Indoors Column: Signs

Being visually impaired rarely causes me any issues that can’t be easily worked around.  I take advantage of public transportation as well as the generosity of friends and coworkers to get around.  I use a magnification function on my computer to manage emails and writing projects.  And, my phone can be easily operated through voice commands.  I have pretty much found a way around every obstacle in my life – except one.

Restroom signage is my Achille’s heel.

Most restrooms these days denote gender with a little stick figure image.  The men’s room is marked with a stick figure wearing pants and the women’s room is marked with a figure wearing a skirt.  I have always felt a little funny about how close I have to get to the door before I can tell the difference.  There are likely hundreds of women in Southeast Iowa who have seen me with my nose pressed against the women’s room door.

To make things worse, there are some restaurants who mark their restrooms with clever alternative labels.  “Hens” and “Roosters” signs have done me in more than once.

So, despite the strange looks I get, I have accepted the fact that I have to give every restroom sign a very close-up and thorough reading before I enter.  But, this weekend, that wasn’t good enough.

Apparently, my blind spots have expanded just enough to block out the skirt portion of the woman stick figure on the restroom signs at Cardinal High School.

I must admit, I was a little suspicious of the lack of urinals in the room once I entered but with all of the gender-neutrality stuff going on these days, I thought maybe urinals had been outlawed.  So, I did my business and left.  On the way out, I caught the sign out of the corner of my eye.  From that angle the skirt was perfectly clear on the stick figure.

I immediately looked around to see if anyone had noticed this hairy middle-aged man exiting the ladies room.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw no one.  Come to think of it though, I’m not sure I should be too relieved.  After all, I’m the guy who went in the girl’s bathroom by mistake.