What do they think is going to happen when we get there? We don't trust smaller hotels anymore and call and check several times that our room is accessible. We even explain what we mean by accessible - having one hotel thinking that accessible meant that we could get into the room. So, after a couple of friendly chats, after checking out their website, we were confident.
But last night we arrived at a small hotel and Joe went in to check in. I could tell by the look on his face that it didn't look good. He got in the car and said, "Well, lets take a look." He had the key for Room 19 in his hand. He started the car and we drove round the side of the hotel and then down a steep driveway with a little roundabout at the end. There was no where to really park. Pulling over to the side and ensureing the emergency brake was well on, Joe got out to check the room.
He stepped down the steps to the walkway and then at the room, unlocked it and stepped up into it. He came back and said, "Besides not being able to get to it, you won't be able to poo in it either." Apparently they had a very low toilet that was made accessible by putting a bar somewhere near it.
We drove back up to the office and went in. The woman seemed a little offended that we didn't like the room. It wasn't a case of not liking, it was a case of not being able to get to it, get into it, use it when we were in it. So she took Joe off to see another room. This one was worse still, but she stood and explained how Joe could wheel me over the lawn, which was so damp that his foot sank into the earth, then he could heave the chair up inot the room. It was on the topic of the bathroom that she finally gave and admitted that "We really don't have those kind of rooms."
Now we are stuck in a small town, with no where to stay, it's Sunday so we can't call the agency who booked me to speak for advice. So we drove a long way back to a town where there was a chain hotel who luckily had one accessible room left. But that means we've got to drive a long distance to do the training each day but, of course, we're willing.
Besides being lied to about their rooms, what was disturbing was that we were being treated as a 'problem' and a 'bother' when they booked the room to a wheelchair user. It was like they 'wink wink' knew that wheelers could really walk and climb stairs if they just wanted to. "Come on, we won't tell.'
It is these times that I find my disability disabling. Times when we have to drive miles away to get a place where I can get around. But, I keep having to remind myself. It's about Room 19. It's about being disabled by the environment, not the chair. If Room 19 had been what was promised, I'd not be feeling even the slightest bit disabled.
Damn Room 19.
And damn those who lied about Room 19.
Because, here I am, in room 251 and suddenly my disability doesn't matter any more.