Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Yesterday we went to see the movie "Monuments Men," which is a terrific film, and we'd got there in time to get two prime seats. This is in a theatre that has a luxury of choice for people who use wheelchairs or people who can't do stairs. We sat right in the centre seats, able to watch the movie dead on. We were a little earlier than most so we watched people come in and take their seats.

In the end almost all of the spaces designed for wheelchair users were taken and the theatre filled to about a quarter full. The movie begins. At a crucial point someone's cell phone goes off in the theatre. We hear rustling and whispering for a moment behind us. Then, silence. I didn't say anything because I realize that it's easy to forget - although this theatre had a funny, funny, clip about turning off your cell phones. It involved a camel entering an on-screen cinema ... well you had to be there. They'd given us a reminder, but, as I say, I've had it happen to me once so I'm forgiving.

About twenty minutes later, the phone went off again. That was enough for me. I turned in my chair and said, "NOW could you shut your phone off." There was a pair of 'thank yous' that came from the right of us and a smattering of applause from behind us. Nice, everyone wanted to say it, they were echoing my sentiment.

No more phone calls through the show.

On our way out, one of the men who had called out 'thank you' spoke to me about, first the movie, then the phone calls. We both agreed that the first once was forgivable the second one was not. Then he said that he wasn't surprised that I had spoken up. He didn't know me ... if he did, he'd be right ... and yet he thought I'd be the person to speak up. I asked him what he meant.

He said that he figured if I'd been in a wheelchair for awhile I must have learned to speak up, to get people out of my way, or to get people to pay attention, or to get people to give me respectful service. I told him that he was right, disability is a training ground for assertion, but how did he know. He just smiled and said, "I loved someone who was in a wheelchair once, married her too. She's gone now. But I remember," he said tapping his temple, "I remember. She was a firebrand that one." "His eyes had glistened over. I gave him my condolences, which never sound consoling do they, and we said our good byes.

So, out for another day of training in the art of assertion! Rah!


Tamara said...

What a great way to be remembered ... "She was a firebrand that one"!

Anonymous said...


I am glad that this is a story with another kind of "undertone" than the one which happened in the bus three days ago.

It feels good to know that I am not the only one going through so many different emotions regarding life and my disability.

I like that you give this all a voice...

Cheering you on from Germany
(and remembering good but dead friends)


Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I love this! I love that he loves the "firebrand" in his wife!


Kristine said...

This post makes me so happy! First, because it was lovely to have a stranger recognize what I consider one of the secrets of wheelchair life--that it trains us in the art of assertion. I've always been a quiet, shy person by nature, but disability's always forced me out of my comfort zone. I don't like to make waves or draw attention to myself, but when something needs to be said, I can say it! And that surprises a lot of people. :)

Second, I'm thinking of all the people who've stopped to chat and tell me about their connection to someone in a wheelchair--a sibling, a nephew, a grandchild, a neighbor. I can't wait for the day somebody tells me, "I loved a woman in a wheelchair once. Married her too." :)

Tara said...

Made me tear up a bit. Sweet story. What a legacy of respect and inclusion she left behind.

Belinda said...

Very cool that he had that perspective and insight.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I too have little tolerance for the cell phones in the movie theater. It is common courtesy, plus, as you pointed out, they do make a point of "reminding" us to turn off the phone. Further it is just common sense. Drives me nuts. I am not shy about asking people to be quiet in the theater. I've paid to see and hear the movie, not them. (I've gone as far as to have them removed.) Of course, these days, you can get shot for it as sadly seen in a theater in the states. Glad you got gumption and the respect of others.