Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Opposite of Welcome: In Retreat

Part Two

We arrive, as instructed, an hour early. The show starts at 11 but those with premium seats need to be there at 10. We go in and I pull in to the accessible seat while Joe along with Ruby and Sadie continue on down to take a seat, as instructed, at the front of the theatre. For the 'pre show' people aren't to sit in their assigned seats, they are just to cram as close to the front as possible so they can easily see and so that they can be taken, row by row, up on to the stage to meet a big dinosaur, have their picture taken and then stop and visit a baby dino before exiting the stage. I see where they all sit but then they are lost in the throng.

A nice fellow in a nice suit approaches me and tells me that I can go down to the front and take pictures if I'd like. He tells me that there is plenty of room for me to park and watch when the kids go up. I thank him and head down. I forget, momentarily, that non-disabled people seldom actually understand space. When I get down, a young woman who is there, I guess to make sure it all runs smoothly looks at me with, lets say, the opposite of welcome. I tell her that I was told that I could come down to take pictures.

I try one spot and she points out the obvious, I'll block people coming down the stairs. Then I move to the only other spot and she points out, again, the obvious but now her voice is sharper, I'll block people getting back into the row they are temporarily sitting in. "There's no room for you!" she said, loudly and harshly meaning, "get out of here." I can't turn around because there really isn't room. This means that I have to back up all the way to the rear of the theatre. The aisle isn't really wide, that's problem one. I don't have mirrors or anything that give me a good rear view, that's problem two. My chair has less power in reverse and really doesn't like backing up hill, that's problem three. People, also with premium seating, are rushing down the aisle so they can get a spot near the front so they too can get up on the stage, my slow retreat is slowing them up, that's problem four.

Some of the people are panicking because they are a little bit late and they want to ensure that they get up to the front for their premium seats, this means they don't engage in premium behaviour. I hear some complaining as I slowly back past them while they stood off to the side. One woman, as soon as she thought she and her kids could clear me rushes out, turns sharply and her purse, white with hard, sharp corners, pastes me right on the side of my face. I neither received or expected apology.

Even so, all the way back I am apologizing, "sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry" many say, 'that's OK, take your time,' but those that don't really don't. They're mad. But mad or gracious doesn't much matter to me, what matters is that I feel exposed, I feel centred out, I am these things always because of who I am and how I move, but when situation adds to it - I'm mortified.

After a tortuous climb backwards, I get to my seat and slide back in. I looked up and saw that Joe and Ruby and Sadie were standing on stage and they were the next up to go meet the big dinosaur. I was pleased that I didn't miss it.

But I'm already tired, and the show hasn't started. Soon the pre-show is finished and people disburse back to their ticketed seats. Ruby and Sadie were excited about being up on stage. I let their excitement fuel my own enthusiasm and, suddenly, feel a little less tired.


Anonymous said...

This hurts my heart, Dave. It makes me angry that you are treated so badly sometimes. samm

Anonymous said...


I am sorry such hostility was shown toward you. I have to admit at least at the time the woman had hit me with her purse you should have heard me scream bloody murder.

I get in rage and hate the world because of such situations, where others can manage their lifes so seemingly easy.

I would have been a gry with the man who said there is plenty of room as well as with the woman...

In an ideal world people would be polite and wait for you to take your time.

In an ideal world...


B. said...

Yup, I'm feeling it. sigh

Kristine said...

This story makes me cringe. If I were an observer, it wouldn't have bothered me a bit to wait a moment while you passed. And I would have sympathized. Because I HATE being put in positions like that, on display, in the way, a spectacle, an inconvenience... Even if nobody says or does anything to make me feel that way, I still feel it. And resent it. I'm so sorry that these things happen, and that they have so much power to affect us.

Just remember that the cruelest voice of all was most likely the one in your own head. Most bystanders were probably sympathetic/didn't care, and even those who were unkind quickly forgot about it. And now your readers are gaining strength from it, because we'll all feel a little less alone the next time it's us in the situation, and hopefully be a little more kind the next time it's somebody else. So.... be kind to yourself the best you can. :)