I was desperate for a tea. After checking in, Joe, knowing I was thirsty, sent me to the bar to relax with a cup of tea while he took the stuff up to the room. He'd join me in a few minutes. I was sipping on a cuppa hot Tetley green tea when he came into the bar. He told me immediately that there was something wonderfully accessible about th room. Something he'd never seen before. I looked up interested, he continued, 'The floor isn't carpeted, you'll be able to roll around easily in there. That was cool.
'But ... he continued, there may be a problem with the bed. It's very low to the ground. I think it will be OK for you, but it is low.'
The seed of worry came into my mind. We've had this happen before here in England, rooms, paradoxically, with tall toilets and low beds. I know that disability means lots of different things but for me it means I have trouble getting up from low seats unless there are grab bars and even then sometimes it's tough. I finished my tea somewhat reassured by Joe that the bed was probably just at or a little above what I needed.
Once in the room I looked at the bed. It was low. It was also soft. It wouldn't work. Now was time for the phone call. I called downstairs and told them that the bed was too low for my use, told them that in other hotels at other times they'd brought an extra mattress up and plopped it on the bed. The woman said, 'I don't think we have any spare mattresses, let me get back to you.' I began to despair. It would be a rough night. Firstly, no more tea for me, in fact no more liquid of any type. Secondly we were going to have to rearrange room furniture to create something I could use to grab and lift. As we were contemplating this, we heard some banging in the next room. Someone thudded up against the wall. Someone cursed.
Joe said, 'I think a mattress is coming.'
And indeed it did.
A few minutes later, two guys were hauling the mattress in and sliding the new one under the one we already had which was tidily made up. In a few seconds they were done and I was sipping on a fresh cup of tea. We gave them a few pounds for their effort and they were gone.
Later when we were near ready for bed, we realized that there we're any electrical plugs near the bed at all. We need to plug in my CPAP at night for my sleeping. This time Joe called down and asked for an extension cord. It arrived in just a few minutes. One of the two men who had brought the mattress to us handed the cord over.
We apologized for being a bother. He shook his head firmly. 'Our job is to make sure that customers are comfortable in the room. Requests like these make us feel like we're actually helping someone. We'd rather someone speak up and leave happy than be silent and leave feeling poorly about our hotel and our staff. Good on you guys for simply asking.'
I suppose he's right. Although, it took a long while to get comfortable to ask for what's needed. Our experience has been uniformly positive when we've done so. People have responded always with effort even if that effort hasn't always given way to results.
So our room had a wooden floor. But the hotel didn't have wooden people, and that's what makes accessibility work.