Saturday came upon us early. Our body clocks have alarms that are loud and insistent. So, we were up and able to watch dawn rise out over the tidal pools and fields. We'd decided on a fairly slow day. I wanted to see a movie, 'The Help' which I was looking forward to as I fell in love with Viola Davis on seeing her brilliant performance in 'Doubt' ... someone who can be in a two hour movie for only eight minutes and steal the picture from the likes of Meryl Streep, now that's an actress to watch for. We found a theatre not far from the hotel that offered an early showing at 11 in the morning. Perfect for us.
We got to the theatre early, we always do, I like watching the pre-movie show and seeing all the trailers. It's part of the movie experience for me. In the theatre there was relatively extensive seating for disabled folks. There were room for four wheelchairs and for all four people to sit next to someone. In Toronto, Two is more often the norm. I was glad to be there early because we managed to get one of those seats. Two were already taken and the last one was gone minutes after we'd been 'comfortabley seated.'
The theatre had gone dark and the trailers were about to start when a woman, her friend, and her seeing eye dog came in to the theatre. They walked by the other seating and got to where we were. Her friend told her that all the disabled seating was taken. Even though her cane had felt my chair she reached over and grabbed my shoulder and said to her friend, 'Why can't he move somewhere else so I can sit here with my dog?' I answered her, though not spoken to, 'I am in a wheelchair, there are no other options for me.' She said, to her friend, 'Ask him to move.' I started to say something and her friend indicated to me that he would and he leaned over to her to whisper, I think hinting that the trailers were playing and she was being loud, and told her that I was in my wheelchair not a seat and I was with my friend beside me.
'But I WANT TO SIT WITH MY DOG AND MY FRIENDS.' Even her dog blushed. At that point I wanted to say, 'Then you should come on time.' Finally they went over to an aisle seat, as she was fully able to walk, it seemed that she could sit in an aisle seat, her dog could sit on the floor next to her and her friends beside her. But she stood there arguing with her friends - who by now seemed very tired - and then, she simply sat down, they took their seats. The movie began.
Disability isn't necessarily an ennobling experience. Sometimes we can be annoying, whiny, people full of entitlement. And that's who she was in that moment. I'd learned a bit about prejudice from this trip, I'd had a bad experience with one and wanted to generalize it to another. I wonder if some in that crowd will go away from this experience thinking how embittered, how spoiled, disabled people are. Even though there were four others there being perfectly typical in our manner and our mannerisms. And if they do go away with prejudice growing in their soul, who's fault will that be?
I know now.