There was a lot of planning involved. Tickets, always the first hurdle, were cumbersome to get. We were going to a dinner show and the website allowed only one 'special' option. "Vegetarian," was one, "Accessible seating," was another. So, a phone call was made, everything was booked, now we just waited for it all to go wrong. Now don't you call me a 'Negative Nellie' - expecting problems is just part of life when you use a wheelchair to get around.
In fact, it all went incredibly smoothly. We got in, no problem, seating was no problem, vegetarian meal was no problem. More than that, the staff were welcoming. From greeting to seating we were treated with the same degree of welcome that was accorded everyone else. We were both impressed.
The place was packed.
800 people sat at tables round the stage.
Near the end I whispered to Joe that I'd like to get to the washroom before the crowds descended on them. He agreed and we snuck out. In the bathroom we discover that the accessible stall doesn't have bars. It has a tall toilet. It has lots of room. But no grab bars. Yikes. Without getting into a description of what happened next, lets just say it was, um awkward. And, of course, unnecessary.
We went back in. Caught the rest of the show. Cheered for the performers when it was over. As I sat there I thought about the experience. They were clearly welcoming to disabled guests. They ensured, in an interactive show that we, in the furthest seats away, were involved and included. Their attitude and manner were accessible, what's going on with the toilet.
I decided I'd write a note, I didn't want to ask to speak with a manager because, I'm guessing that some of the people that we go out with get a little tired of that. But, as it happened, as I was leaving I got a little separated from the group I was with. I saw a man looking very managerial standing at the exit doors.
I approached him and asked if he was the manager, he was.
I said, "I am going to make a complaint but first I want to say that I had a terrific time, your staff are awesome and welcoming, you've created a wonderfully accessible experience and I appreciate all of that." I paused, reading to move on to toilet talk, in that pause he thanked me for the positive feedback, particularly about the staff. "Because of all this sense of welcome, I was really surprised to go into the bathroom and see that the accessible stall had no grab bars around the toilet. It makes it for some difficult to use, for others impossible to use. I looked at where the toilet was, this is a really easy fix, so could you fix it."
I was momentarily annoyed when I finished and he picked up his phone and began typing. I waited. I wanted to hear what he had to say. When he finished typing he looked up and said, "We've just had the toilets all redone, the handicap bars must have been left off when that stall was redone. I'm sorry. I've just texted the maintenance department, I'll have that done tomorrow."
What? No defensiveness? No explanation as to why it can't be done? No rolling eyes and patronizing promise of some vague future fix?
That, my dears, is how a complaint needs to be handled.