Friday, May 02, 2014

Random Act of Advocacy

"Yes, of course, sir," said the clerk as we checked in. Even though we'd phoned on the way, I always ask at the desk if the room we are about to stay in is wheelchair accessible. I was assured that it was. When we got to the door of the room, my hopes fell. There was only one peephole, the tall one. That's never a good sign. But Joe said, optimistically, "let's just check."

The bathroom had a roll in shower but there was a low toilet and there were no grab bars in the bathroom at all. We went back to the front desk and explained to the clerk, who was chatting with the head of housekeeping, that the room wasn't actually accessible. We explained about the bars. The clerk and the head of housekeeping then chatted with me about how this room and the other accessible room had been renovated some while back and the bars were never put back up. "Others have commented on it," they said.

Thus explained, they fell silent. I think they thought that know that I knew it was accessible once, isn't accessible now, that I would simply go back to the room. I didn't. After a few minutes more of conversation, with me speaking a bit more about the issue of accessibility and 'the right to poo,' action started to happen. Maintenance was called and it was determined that the bars could easily be put back up.

I was asked if I would mind allowing them into the room to reinstall the bars. I said that I wouldn't mind in the slightest. It took about an hour, most of that was comprised of a frantic search for the bars. Everyone who worked on the project, from the maintenance guy who drilled holes and attached the bars to the housekeeping staff who came in to clean up after, were wonderfully nice. Very accommodating and really respectful.

Once they left, I looked in at the newly accessible room.

My initial response, because I'm tired of this kind of thing, was to simply call another hotel and move. But, even though I'm tired of this kind of thing, I wanted to see if I could do something that would save some fellow disabled traveller this kind of hassle. So, I put on the advocacy face and I did the advocacy dance. I said the advocacy words and I did the advocacy sigh. The room was changed.

Sometimes a random act of advocacy can be a random act of kindness.

We forget, sometimes I think, that we are advocating for ourselves but we are also advocating for others who come after us. We forget, sometimes I think, that our actions affect others, many others. Others that we won't meet. That's why we do what we do even though we are tired of doing it.

Those travellers who come into the room and check, nervously, to see if the bathroom is accessible, will never know the story. And that's as it should be.

But I do.

And that matters


Anonymous said...

They must have been waiting for the accessibility fairies to do the job. They got you instead and now know no fairies are needed.

Glee said...

FFS Dave. What the hell were they thinking, that the rails were just for decoration?!!! Good onya.

And I never forget that I am advocating for others. In fact I often do advocacy even when the thing is not a problem for me. It's the principle of the thing dammit.

CapriUni said...

This reminds me of one of the "Vatican Sayings" of the Greek philosopher, Epicurus (#48):

While we are on the road, we must try to make what is before us better than what is past; when we come to the road's end, we feel a smooth contentment.

Thank you for doing that.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

this advocacy thing sometimes is so tiering. I am one of a generation of survivors with complex congenital heart defects now into the 40.

Just now there are clinics and doctors getting to be experts for those cases. And the social security system just starts to get us accommodated. Everything is a struggle.

Most people tend to say: "only old people have heart problems".

It is exhausting, but I think I am fighting for those born after me....


Anonymous said...

I wonder if they then went and fixed ALL the rooms which were supposed to be accessible, had been renovated, and had had their bars removed.

I am incredibly grateful to those who have gone before and have insisted on what accessibility there is (parking, ramps, doors). It is our duty to continue the fight for those who will come after us.

Not all of us have the energy, and the satisfaction is not always great, but if we don't speak up, it's not going to happen.