Sam Cleasby went to a concert in Manchester with her husband and son when she needed to use the restroom. For a lot of us, we would be frustrated at the long lines or the crowded exits to the stadium, but Sam was more frustrated when she was denied access to the bathroom for people with disabilities.
In the UK, people with disabilities are given a “radar key” that will let them into special bathrooms made specifically to accommodate people who needed extra facilities to go about normal lives. Sam needed to use that accessible bathroom because she wears an ostomy bag – a medical device that is attached to her intestine to collect and remove waste from her body – and it had started to leak waste underneath.
But Sam had forgotten her key that morning. It wasn’t a huge deal, she thought. The security staff have keys to this special restroom, so she decided to ask the nearby guard to let her in because she has an ostomy bag and these restrooms were made for people like her…
“No. They’re for people in wheelchairs.” The guard snapped, assuming that Sam’s problem wasn’t big enough to use the restroom.
She explained her situation again, and that she needed the use of the larger room because of her ostomy bag.
“I don’t care what you’ve got, you’re not using them. If you’re not happy, go speak to that security man over there,”obviously thinking that Sam was faking it all.
So, she went to the other guard who was clearly in charge. She didn’t even get through her explanation of her disability before he happily rushed her to the special restroom. When they confronted the guard who had denied her in the first place…
“The cheeky cow just said ‘oh, she asked me first, but I told her that I didn’t have a key!’ The lying toad!!”
It was embarrassing, she said, but she wants more people to know that not all disabilities are obvious at first – and not all disabled people use wheelchairs.