Sunday, October 17, 2010


Sharp eyed readers will have noticed that there was no blog yesterday. We got home from the lecture tour late on Friday night. Too late to write a blog. My body clock woke me up at a little later than typical time, just after 4 in the morning. I sat looking at a blank screen and realized I had nothing to write and less than nothing in the way of energy to write it with. All day I felt guilty about not posting, but not guilty enough to motivate me to sit down and write a late post. Instead we watched the last Jonathon Creek DVD and started in on Season Five of Supernatural. That along with tea with friends and making a hearty fall soup. It was a nice day.

We started the day with Joe returning the rental car and with me hopping in my power chair and going up to do some banking. As always, being home means having the maximum amount of mobility. Having an apartment adapted to my needs helps, having the power chair helps too ... but there is something else. The neighbourhood shows the fingerprints of discussion, of complaint and even of protest.

I had to go to the bookstore and when entering, there is a wide pathway that was created as a result of my getting tired of struggling to get in and setting an appointment to see the manager, discussing the issue of accessibility with him, and getting a crucial piece of furniture moved. Over time I expected the passageway to return to its former position, it hasn't.

After getting groceries to make dinner, we went to the checkout. The one that has the wheelchair symbol, the one that is now always open. It took a couple of complaints, it took a threat of protest, but now, every time I've been in there the wheelchair aisle is always open. Last time I was there I sought out the manager who finally listened to me, when he saw me coming he had that 'oh no, what's he going to complain about now' look on his face. Instead I thanked him for listening and ensuring the change be made. He looked both surprised and relieved. But it's now open.

Even the drug store has cleared all of its aisles from bulky displays, this means that all of us with mobility devises can get around easily. Before they had only one aisle that was accessible. I had forgotten until Joe reminded me this evening of a discussion I'd had with the pharmacist about the number of people with disabilities combined with elderly users of walkers that use the store. We could get prescriptions but we could not shop. Magically, after that, the displays were moved.

Small changes, true, but changes that make my community more accessible and, well it has to be said, more like a community that includes me. It was nice to easily make my way through the day. Partly because access is a lovely thing but also partly to remind me that each time I made my presence and my concerns known, I'd not felt like it. I'd not felt like it mattered, I'd not felt that I mattered. It takes energy and persistence to make change, even small change - but when done, it's wonderful. Being here is easier for 'Dave now' because 'Dave then' was always persistent and occasionally abrasive.

I've got a huge complaint to make about something that happened while on the road, I was going to let it go. I didn't feel like I had the energy to sit down and write a letter of explanation and complaint. I didn't feel like it would matter. But then, I rode easily into the bookstore, I wandered the aisles of the pharmacy, I paid for my groceries at a till with a passageway designed for me and my chair. Voice matters, it may not matter immediately, but it will matter.

Silence is complicity in sameness.

And I don't want more of the same.

Tomorrow morning I'll rise into protest - if nothing else, it gives purpose to my day.


Ettina said...

"Being here is easier for 'Dave now' because 'Dave then' was always persistent and occasionally abrasive."

I've often thought that if I fight it out, I'll smooth the way for the next person to come through this system. If I put up with it and get along, I might be better off, but the next person with similar needs will have the same struggle - and what if the accomodations that I need but can put up with not having are essential for them?

AuntMo said...

I am a regular reader, but I don't comment often. Thank you, not only for fighting th good fight, but your voice helps me keep perspective, gives me focus at times.

and you watch Supernaural, too. Way cool.

Tamara said...

The one thing that really struck me from this post is that your protests help the stores as much as they help those who need the access. If you can't shop there, what business are they missing?

I work for a US division of RBC, and we hear a lot about the importance of diversity. I wonder how accessible those banks are?

I'm sure that one of the reasons they push diversity issues is that limiting your customers limits your revenue. Limiting who you hire because of ethnicity, gender or disability, limits the talent pool.

All of these things are in the best interest of the businesses. But they seem to need someone to point it out to them.

Brenda said...

#1 - I'm relieved that you enjoyed a lovely day with your friends and family yesterday...I was worried when I didn't 'see' you all day.

#2 - Always good to find another Supernatural fan.

#3 - It's awesome that so often when you raise your voice about an issue, something positive gets done. But that's not where it ends. Every time you tell 'us' about one of your efforts, it empowers and emboldens us, so that our communities can begin to look like "Dave's Community". On behalf of ALL those who benefit, thank you.

There go those ripples again...

Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed your break Dave, it is amazing to think that just speaking out does make a difference.

Lene Andersen said...

I have a calendar with inspiration quotes on each week. This week just ending today has one from martin Luther King, Jr.: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Go Dave!

Kristin said...

You rock Dave. I love that you've integrated yourself so thoroughly into your community that it has truly become a disabled friendly community.

Good luck with the complaint you are writing tomorrow.

Susan said...

I've been away this weekend and am just catching up...

I LOVE this post! Won't it be great when your community doesn't need a disability activist at all anymore and you can just lean back and enjoy the fruits of your investment of time, passion and energy? Okay, maybe I'm a bit too optimistic, but if everyone effected this kind of change in their own spheres of influence, then wouldn't the world be a nice place to live.... for all of us.

Louna said...

Your posts are wonderful, and I'm not surprised that, for one day, you didn't have the time and inspiration to write one. Everybody deserves some time off once in a while. And I am glad that all the complaints have paid off in making a more accessible community for you. It was worth it!