughter came out of the dressing room as they gathered their belongings slowly. She looked at the two empty rooms and then asked me “is this the only room that you can use?” This woman had a brusque tone to her query as she nodded towards at the room that they just left. I said yes and then nicely explained how the other two rooms do not work for my physical needs. “You can’t use the men’s locker room?” She questioned “I mean these are the FAMILY changing rooms” she proclaimed.
The confrontation flummoxed me, and I was speechless at her interrogation. Thankfully my friend who I was talking with spoke up. He was quick to speak as he could see the look of consternation that was on my face. He explained that the men’s locker room is not set up correctly for the needs of the disabled. They went round and round as he tried to be clear and concise in his explanation. This woman was done with the information clarification conversation, so with her feathers ruffled she departed abruptly.
I often want to ask all of the antagonists one straightforward question. How does MY situation impact YOUR life?
Side note: Let us forget about the disabled for a minute and focus specifically on the original purpose of the family changing room. The initial reasoning was to help parents who had children from the opposite sex in the locker rooms. These rooms were extremely beneficial to moms with sons or dads with daughters. That means that since she had only her granddaughter-by her logic-she should have been using the women’s locker room.
I have experienced interaction from people like that in the past. My problem with this situation is that at the pool I am well known. She could have asked anyone in the pool about the guy in the wheelchair. I even saw this specific woman many times over the summer. Never has she asked me anything about my changing habits. She has also seen me go in and out of the family changing rooms many times.
There was one time when another woman saw me in the passenger seat in an accessible parking space. The handicap placard was sitting on the driver side dash. She spoke into the open car window and complained by saying: “the placard should be hung on the mirror.” “No, the law states that it needs to be hanging on the mirror OR the driver side dash.” I quickly stated. She just walked away without apologizing or acknowledging that she was wrong and learned something.
I understand that she did not know that law. She should have said nothing although she felt entitled to say something. I again pose my query: How does MY situation impact YOUR life? I have seen people question those who park in accessible parking spots many times. “You are walking fine. Why are you using handicap parking?” They say. “Because I have a degenerative disease that is very contagious so come a little closer” someone could say in jest.
I feel that in America people feel overly entitled. They seem to involve themselves in things that they know nothing about. But for those who want to be sensitive and helpful to those who are challenged, yes, say or do something if someone is being attacked. Stand up for someone who is being picked on, abused or devalued. However, say nothing if you know nothing.
Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something.