I was sent to get seats in the theatre as Joe and Tessa got treats. I'm good at getting seats because I've got a degree of assertiveness. I'll pause as you reel in shock ... There are only three wheelchair spaces in the theatre and I know that when Tessa and I are together we need to be on the 'two' side. That means enter to the right. I pulled in and noticed two things immediately.
First, one space was free and the other space was filled by a couple of grocery bags that had been placed there in front of a woman sitting in the row above. Second, the wheelchair badge seat was taken by a guy who was hunkered in and eating popcorn. Great.
I asked the woman if she could move her groceries, maybe to the seat next to her so that the wheelchair space would be free for someone in a scooter. The woman's eyes lit in anger and inconvenience, she snapped something that I couldn't hear. But she moved the groceries. One down.
Then I backed into place right beside the guy in the disabled seat. It has a big blue badge on it complete with the skinny wheelchair guy. I turned to him and he was watching the pre-movie show with great intensity. I said, 'I wonder if you would mind moving over a seat so that the fellow with me can sit here. I added that sometimes I need help during the movie. (Which I do, with footrests and wheelchair bags and the such.) He nodded stiffly. When he muttered I heard him, because he wanted me to. Apparently that is his favourite seat to sit in at the movies.
Now, here's the thing. I don't like asking people to do stuff. But there are, count them, Three, that's one, two, three spaces in a theatre that sits a couple of hundred, where I can sit. He has 200 choices I have, um, count them, one, two, three. I'd like to sit further back. No option. I'd like to sit more in the middle. No option. But, believe it or not, I'm just glad I can go to the movie and that there is space for my chair.
These other folks seem to be really pissed that I limited their choices from 203 to 200. Poor dears. Seems they were comfortable with reducing my options to ... well ... none ... and they thought that fair. Right.
The rest of the day was full of nice people doing nice things - but I've now done the math and it takes 33.72 acts of kindness to diminish one act of disability targeted nastiness. It's not fair but there you have it. I came home from a movie I liked and having tea at my favourite spot and shopping in a store that is purposely accessible ... and all that's good because two acts of nastiness are smaller in my mind, but they still dominate my memories of the day.
I wonder what kind of story these two will tell of their day. Of the selfish disabled guy who wanted space in a theatre. I wonder what conversation will result. And I wonder if that conversation will lead to change.
I can tell you that I've got an internal conversation going on. I'm wanting to go on a diet. I want my soul to have a balanced diet. I want it to need less kindness in order to sweeten my daily cup. I don't want to swallow bitter brew. Maybe drop the need down to one to one ... but I think I'll have to start with 32.01. Start small, right?