The Wrong Room

Christmas gift from mom and dad

 

Shredded Comfort, Day 5

I didn’t plan on spending an extended period of time today in a lady’s room at the Group Health Medical facility today. But I might have if I’d thought of it.

Apparently, the universe is supportive of my attempt to make myself uncomfortable.

I didn’t think I’d be able to do a challenge today. I was exhausted because of having to get up early, and I had a day stuffed to the gills with stuff to do. That included nearly six hours of doctor’s appointments for my mother-in-law, and since I am her primary helper with medical stuff, that meant six hours of doctors appointments for me, too.

During the worst of her recent infirmity, I spent a lot of time helping her go to the bathroom. This was exactly as much fun as it sounds. She’s nearly back to self-sufficiently, but nothing short of brain surgery is going to change the fact that there is no part of that 74-year-old woman I’m not intimately familiar with.

So when she had to go to the bathroom between appointments 1 and 2, I thought nothing of steering her wheelchair into the lady’s room. It didn’t even strike me as strange that there was another woman in there, flashing me an enormous grin as she squeezed against the wall to let us past. I did feel a little awkward about that; I mean, we really were taking up more than our fair share of space.

Then my mother-in-law, known henceforth as mamacat, got out of her chair – which she only needs so she doesn’t do so much walking she wears herself out – and walked into the stall.

“I’m going to head over to the men’s room,” I said. “I’ll be right back.”

“Okay!” She called out.

So I went and did my business, and then marched right back into the lady’s room to wait by the wheelchair. As I stood there, it dawned on my that this might actually be a little odd. After all, we weren’t at home. But people take their children into the wrong bathroom all the time, right? Surely it would be obvious why I was standing outside a stall in the tiny women’s bathroom gripping the handles of a wheelchair? Right?

The woman who came out of the stall didn’t think so. In hindsight, it probably would have been better if I hadn’t looked straight at the stall as she emerged. She caught my eye, and stared at me. If I was to cast an actress in a scene I was directing to play the part of “woman who catches pervy protagonist staring through a window at her with his hand down his pants,” she would look exactly like the doctor that walked out of that stall.

After she stared at me for what, and I’m not going to swear at the accuracy of this, was about forty-five minutes, she said, her voice thick with contempt, “Well?”

That was it. Just “well?”

“I’m waiting for my mother-in-law,” I said. “She’s…she’s in the stall.”

It would have been really nice if mamacat had heard all of that and made some kind of noise of support or reassurance. The woman nodded, and walked out. Hopefully not to call security.

After that…I was uncomfortable. Several more women came in during my extended adventure in the lady’s room. They all ignored me. I could have left, I suppose. But mamacat was sure to be finished any second, and I didn’t want to leave her there. Finally, I heard her getting up from inside the stall. As I sighed with relief, I heard the door open behind me. I spun around to see who it was. Why did I do that? I don’t know.

It was an old woman. She saw me, and recognition dawned on her face. “Oh!” she said in surprise. “I’m sorry. I thought this was the lady’s room.”

She let the door close, and walked off. A second later I realized what she was about to do, and I ran after her. I burst into the hall.

Just in time to see the door close behind the old woman, as she marched straight into the men’s room.

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One thought on “The Wrong Room

  1. Sturmovik says:

    Gendered bathrooms are actually unenforceable in any state with an Equal Rights Amendment even if there were laws enforcing them.

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