Hello Angelicamarie. Another first class post! Of course, we are not the only ones whose disabilities are not readily apparent to outsiders. Personally, I would have verbally accosted the lady when she first mentioned it. I have done this on several occasions and where necessary I have produced the documentary evidence and shamed the people into learning a bit more about disabilties that are not visible. Interstingly, one of my stories surrounding this issue forms part of my present book so (even though it's a bit long for a post) I'll copy and paste it just to share.
“There are few people on this earth
who have less sense than a jobs-worth.”
My first true story is one of my favourites, not only because it encompasses misfortune, toilet humour and filth, but it epitomises the concept of an embarrassing disaster almost entirely caused by a security guard with a ‘jobs-worth’ attitude. (Always good for a laugh when the consequences of their obstructiveness rebound on them)
When viewed from a historical perspective, this story gets more amusing to me each time I tell it.
I will not bore you with the gory preliminary details but, there was a time in my not too distant past when, due to a botched surgical operation, I was left chronically incontinent of faeces.
For anyone who does not know about this type of chronic condition, it is not immediately visually apparent, that faecal incontinence is a serious disability which requires immediate attention in much the same way that a heart attack, stroke or anaphylactic shock might require.
As you might imagine, this was not an easy condition to manage, either practically or from an emotional, psychological and social perspective.
After several personally embarrassing incidents, I was beginning to get the hang of managing the condition by a combination of knowing exactly where every local toilet was situated; anally irrigating at regular intervals and wearing anal plugs to give me a fighting chance of making it to the nearest toilet in time.
On the occasion in question, I happened to be in a local superstore shopping, when the dreaded feeling came over me and I knew that I needed to get to a loo in a hurry.
The obvious place to cater for this type of emergency was to use the toilet for disabled people, which I had done successfully on several previous occasions, in other locations.
Unfortunately, this time there was a large male security guard standing between me and the toilet and he made it clear that he was not going to let me use the facility.
I quickly and politely explained, that I was incontinent and that I needed to use the toilet in a hurry but he stood his ground, saying that he did not believe I was ‘disabled’.
What do you do in such circumstances? I protested and tried to persuade the guard that there would be ‘consequences’ if he did not allow me access to the toilet immediately. The more I protested, the more resolute he became, stating that there was no way he was going to let me use the disabled toilet and that I should find somewhere else to go.
Unbeknown to him, I usually had a proverbial two-minute warning before the ‘bomb’ dropped.
The anal plug gave way and the build-up of warm, wet crap flushed down my trouser legs, ending up in a smelly heap on my shoes and the surrounding floor.
Those of you from rural areas might be able to relate to this by imagining standing in a large wet cow pat, except for the fact that this crap was also coagulating in my underpants and seeping through my trousers legs which would have made my walking gait a bit like a demented crab.
Now! One of the things about having such a catastrophe happen in a food store is that it becomes an immediate health and safety issue, as well as being a stinking, embarrassing mess for all concerned.
From my perspective, this was not the first time such an accident had occurred so I was relatively experienced in coping with the embarrassment and the mess.
However, the social dynamics of such an occurrence for those who were close by was instantaneously dramatic and overwhelming.
People were simultaneously disgusted, nauseated and panicking as they were trying to exit the store as if there had been a fire alarm.
Another aspect about the human public is that, if there is someone in a uniform present at a disaster, they assume that person will take control of the situation and sort it before it gets out of hand.
In this case, it was the guard who had precipitated the incident and who then did not quite know what to do about rectifying his mistake.
Not wishing to ‘rub it in’ by stating the obvious that “I told you so!”, I kept calm, stood stock still, shrugged and in a matter-of-fact manner, stated that I ‘still’ needed to access the disabled toilet to clean up.
This time, the guard was relieved to be semi-instructed on what should happen next, so he was only too willing to get me out of sight of the other customers. Thus, he allowed me instant access into the toilet.
Having the lower half of one’s body covered in crap is not at all pleasant and is not easy to clean up in the confines of a public toilet, especially if you haven’t brought anything to change into once you’ve disrobed.
Fortunately, in the age of mobile phones, calling for reinforcements does not pose the same sort of problems as it might have done in previous generations so, by the time I cleaned myself up, I was expecting the new clothes to arrive. (I always carry my mobile phone in a pouch above my waistline to avoid the obvious problems associated with having it in my trouser pockets.)
Meanwhile, I’m literally ’privy’ to the conversations going on right outside the toilet door, which involved the security guard protesting that he was ‘only doing his job’ and that it ‘wasn’t his fault’.
I presumed that it was the manager of the store who came to tell him to get the mess cleaned up as quickly as possible. She came to the door and asked me if I was ‘okay in there?’ I sarcastically replied that ‘I could have been better, as all this could easily have easily been avoided’. adding that ‘I hoped that the store would teach their staff that not all disabilities are overtly visible’.
My only real regret about this incident was that nobody recorded it on their phone for a YouTube clip, as I feel sure that, even without the reality of the accompanying smell, the footage would have been appreciated by that very discerning audience on the World Wide Web.
Any adverse incident was always worth a rhyming verse or two, so here’s one I penned on this subject once I got home:
WALK A MILE WITHIN MY PANTS.
There would be little that you’d lose
to walk a mile within my shoes.
But walk that mile within my pants,
you’ll soon desire to decant.
For I am one of just a few
who cannot hold onto their poo.
I do not do this with intent,
it’s just that I’m incontinent.
When you take your first big stride
you’ll surely wish that you could hide.
The shame upon your face will tell
of warm-wet feeling and the smell.
From that point on, your gait has changed.
You’ll walk along as if deranged.
Do you walk or do you run?
Either way, it’s not much fun.
You’ll pray to know, where is the loo?
Hoping no-one noticed you.
Then there is a greater fear
if you forgot your change of gear.
And if you did not think ahead
it’s now you’ll wish that you were dead.
Whilst on that edge of life’s abyss
how do you ask for help with this?
Who would want to get involved
so your problem gets resolved?
In this facile, selfish land
very few would understand.
If you try to just stand still
the nausea will make you ill.
The proverb will then live to prove
there’ll come a time you’ll have to move.
‘You’ will have to realise
help will not materialise.
So ‘You’ will have to take control
to loose ‘yourself’ from this hellhole.
When you’ve done this all alone
the proverb’s meaning will be shown.
Within my pants, you’ll start to know
there’s still most of that mile to go!
B. Withers 2011