Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Quiz, A Question, A Query

One table. Just one. One table in a sea of tables is adapted for someone in a wheelchair. All the other tables have four chairs in four spaces, all bolted to the floor, all impossible to move. One table, right on the aisle, right where it should be, has one missing chair, perfect for easy access. There are, and I can be specific because I counted, 5 people sitting at the various, say, 100 tables. And one guy is sitting in the chair right across from the empty space.

We enter this picture looking round for the accessible table. The cashier pointed to the side of the restaurant where the table was. We both, Joe and I, see it immediately. At this point we didn't know there was just one space in the whole place. So we looked. He looked at us looking. He continued to sit there sipping on a coffee. Joe had a tray with food, I was beside him and we were looking.

I don't like asking people to move.

Joe hates asking people to move.

But, I wanted dinner.

So I approached the guy, who looked at me with a level gaze. I said, 'I'm really sorry to ask, but as this is the only table I can get at, I wonder if you'd mind moving.'

I got a reaction I didn't expect. He smiled, broadly, and said, without a hint of sarcasm, 'Absolutley, no problem.' He got his coffee and got up and moved a table back.

I rolled into place.

Joe sat across from me.

We ate in silence.

I fumed. And fumed. And fumed some more.

Why the hell did he wait for me to ask him? Why did I have to go through the inner turmoil that comes with asking things of others, the sense of belittlement that comes with needing a favour from another person?

I think I know.

But I want to hear your ideas first.

Why didn't he just get up and let us have the table? Why do you think he waited for, even wanted, me to ask?

Over to you ...


mot par mot said...

Did he not know, at first, why you were looking at him? Hm. Could he have been hoping you'd go away? Argh.

That sort of thing baffles me, too. But then again ... the other day I sat, eating and then working, at a large table. The place was fairly empty when I arrived, plenty of big tables for everybody, so I didn't feel bad about taking one just for my lone self; gradually it filled up, as I sat head down, looking at my paperwork. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two ladies hovering; I looked closer and saw that they seemed a little lost. There *were* other large tables around, over yonder, but still, they finally settled for a small table next to me, near the door. Oh, now I could see: one of them wasn't walking that well; maybe they'd have found it difficult to navigate to the farther-away tables.

All this I sat and pondered while doing nothing. And then, duh!, I came to my senses and stood and offered them my large table -- oh, they were so grateful! Very sweet. Except, I actually felt rather like a heel -- not kind or generous or anything at all -- for not switching a moment earlier -- for waiting maybe a full minute, until they sat down, before realizing that I wasn't watching a movie, hello, I was here in real life with these good people, and I had the power to make their lives easier!

My hope, I guess, is that the fellow at the wheelchair-accessible table simply temporarily forgot that he was a human among humans, and what that meant.

Anonymous said...

I suspect I would have done the same thing. And while it may seem counter-intuitive, it would have been out of respect. Just getting up and moving would have seemed to put me in a position of power, it would have felt like I was saying "I see you, and I know that you're dependent on me to move if you want to have lunch." I would have thought about it and reasoned to myself that "he's grown man and if he wants to sit here, I'm sure he's mature enough to ask. Maybe there's another accessible table and I just don't see it. Maybe he's taking his food to go. Maybe he's got friends here already sitting at another table." Or, perhaps, if it was clear that you weren't going to ask but needed the spot, I would have waited until you were looking the other way and gotten out (of the restaurant altogether, not just that table) without you noticing, so that it didn't seem like I was being patronizing.

Now that I think about it, these seem like odd responses. Trying to think of where they came from, I suspect it may be remembering situations on public transportation (one as recent as two weeks ago) in which I've gotten up to give my seat to someone else only to have them look offended that I thought they would have wanted it. Or perhaps as a teacher, with students with disabilities in my classes, being told that it is the responsibility of the students to make arrangements for accommodations, and that I am expected to respect them by letting them decide when and where they want to use the accommodations allowed them by law.

Anja Merret said...

You hate asking because you are scared you will be rejected. But I don't think that is true at all in most cases. A big smile and friendly words do the trick for me each time. And yes I probably would have signaled you to come to the table and gotten up before you needed to ask.

But I have also sat and been in the midst of a mindless worry not aware of others even though I seemed to be looking. And I have missed those 'signals' without meaning harm.

We tend to read all sorts of things into other people's behaviour. Most often we are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I am such a daydreamer, I do not notice right away, how to react or what to do. Even if I seem to watch a situation happening right now.

Then I seem rude to everyone around. But I am not, I am just daydreaming.

I think men can daydream too?

Julia (from Germany)

Louise said...

Introverts and extraverts. As an extravert, I focus on the outside world and I see things. I am constantly astonished at what my friends who are introverts simply don't see. They don't see and choose to ignore, they just really really don't see. And I don't get how they possibly can't see, but I've seen it so many times I know it to be true. So my guess would be (given the smile and the 'absolutely' that followed) that he - maybe - saw two men, and either didn't even notice that you use a wheelchair, or didn't see the implications of that in relation to where he was. Or, he just hadn't noticed that there was an accessible space opposite him.
AND - is it really belittling to ask for help? Don't you feel good when someone asks for help that you're able to give? You give help to a huge number of people - here's a chance to balance and give someone else the gift of giving help.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people are hesitant to jump in and help in the way that seems right when they see a person with a disability, and prefer to wait to ask. I'm not convinced this is a bad thing. What the average person thinks is helpful often isn't, and the best thing to do isn't always intuitively obvious. Waiting for people to ask and willingly doing what's requested is frequently a good way to deal with the problem.

Glee said...

I would figure that he had absolutely no idea he was sitting at a table designed for wheelchair access. He probably has no idea that such things even exist. They certainly do not exist here in Australia.

When I approach a table with seats all around it (if the waiter does not remove a chair for me) I push the chairs out of the way with my wheelchair. I move them to the nearest space even if that is in the middle of a gangway or close to another table. If they clatter or fall over I do not get bothered by that. I used to get bothered but not anymore. If I am not considered at all then why should I go out of my way to consider others. People stare when I do this but I also see that they do get it!

If the restaurant has all fixed seats then I don't go there and if I am in the mood I will let the owner know of their problem and their loss of my patronage.

I get so tired of being invisible that if I become visible by clattering a few chairs then that's very good!!! People see that the chairs are in my way and I think they also get that I have a right to move them. Education is a wonderful thing :)

Casdok said...

From my experience i wouldnt have expecated his reaction either.

Like most people he just hadnt a clue and didnt think.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I don't think it was intentional. He probably didn't realize that was the only accessible table if their was a hundred seats around or even that is was an accessible table. Some things obvious to those with disabilities are not to those without. Like how wide an aisle is or a curb cut - until you need it you don't think about it - perhaps a sad statement but I don't think one born out of cruelness or power.

Anonymous said...

*putting myself in his shoes, and asking 'What would make me behave like that?'*

He did not notice you because of brain-fog due to chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia.

I fail to notice many things that are very obvious to others.

It doesn't mean I don't care, just that I am tired and brain foggy.

coffeetalk said...

It's not easy to miss a man in a wheelchair looking for a place to sit when you are sitting across from an empty place at a table. Sometimes I think it's about passive/aggressive power and control. "I know what you want and I will give it to you, but you will ask me first". Maybe I'm cynical in my views, but I have seen this attitude many times and not only when "in the community". I am not affected by a disability, but support people who are. I recall dealing with a parent (who was deemed difficult) of an adult person that we were supporting. This supported individual was still covered under the parent's medical benefits and upon returning from a dental appointment with the mother the staff who accompanied them mistakenly took the paperwork involved with the appointment. The mother called the next day saying she needed it for the insurance and, because of a mediation process happening at the time, I needed to clear any requests of this family with my manager. My manager OK'd me to return the papers to the mother, but only after "she asks again". What is that? I returned the papers. I find that many in our society who have power over others or deem themselves to be more powerful than others often wield this perceived power like a sword. "I will save you because it's the right thing to do.....but first you must prove that you understand who you are and where you fit by asking". I'm tired of it. I'm sorry he didn't just move. I'm sorry you had to ask. I'm sorry I've become cynical.

Andrea S. said...

I'm writing this without reading the other comments, so this is just my first reaction to Dave's post.

I think sometimes people honestly don't notice when they're taking up the one and only resource available to people with disabilities in their environment. Most people don't think about it or pay attention to it because it doesn't affect them personally and they assume it doesn't affect anyone they know. (In practice, it probably *does* affect someone they know, but they may be oblivious to this) So they need to be told.

In other situations, a person might realize but assume there is no problem because either the disabled person can just "wait a minute" or that all the disabled person has to do is speak up and they'll quickly move out of the way. They don't stop and think how wearying it must be to ALWAYS have to stop and ask EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Just to have the same access that everyone else has automatically and takes for granted. And they don't realize that maybe other people aren't as friendly as they are about being asked to get up and move. And that the person asking THEM to move has no way of knowing whether they'll be one of the friendly people or one of the nasty people.

As a deaf person, in the days before it was possible to purchase a cell phone with text messaging and email capability (and today, with video phone capability), it used to be the only phone I could ever use in a public place was a phone booth equipped with a TTY. It can be hard to find these--only a few selected places like airports, large shopping malls, and some train stations have them. This means a deaf person may have to walk or travel further to find such a phone. And when you do find them, usually there will be only one TTY equipped phone in a whole row of phone booths. And half the time (or so it sometimes felt like) there would be a hearing person talking into the phone receiver of the ONE phone that had a TTY while the other five phones were completely empty and unused.

I did ask them to start their phone call again from a different phone, explaining that this was the only booth I was able to use as a deaf person. Some people were nice about it ... none had the courtesy to apologize for hogging the only accessible phone but at least they moved. Sometimes I would run into someone nasty who refused to move to a different phone and went on talking for ages, making me stand and wait while fuming.

Sometimes I would ask them why they used that phone when there were other phones they could have used without blocking deaf people from phone access. Most said they didn't know ... apparently they hadn't noticed (!!!) the TTY or didn't understand what it was or something. Apparently non-disabled people have the privilege to be oblivious to the ways that a variance in the environment that may be very trivial to THEM ("Hm, this is the only table not bolted down, or this phone has some extra equipment here, I wonder why?") is NOT so trivial for a person with disabilities who MUST have that one and only available resource for them. It is infuriating enough that we have to hunt so hard for such limited accessible resources--and even more infuriating to then find it being monopolized by someone who doesn't even notice that they are CAUSING YOU TO BE EXCLUDED.

Oh, and one more thing... said...

Maybe he was hoping you would ask if you could join him.

Anonymous said...

The wheeliecrone says -
C'mon, Dave. You are the one who teaches workshops on bullying. You are the one who teaches people about inappropriate use of power.
He did it because he could.
He did it because he has an extremely small soul.

xineko said...

The obvious thot that occurs to me is he has a visual impairment and cannot *see* as you do - he could be looking right at you and only seeing a diffuse blur and struggling to interpret. Also, some people are basically good-hearted but not as 'smart' or process information differently so the conclusions that seem obvious from one perspective are completely obscured from their point of view.

Even though my primary childhood caregiver was confined to a wheelchair by MS and issues of mobility have been ingrained since my earliest days, as an autism-spectrum person I don't always know how to react in a situation, especially if there is a lot of noise or people. Often the safest thing to do is wait passively and try to make up any faux pas with a smile and accommodating demeanour.

I think its unfair to attribute this to issues of power or bullying when there could be many other, invisible things going on.

Jan Goldfield said...

I suspect he had no earthly idea he was at the only table that was accessible. Most folks don't, just as most places that are totally inaccessible have no idea that those of us who live seated lives cannot get in. No matter what. And when told, simply say they can do nothing about it because they only work there. I'm sure you are familiar with those buildings.

CL said...

I have been oblivious in these situations. I remember sitting on the bus, watching a person in a wheelchair get on the bus... then the driver said pointedly to me and to the people sitting across from me, "Someone has to move." I was sitting behind the priority seats in the front of the bus that face inward, but I realized was sitting in the seats that fold back for wheelchairs. I jumped up and said "of course!" but I was embarrassed that I had to be asked.

In other situations, I have thought someone might want me to move, but have felt this self-conscious social anxiety over it -- thinking "Should I move? Does that person need my seat? Will she be offended that I've decided she's old / disabled / pregnant? Is she looking at me?" I don't know why it makes me feel self-conscious and worried that I'm doing the wrong thing. But my hesitation can mean that it takes a moment before I decide to offer my seat, or that I wait to see if someone asks.

Many of us are thinking of times we've been oblivious or anxious in these situations, but from the post it sounds like Dave felt the person knew exactly what he needed -- so while it's possible that he was oblivious or confused or anxious, I also have to trust Dave's intuition because he's the one who was there, reading the situation. And I definitely think it's possible that the person knew he would be asked to move, but purposely waited for it to happen. At first I was very surprised to read "I fumed" because until that point, I didn't understand why Dave would be angry at all -- but he was there, and if his instincts were that there was something sinister going on, there's something to that.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I think that he may not have realized that was the one and only accessible spot in the restaurant. People who do not have disabilities often are not attuned to accessibility. I wasn't there so did not see the facial expressions and body language. Still I prefer to give this guy the benefit of the doubt - not evil and controlling - just unattunded and maybe a bit awkward.

Good discussion!
PS the problem I was having posting comments seems to be resolved.

Anonymous said...

There is something I want to add to my thoughts: due to my own disability I know where I can find a toilet in every place in the world (I have to take diuretics). I know every elevator or escalator because it is very exhausting for me to walk stairs. I know restaurants to got to with my friends in wheelchairs and I know to give a hand to one of my friends not being able to manouver steps or going onto a bus.

But despite all my knowledge there is so much more I do not consider, because I simply dont approach it every day.

My working place has stairs, no one in a wheelchair can access it. None of the restaurants or cinemas I visit regularly have a special bathroom for disabled people. I can write something down for a deaf person and I had a basic sign language course but I certainly can not translate for a deaf person. I can read Braille but I can not write it.

Places I can visit easily, because I am average hight, weight, and average clever are problems for some of my friends. I can use nearly every electric gadget because I have not yet a cardiac pacemaker.

I really try very hard to think in advance for others but sometimes than they think I am "babying" them (language?). So it is good if someone voices his/her wishes and problems regarding their disabilty. It makes it so much easier to understand and react in a positive helpful way for both.

Julia (from Germany)

PS. For a while I was with a working group for people with heart diseases. I couldnt warm up with them because I thought they didnt care about my needs. Everytime the group parted they went to a chinese restaurant. I could never join them. I thought they did this on pourpose. Turned out none of them were affected by arrythmia from the monosodiumglutamat in the chinese food like me.

When I finally voiced that issue in a very angry conversation the air finally cleared and the whole group went to a Indian Restaurant instead.

:-) Julia (from Germany)

Kate said...

I agree with most of the comments here. Personally speaking I probably wouldnt have noticed if I was at a wheelchair accessible table, but I would be more than glad to give it up if someone asked. As someone else said, with 100 tables, even if he did know he was at one he prob didnt know it was the only one!

Anonymous said...

I totally don't buy it that the man was lost in his own thoughts/didn't notice and all that stuff.
I hear people say that they don't want to cause offense by offering help when it's not welcome. I think, grow up, if you offer help and someone doesn't want it, then if they say no in a hostile way it's most likely because help was offered in a disrespectful, patronizing way that assumed superiority of the 'giver' nobly offering to 'help' the 'receiver'. If someone responds hostilely and you offered respectfully and appropriately bcos they were having a bad day, well you know you did a nice thing and the other person was cross for whatever reason but you still know you did a nice thing. But I think we too often hide behind 'they reacted badly for inexplicable reasons' when actually the reason was that help was offered in a patronising way that assumed and enacted privilege.
I think people without disabilities don't offer, wait to be asked, then comply nicely with a warm glow, because the way of the world is that people with disabilities are dependent 'takers'. Those of us with the privilege of living in a world adapted to our needs, the able bodied, are 'givers'. And that stinks. I think here in the UK the polemic that the disabled are takers is getting stronger and stronger and taking away dignity that wipes out the joy of any gains in the so-called equalities era when the Disability Discrimination Act came into play. It's denigrating to the 'receivers' with disabilities to trip on this privilege we have of not requiring different-to-the-norm. Trip as in have a nice ride, but also trip, as in we f*** up.
The other day, I was walking up the road and I saw and older man with a walking stick moving slightly in the road but not making it to the pavement on the other side. A car had stopped and no-one helped him. As I walked by, I smiled so he might see that I was up for being asked for help. But I don't think he even saw me, in his predicament. So I turned back and offered him my arm and he leant on it to walk to the pavement. Then he told me that he was going to the bus stop so I walked with him to the bus stop.
I felt there was something not right about how this happened and Dave, now I read this post, I know what it was.
I wasn't giving help, I was giving respect when I offered my arm. And I hesitated and walked by before I offered respect. How humiliating was that.
Thank you Dave for pointing this out, I get that now.

CapriUni said...

And I have a question, too: Why do restaurants bolt chairs to the floor, in the first place?

And why, if they realize it's a problem for some people, do they only decide to make one space out of 500 adaptable? Especially, considering demographics of disability, the proper ratio should be closer to 100 -- or heck, even 10?

Okay, that's two questions...

Anonymous said...

I too don't think he could have realised he was at the only accessible table. Also like other posters said he probably didn't want to assume you would want him to move - without being asked first. That is not about control on his part - it's about respecting you and not assuming he knew what you needed - instead letting you approach to ask for the table. Also he may be a creature of habit and ALWAYS sit at that table!!

If it were me, I probably would have noticed you needed the table - and said you can sit here I will move - but that would have made it seem like I was the thoughtful one, and putting myself out for you (well not putting myself out really, as how hard is it to move tables, but you know what I mean?!)... his solution made it seem like he was responding to a request - rather than initating one.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Wow! I've just arrived in Prince George after an 8 hour drive and have been reading all these emails. Most of you are much more generous than I am. I saw the situation as one of putting me in position of being a supplicant, seeking out his mercy and graciousness. I don't beleive that he could not have known that that table was designed for those with disabilities. In Ontario most of these tables have the wheelchair symbol on them, this one did not. Even so ...

But here's the great thing about having a blog and readers who will honestly, and kindly, tell you what they think of a situtation. I'm going to rethink the whole situation over. Maybe I've got it wrong. Maybe I see negativity because I've come to expect it in many interactions.

I'll continue to read views and encourage others to chime in.

Myrrien said...

I agree with most of the other posts I have read I think the guy had just switched off.

I get this on the bus when I have my son's buggy with me. There is only one space for buggy's and wheelchairs to go and one place I can sit beside the buggy otherwise I have to stand. On the occasions when I am particularly unwell I can't stand the journey and only started to ask folk to move recently and only when there are other spaces. Folk just assume that folk with mobility problems don't have children but in our family the joke is that the buggy is my rollator. I am so embarrassed asking but the pain has forced me to do so.

I am just lucky that so far no one in a wheelchair has needed to come on at the same time as I would not be able to fold the buggy on my own.

Another thought - sorry this is a long post. On another occasion I was on a train where there were three other buggies and the conductor told one of us to fold our buggy. No one did anything as we were not forced although I did move my buggy into the corridor. We are so conditioned to selfishness and self centredness.

Rachel said...

My first thought was a) he probably didn't notice it was the only (???) accessible table and b) that he may well not have wanted to make any assumptions about what you needed if he did notice you in the first place. I mean, how many times have you been offered help that was useless at best or possibly harmful at worst? I know I constantly get offers of help reaching stuff in stores -- "I'm fine, thanks, I'll ask if I need it believe me!" -- until I am in a position where I actually NEED the help and then there's nobody around.

Either way, it's frustrating as all heck, but from what you say I am not reading the situation in the same way you did. I think at worst he simply didn't notice, which is more an issue of ignorance or obliviousness than active malice. I bet from now on he'll notice that table!

ivanova said...

I agree with the others who think he actually didn't know. He may have watched you, realized that you were looking for an accessible table and yet still not have realized it was his table. The other day I was in the bank and my head was in the clouds and a woman had to ask me if I would open the door for her even though she was right beside me. I felt like a jerk but it was unintentional.

Anonymous said...

Two things -
I agree with some of your commentors . . . he may, very well, have been oblivious to the fact that there was only one table suitable for people with mobility disabilities.
Second, many people with disabilities get quite upset if people offer to help without being asked . . . there's something about the dignity of asking that is important to us all.
I'm just grateful that he was cheerful to accommodate your request!

Anonymous said...

Before I read anyone else's comments, my first guess is that he was just a little clueless, lost in his own world. The man probably never had to look for accessible seating & didn't notice that he was at the only accessible table. When I finally had children & was pushing a stroller around, I began to notice how heavy doors were, how many places didn't have ramps, and how many people wouldn't pause for 2 seconds to hold a door while I struggled to stear a stroller. When it affected me, I noticed.

Debbie (NJ)

Tamara said...

I haven't read all the responses, but I think I'm agreeing with most that I've read. I am just not that observant. Maybe this is why on busses and such there is a sign to please leave a specific seat or seats for people who use wheelchairs. Who would think that there is just one table with an open space. If you had stared at me hard enough, I might have figured it out; but not sure.

The only thing that makes me think that maybe you read this situation more accurately is that you didn't mention that he was surprised or anything that you asked. I'd probably be apologetic that I didn't realize you needed the table before you had to ask ...

Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled by so many people saying "He probably didn't realize it" followed by "It's not about power." Being able to not realize you're in the only wheelchair-accessible seat absolutely is about power in most situations. It's about the power that non-mobility-impaired people have to not ever have to think about those things. That's absolutely a form of power. I think a lot of people think that power means malice, and it doesn't, but it can be just as destructive without malice. (In extreme cases it can result in disabled people dying, and regardless of the lack of active malice that's some serious power.)

Anonymous said...

Even if he didn't notice that he was at a table with wheelchair access, I bet he did notice that there was a man in a wheelchair in the restaurant.
I wish we all knew better, so that when we see someone with specific requirement we notice whether we are a help or a hindrance to these being met.
I wish we all took responsibility for making sure that we are all ok.

Anonymous said...

Now that I've read the other comments, I don't think the "he simply didn't notice" excuse holds water. As others have mentioned, I think that if that was the case, he would have apologized when you asked to use the table.

So what (!) was he thinking!?!

Debbie (NJ)

Anonymous said...

I wasn't there. Joe was a witness... what did he think?

moplans said...

I don't know Dave. Maybe he just wanted to say hello, maybe he was being a jerk, maybe he was oblivious, maybe he wanted you to have to ask him, maybe he didn't want to insult you by moving without being asked.
Here's the big question: does it matter?
Should he have to be asked? No.
Was he polite when he was? Yes.
Would you rather believe the world is full of jerks or just sightly oblivious people?

Rosemary said...

I truly belive the man did not realize he was at a wheelchair-compatible table. I have to tell you, though, that I have been called a Pollyanna a few times in my life. Still, I want to believe the good in people.

Mrs. Muffin said...

I don't know this guy, and am generally disinclined to be charitable towards anyone, so I will add what my reasoning would have been if it were me.

Even for kids who are exposed to disability, there is awkwardness about accommodating that disability. At some point I was taught that you need to be over cautious when doing something that can be seen as"helping,"even to the point where out is contrary to your normal behavior.

For example, if a person without a visible physical disability dropped something and it came towards me, I would both think twice about scooping it up and handing it back. Put that same person in a wheelchair, and I would feel compelled too ask did permission to pick it up because at some point it was drilled into my brain that you don't assume a person with a disability needs your help because you may offend them. Even if it makes you look like a rude jerk.

That said, I probably would have awkwardly waited for you to head over before asking if you wanted me to move--even though we both know the answer is, "of course."

David Morris said...

Were there waitstaff?
Was he expecting an employee of the restaurant to ask him to move?

Ruti said...

Because he lives in a culture that doesn't have the first clue about how to make accommodations gracefully and his life hasn't made him have to think about it. Even people who mean well usually suck at it because they just don't *know* enough, because people don't think in those terms, even though they darn well ought to.

I think the people who designed the awful awful floor plan are a lot more culpable. People who *design restaurants professionally* and are aware of access needs enough to realize that their tables are unusable by people on wheels ought to see that as a problem and fix *all* of their tables, not make a token table likely to be populated by people who object to moving.

He should have offered to move, but I think it's a much lesser sin than designing the space such that the issue even came up.

And I also think that the generation of kids who is growing up alongside kids with disabilities who aren't segregated into institutions are going to grow into adults who suck at this a lot less.

Noisyworld said...

Sorry this is added so long after the post but just thought I'd add one other thing...
perhaps you and the waitstaff were the only people who were going to talk to him that day, maybe he just needed a little contact.

Noisyworld said...

That is not to excuse a willful malevolence (to force you to have to ask him) that's a powerplay, no mistake but he has his reason which we will never know :)

Shan said...

I didn't read all the other comments, so forgive me if I am reiterating someone else's thought.

I bet some disabled person was once an a$$hole to him about being in the only accessible seat, and put his back up. So now he waits to see whether wheelchair users will approach him politely, or whether they will approach him aggressively. If you had come over all rude and entitled, maybe he'd have told you to go get stuffed?

Ruti said...

I don't think him not noticing and offering to move first would have been such a big deal if he was embarrassed about not doing what he should have done.

But he wasn't embarrassed and he didn't apologize, because he thought he was doing you a favor. He should have realized he was doing something obligatory. Just like anyone else who was in the way and didn't realize it. Someone who unintentionally blocks a door doesn't think they're doing a favor when they're asked to move; someone who unintentionally blocks a ramp *does*.

That needs to change.

Faery said...

I'm sorry but I cannot see what is wrong with this situation. You realised that he was sitting at the only accessible table (probably chosen because he was on his own and it had the least chairs), you asked him politely to move, he did. No Fuss! No Muss! You regularly blog about the annoyingly patronising people who leap out of their chairs and force 'help' on to you without any prompting - perhaps he was waiting for you to ask as he didn't want to assume that there was a problem or what that problem was.

I'm also confused as to why people expected him to apologise? How would you feel if he had demanded thanks? You were both going about your regular acceptable business. You out for a meal, he out for coffee. One minor inconvenience - sorted quickly. Not everything has to be about a deep psychological power struggle or discrimination.

My question is: What kind of restaurant only has enough room for ONE wheelchair user?

kiwiaussie said...

I have been reading all the comments, and thinking exactly what Faery said. I think that the problem here is that the whole thing has be over-thought.

When I am out with my daughter with DS, and people stare (which isn't often) I choose to believe it is because she is so beautiful.

But when I am out without her, and I see someone with DS, I want to say hi, and to them, I am probably staring. But I just like seeing them.

And if I see anyone else with a disability, I do feel awkward if I am in a situation of wondering if they need anything. I don't want to assume they need help, when chances are they don't. I was in a chair for 6 months due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (and on crutches before and after that), and I have to say, I did notice a heck of a lot of ignorance. People shouting, or even, when shopping, handing change back to my friend and talking to her. Stuff like that, makes my blood boil. But asking someone to move, while awkward for you, waiting to see if you actually need something is an awkward time for the other person.

And like some others said, who would have thought there was only one space in the entire restaurant where you could sit. I would have expected that there would have been more options, and been shocked that there was only the one place, and that I was in the way.