I broke disability rule A37R2.
There is a restaurant that I've wanted to go to for a long time. I discovered it, accidentally, while browsing on the net. The web page showed pictures of a small, cosy and funky place. The menu - awesome. Then I noticed that it wasn't accessible. There's one step up into the place. Shit! As A37R2 clearly states: "Patronage will not be given to businesses which are not accessible." Personally I think this rule was made up to make it appear that we were boycotting places that we couldn't get into anyways. "I'll show you, I won't shop at your store which I can't get into."
But, I can do one step. If there are hand rails on both sides I can do a few more. I know, I know, I shouldn't patronise these places, rule A37R2 or not. As I was wrestling with the dilemma I showed Joe the website, the menu and the stair. We decided, what the heck, we'd give it a go and if I couldn't, in the end, get in. Then, we'd boycott the hell out of it.
It was a sunny day and Joe dropped me off just outside the restaurant and then he parked the car in a lot across the street. I looked at the stair. Oh my. It's higher than typical. As the day was hot, the door to the restaurant was propped open and the push bar on the door would give me something to grab onto on my way up, and, more importantly, on the way down. I decided to give it a go.
I was in, the chair was in, we were at a table. The place is very small so we had a bit of trouble making room for the chair. There was a bit of a flurry of activity for a few minutes as the staff of the restaurant who clearly, and for obvious reasons, were flustered at the presence of a wheelchair in their place of business. The chair I removed became a bit of an issue - not that anyone was hostile - as they tried to figure out what to do with it. Eventually common sense won out and they set it at another table.
For the first few minutes being in there the staff did all the things that you'd expect them too. They spoke to Joe, not me. That ended quicker than you might imagine. After about fifteen minutes, I morphed from 'the wheelchair' to 'the customer' and we were good to go.
We had a great meal.
It would have been a fabulous meal but, after Joe checked out the bathrooms, he came back and said, "Just slowly sip your tea because there's no way you can pee here." Oh. OK. Good to know. (There is a reason why men don't wear beige pants after the age of 50.)
Getting out just meant waiting until there was no movement towards the door because, for me, stepping down is way more dangerous than stepping up. I got to the edge of the step, turned round, took gripped the door handle and stepped way down. The chair quickly followed and within moments we were in the car and on the way home.
I understand the reason behind rule A37R2 and, in truth, feel a little guilty that I put disabled money into an inaccessible business. I won't go back. The step was very high. The place was very small. Getting out scared me a bit. I didn't we myself but I was well positioned to do so.
There were two good things I think that came out of our little adventure though ...
1) We had a great meal.
2) 3 of their staff learned that someone in a wheelchair is just someone in a wheelchair.
However I learned something, sometimes there is a reason for a rule. Neither of those two things justifies what I did. I've always believed in A37R2 ... and, it's in breaking the rule, that I realise that I never should have.
And won't again.