I was in an airport recently. I was in the ladies room, headed for a handicapped stall. This airport had the handicapped stalls at either end of a long row of stalls. The stall nearest my entrance was occupied. I headed down the line to the last stall.
I was four stalls away when a woman rushed in and was all set to take the handicapped stall. I said, “Really?” and kept walking towards the stall. She said, “I’m in a rush.” I replied, “I am sure you are.”
She let me take the stall.
I suspect she realized it was nuts for her to take the handicapped stall when there were many regular stalls—in fact, there was one available adjacent to the handicapped stall. I appreciated it and said, “Thanks.” She changed her mind.
I hear many excuses for why people take handicapped stalls:
- “I like the railings.” (Gee, so do I.)
- “The seat is higher.” (Okay, that’s not a positive for me.)
- “I have my kids with me.” (I realize that. And, you and your kids can use a regular stall. I can only use the handicapped stall. Besides, what are you teaching your kids?)
- “I have to change clothes.” (Okay, I understand that. The regular stalls are small. How fast can you change? Can you know that a handicapped stall is available at all times when a handicapped person enters?)
- “I thought the baby changing table was in here.” (For your 6-year old? Who can sit on the toilet and tell everyone about it? Do you think I can’t hear him?)
There are many excuses. And, I’m not talking about when the line goes out the door and down the hall, and we each take whatever stall is up next. Nope, in that case, you gentlemen are lucky we don’t invade the men’s room. I’m talking about the case when there are empty regular stalls and someone who is not handicapped decides to use the handicapped stall.
I bet some of the people have niggling doubts about their behavior. That’s why they give me excuses.
I don’t ask, except for the woman who tried to cut me off when it was clear she wasn’t handicapped. If I didn’t use a rollator when I travel, I would not look handicapped. Okay, maybe I would, but it would be subtle.
I rarely engage people in the ladies room. I try for a laissez-faire attitude. However, I don’t have the flexibility in the stall choice that able-bodied people have. I would like them to consider me when they act—especially when I’m right there.
I make excuses for myself when I doubt my actions. I suspect other people do, too. For me, that’s time to change my mind.
I often think about whether my actions are congruent with my values. I find I get angry (mostly with myself) when I’m not living according to my values. I suspect that when people feel they need to make excuses to me, they are not behaving in a way that is congruent with their values.
Doubts (or excuses) can be useful for us. They tell us when we are not being true to ourselves. We can listen to our doubts and select a different action. We can adapt. We can change our minds and then our actions.
I happen to believe that changing my mind, especially in the face of more information, is a feature. Some of our elected officials think it is a defect. Interesting, eh?
Dear adaptable problem solvers, that is the question this week: When do you change your mind?
(P.S. If you have a funny/interesting story, please share it in the comments.)