In the end almost all of the spaces designed for wheelchair users were taken and the theatre filled to about a quarter full. The movie begins. At a crucial point someone's cell phone goes off in the theatre. We hear rustling and whispering for a moment behind us. Then, silence. I didn't say anything because I realize that it's easy to forget - although this theatre had a funny, funny, clip about turning off your cell phones. It involved a camel entering an on-screen cinema ... well you had to be there. They'd given us a reminder, but, as I say, I've had it happen to me once so I'm forgiving.
About twenty minutes later, the phone went off again. That was enough for me. I turned in my chair and said, "NOW could you shut your phone off." There was a pair of 'thank yous' that came from the right of us and a smattering of applause from behind us. Nice, everyone wanted to say it, they were echoing my sentiment.
No more phone calls through the show.
On our way out, one of the men who had called out 'thank you' spoke to me about, first the movie, then the phone calls. We both agreed that the first once was forgivable the second one was not. Then he said that he wasn't surprised that I had spoken up. He didn't know me ... if he did, he'd be right ... and yet he thought I'd be the person to speak up. I asked him what he meant.
He said that he figured if I'd been in a wheelchair for awhile I must have learned to speak up, to get people out of my way, or to get people to pay attention, or to get people to give me respectful service. I told him that he was right, disability is a training ground for assertion, but how did he know. He just smiled and said, "I loved someone who was in a wheelchair once, married her too. She's gone now. But I remember," he said tapping his temple, "I remember. She was a firebrand that one." "His eyes had glistened over. I gave him my condolences, which never sound consoling do they, and we said our good byes.
So, out for another day of training in the art of assertion! Rah!