I knew what this blog post was going to be before it happened. I'd had it all planned. I got to work and felt sluggish in my chair. Since I've been home for a few weeks, I've been using primarily my power chair. I use the manual for work and home but the power for going any distance. I sent Joe an email and asked him to bring the shopping list when he came to pick me up and then suggested a huge grocery store on the way home as a place to go shopping. We'd never been there and I've always wanted to try it. I figured I'd get in the store and get a real good 'run'.
We parked in the lot and then made our way to the store. They had a gate for people with disabilities which was locked. LOCKED. It was below O temperatures and the freaking gate was locked. With a padlock. I had to sit in the chair as Joe went in search of someone with a key. I got colder and colder and colder. People, the valued ones who could walk, sauntered by me. Not one asked if I needed help. Not one even glanced over at me sitting freezing at the barred entrance. Finally someone came with a key and I raised hell about them locking disabled people out of their store. She said I was right that it was cold but they had to keep control of the shopping carts.
I got in and was steaming mad with frozen toes. Joe kept suggesting we leave. He could feel a scene coming. I saw a manager type person and asked why they locked disabled people out. She explained, as to a six year old, that the carts weren't to go into the parking lot so they had to lock the entrance. I asked why they didn't put up a sign that said there was no wheelchair access. She said that there was. I explained, as if to a five year old, that if you have to sit in the freaking freezing cold while someone went to get someone else with a key, it wasn't accessible. She apologized. I asked what any apology, that didn't lead to change, meant. She said she'd talk to management. Code speak for 'shut up and leave me alone, I don't care'.
Then I shopped.
Don't tell me I should have left in a huff. Why should I? This was my plan. This is what I wanted to do. So I did it. I rolled and I rolled and I rolled. I put the inaccessible gate, the stupid padlock, the fact that they were more concerned about carts than customers, aside. I wanted to run my chair. I wanted to exercise my arms. I wanted to find empty aisles and race down them. And I did.
My intention was to have a blog about going out and racing around just for fun. Like kids running for no purpose in a park. And by gum, I'm going to have a blog about racing around just for fun. I love having a great floor to roll on, space to roll and sharp corners to turn. I'm always careful should I happen upon someone walking and I'm pretty good.
I got glared at a lot by most of the employees. They'd all heard about my complaints. I could tell by the stares and the hostile glances. But I didn't give a flying fig about any of them. I was in their territory. I'd made my point and they'd simply have to deal with me. Joe and I chatted, looked at stuff, laughed. I'd let it go. It's easy when inaccessibility and uncaring responses to complaints is a fairly regular occurrence. Same shit different store. My goal was not to increase disability awareness. It was not to create accessibility where it wasn't before. No. My goal was to get out and have a run in my chair. My goal was to have fun while doing it.
And I did. Both.
Sometimes you have to be the 'difficult' one to make a point. You do it brilliantly, so many others do not have the balls to. Way to go! But honestly, I'd guess that a lot of the 'angry' glances you scored, were instead amazed, possibly admiring and even embarassed, that you had to make yourself heard in such a way. You kick ass at kicking ass.
I have been so annoyed about inaccessibility recently that I have started a website called www.ustooplease.com. It's focus is primarily on my little corner of the world, but I would love to see it expanded to lots more areas. I'm just hoping it will raise some awareness...
It is unfortunate that they essentially had a barrier free environment which they then proceeded to fill with barriers - those attitudinal barriers are the worst.
It sounds like you had a blast free wheeling around that store.
It amazes me that she had the nerve to say they have wheelchair access. They don't! The only reason she was even speaking with you was because you had come to the store with someone who COULD get into the store to say that you COULDN'T get in! Any person coming to the store on their own and needing to use that entrance would have no way to ask for someone with a key.
What do you want to bet they try saying that they don't have that many customers using the accessible entrance anyway, so they don't really need it? The fact that they keep it locked couldn't possibly have anything to do with the low number of wheelchairs and walkers they seen in their store, now, could it?!
Some times my kids get embarrassed when I feel that I have to make a point about accessibility.... but if we don't stand up for ourselves, who will?
But I'm glad you didn't let it spoil your day.
It reminds me of the time I rented a power scooter for a convention.. and when it was over, I went joy riding around the empty halls, with my young son hanging on the back!
J took the words right from my fingertips.
Reminds me of the story of one postal office that, upon being sued for lack of access, apparently claimed that they didn't need to be accessible because they "never saw" a wheelchair rider inside their location. Um ... ? Hello? Logic fail!
Also reminds me of one time when I attempted to obtain tickets for myself to go to a play only to find that the only seats from where the sign language interpreter would be visible just happened to be the most expensive seats in the house, with no discount allowed for those of us who had no choice but to either take those seats or not go at all. I did still buy the tickent and went, but had to go without my partner who didn't want to spend so much money, so it wasn't the same experience as it would have been if they could have allowed deaf consumers a way to not just access the play but access it on equal terms at an equivalent price as people who had more freedom to choose a cheaper seat without sacrificing accessibility. But when I tried to argue the unfairness of this policy, the person I was speaking to on the phone kept insisting that there was nothing unfair in this because they weren't forcing me to choose those seats (??!!!??? Sure I could have chosen cheaper seats, but without being able to see the interpreter there woudl have been NO POINT in going AT ALL!!! So how can they claim to be giving me equitable choice?!!!??)
Yeah Dave, don't let the bastards grind you down.
wow. This is off topic I guess but this is stirring some controversy apparently. (I'm not sure why)
tim, I enjoyed the video, the link is broken but I copied in the url into Youtube's search engine and it took me there. Thanks, it was fun. Thanks all for comments, glad no one was annoyed that I didn't take my business elsewhere.
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