Saturday, March 05, 2011

A Little Therapy Please...

Help me figure myself out!

I confuse myself sometimes. Do you find yourself in situations where you are perplexed more by your own behaviour than by the actions of others? Well, that's the state I'm in right now.

We are working this weekend doing trainings and meetings in Ottawa. We stay at our regular hotel and were looking forward to seeing the family. Mike, Marissa, Ruby and Sadie are all primed to come over for a swim and a pizza. It's so much fun because the kids love time in the pool and, in the end it's a gift to their mom and dad who get kids who sleep soundly from all the exercise. On the drive Joe asked if I was going to come down to the pool to watch, like I sometimes do. I am a little tired from the week and said that I thought not. OK. Decision made.

Then on driving into the hotel we see that there is extensive renovation going on. The automatic doors don't work and we're going to have to go through doors that don't have a door open button. We are well known at the hotel and as soon as they saw us, one of the clerks came out to open all the doors for us and make easy entrance. I could see immediately that the passage way to the pool is blocked. I thought 'oh no, the kids will be disappointed,' so I asked. The pool, I was assured was open. They explained that to get to the pool there is a passage way around the corner and up a few steps. I asked, 'Is there an accessible way to get to the pool'?

Three clerks froze. (I'm kind of known there.) One said, 'Well, no. Not really.'

Now I wasn't planning on going to the pool, even if there was an accessible way to get to the pool, I wouldn't use it. But somehow I was pissed off. I knew I was being silly. Yet I knew I wasn't. Good heavens what about other disabled travellers, what if I changed my mind. Even so, I found a level of upset that was disproportionate. I WASN'T GOING TO GO.

I fought back the urge to make a big deal and simply made my way up to my room.

Have any of you found similar situations? Honestly I'm annoyed at myself more than anything else. I'm not sure if I like being the guy that gets upset that he can't have what he didn't want in the first place.



Mandassassin said...

I sometimes get upset that somewhere I wasn't intending to go isn't accessible to me. I think it has less to do with me suddenly wanting to go to a particular place, than it does with wanting to live in a world where the pools are accessible all the time.

Anonymous said...

You lost the choice to go to the pool - that was more important than what your choice would be!

Anonymous said...

I think you were tired and you had a moment of great panic that the pool would be closed. That would of meant alternative plans, plans that did not involve the little down time you would get and truly needed after being ON all day (presenting). Hence the moment of panic, subsided when they said the pool is open but lingered a bit so your mind need to justify the panic and it became anger. I really don't think it had to do with access as much as it had to do with just being tired and the threat to not getting the needed and much well deserved break and alone time. Geez sounds like Im psycho analyzing you, well you did ask for a little therapy.....LOL

Anonymous said...

The wheeliecrone says -
Dave, it's the principle of the thing.
Access is not something that most people ever think about. Now, if it is their private home, that's their business. But a public place, or a place that advertises itself to the public - well that's different. There are laws and building codes and all sorts of regulations that insist that access is something that must be considered and standards must be met. And still people don't think about access. Until they, or a member of their family has reduced mobility, vision or hearing. Then they look around and wonder why nobody thinks about access!
Of course you were annoyed, Dave! One of your options was removed, without your permission. That's annoying.

ivanova said...

It's sort of like gay marriage. I don't even want to get married, but I feel sad and hurt that I don't have the option. Accessibility is such a big deal, and I wish that the people who steal the disabled spots at the supermarket or who decide to renovate their stores in an inaccessible way would read your posts.

Glee said...

It's simply about choice, and you suddenly had none AGAIN AGAIN!

Andrea S. said...

What Mandassassin said. And what the third Anonymous poster said, "it's the principle of the thing." You had the right to have the *OPTION* to go to the pool. This option was taken away without your consent, by people who clearly weren't thinking about you or other guests with disabilities when they started all this renovation and figured out alternate paths to the pool.

I get angry when I find that yet another DVD has been released without any captions for the special features even though I don't always watch the special features even in the rare situation when they *are* captioned (sometimes I do, sometimes I mean to and don't get to it). It's like ... hearing people pay one price to have access to both the movie and the special features. I'm being asked to pay the exact same price, but, as a deaf person, I'm not getting the same product as hearing people are because only the movie and not the special features are actually offered to me in a format I can access. If I'm paying the same price, shouldn't I be receiving the same product?

It's not wrong or unreasonable to be angry and upset in this situation. Sometimes it's just an issue of basic fairness.

I suspect one element in the anger might be because incidents just like this one serve as yet one more reminder that so many people just don't stop to think and plan for accessibility. This time you weren't going to go anyway ... but the pattern of behavior that resulted in this lack of access is still there, because it's nearly always there in nearly every context except for very disability-centric contexts. And that means there will continue to be many more situations *like* this one--if not at this hotel, then at many many other places. As long as the overwhelming majority of humanity persists in NOT THINKING about accessibility issues, there will continue to be times like this when the accessibility that should be there, that maybe usually *is* there, is suddenly taken away. And maybe the next time, it will be for something you *were* planning to go to. Maybe next time, it will be for something more important. I know that makes me makes sense that it would make you angry too.

Anonymous said...

Ditto what others have said. It's about choices and options. You thought you had some and then you didn't.
I've done the same thing at restaurants. I'll ask for a Braille menu, knowing that I'm probably going to get the salad bar. Part of it is about choices, maybe I'll see something interesting on the menu, but most of it is making the point that the restaurant should be offering Braille menues. Most of them don't and I like to see them squirm.

Anonymous said...

Just curious - do you think they should of then shut the pool down for everyone because it was not acessible for some? Perhaps the issue is that at time of booking they should of informed the guest we are under going renovations. It sounds to me that even those without disabilities may have had to make accomodations given the renovations. In that case should the whole hotel shut down??

NoisyWorld said...

It's about access but I think the thing which was more important to you in that moment was TRUST.
You trusted the hotel to be accessible, you trusted that they would realise it was reasonable to inform you (when you made the booking) that it would not be fully accessible to you and you trusted them to give you a reasonable alternative.
I've felt this before, I went to my health club and even though I've been a member for a decade (longer than most of the staff have been there) they "forgot" to mention I would no longer be able to go swimming on a thursday afternoon due to putting a children's swimming class on :(

Andrea S. said...

NoisyWorld, thank you--you raise an important point about trust.

To the most recent "Anonymous" who asked about shutting the hotel down:

Please tell me that I'm misreading your tone. You're coming across as if Dave has no right to be upset about unequal access. Yes, it is true that "everyone" needed to make some "accommodation" during renovations. But during this time of renovation, everyone ELSE was still able to go to the pool, they merely needed to take a different path than usual. Dave (and any other wheelchair riding guests) were the only ones completely DENIED the option of swimming. When you make a point of insisting that "everyone" is inconvenienced you trivialize the inequity that occurred here and ignores the fact that, yes, Dave was very disproportionately impacted in a way that most other people were not.

No, they shouldn't need to shut down the hotel. What they SHOULD have done was to consider the importance of maintaining SOME WAY for wheelchair riders to reach the pool during the renovation, identified a solution to this challenge, and implemented it. The fact that there was no access is a pretty good sign that probably none of the people who should have been responsible for thinking about this kind of thing actually THOUGHT.

Lyndsay said...

I agree with the majority of the commenters. Who cares whether you wanted to go - that would only matter if you were the only guy in a wheelchair who might end up at the hotel. And we all know that's absolutely not true.

After spending a year as a support worker I am angry and sad when I enter spaces I will never, ever be able to take my client - stairs, lack of space, poor design. There are places I have been that we can't visit together. I think that's the same type of feeling.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anon, four back. I'm not sure how to take your comment. I don't think my blog post came anywhere near suggesting that they close the pool for all. I also don't think that the slight modificaton of route that the non disabled guests took really compares to the fact that disabled guests don't get to use the pool at all. I think most people with disabilities are reasonable. I get that renovation changes things. I do. I didn't want to go anyways. But I think that when you book an accessible room at an accessible hotel they should tell you when accessibility options are not there. Then I get to make choices too.

I appreciate all comments, I feel less alone in my head with this kind of discussion. We stayed in one of the newly renovated accessible rooms and the improvements are lovely. Again, I appreciate people's points of view.