Oddest thing to happen on the trip:
I rolled into a washroom needing to pee. I headed for the disabled stall, rolling past several vacant stalls on the way. The disabled loo was in use so I pulled out of the way to wait. Eventually the door opened and a man came out without any visible disabilities. He saw me, went crimson red, then lifted his backpack up to cover his face and he passed me walking on tip toes. I wanted to say, 'Um, I can still actually see you,' but I didn't. I did however, get into the stall and then fall about laughing. It was just so incredibly odd. I can't even imagine what was going on in his head.
Strangest thing I saw on the trip:
It frustrates me a little, although I try not to be churlish, that the bars that they put around bath tubs are all so low. It's like they think that disabled people don't shower, that we are all lowered into the tub and then use the bars, set at the right height for a 4 year old to hold on to, to get up. I have not done a survey of disabled people and their bathing habits, but I've seen enough infomercials to know that at least the elderly, like me, can't get down into a traditional tub with any hope of getting out again. So, I always look into the bathtub in hopes of a hand hold of some kind that will allow me safer and easier access in and out. At one hotel on this trip they only had the very low bars, for bathers, and nothing for those who wish to shower. The shower nozzle was located on a thin and very flimsy bar that allowed it to be raised or lowered depending on the height of the person using it. They had mac tacked letters onto the wall of the shower, just behind the narrow bar, 'This bar will not support your weight.' So, if they know we need one, if they know people use it for safety, why, instead of spending all that time and energy putting up individual letters forming a long message, don't they just put a bar there?
The coolest thing I saw:
All over San Francisco I saw these signs in check out lanes saying 'This lane always open for our disabled customers' or 'First lane open, last lane closed' on the accessible checkout line. It seems like the whole city gets the relatively simple concept that the lane that serves the broadest range of people is the one that should always be open. I can't tell you the number of times I am greeted with blank stares when I explain this simple idea to store managers. I believe it is where I first wrote, in a blog here, that it was 'explaining the obvious to the oblivious'. Well, in several stores here, it has clearly become 'obvious' ... so to the anonymous disabled person who made this a personal crusade here in San Fran, thank you from a grateful Canadian.
The strangest thing someone said to me:
We were trying to get into a big downtown mall just south of Market. We came through the glass doors and were greeted by a set of stairs up and into Bloomingdale's, beside those stairs were a set of elevators. We got in an elevator and rode up only to find that we couldn't get to the store. Joe went off to find out the 'trick' ... we knew there was a way in, it's a newish building and there just had to be something we were missing. I sat, looking up the stairs, in a bit of 'his master's voice' pose, looking to see if I could see where Joe had gone. A woman, smartly dressed and impeccably groomed approached me, she tapped me on the shoulder and then leaned to whisper to me, 'You can't use those, they're called stairs.' Then she left, quickly, having deposited this bit of knowledge in my brain and rushed off, not looking back. Joe came a few minutes later and explained that only two of the elevators went into the mall. The other, as we found out, went to the cinema.
Well, it's time to go home, I'm writing this on Saturday afternoon to publish on Sunday morning. We'll be in a plane and then arriving home tired but happy as the work went well, the people we met were wonderful, the audiences receptive and the food, amazing. But ... more stories later, it's time for dinner and a last look out over the city as night falls.