I was asked to follow the hostess to a table in a restaurant. There were 6 in my party, including me, and I was at the head of the line up. The hostess walked too quickly for me to be right behind her, I had had to back my chair up and turn it round to go into the room where she had gone. I saw her at the far end of the restaurant waiting, impatiently. I looked around me. There were a few empty tables and then a really, really, long table fifteen seats long, on either side.

A waitstaff saw me look and said that they had a really large group coming in and the table had been set up for them. I looked back to the route that I was to roll. Even now it was a narrow passageway and there were no customers seated at the large, long table, and no one at the few smaller tables on the other side.

Instantly my mind pictured what it would look like in just a few minutes. I could see that the passageway would become completely blocked and any attempt to either go to the washroom or to leave would mean asking every person seated to pull in their chairs or otherwise make space for me. That would be 15 at the least and more if there were people seated at the tables.

The question that formed in my mind?

“Is it possible for there to be 15 to 20 people seated at tables that would be gracious or generous enough to move chairs without negativity or hostility?”

Sadly, I decided, that this was not possible. That it was a pipe dream because the odds aren’t in my favour. My experience as a disabled person in requesting space for safe passage has taught me that I am tolerated but not welcomed in places like this. My experience has taught me that, though I can get into places, those that have ramps or flat entrances, getting in is not the same as welcomed.

We sat on the patio.

And I said none of this to the people I was with. It’s not always about me, even if, in my mind, there are significant ramifications to my understanding of myself as a ‘community member’ … and my realization that I still have to put quote marks around that phrase.

What happened on the patio?

That’s for the next post.