Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Summary of Moments ...

Oddest thing to happen on the trip:

I rolled into a washroom needing to pee. I headed for the disabled stall, rolling past several vacant stalls on the way. The disabled loo was in use so I pulled out of the way to wait. Eventually the door opened and a man came out without any visible disabilities. He saw me, went crimson red, then lifted his backpack up to cover his face and he passed me walking on tip toes. I wanted to say, 'Um, I can still actually see you,' but I didn't. I did however, get into the stall and then fall about laughing. It was just so incredibly odd. I can't even imagine what was going on in his head.

Strangest thing I saw on the trip:

It frustrates me a little, although I try not to be churlish, that the bars that they put around bath tubs are all so low. It's like they think that disabled people don't shower, that we are all lowered into the tub and then use the bars, set at the right height for a 4 year old to hold on to, to get up. I have not done a survey of disabled people and their bathing habits, but I've seen enough infomercials to know that at least the elderly, like me, can't get down into a traditional tub with any hope of getting out again. So, I always look into the bathtub in hopes of a hand hold of some kind that will allow me safer and easier access in and out. At one hotel on this trip they only had the very low bars, for bathers, and nothing for those who wish to shower. The shower nozzle was located on a thin and very flimsy bar that allowed it to be raised or lowered depending on the height of the person using it. They had mac tacked letters onto the wall of the shower, just behind the narrow bar, 'This bar will not support your weight.' So, if they know we need one, if they know people use it for safety, why, instead of spending all that time and energy putting up individual letters forming a long message, don't they just put a bar there?

The coolest thing I saw:

All over San Francisco I saw these signs in check out lanes saying 'This lane always open for our disabled customers' or 'First lane open, last lane closed' on the accessible checkout line. It seems like the whole city gets the relatively simple concept that the lane that serves the broadest range of people is the one that should always be open. I can't tell you the number of times I am greeted with blank stares when I explain this simple idea to store managers. I believe it is where I first wrote, in a blog here, that it was 'explaining the obvious to the oblivious'. Well, in several stores here, it has clearly become 'obvious' ... so to the anonymous disabled person who made this a personal crusade here in San Fran, thank you from a grateful Canadian.

The strangest thing someone said to me:

We were trying to get into a big downtown mall just south of Market. We came through the glass doors and were greeted by a set of stairs up and into Bloomingdale's, beside those stairs were a set of elevators. We got in an elevator and rode up only to find that we couldn't get to the store. Joe went off to find out the 'trick' ... we knew there was a way in, it's a newish building and there just had to be something we were missing. I sat, looking up the stairs, in a bit of 'his master's voice' pose, looking to see if I could see where Joe had gone. A woman, smartly dressed and impeccably groomed approached me, she tapped me on the shoulder and then leaned to whisper to me, 'You can't use those, they're called stairs.' Then she left, quickly, having deposited this bit of knowledge in my brain and rushed off, not looking back. Joe came a few minutes later and explained that only two of the elevators went into the mall. The other, as we found out, went to the cinema.

Well, it's time to go home, I'm writing this on Saturday afternoon to publish on Sunday morning. We'll be in a plane and then arriving home tired but happy as the work went well, the people we met were wonderful, the audiences receptive and the food, amazing. But ... more stories later, it's time for dinner and a last look out over the city as night falls.


Kristin said...

I'm glad to hear you had a good trip. I had to snicker about the guy trying to hide his face after coming out of the disabled bathroom stall.

Blog editor said...

I sniggered at the bathroom guy too, and roared with laughter at the "those are called stairs" woman ... at least they have their uses as light relief! What WAS she thinking??

Education: Exploring Online Learning said...

Glad you were educated on stairs? This post made me miss San Francisco, I spent some time working South of Market. I love the way you tell stories.

Rachel said...

Well, it's a good thing she told you, or who knows what might have happened!

Perhaps the bathroom guy believes that if he can't see you, you can't see him?

ivanova said...

Funny! I think the hiding-behind-backpack routine and "These are called stairs" are American attempts at humor that my West Coast people make when we are embarrassed by what we've done (ie, stealing your stall or not letting you into our buildings.)

Andrea S. said...

Did you know that the independent living movement had it start in Berkeley, California, which is quite near to San Francisco? Some of the earliest disability rights battles in the 1960s and 1970s, at least in the US, began in that general region. Whoever managed to educate grocery stores about the simple common sense of keeping the accessible lane open was building upon the work of a good one or two generations of work invested into the disability rights movement.

lillytigre said...

bhahahahahaha "you can't use those they are called stairs" LOLOLOL Thank you captain obvious!!!

As for the bathroom dude, I wonder if he's the same one who always uses the family rest rooms at the local mall here and then runs away when he sees anyone with kids waiting cause feels as tho he's been bad :D
PS I'd have said HEY GUESS WHAT you yeah you hiding behind the bag just cause you are hiding your face doesn't mean I can't see you
Great stories

Kristine said...

Haha! I chose to believe that the bathroom dude and the stairs lady are a couple. If they aren't already together, maybe you could introduce them? ;)

Noisyworld said...

As the old saying goes..
nowt as strange as folk!

Glad it (nearly) all went well :)

Tamara said...

Sometimes Shawen hides his face with his hands or a book or something. When I ask about it, he always says he was embarrassed. Sure the guy didn't have a disability?

The shower thing is really strange. And the Stairs girl is just bizarre. Just bizarre.

Shan said...

At least she didn't say, "If you had enough faith..."

If I have a whiney toddler who needs my help in the bathroom I will use the accessible stall because I absolutely believe myself to be disabled at that moment. "I have this huge 35 pound growth attached to my hip for the last four years. Both of us can't fit in those 36" wide stalls. Deal with it."

Though weirdly, often they don't lock properly. My theory is that the doors are wider therefore heavier therefore the hinges bend sooner therefore within a few months of installation, the locks don't line up perfectly anymore.

(Shannon out.)

Beth said...

Grab bars in hotel tubs:
I can do you one better. The hotel I stayed at in July had four grab bars in the tub/shower, all of them horizontal and low. On the long wall, there were two full-length grab bars, one a foot lower than the other already low grab bars. But that's not all, oh no: the grab bar on the wall with the faucet was in the way of the lever to control the water! It took serious muscle to get anything but a trickle of freezing water. This brought to you by the people who think "accessible" means grab bars everywhere. Oh, and the only towel rack was in the opposite corner of the bathroom from the sink. Lovely, but not half as bad as the situation in the tub.

"This lane always open":
Unfortunately, the one store here that, the lane is often unmanned. I guess it's "always open" because they never put up a sign saying "lane closed." :(

@Shan: Many times the locks don't work on accessible stalls because the people that install the locks presume that those doors are exactly the same as the ones in the other stalls and never check whether they work. Two of the three places I complained to about that this year protested, "But we just had new locks put in!"

Anonymous said...

I laughed until I cried...and then I laughed some more! The lady with the stairs!!! What a scream! And the guy in the bathroom! Why is it that all of these things happen to you?! Thanks for observing & interpreting thesaurus the way you do! I'm such a fan of yours!

Anonymous said...

Damn autocorrect! Why would it change interpreting 'tHe world' into 'thesaurus'?!