Q. What is the etiquette with handicapped stalls in restrooms? When I go into a public restroom and there are multiple stalls to choose from, I like to go with the handicapped one because it’s roomier. I imagine that many other people do, too. Is that wrong? If I ever saw someone with a handicap, I would of course yield to that person, but that hardly ever happens. Also, when taking the train, if the car is crowded but the seats reserved for disabled people and seniors are open, is it OK to sit there? – Not Sure in Norfolk
A. Err on the side of courtesy. If there are multiple stalls to choose from, always opt for a non-handicapped stall. You never know when someone who needs the handicapped stall will enter. If the handicapped stall is the only one open, I think it’s reasonable to use it. However, if someone behind you in line has a disability, let that person cut ahead of you to take that stall.
As for the train, always leave those seats open. Not all disabilities are obvious, and you shouldn’t put someone in the position of having to ask you to get up.
Dear Readers: Not long ago, I printed a letter from “Sitting Around,” a woman who had recently lost her job after many years but was unable to find a new one because of a disability. She was experiencing a sense of inertia. I heard from many readers with additional insights for “Sitting Around.” The following letters have practical tips that are worth printing, as they also may help others.
MARGARET B.: “Sitting Around” made reference to being rejected twice for “government help” but not being disabled enough to receive it. She didn’t specify whether she had applied for Social Security Disability Insurance, but even if she isn’t eligible for that, she should look into her state’s vocational rehabilitation program, which falls under her state education department.
Her doctor could provide documentation to show the extent of her disability and prove her eligibility for VR services. If she were to be accepted in the program, a VR counselor would be assigned to work with her to determine her interests, skills and career goals. She might be eligible for job training or other educational services to improve her skills and job prospects.
SHARON: You left out a major component in your answer to “Sitting Around.” She needs to get her doctor to do a complete thyroid blood panel. Women in their 40s may be going through premenopausal symptoms, and antidepressants can sometimes contribute to an alteration of the thyroid. Please tell her immediately to request those tests, or she might continue to suffer, because some doctors don’t look at anything unless you tell them. I suffered for 20 years and don’t want anyone else to.
DEB Q.: Please tell “Sitting Around” to get a full medical checkup – including a complete blood count and tests for her levels of vitamin D and vitamin B-12 – along with the mental health checkup. I’d also encourage her to review her diet, to get some fresh air every day and to make a list of a few things to do. And she should do the things on the list before allowing herself a reward. When I get a bit depressed, I clean something. It takes my mind off things while I accomplish stuff. Now would be a great time for “Sitting Around” to declutter, while she is not employed and has some down time. And I also encourage her to help others. I’m retired, but I still help the elderly.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.