Yesterday, at a hotel, I needed the loo. The disabled toilet was locked. I waited about 30 seconds, but hadn't heard any sound from inside.
I have previously waited for 20 minutes outside an accessible loo only to discover that staff had locked it, but not put an 'out of order sign' up - not an experience I want to repeat. I also worry that someone could have collapsed in there.
So I knocked.
"I'll just be a moment!"
Good. Someone was in there, I wasn't waiting in vain. My bladder wasn't at 'exploding' point, so all was well.
The door opened and a tall woman, with dark hair came out.
"I'm sorry." She said. "I'm so sorry, but you see I've had my spine fused, so I need the grab rails to be able to stand up again, I'm so sorry!"
My heart broke a little inside.
How many stares and how many harsh judgments had she faced to make that quick explanation be the automatic response to a friendly smile? That she felt she should apologise for using the very facilities she is entitled to use?
How many times had people arrogantly questioned her - or even been verbally abusive because she used facilities designed for her and necessary for her health?
"It's OK" I said. "You are supposed to use it!"
And I gave one of these key fobs (available from www.stickmancommunications.co.uk)
Her face filled with relief, and after a brief chat we went our separate ways.
Don't get me wrong, I love my job.
But sometimes I really wish it wasn't needed.