The table sailed silently by. It followed the chair which had made it's way, on silent feet, to a nook just off the passageway. We had decided to go out for lunch to celebrate a wonderful morning. Several days ago I wrote a blog about a mitzvah, which is a term describing 'an act of kindness, goodness, or thoughtfulness given for the sheer joy of giving'. Because of chance and circumstance, I wasn't able to give that gift until Friday morning. It was well received. I was jubilant. Joe suggested that we go out for lunch to celebrate. We don't eat out much so we don't really know the restaurants in our area. Our local favourite is where we are hosting friends for lunch this weekend so we wanted somewhere, um, fresh.
Ah, ha, we decided that we'd go to Fresh. Ain't that too cute by half. This location is on the north side of Bloor just before Spadina. When we got there it was crowded with people sitting on the banquette just inside the door waiting for tables. Joe enquired within, explaining that I was in a power chair outside. We were told the wait would be about ten minutes. Joe came out saying, 'The tables are really close together, I don't know how this is going to work.' I said, 'Their website says they are completely accessible, let's try.' We 'but this'd' and 'but that'd' and ended up staying.
Once the banquette was clear, I came in and tucked myself right off the door. I didn't see how this was going to work. Then, quietly, the table sailed by. We were welcomed into the restaurant. There was an empty space beside our table, perfect size for me to pull into and the table was set for the two of us. With no muss, no fuss, we were seated. We ordered and then chatted, just like everyone else in the restaurant. The food was amazing and we both ate with abandon, often having to wipe our chins like kids losing control, excited at all the new flavours.
'Know what's Fresh?' I said to Joe, 'Coming into a restaurant and being made welcome without a fuss. Most of the other customers didn't even notice the furniture being shuffled around and me being guided in. I was able to arrive anonymously and was treated by the waiter as if nothing had been done, no problem was created and then solved, nothing 'special' had happened. It was weird. Good weird. Awesome weird. But weird nonetheless'.
I had to do it. I asked to speak to the manager and she came, as they always do, expecting the worst. I asked her to sit in the vacant chair and then told her how impressed I was. 'Accessibility is as much an attitude as it is form,' I said. I told her how nice it was to be able to have my needs met without noise, or FUSS. She said that my feedback meant a lot and that their goal was that everyone was treated with respect. 'That goal was met today,' I said.
It shouldn't be an anomaly to be simply another customer. But it is. It shouldn't be exceptional to be valued in the same way as others are valued. But it is. It shouldn't be 'fresh' to be able to participate without brass bands announcing your arrival. But it is.
You know what's really 'Fresh'.
PS Should all things happen as they should ... the Mitzvah gift will soon be available on the web. I will inform.