'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
STALLING FOR TIME – AND A WORD-COUNT
Are handicap-accessible toilet stalls the same as handicap-only parking spaces? That is, are only handicapped people allowed to use them?
This came to mind the other day when I was traveling on business and needed to use the men’s room in a hotel lobby. As I exited the extra wide, handicap toilet stall, I came face-to-face with a guy in a wheelchair. He didn’t say anything, but if looks could kill, soon after there would’ve been a chalk outline of my body on that tile floor.
We didn’t speak to each other, as I am not a fan of conversing with people who are mad at me, and he obviously was in a hurry to get inside the stall. So we just passed each other silently.
But I wonder what we would’ve said if we had had the opportunity to talk. Since I’m required to submit a minimum of 600 words each week, and since I’m just about out of ideas here at the 170-word mark, I will take the liberty of presenting what I’m sure we would’ve said.
Me: “Um, sorry, man.”
Him: “That’s a handicap stall, you know.”
Me: “Yeah, but the regular stall was occupied when I came in.”
Him: “Oh sure. It’s empty now.”
Me: “Well, there was someone in there five minutes ago.”
Him: “I’ve been waiting here for at least ten minutes.”
Me: “No way.”
Me: “I’m still only at 250 words. Let’s use bigger sentences.”
Me: “That doesn’t help. Anyway, are handicap toilet stalls the same as handicap parking spaces? I mean, I’m not going to park here for an hour—unless I have the sports page with me—and thus prevent you from using it at all.”
Him: “Oh please. You’ve never use the word ‘thus’ in a conversation in your entire life. Why start now?”
Me: “Sorry, I’m kind of worried about my word count this week—and thus the use of ‘thus.’”
Him: “Now you’re really starting to annoy me.”
Me: “Sorry. But back to my question. A handicap stall is not the same as parking space, right?”
Him: “That’s not the point. This is a handicap stall, and you are not handicapped.”
Me: “But when I came in here, it was the only stall available.”
Him: “First, I don’t believe that. And second, even if true, when you go to Wal-Mart, if every parking space is full except for the handicap spots, do you just break the law and park in one of them?”
Me: “Um, when it’s cold outside I sometimes limp a little because of my bad knee.”
Him: “Ooh, if I had a cane, I’d smack you on the head.”
Me: “Hey, there’s no need to threaten violence.”
Him: “Don’t blame me, you’re the jerk writing this fictitious conversation. I would never have said that. Now please move aside. I have to get in there.”
Me: “So soon? I’m only at 500 words.”
Him: “Move it, pal, or I’ll tell the front desk that you’re not even staying at this hotel. You just stopped here to use their bathrooms!”
And then he rolled into the stall and slammed the door behind him. So, I’m not sure what the answer is. In my mind, if I use the stall quickly, it’s not a problem. It’s certainly not the same as leaving my car in a handicap parking spot.
Just then, the desk clerk entered the men’s room. “Excuse me, sir. Do you own a red Saab?”
Me: “Yeah, why?”
Desk clerk: “It was just towed away. You parked in a handicap spot.”
Him (from inside the stall): “Ha, ha!”
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