One of the biggest things I learned in how to be independent is to learn how to navigate public restrooms as a Blind person. I can tell you many horror stories, that will get you laughing so hard that you will never view public restrooms the same again. From my experiences, I will discuss tips and tricks I learned on how to make the experience much easier.
As the title says, I often have to go Duck, Duck, GOOSE! In a public restroom. Now…let me explain. As a Blind person navigating with a cane, I will go along one wall, and bump into or around various objects. This is how Blind people navigate. This is how I explore. Now, imagine a truck stop that is full of guys in there. Yes, I have to walk down the wall where all the guys are standing, and go “Duck, Duck,” then yell GOOSE!” Yes. I am taking my medication regularly. No, I did not get in a fight, no one will pick a fight with a good-looking Blind guy. Ladies and gentleman, you just have to always find humor in every and any situation. Needless to say, I really don’t enjoy going into public restrooms. But…playing “Duck, Duck, GOOSE!” Is one thing I do to pass the time.
Next stop…helpful tricks and tips…
How to Enter a Public Restroom
All restrooms are not built the same. That would be wishful thinking and an excellent idea! After enough times exploring, you will get a sense of the same layout. My rule of thumb is when I enter a restroom I will always start on the wall where the door opens to. What this means, is if the door opens to the right until the door bangs into the opposite wall, I start following that wall. If I start at the other wall, that wall usually guide me to the trashcan and sinks. Usually, when you enter a restroom, you want to avoid the sinks until you are ready to leave. Unless that is where you are heading to first.
Guide me in, Guide me out
Everywhere you go, your cane lets everyone know that you have vision loss. There are nice people who are willing to help you. However, sometimes too much help is too much help. If a nice person helps me in the restroom, then leaves. I am lost. So, I usually try to walk into a public restroom by myself and walk out on my own. If I was taken in a restroom and dropped off, then it is easier for me to be lost. When it is time to come out, I could come out the incorrect entrance. I can’t tell you how many times I end up in the broom closet and thinking I was waiting for my wife outside of the restroom. Once I walked out and did not realize that I just walked out and went straight into the women’s restroom. Once the screaming started, I knew I was in trouble. Oooops. Sorry, ladies!
Check your Space
When you go into a stall and are about to do your business…Check your space. Yes, there are times I accidently went into a stall with someone who was too lazy to lock the door. Gets pretty award pretty quick. So, what I usually do is once I am in the stall, I will make some noises and swing my cane around in an arc. Sort like I am trying to hit everyone close to me. That has saved me many times so I don’t end up locking myself in the stall with someone.
What’s my worst experience? Well, this happened shortly after I lost my vision. I was in a group of friends, and I needed to go to the restroom, like really bad. So, a buddy dropped me off at the door and I ran in. I was really happy to find the stall right away! Bonus! That stall was open! Yay! So, I went in there, slammed the door and locked it. I proceeded to drop my pants and started backing up the toilet. To my chagrin, I sat down on someone’s lap! Yes. I still have nightmares about this. I jumped up so fast and tried to run out of the stall. But, I forgot about the door and slammed my head into it! After I fumbled the door opened and tried to run out, I found out my pants still need to be pulled up. Finally got them back up and stumbled to the next stall. Slammed that door closed. Well, slammed it too hard, it bounced back and banged into my head again! Needless to say, I cried. The other guy cried too. Scary…So, I stayed in there long enough so this poor guy can make his exit. So, remember ladies and gentleman, always check your space!
Check your LTS!
What is LTS? Lock. Toilet paper, Seat. Yes. In that order.
- Once you are in the stall, always doublecheck and lock your stall door. There have been times I assumed that it was locked, and when I am finished, I walked out to a wide-open door. I just can’t imagine how many people walked in. Always check!
- Check your toilet paper roll before you drop the pants. Sighted people can just look and know. But you and I always have to check by hands. Make this a rule! I can’t tell you how many times someone would roll a toilet paper under the stall and I can’t find it. I think the record is like 4 toilet paper bundles before someone started aiming the toilet paper right at my feet.
- Yucky Yucky. Don’t you just hate sitting on someone’s pee? Yes, always check your seat. I usually check Toilet paper and then wipe the seat down. having a buddy come in with you to check is always a bonus. Generally, when the seat is up, it is usually cleaner.
Ok! You are done! Whew! Now, it is time to find the sink and wash your hands. You have two options. Follow the wall you came in, or go the opposite way and bump around all the stalls and standup urinals. I generally prefer follow the wall I came in until I find the exit door. Then, I pass the door where you will find the sinks. Once you find the sinks, you will have to hunt around for the soap. I first look around the sink, then look to the side of me, then I look where the mirror is. Yes, I leave a lot of fingerprints. Next, you need to locate towels or the blow dryer. Generally, they are near the sinks. Or near the door. Or it was on the wall you used to come and go. If you came in and found the towels or dryers, you will know when to come back to it. After that, you will find the exit door easily and you can be on your merry way!