Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Battle!

Three days ago we went to our local grocery, which had just opened after going through a several month closure due to renovations, and I noticed something slightly odd and yet wildly infuriating. They have 7 or 8 checkout aisles, one of which is designated as a wheelchair lane. It's a lovely lane for me especially when I am in my power wheelchair. I'm wide, it's wider, the lane is widest - a lovely fit wouldn't you say. It's so much better than what they had before. So, anyways, back to being annoyed - which through a mammoth act of will I manage NOT to be all the time. They had all the aisles open, that's ALL of them, except the wide wheelchair aisle.

Now it doesn't take a lot of deep thought or even a strategic plan to figure out that if only one is open it should be the aisle that EVERYONE can use. But, no, they were all open EXCEPT the one that everyone could use. I ask to speak to a manager. He comes out. How do people that young get to be managers, he seemed be be seven days older than sperm. Anyways I talk to him and explain the principle of access for all and that if one lane is open it should the the one that everyone can use. He nods gravely and says, 'I'll get that fixed by the afternoon.' This was first thing in the morning and it was going to take him several hours to move a cashier from one terminal to another. I nodded stupidly because I was at a loss for anything else to say. He did promise me though that from that day forward the accessible aisle would be open. OK.

So we go back today after lunching with a friend. We'd had a lovely time at lunch, laughing, talking, and solving the problems of the world. So we went shopping with a lovely feeling of having had good food and better conversation. Arriving at the store I see ALL the aisles open except the ONE for ALL. I ask to speak to the manager, hoping against hope that I was going to get the same guy so I could yell. But the only manager on was the grocery manager. He came over to speak to me and I pointed out the 'problem'. I asked, 'Is this the store's way of communicating to people with disabilities that you'd rather we not shop here?' He assured me it was an oversight. I told him that I'd already made this comment to the manager a couple days before.

He had the aisle open within a few minutes and I was able to both shop and check out.

You know what kind of pisses me off. There are so many bigger battles for us, as people with disabilities to fight, that we shouldn't be worn down by stating the obvious to the oblivious. We shouldn't have to whittle common sense to a point at one end and then use a mallet to smash into the ears of those who neither think or, it seems, listen. We should be fighting the big battles of rampant un and under employment of people with disabilities, the rampant physical, sexual and financial abuse of people with disabilities, the constant nasty remarks of friends like Jennifer Anniston. We have big battles but we also have strong wills and loud voices - but we grow weak and hoarse trying to pay for our freaking groceries.

Sometimes I simply despair ....

15 comments:

theknapper said...

but I think this is the big battle......general attitudes that accessibility is a bonus not intergrated into a service and not being fully conscious of what accessibility really means. Someone who designed the new store understood and figured out that was needed to provide different space but they didn't do the training so staff really got it or make every checkout wider.....

Kristin said...

The absence of common courtesy seem to be almost as endemic as the presence of total cluelessness. I think idiocy like you encountered can be caused by both these things. It's not a bit fair that you have to deal with this. I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

Why not have *all* the lanes accessible? It seems so obvious. A local store has a display shelf blocking all the lanes but one. If they moved the stupid shelves over 4 inches, all the lines would all be accessible, and it would look just as good and not take any more room.

Another frustration is restrooms designed with a handicap stall, BUT the door installed to swing in not out and completely blocks access. A place on campus renovated the restroom, put the door in wrong, and took a formerly accessible restroom and made it inaccessible.

Or a local store which has a handicap ramp... BUT it ends with a four inch step.

Or places where the accessible door is always locked or blocked with storage.

Sharon

Anonymous said...

The World is changed one person at a time, unfortunately you have to bang a few over the head to get there!

Glee said...

Yep Dave - been there done that many times. Love the mallet bit! I will picture that next time it happens! Which is, I must say less often these days here in Australia.

Anonymous said...

What did jennifer aniston say?

Anonymous said...

It does seem like a never ending battle. I used to be a fan of Jennifer Anisten.

Talk about dispair, what to do when an agency that exists to enhance the lives of disabled people living in their community spends millions of dollars to build a new building for managers offices, a sheltered day programme and a sheltered workshop, puts in plenty of accessible washrooms, but also puts in washrooms that are so inaccessable that they should be illegal?

Miss Ginny Tea said...

I suspect that's my grocery store, too; it sounds just like it. Even if it isn't, I'll be making a point of saying something if I see that lane not open.

Dave Hingsburger said...

miss ginny tea ... do you live in downtown toronto by chance??

theknapper said...

Jennifer was talking about her photo shoot where she looks like Barbra Striesand. she said, 'I play dressup. I do it for a living like a R'
She's had reactions from a number of large disability groups.

coffeetalk said...

Dave I remember sharing with you an incident that happened while I was accompanying two people that I work with, who happen to be affected by Down Syndrome, to a Walmart to do some shopping. I picked up some items, paid for them and the people that I was with also had some items. The cashier actually put a bag on her hand, like you would to pick up dog poop, to ring in their items. I didn't mention it at the time, because this fact went un-noticed by the two people I was with and I didn't want to take away from what had been a wonderful day. I did, however, phone the store and speak to the manager when I returned to work. He apologized for the incident and suggested that this is not the way Walmart wishes for it's customers with disabilities to be treated. Then.....and hold on for this one....he suggested that in the future I call ahead to let them know that we would be coming to shop. I asked him why I would do that, to which he replied, "so that the staff would be expecting us". I told him that I didn't realize that customers got treated differently if they called ahead and suggested that ALL people be treated with dignity and respect. After this call I contacted, first by e-mail followed by a telephone call, head office. I suggested that I would be willing to help in any way I can to facilitate some training for the staff at Walmart. I have not heard from anyone at this organization and this was several years ago.

I despair also. There is so much work to be done and so much has already been done. We have, though, come a long way and we can take some small comfort in that. We shall persevere (I heard a lovely definition of the word persevere....to persevere is to simply do the next right thing). We are all in it together.

Moose said...

I already mentioned in another comment to another post about the one grocery store that trips over itself to be accommodating to the disabled -- just a regular everyday Kroger -- and the other one near me [also a Kroger] that could really give two #%U(s about dealing with any but the able bodied.

I dealt with the problem by a) writing a bad review of the bad Kroger, b) calling Kroger corporate and c) never ever shopping at the bad Kroger again.

The good Kroger gets rave reviews and, yes, I've written and called corporate about them, too.


re: anonymous
My biggest complaint about handicapped bathroom "renovations" is when they put in a stall with a wall-mounted toilet. Allegedly the US is changing ADA requirements so that new & renovated handicapped stalls must have floor-mounted toilets. Wall mounted toilets are not designed to handle more than 250 lbs, which isn't just about fat people. A 150 lb person in a wheelchair can exert more than 250 lbs when moving onto a toilet from a chair if their legs cannot take some of the weight.

Princeton Posse said...

Love the phrase "stating the obvious to the oblivious" I'll be using that!

Leah said...

"Seven days older than sperm" Hmmm That might be an age thing on our part Dave. I swear, everywhere I go these days, the employees are looking younger and younger! I've not had reason to pay attention to the accessible checkouts before (my daughter is ambulatory) but now I'm going to. HOWEVER! In December my daughter had surgery at Boston Children's, we live in Minnesota, so we stayed at a hotel near the BC hospital the week prior to her surgery. It was an "accesssible" room, and was right next to the elevator on the SEVENTH floor. That was great...until the fire alarms went off 15 minutes after we checked in. Umm...my daughter, while ambulatory, doesn't do stairs FAST. and is too heavy for me to carry. We didn't see a single person on the stairs. It took us TWENTY MINUTES to get to the lobby, with the alarms going the entire time. When we got to the lobby, there were only a handful of guests there, looking confused. I asked what was going on and nobody knew anything. Surely after all that time, they should know something? The desk staff was still at the desk. The fire department was standing around with the axes in hand, and nobody was saying anything. Finally I went to the desk and they were all, "Oh, it's nothing, you can go back to your rooms." I was a little teeeen tiny bit irritated by this point and was like, no to mention sweating like a pig. "You might want to tell THEM (indicating the hovering guests) that! And while I'm here, you need to move us to a different room." which they said they didn't have one. Funny, when I asked for the corporate number an empty room became available....

Miss Ginny Tea said...

Yep, I do. I haven't been to that store since your post came out, so I can't report on how they're doing.