There's something I'm really proud of, but I'll get to that in a moment.
I wanted to tell you about checking into the hotel.
I stay at this chain a fair bit and am on their loyalty programme. In fact, since we stay between 80 and 90 nights a year in the chain, we are at the highest possible level that can be achieved. I know, from conversations with staff, that there are relatively few of us at the top of the three level system. There are lots more of the next down, and way more at the first level. I like their reward system, both for free night stays and for the help that you get in bookings when you are a loyalty club member.
When I rolled into the hotel, I noticed that there was a staff at the 'priority' desk for members who are at the top two levels. Now I wasn't looking my best and, in fact, when I do look my best it often isn't anywhere near as good as other people's mediocre. I'm OK with that now. The clerk recognized me from a previous stay and greeted me warmly. At that moment, I was alone in the line up. A bus pulled up and several people got off. One or two of them formed a line behind me.
The guy right behind with a suitcase, made personally by a hotshot designer, and wearing clothes so expensive that they manage paradoxically to draw more attention to themselves than the wearer, was huffing with impatience. I wasn't doing anything complicated. Just checking in. Even so, he found it unbearable that his importance didn't sweep me out of the way. He turned and said to the traveller behind, "This is the PRIORITY line up." I knew what he was saying. He was saying that I didn't belong in HIS line. That I had interloped. I saw the clerk tense up, angry, and he then smiled an 'I'm sorry' at me, I shrugged a 'Not to worry,' back at him.
Just as he handed me my card he said, "We have your Platinum Status on your account sir." I smiled at the way he worked that in. The next fellow in line heard it too, he stepped forward with great authority. The clerk said, as I was rolling away, "It's nice to welcome a Gold member to our hotel." I stopped rolling and started to laugh. After all the travel it just seemed so funny to me.
I guess wheelchair users aren't seasoned world travellers, oh wait, yes we are.
But that's not what I'm proud of, but I'll get to that in a few seconds.
Getting into the rental car has been a real test of adaptability and flexibility. I'm not used to getting in on the other side. My body doesn't move that way. I have to transfer from my chair only after mentally working through how it will be done. Then I go through it step by step, an incredible task analysis unfolding in my head as I fold my body into the car seat. That done, then Joe and I have to get the chair into the other side of the car. Everything is done backwards from what we normally do. The first time we did it my arm got trapped between the wheels and the back seat. The next time we did it my arm got trapped between the front wheels and the back wheels. The next time we did it my arm got caught between the two back wheels. The next time ... well, we haven't done it smoothly yet.
But this is one of the good things about travel, isn't it. It forces you to mentally and physically adapt. Old ways need to be replaced and new ones developed. It's something that requires an attitude of THIS IS REALLY, REALLY, FUN ISN'T IT????!!!!???? Yep, it requires that the sense of humour is well oiled and ready to be used - at every turn.
But we are where we are supposed to be and we are there on time. So, I guess its going as well as can be expected. Maybe even better.
Sometimes it's important that environments be adapted for our use, but there are also times where it's important to adapt ourselves to fit into a new environment. That's something I have to keep learning over and over again. But, like the wheelchair in the back seat, I'll get it yet.
Now, for what I'm proud of.
We were requested to bring over some butter tarts for a friend here and I've brought a dozen. We packed them, they survived the flight. But more importantly, they've survived being in the hotel room with me. They are sitting about 1 metre 7 centimeters away from me, a little to the north of me, a few millimeters higher than the surface upon which I am typing. Not that I've noticed. So you know how much I love my friend? She'll get all 12. Now, that, my dearies, is true love.