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 ....