Monday, September 19, 2016

The Well Was Dry

Today, I simply didn't have the patience it takes to be disabled.

I learned early on to be forgiving of people in regards to a general kind of ignorance about disability and space and access. But let's be clear that takes a kind of energy that doesn't have an endless source. And today, I ran out.

Let me give you one of several examples. After seeing a movie we decided to go for lunch. We found a restaurant that proudly had the disabled symbol outside, right by where they would have had a auto door button if they'd actually wanted to be fully accessible. But, keeping spirits up, we went in. At first, I kind of panicked by the fact that all I could see were booths and narrow aisles. I said to Joe that I thought we might better go elsewhere.

But before he could respond, we were invited to follow the host to a table. I wheeled down a narrow aisle and near the end we were shown a table that, should I pull in to, I'd block the passageway. I turned to the host and pointed out the obvious. I then pointed to a table on the other side where I might be able to sit. It was very difficult to turn the chair around, it being so narrow an all. Joe went back and found that the way to the table I'd picked was completely blocked. He did find, however another spot and we went there.

After bumbling around to get to a table, I felt that everyone in the restaurant was watching us. I felt that way, oddly, because everyone was watching us. When we pulled into the table I said to the host, "I don't think you should have the disabled symbol out there if you have absolutely no idea how to sit a disabled patron."

And you know what.

I meant it.

I said it calmly, simply as fact.

Normally I'd have just been quiet about the whole thing. I would have told myself that I shouldn't expect anything better, it's just what it is to be disabled.

But, my patience well was completely dry.

And it was only noon.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

You shouldn't have to take a college course to learn each new place. It shouldn't require a staff member to figure it out from scratch each time.

Your statement was accurate.

Frank_V said...

In my humble opinion, you did not "run out" of patience, so much as had it beaten into submission, or stolen, by lying liars who lie. Thanks for speaking the truth to these people, on a daily basis. Feel free to borrow my patience anytime.


Unknown said...

You were making an accurate observation - that the presence of the symbol was meaningless and misleading.
Take care, Dave. Clairesmum

tragicsandwich said...

What you're describing sounds like patience to me. You made a calm comment based on your observations and experience. Nothing you said was rude or even particularly abrupt--just straightforward.

I am not (so far) disabled, but I am constantly encountering access points that seem potentially inaccessible. I don't know how someone with limited arm strength would get into the restrooms in my workplace, for example.

Nightengale said...

It sounds more like lack of patience with ableism. I think too many of us have been patient with ableism far too long.

L said...

I think its 100% okay to be honest when you are frustrated/disappointed/angry, as long as it is assertive rather than aggressive (and what you said was definitely assertive.)

Keeping silent when you are frustrated/disappointed/angry is a very taxing form of emotional labour (and research shows that it is very bad for people's emotional and physical health), why should you have to do that just to make in-accessible businesses (and the staff who work there) more comfortable?

ecodrew said...

Your frustration is definitely warranted, it's ridiculous how tightly many restaurants pack tables. Esp. one with an accessible symbol! Some are bad enough to make it difficult for able-bodied people to navigate, let alone wheelchair users. I wonder how they're not a fire code hazard?

While it sounds like you stated the issue in a candid, pleasant Canadian way... The only way to possibly handle it better is telling management. As a former waiter, I try to avoid complaining to service workers about things that they have no power over. Again, you were out of patience for handling crap that you shouldn't have to deal with, so I'm not judging at all. I usually handle it in my introverted way afterwards, by reviewing the place on AXS Map or contacting their headquarters online.

L said...

I was calmly, quietly waiting my turn at the takeaway counter for Moe Sushi at Crossways Subiaco. There was a long queue, I wasn't in any hurry at all.

Suddenly, without warning, a well-dressed, well-groomed lady in her 60s/70s comes up behind me and grabs my shoulder painfully hard from behind. We're talking it's still hurting several hours later; I may need physio treatment; I may have bruises tomorrow.

I snapped at her: "Don't grab me! You don't grab adults without asking! Especially if they might have chronic pain or injuries you might aggravate!"

She said demurely to me "Quite right, quite right." Possibly just to shut up the scary, absolutely livid, wheelchair lady.

I made a point of being extra-super-sweet and polite to the sushi clerk so that the woman who'd grabbed me would know

a) I was in a generally good mood (I hadn't snapped because I was in a generally bad mood); and
b) I was usually polite (I hadn't snapped because I was generally rude),

it was just that grabbing is not okay.