Monday, June 17, 2013

Handbook Rule A37R2

I broke disability rule A37R2.

There is a restaurant that I've wanted to go to for a long time. I discovered it, accidentally, while browsing on the net. The web page showed pictures of a small, cosy and funky place. The menu - awesome. Then I noticed that it wasn't accessible. There's one step up into the place. Shit! As A37R2 clearly states: "Patronage will not be given to businesses which are not accessible."  Personally I think this rule was made up to make it appear that we were boycotting places that we couldn't get into anyways. "I'll show you, I won't shop at your store which I can't get into."

But, I can do one step. If there are hand rails on both sides I can do a few more. I know, I know, I shouldn't patronise these places, rule A37R2 or not. As I was wrestling with the dilemma I showed Joe the website, the menu and the stair. We decided, what the heck, we'd give it a go and if I couldn't, in the end, get in. Then, we'd boycott the hell out of it.

It was a sunny day and Joe dropped me off just outside the restaurant and then he parked the car in a lot across the street. I looked at the stair. Oh my. It's higher than typical. As the day was hot, the door to the restaurant was propped open and the push bar on the door would give me something to grab onto on my way up, and, more importantly, on the way down. I decided to give it a go.

I was in, the chair was in, we were at a table. The place is very small so we had a bit of trouble making room for the chair. There was a bit of a flurry of activity for a few minutes as the staff of the restaurant who clearly, and for obvious reasons, were flustered at the presence of a wheelchair in their place of business. The chair I removed became a bit of an issue - not that anyone was hostile - as they tried to figure out what to do with it. Eventually common sense won out and they set it at another table.

For the first few minutes being in there the staff did all the things that you'd expect them too. They spoke to Joe, not me. That ended quicker than you might imagine. After about fifteen minutes, I morphed from 'the wheelchair' to 'the customer' and we were good to go.

We had a great meal.

It would have been a fabulous meal but, after Joe checked out the bathrooms, he came back and said, "Just slowly sip your tea because there's no way you can pee here." Oh. OK. Good to know. (There is a reason why men don't wear beige pants after the age of 50.)

Getting out just meant waiting until there was no movement towards the door because, for me, stepping down is way more dangerous than stepping up. I got to the edge of the step, turned round, took gripped the door handle and stepped way down. The chair quickly followed and within moments we were in the car and on the way home.

I understand the reason behind rule A37R2 and, in truth, feel a little guilty that I put disabled money into an inaccessible business. I won't go back. The step was very high. The place was very small. Getting out scared me a bit. I didn't we myself but I was well positioned to do so.

There were two good things I think that came out of our little adventure though ...

1) We had a great meal.

2) 3 of their staff learned that someone in a wheelchair is just someone in a wheelchair.

However I learned something, sometimes there is a reason for a rule. Neither of those two things justifies what I did. I've always believed in A37R2 ... and, it's in breaking the rule, that I realise that I never should have.

And won't again.


Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

You are so hard on yourself, Dave. I get why and admire your ability to hold yourself accountable/hold others accountable, but cut yourself some slack.

It may be that, because of your visit, the owners of that little place rethink their accessibility...hey, you never know, right?

Deb said...

And besides, sometimes you just want to push the boundaries a little and go somewhere off the beaten ramp. :)


Anonymous said...

Morning Dave,
I was in a Best Western in Colorado Springs, CO thinking of you and Joe in bathing suits last week. (I don't know why but my mind insisted on adding a bright yellow bathing cap with a red flower to you). WHY????? Because when I went into the breakfast room it overlooked the indoor spa which was equipped with a giant, buckled deluxe transporter that lowered people from wheelchairs into the pool (stay in chair or head up life vests near by). AND a built in bench for companions. Outside of a therapeutic environment I have not seen a pool with a lift. Then I noticed all the grab bars, the wide spaces, the other accommodations. I had to mention my admiration to the lady at the front desk for the hotels commitment to servicing people with diverse needs. Her reply, "Our new manager took over and would not have it any other way. She made a huge difference in a small amount time" Now I understand each of these hotels are independently owned and operated, but if one manager of a mid-price hotel gets it and can make huge changes quickly there are no excuses for anyone else.
Enjoy the day

CapriUni said...

I was just going to make a similar point to Belly's.

The problem with rule A37R2 is that it lets inaccessible businesses off the hook:

"Why should we go through the expense and trouble of making adaptations for people who don't spend money with us? It's all just a bunch of Politically Correct propaganda, anyway..."

(Employers also make this argument when it comes to constructing an accessible workplace).

So maybe the rule should be that we patronize these businesses occasionally -- wave our money around a bit... And then, make it clear that we won't be back to spend any more of it until they get their act together.

Anonymous said...

Some buildings - because of when they were built -- are just too expensive and dangerous to make the structural changes required. However, all new buildings and those undergoing some renovation should be redone to the highest degree to allow access.
You did get two out of three -- a good meal and educating some staff and probably that education will lead to changes.

Jayne Wales said...

You made it and hopefully they thought something about how you had to struggle and will change it. Understand the rule but we can't be perfect rule obey ears all of our lives.
Now what did you have to eat?

Anonymous said...

Are you serious. There is really such a rule - or is this a tongue in cheek thing?? I don't need rules to make up my mind where to go - and frankly - that sounds a bit stringent. Are those with disabilities not able to make up their own minds? It sounds rather patronizing to me. I hope I'm wrong about this.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anon above, no there isn't actually a rule. I was making a joke because, in my head, I do make rules for myself - codes to live by kind of things. I think many people do that kind of thing.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Jayne, I had Huevos rancheros and Joe had chili sin carne on greens. I've had Huevos many times, particularly in the southern States and was surprised to find, here in Toronto a place that made them better than anywhere I've had them before.

Anonymous said...

Ok - the joke was on me. It sounded odd - but then again there is unity in numbers. Thanks for tolerating my "duh" moment!

Cara Liebowitz said...

I must admit that I've taken advantage of my ability to do steps and broke rule A37R2 more than I care to admit, myself. Sometimes delicious food wins out :)