Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fire!

Under 30, they are kids. Under 20, they are babies. And they should behave themselves.

The fire alarm clangs waking us up from a sound sleep. We look at each other knowing exactly what had happened. Checking in we noticed that the hotel was full of teens. Oh rah. Fire alarms will go off and they will run through the hallways at all hours. We'd actually predicted it. I was closer to the phone so I picked it up to call front desk. I was informed that we needed to come to the lobby until the fire department had located the fire.

I've been travelling for years and I never, never go down when there is a fire alarm going off. I've never smelled smoke and it has always been a false alarm. I know I'm playing the odds. But this time I was on the first floor overlooking the parking lot. We could just hop out the window in an emergency. Besides, there were teens in the hotel, isn't that information enough. I told the clerk that we would just wait it out in the room.

She became agitated and demanded. That's demanded, that we come to the lobby. I immediately agreed thinking that maybe there was something else going on.

We had to get up.

Get dressed.

Assemble the wheelchair.

Get out the door.

The alarm stopped just as we were about to leave. I called the desk again and she said that we still had to show at the lobby. So, we did.

We were one room away from the lobby so we were there in minutes.

Alone.

Just us and the hotel staff. No one else had come to the lobby. No one else had to put in a demand appearance.

It's cause I'm in the chair. I knew it instantaneously. I wasn't allowed to break the rules like every other sucker staying in that hotel. I wasn't allowed to just roll over, curse the teens, and go back to sleep. Nope. Cripples need to follow rules. Do what they are told. I was mad.

Joe knew it and just whispered above me. "They won't get it. Let it go."

I looked at the faces of those behind the desk. Those who had used their power with me because they could and left everyone else alone - because they knew they'd be told to stuff it. They had a look on their face, when they looked at me, that I'd seen before. A thousand times. On the face of staff who made people with disability follow rules that they, their children, their children's children knew but didn't follow.

So there I sat, disgruntled, tired, pissed off. What was there about the state of being disabled that turned others into 'I know best, I know better' power hungry desk clerks?

When did I turn into the compliant, do what you are told, disabled guy?

Well, I haven't.

Now that I know what they are doing - I'll know how to respond.

I'm not giving into that kind of petty tyrany.

Lookout desk clerks, the decision will be mine, not yours, from now on.

I have become a behaviour problem because I just figured out the rules and have decided not to play.

4 comments:

lina said...

ok, so I'm probably going to get a lot of flack for this - likely from you first - but here it goes.
So why do you call down? If you're playing the odds, are you calling down to find out what the odds are for that day. If the lobby people thought it was a real emergency, and they know how people are going to react, don't you think that there is an alternate way to get people out of bed, knowing that people will likely not react to the alarm?
I don't know, I think they're just doing what get's told to them (the people in the lobby) to do. And you do have free will, even after receiving a demand......so maybe this one is more about remembering you have it - even with the wheelchair.
Go ahead and yell - I can already hear it, but I really didn't see it your way today - seriously - who calls down when you are going to ignore it?
(sorry Dave - but that's my 1.5 cents worth!)

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Lina.

Tamara said...

I don't agree. I work in an office building. We always call before leaving the office when a fire alarm goes off because most of the time they know what happened and tell us to stay put. (But yesterday, we had to walk down 15 flights of stairs because someone had burned popcorn in the microwave.)

I remember one of the first time I observed a difference in the rules with my son who has Down syndrome. There were a group of scouts on a "field trip" of sorts, and they were misbehaving a bit - getting into some things they shouldn't. Parents weren't paying all that much attention. It was harmless - just not good manners, I guess.

But the second my son started doing the same thing, the same kids who were breaking the rules told him not to do what they were doing - similar to the way they would treat a younger sibling.

They can do it, but not the kid with the disability. Weird.

Jacqui said...

I'm not sure that this is limited to those who have a disability. I get "advice" all the time about how I should be doing such 'n' such or such 'n' such with my child (who has a disability) - as if I have no capability to make these decisions for myself. And usually from people who have no idea what they are talking about. Dave, I would have been spitting chips too.