I'm almost to weary to write this post. Having confrontations with managers while maintaining good spirits such as to not up set children and guests - now that's an art. We arrived at the Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts to find that our guaranteed disabled seating was not actually guaranteed. That the ballet people rents from the opera people and that the ballet people use a different seat configuration (what?) than does the opera. That I would have to sit alone and apart from the rest of the family.
It was a horrid experience. I paid hundreds of dollars to see Ruby watch the Nutcracker ... that, to me, was the show that was worth all that money ... and I could barely even see her from where I was sitting. Joe, kindly, sat with me so I wouldn't be by myself but we both wanted us all, as a family, to be together as we had so carefully planned. So, of course, I raised a ruckus. This is simply not OK.
I have spent considerable time teaching Ruby that people with disabilities are fully human and fully valued. Now anonymous forces at the Opera House teach her that in the real world, the world outside the cocoon of our relationship - Dave is not valued, not important and it is simply no problem to separate him from his family. They kept making a big deal about me being on the same floor as my party. Firstly, it's my family not my party, secondly it's a huge floor.
At intermission, after having fought back tears of futile outrage for the first half, Ruby came over all overwhelmed with what she was seeing, full of a little girls desire to be a ballerina, Mike talked about the awe on her face at every change of scene. But I didn't see that, I paid to see it, but I didn't see it.
You know what they offered me as compensation for our 'misunderstanding' (I love how businesses always uses the word 'misunderstanding' when there was no misunderstanding at all, the computer still today lists seat AA187 as a removable seat). They offered me a free programme and a CD of the Nutcracker. I'll tell you that I protested without vulgarity or violence but when that was put into my face, I had to turn away just to stay in control. It was such an insulting offer, an offer made that demonstrated a complete lact of understanding or empathy for the crime that had been committed against me. To Wit: When Ruby tells the tale of her first visit to the Nutcracker, I will not be part of that story. An offer to compensate with trifles for removing me from the history of a child that I adore is simply insulting.
But the worst part is I've got to write them. I've got to complain. I've got to dredge up some hope that a single person at that facility gives even the slightest damn about the feelings of a person with a disability. That there is even a the slightest sense of sorrow for ruining for me an experience that I worked for, paid for and looked forward to for several weeks. In the end, I don't think that they do care so I have to make them care, if not care about the experience of one person with a disability in their facility, at least care enough to shut up my complaining voice by an offer to change their practice of selling seats that don't exist, of treating people with disabilities as disposable people who can be plucked from one row and placed in another without consequence or notice.
This I say to the Four Seasons Center for Performing Arts and the National Ballet of Canada:
SHAME ON YOU!!
SHAME, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU!!
This begins the discussion.