We must have looked like quite the pair. Me in my wheelchair, Joe walking like he needed to be in a wheelchair. But we'd made an appointment to view an apartment in Toronto and Joe was insistant on going down to see it. I didn't tell him that I'd read several of the BADD posts about people who were refused apartments because of disability and that I had a growing anxiety about apartment hunting. So there we stood on the other side of a glass door looking into a lobby and waiting for the building manager to come out to greet us.
I was waiting to see her eyes. I wondered if they would narrow in disapproval or widen in surprise when she saw us, two men, one of which was in a wheelchair. She came into the lobby, seeing us through the glass and opened the door to welcome us. Her eyes showed nothing, not even the slightest hint of either surprise or disapproval. We spoke briefly about what we were looking for and what we were hoping to see. Without a moments pause she took us in the elevator and up to the 5th floor. She had a variety of apartments but felt that one on a lower floor would be better for someone in a wheelchair. I agreed.
We went into see the apartment. It was a mess because it's being entirely renovated. The kitchen was torn apart and the bathroom was under construction. But we were suprised at how big it was. The view from the windows wasn't spectacular but the size of the closet in the bedroom was. She pointed out several features of the apartment, including the doors - wide enough for a wheelchair to pass. I was surprised at how seemlessly, how effortlessly she spoke to me about issues around accessibility. The big deal for me was that the kitchen was accessible. I'd be able to help out with the cooking. Awesome.
Downstairs we met her husband. When talking about parking, I asked if they had any larger spots for people with disabilities. I was told that they didn't but that what they would do is move the parking around so that we were in a spot that would be most convienent for us. That the building had a policy that people with disabilities would be accomodated in the parking lot even if that meant moving someone else from one spot to another. That's kind of cool.
We left with the application in hand and the feel of warm handshakes - this building wasn't our first choice as a place to live. Not quite the location we were looking for, not quite the style we were looking for - but maybe they were wrong. It isn't location, location, location ... maybe it's attitude, attitude, attitude.