Friday, November 04, 2016

Pooing VS Participating

I wasn't very nice to someone today and I'm not happy about it.

Sometimes I'm just a jerk.

I went into a session, that I really wanted to attend, and found, again, that there was no seating provided for wheelchair users. Conference hotels have never, ever, in my vast experience of them, taught their set up crew to include one or two seats in a room that are accessible to wheelchair users. So, I go in and, of course, there was no where for me to sit except in the wide aisle between the tables on both sides of the room.

This meant several things:

1) I stuck out. I get enough attention for difference I don't need additional attention because of being forced to sit, entirely on my own, in the middle of a freaking room.

2) I had no where to set my stuff down so that I could take notes efficiently. I'm there to learn, I think best with a pen in my hand,

3) I tried to stay at the back of the room to stay as out of view as possible and was told to move because I was blocking the door. No non-disabled person who came and stood in the same spot was ever asked to move. I'm a fire hazard, they are just exercising their right to be wherever the frick they want to be.

So I was unhappy. Not a good way to start into the learning process. A woman, very nicely, offered to get out of her seat and give up her spot. I didn't want her to do this. I didn't want to be in this situation. As I was with the room volunteer when she offered, a volunteer that looked hopeful that this would be a solution, I said, "No thanks, I don't want pity, I want planning."

Rude right.

I don't think she was offering pity.

I don't know if she heard me but I hope not. But even if she didn't my dismissal of her offer was, without question, rude.

Finally a fellow beside me, without my noticing, moved himself over which freed up an end of a table. I saw a spot to put my stuff so took it and thanked him for having moved.

But throughout the session I listened, and I did learn, it was a good session, I thought about my reaction to the woman who kindly offered to move and the jerk face response I gave. Like, really, it wasn't her fault and she was offering a solution.

Sometimes I can be such a jerk - to the wrong person.

And yes, of course, I did speak to people from the planning committee about the issue. But here's the thing, I don't think it will help. Not because they aren't good people but because conference hotels work really hard to make bathrooms accessible and then, in their conference rooms, act like we come to the hotel to poo but not to participate.

Isn't that odd?

But still.

I was rude.

Shouldn't have been.

Need to stop being a jerk to people who are just being nice.


Unknown said...

We all have moments/days when we are cranky to others for reasons that have nothing to do with them....the challenge is to forgive yourself for being human and imperfect.....and being imperfect humans we get to practice this forgiveness over and over and over....

on a practical note, feedback to the conference organizers about working effectively with the hotel staff to customize the set up of the room to accommodate attendees who use mobility devices - it's apparently not obvious!

hope you have some moments of sunshine in your day, Dave. clairesmum

Namaste said...

The first time I met you, you were a real jerk to me, too. I had rushed and bought all the books I could afford at the display table and promptly brought them for you to sign. You weren't very cordial when pointing out that half of the books I asked you to sign were written by other people. I was embarrassed, but so very excited to meet you that I brushed it off. In hindsight, I realized I would probably have been offended if that had happened to me. And here I am, years later, an avid reader who wonders if all is well with you and Joe when there are few posts in a week! The woman you mention has probably already forgiven you and thought, "Gee, it must suck to put up with this kind of b.s. in one's daily life." And moved on. Kudos for your compassion. Congratulations on the growth. Thank you for contributing to my growth!

Dawn S said...

Sorry you had this experience. I know I've done something similar; we're human, and sometimes our anger gets aimed at the wrong person. Sometimes making that right means apologizing; sometimes all you can do is learn from it and try not to do it again. I think it is VERY important to communicate with conference organizers. This is a problem that crops up again and again in academia, the workplace and other organized activities. Planners of all events need to have someone in charge of accessibility, and that person needs to communicate with the event site and follow up to make sure all accommodations requested are on site. Ideally, they should be on site BEFORE the event starts to inspect everything and get problems fixed. Attendees should NOT be the ones educating the venue about their needs; this is/should be part of conference/event planning. I really get tired of even planners and venues passing the responsibility ball back and forth while nothing gets done and no one takes charge of making accessibility happen. It's not OK, and you are right to be angry about this lack of planning. I guess all I can add is, don't beat yourself up and aim your anger at the person in charge next time.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Namaste, I hereby apologize for my behaviour that day. It's odd because I love signing books on a typical day. I don't know what was going on that day but I must have been 'in a mood' for some reason. Shouldn't have taken it out on you. I'm glad you told me because it reminds me that what we do is remembered and therefore it's really important. Thanks for your understanding and forgiveness.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Exhaustion is what makes people cranky, even able-bodied ones.

Everything a disabled person does takes more energy than it would cost the non-disabled one. Starting from getting out of bed, and continuing every single minute of the day.

Even if everything were perfectly accessible, as it should be, you would have to put out an enormous amount of extra energy in a day.

And to also have to carry the burden of representing ALL disabled people, and thus trying to be nice to the rest of the world, well, it gets to be too much sometimes.

You are trying too hard to be perfect, because you know you're a role model to so many people. I understand WHY you do it; I just don't understand HOW you can do it as much as you do, and I salute you.