Tuesday, April 23, 2013

By George I Think He's Got It!!

For the most part I no longer write about my experiences with seating at events that Joe and I attend. It's hard to find something new to say about a topic that's grown old. We went on Sunday to see Salome at the Four Seasons Centre and a couple days before the performance we were called to be told that the seats that we purchased were no longer available, having been taken over by a sound board, so we were being moved,. The woman said that they could no longer fit a 'wheelchair' into the row. I'm beyond asking people to refer to me as a wheelchair user, or a customer in a wheelchair, so I let her go on.

She explained that we were being moved to a box and that we wouldn't be expected to pay the difference in the seating costs. Nice. I think she was surprised that I only thanked her for the information without giving her a burst of gratitude. As we have been to 5 events there and had the seating done incorrectly 3 of those times, all I felt was intense worry that we'd get there find no seat at all. They don't seem to understand that lost trust is, well, lost trust.

But I didn't write about it because I've told similar stories about theatres and concert halls and performance palaces any number of times. I chalked it up to another in the long line of 'shit it's hard to deal with you disabled people' experiences we have had. Though the seats were fine and the view was fine and Salome was appropriately naughty, the worry about seats gets wearisome to experience and tiresome to explain.

So when I heard that there were tickets going for last nights taping of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight I emailed asking for tickets with little hope that I was in time to get seats and wondered if it would be done without some kind of rigourous interview and maybe require a letter from my doctor. I sent an email saying:

Hi, we'd like to attend the taping tomorrow (April 22) if possible. I am a wheelchair user, with a tall chair, and would like to be able to sit with my partner. Is that possible?

A few hours later I got an email back saying:

Hi Dave,


OK. That was easy.

So we got to the show and watched the line up grow. We were across the hallway from the line up, Joe was able to sit there and wait. He's not good at standing long periods of time. The nice thing about accessible seating is that we don't have to worry about the seating lottery, our seats would be our seats, so no rush to the front of the line. Eventually we were checked in and the woman, surprisingly said nothing about me, the wheelchair, or special seating. She gave us the same spiel - go to the bathroom now because you won't be able to go once inside the studio - as she gave anyone else. Score one for inclusion. I particularly hate having to talk about my 'needs' in front of strangers when all I need is a freaking seat.

So far they're doing well.

We got up and in. All of us waited until everyone had been ushered up the elevators to the waiting area outside the studio. A few moments later Mr. Stroumboulopoulos came in to greet some of the audience members. We were first up as we were located right by where he entered. There was no rush to talk to the disabled guy, I was there, he came to talk. 

I'm no good at these situations. First, I get a bit starstruck, I really like George's (I've shaken his hand I'm guessing I can be informal) show and I admire what I know of him. So I said, tongue tripping over teeth, "I really like your show." He said, "Thank you," like he meant it and then wandered on. A few seconds later I realized that I had wanted to tell him about my experience in booking the seat and in getting into the show. He was busy talking to others, I screwed up my courage and rolled over to catch his eye. He nodded that he'd seen me and came over when he was finished.

I expressed my gratitude pleasure at the experience, saying, truthfully, that this wasn't typical. He then said something odd. He said that the accessibility of the show was intentional. He explained that they thought through the experience of people with disabilities and were determined to make it easy and pleasant.


That's all it takes?

I thanked him again and a few seconds later we were guided into our place, no muss, no fuss. We were lucky that the comedians on the panel were particularly funny and wonderfully diverse. The interview we saw was great to listen to and one of the questions brought out an answer that gave me a new way of thinking about something. In fact it's still rolling around in my head as I write this. Cool. I learned something new about myself. To me a good interview is when someone is asked questions that bring out answers that are deeply human. George (my old pal) does a good interview.

We left, toileted ourselves, and headed home.

It's odd to have a desire to write a blog about nothing happening. But for disabled people 'nothing happening' is entirely noteworthy.

So to Mr. Stroumboulopoulos and to his staff I hope you understand when I say ...

Thanks for nothing.


Anonymous said...

OH MY! You account almost moved me to tears. It is so simple - why the heck can't it be understood??? Lovely - lovely. This will be a lasting memory.

Anonymous said...

Thats the way I always thought it should be!


Anonymous said...

Hello! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be ok. I'm
absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new

my homepage ... Michael Kors Bags

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

This post makes me happy. It's like sunshine, isn't it?

Mike Allen said...

Just saw on the internet that the Republicans voted unanimously to reject marriage equality. Haven't seen anything on tv yet but it was listed as "breaking news" on the net, unless I misread it. I paid to promote this on FB, something I've never done before. I think it's time to send the message. Equal access for everyone.

Shan said...

I love George...he can do no wrong (except move to the states, apparently (grr).

Dave Hingsburger said...

Shan, he said that he was down there for 10 shows in the summer but was coming back to his own show in the fall. I hope that's true.