His knuckles were bruised, I wasn't sure if it was from work or from a dust up the night before. He looked hale and hearty and as if he liked a bit of a brawl.
Yesterday, during the afternoon, I had some time off. Joe and I motored up to Swords to the shopping center there. On the way out my front tire got caught on a cobblestone and the rubber was ripped from the rim. I was panic-struck. I had to be at the radio studio in a couple of hours, and even more important to me, I had yet to navigate three airports to get home. What was I going to do? Try as we might we couldn't get the tire back on.
We decided to go back to the hotel and see if building maintenance could help. But luckily just a block from the hotel we spotted a tire and brake place called Fast Fit. We pulled in to ask for help. The guy there looked at the chair, turned the wheel around with mitts that looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. He was determined to get it fixed and me mobile again. It took two of them and it took some time but the chair was fixed. They refused payment and instead just wished us well.
Odd. Something nice. Out of the blue.
Yet on arriving at the airport to fly to Dublin we got our boarding passes and were sent to special services. Well, the services weren't very special. The guy was openly hostile about getting someone to push me to the gate. The special services room was filled with special services people but none got up to help. The door was guarded by a very angry man. First he demanded why Joe didn't push me.
Beyond the fact that it's not Joe's job to push me. Joe had his hands full with our briefcases, coats and stuff. Then he asked, loudly in front of others, if I could climb stairs. I said I could not. I would have thought that being in the wheelchair was a bit of a give away for that one. Then he moaned that if I couldn't climb stairs and there wasn't a ramp they'd have to get special equipment. I explained to him that they had told me upon check in that the plane would be at the gate and no lift would be necessary.
Then I asked if we could go to the gate now. He said "No" with finality and sent me away telling me to come back later.
Believe it or not, I didn't tantrum.
I was too shocked.
When I came back, he was gone but my confidence was back. I spoke to the supervisor and let her know that what happened wasn't OK. She didn't really, um, care.
Odd, isn't it?
That the most disability-hostile experience I've had on this trip came from those who are supposed to ... care.
And that one who didn't need to care ... did.