Inspired by AK’s post, I thought it would be interesting to provide a perspective from the stall on the other side of the wall. It’s not all fun and games in our world either. While we may be outnumbered by the females, there’s enough of us to cause problems for each other. The problems are exacerbated by the infrastructure at hand.
So here’s the general problem. We have two stalls, one of which is the handicapped suite. You can tell by the visible shoes/feet that the “lowrider” stall is occupied, but there is no way to know if the suite is in use unless you test the door. This is because the door is always closed regardless of being latched or not. Now I consider myself a courteous gentleman. If I must test the door, I stand at a distance and lightly test the handle with a single finger. Today, I had two goddamn hulks trying to rip the door off the hinges to get to me. And I am considerate when I’m inside the suite, too. I bob my leg to jingle my belt buckle. Sometimes I clear my throat. Surely hearing something from inside would indicate occupancy? No! Hulk shit now! RATTLE RATTLE.
As is my nature, the problem-solver, I set my brain to work on how this can be remedied. There is no existing way to indicate occupancy, but there is an existing way to indicate vacancy. I employ this method religiously for everyone else’s benefit. The other knuckledraggers here are slow to adopt it, because I think they don’t understand.
The method I employ is to slide the locking latch shut as I leave. The closed latch is stopped by the door frame when the door is closed, leaving the door slightly propped open. You can visually see that the door is open and the stall is available. It’s easy and costs nothing. All it requires is adoption. And so I began planning a campaign to promote this concept to my less-considerate cohorts. I would post some PSA-type flyers in the stall to remind others to prop the door when they leave. I needed some clever ideas, clever slogans. On my first brainstorming, I came up with the following:
With such a marketing campaign, how could I fail? Well, you only fail if you try. I did not go through with the propping campaign. Instead, I started thinking of even more clever ideas.
What if there was a plexiglass “flag” that you could slide onto the latch mechanism from inside? The flag would extend outside the stall. That would indicate occupancy, which is more valuable than indicating vacancy. Because, despite the compelling arguments posted within the stall, you still have to kind of assume that someone may not comply and you have to test the door anyway. And if that’s the case, then door propping is not 100% reliable and might as well not even be attempted. (You have to love black and white viewpoints.)
Another early consideration I had was putting a spring lever inside the latch, which would hold the door slightly ajar when unlatched but wouldn’t interfere with closing and latching the door. I even did the research into what type of metal would be needed and how to form it into a spring lever that wouldn’t simply wear out. A torch was required to heat treat the metal, so I reluctantly back-burnered that idea. (ha!)
Now, the obvious solution to this is to update the infrastructure. It would be as simple as buying a latch that has an open/closed indicator on the outside. You know, like on airplanes. But even though we seem to get new toilet paper and paper towel dispensers on a bi-annual basis, we can’t upgrade the door latches.
Time will tell if any of these things actually happens. Until then, I’ll be jingling in the suite. Keep your ears open.