Friday, January 22, 2010

Dave's Little Protest

I have decided to become more effective and organized at work. I know there are times my confusion about where I am and when I'm working gets in the way. Well, I've figured out how to take care of that. I'm going to buy a fancy electronic calender. It's small enough not to be a burden in my wheelchair bag and it's easy enough to use. This way I'll never have to say, 'I need to contact my home office to find out ...' I know, I know, I should have done this a long time ago but, well, I haven't.

So, after checking into a hotel earlier this week, Ted our GPS, told us that there was a computer and gadget store near by. We went to the store and it was in one of those outdoor malls with all the big box stores. We went to find disabled parking and there wasn't any. This doesn't mean that they had a bunch and they were all full. They had none, nada. There were blue bays two stores over on the left and one store over on the right. But these were all very far away. So we wedged in to a spot. Luckily we were in the VW Beetle and we unload the wheelchair out the back so we didn't need all the room to the side. Even so both of us commented, particularly Joe who had to help push me a much longer distance than we usually have to that this was kind of unwelcoming.

In the store itself everything was fine. Aisles were wide, things pretty much well organized. We approached the area where these thingys are sold and there wasn't a customer around. We looked at them on display and waited. The two clerks looked over at us, their eyes dismissed us, and they went back to their conversation. I do not necessarily see this as a disability thing, I see it as a 'you just don't get service like you did when I was a boy' thing.

Finally I called over and a young woman identified herself as the store expert on the thingies (forgive me I've forgotten what they are called). I explained that I wanted this thing for two purposes - the calender and the game. She said, 'It must be important to keep your doctors appointments in order.' I took a breath and said, 'I see my doctor two or three times a year, this is for work.' But it pissed me off that I wanted to somehow justify myself as a working customer.

So she went over the features and allowed me to try various functions. I inputted into the calender, I switched to the variety of calender modes. Looked at the ability to go online, all of that. I decided to buy it. I said, 'I'm going to buy this.' She smiled.

Then I said, 'But not at this store.'

She looked shocked. I quickly assessed and knew that if I brought up her dismissal of me as a customer or her assumption that disabled people are kept frantically busy with hospitals and clinics - she'd not get it. She'd just think I was over sensitive. So I said, 'I only came into the store because we had bothered to drive here. When a huge store like this doesn't bother to have disabled parking in front you are saying something about how you value us as customers. I only took your time because there were no other customers so I wasn't delaying anyone else - but in good conscience, if a business doesn't make me welcome, that business doesn't get my money. I know other stores that have plenty of disabled parking, my business will go there.

She blinked.

Several times.

Then she said, 'But there's parking over by ...'

'And I'll shop there, but 'over there' doesn't make up for none here.'

To her credit, and I almost changed my mind in my protest, she said, 'And the thing about hospital appointments was a pretty stupid thing to say, too wasn't it.'

I laughed and said, 'I wasn't going to bring it up but, yeah, it was over the line.'

She promised to speak to the manager and encouraged me to go buy one of the thingies, she said 'In a week or two you'll never know how you got through a work day without it.'

Somehow I know that after we left, she went straight to the managers office.


enablescotland said...

Yes!! The power of the disabled pound. We need a better word for that though. It's not quite the pink pound or the grey pound yet. Any suggestions?

Liz Miller said...


Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's the little lessons...

AkMom said...

Way to go, that was great!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Dave,
I read your blog everyday, and I love it, and most of the time find myself just stupidly nodding like a dashboard dog to your always thought provoking musings and observations. A few times (Like any INTERESTING human discourse should) I disagree. Well, I do not disagree with the content of what was said. However, you must learn to protest effectively if you are going to be heard. Complaining to an employee is not going to achieve nearly the same effect (let’s say she only relays HALF of your outrage and dissatisfaction) as if you asked to speak to the manager and complained directly to them with the employee present to get the lesson and deliver the one – two punch. Relying on her to convey YOUR message to management is iffy at best. All she cares about is that she lost commission on that sale, and I can guarantee she’s not going to tell on herself for the politically incorrect statement of hers about the hospital or Dr. visits, is she? Bless your heart Dave, don’t give up. Do not go quietly……………

Brussel Sprouts Hater said...

Go, Dave!

Kristin said...

Good for you Dave! I think you changed someone's outlook for good.

Liz said...


Moose said...

I'm going to agree with Anonymous. Saying such stuff to an employee is not going to make much of a difference. You needed to talk to the store manager. You need to contact their corporate office (if they have one). You need to talk to the people who decide things like where parking spaces are.

Lowly clerks work long hard hours for crap pay. She may well intend to talk to the manager, and she may even do it. But there's a huge difference between "A customer said" and the customer saying it himself.

Speaking up for your needs is a good thing. You just need to speak up to the right people. In a way it's like complaining to the waiter about a restaurant being inaccessible. He does not manage the restaurant. He cannot make changes to its layout. He can tell the manager, but so can you.

That all said, I've found that some places have handicapped parking around the corner because that's where some nitwit installed the curb cutouts.

Kristine said...

If the REAL issue here was the parking space, yeah, it probably needs to be brought to the manager's attention. And maybe you did that, I don't know.

But my impression was that the girl's inexcusably rude comment/assumption was the bigger issue. And it sounds like you handled that perfectly well, and probably made quite an impact on her.

If we can keep helping people make those personal, internal paradigm shifts... then maybe someday, we won't have to fight about parking spaces anymore.

Gone Fishing said...

Ha! GPS in car ones lead one around in circles and make you drive through red lights (Distractedly)"cheap" GPS data loggers keep a track of where you have been, much more useful.
A good excuse to put an example of my journey on my "new" blog.

A Psychologist giving me help with coping strategy's once suggested she could recommend that Accident Compensation fund a hand held computer like device for me. I rejected it considering the paperwork it would create and probably be turned down.
I now wish I had accepted.