"Who design's this shit anyway," he said angrily as I asked him to move so I could get through the passageway from the restroom and into the restaurant area. I was taken aback because he had been nice and accommodating when I'd asked him going in. He had to know I'd be coming back. He saw the look on my face and said, "No, no, I don't mind moving, don't worry about it."
"But," he said, "it's got to be awful for you to have to ask ten or twelve people to give you space when you want to go pee." He was right, of course, it was awful and even when people are nice, it's still awful. This particular set up had a counter with tall chairs on one side of the corridor and small tables on the other. They were making space every where they could for people to eat. On the way in, it was completely impassible because the people in the tall seats, they were all full, and the people sitting on the corridor side of the tables all needed to move over a bit for me to be able to get by.
And I had gotten by, I had asked each of them individually, because each of them waited to be asked, unlike some situations where people see and move and create a path for me to get through. Then I only have to thank all of them. This time however it had been a ask and thank situation with each person, except the guy who spoke who had simply moved his chair when I was on my way in.
"They know that the disabled washroom is down here, they know disabled people come to this restaurant, who the fuck designs it so you have to ask strangers to help you out when you go to the restroom?" I was gawking at him a bit and he said, "What?"
"You get it," I said, "I don't encounter that often."
"Oh," he said, flummoxed by my simple statement.
I then asked him if he had a sibling or relative or friend who was a wheelchair user, he said that he didn't. "Then how did you even notice?" I asked thinking it a reasonable question, usually people who have at least a hint of understanding have had some sort of experience with disability or with mobility issues.
"How did I notice?" he laughed, "I've got eyes and common sense, that's all you really need isn't it?"
I wished him good day and thanked him for understanding which he brushed off with, "You don't have to thank some for decency, or at least you shouldn't have to."
I shouldn't have to.
But I'm made to.
All the time.
Most of us difficult folk just stay home, or don't go to places where we are obviously not welcome or wanted. It's too much work.
I just thought about the crypt at the Princeton U. chapel, where we practice for the choir before Mass. Thirty-three steps down two enormous stone staircases (and back up - trying to get my breath back in time to sing).
I do it - I love to sing. But I wonder how many people might look at it - and not bother. Because it's obvious that handicapped people have no interest in singing, isn't it?
Discouraged even before they try.
You shouldn't have to be stubborn to do the every day things you might want to do, as a human.
I am often shocked at just how unobservant able people can be. They don’t see those two stairs at the entrance, or that the tables in a restaraunt are too close together for even a narrow wheelchair to make it between them. Even people whose job it is to make places accessible make terrible design decisions, the amount of accessible bathrooms I’ve been in that make no sense whatsoever! So I don’t think it’s that surprising that you’d find this man’s insight difficult to comprehend. I do hope that more people will become like him though, maybe then we’ll have to stop apologising to people who are in our way like we don’t have as much right to be there as they do.
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