Saturday, January 12, 2013

Applause From the Crowd

Joe and I, members of the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) for several years now, decided that we'd expand our horizons and also become members of the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). When we were younger we weren't so much interested in museums and galleries - but as we've aged, soon after buying our first gross of blue rinse, we discovered ourselves spending hours and hours at such places. This was hastened by discovering that they all serve a nice tea and pastries.

So we went to the AGO's exhibit of works by Frida and Diego. Wow. We had the same idea as half of Toronto. It was packed. Seeing an exhibit in a wheelchair is an interesting experience. People who stare at me in the mall, can't see me in the gallery. I was stepped in front of constantly. I noticed that those people being pushed by others, managed to do well. Seems that non-disabled people can hear non-disabled people saying 'excuse me' and they move out of the way. Always with a conspicuous glance between them about making way for the poor cripple. Me in a power wheelchair, under my own steam, well that's a bit uppity I guess.

Anyways ... this post isn't about that.

I managed to edify my soul by looking at great art (she was better than he was) and exercise my patience all at the same time. In short: loved the show, glad we went.

When we left the exhibit we came out into the corner where two hallways meet. One full of 'non members,' one full of 'members.' And when I say full, I mean FULL. There was absolutely no space for me to get by. There was a security type person there guarding the door with, well if not their life, their barest attention. I said to Joe, wanting to be overheard, "How do we get out of here?"

The guard, snapped awake and stood up and bellowed to the line up of members. "Move to the side!! Move to the side!! Wheelchair coming through."

I said, to him, equally loudly, I do have a set of lungs, "Person in a wheelchair coming through."

To my utter surprise people in the non member line up began to applaud and some called out, "Yeah," or "You tell him."

Joe, who never likes me to make a fuss (he lives a hellish life sometimes) walked taller, nodding in affirmation at my protest.

It shouldn't have mattered to me. But it did. I really liked that people responded positively. I guess I expected less and I guess I got more. Nice. A really nice change.


Glee said...

Yes (sigh) I know that one too and I always correct them!!! When that happens to a friend of mine she asks "can I come too?"

And re the visible or invisible rubbish. I have come to the conclusion that when they want to gawk at us we are visible but the rest of the time we are invisible. And I almost have to shout the "excuse me" when I say it cos it seems they can't hear me either!

Anonymous said...

wow! like like like!

theknapper said...

Very very nice!!!!!

Lene said...

that made me laugh. I had much the same experience, but it wasn't too full when I went, so it was tolerable.

Did notice that Diego couldn't paint hands, although the woman with the calla lilies was breathtaking.

Colleen said...

Hi Dave:

Have you seen this:

It should be a talk by Sue Austin. I really like what she has to say about being in a wheelchair.


Anonymous said...

You really need to James Bond out that ride for your Museum Trips....Don't get me wrong. I walk on two feet and the "I don't see you, I will scuttle by whispering "excuse me" until I have a better view than you" is NOT reserved just for people with a rolling seat, happens to us all....But if you had some sort of white canes you could spring out with the push of a button to clear the space in front of the chair (think red ring canes that a blind person may use) and quietly announce "excuse me I have spatial needs as well" Might not be effective, but the mildly annoying poke in the bum might stop these pretentious, rude, pushy people and give you a smile. Joe, poor, poor Joe :)
Me I just keep sliding in front of them saying no, no excuse you.
Happy Day, art is supposed to be a quiet, reflective place.
I try :)