Joe and I had to do laundry when we arrived off the boat in Vancouver. We found one that was near a gay bookstore, so Joe went to do laundry and I went to browse around the store. The book area of the store has fairly narrow aisles but I was, if careful, able to make it around to most of that part of the store. I can, and did spend a lot of time looking at books. By the time I made my purchases, Joe had finished the laundry. I was pleased to be of assistance, for keeping myself entertained while he does this chore is, ultimately the gift he wants for that moment.

We decided to stroll down the street a bit and grab a bite to eat. We found a small diner with a flat entrance and headed in. I love diners but a shocking number of such places are simply inaccessible. This one wasn’t. We took the first table after coming through the doors because there was the perfect place to park the chair. The waiter, who was tasked with seating us simply let me tell him what I needed and made it happen.

Throughout the meal we were served with humour and a side of welcome. At no point did I feel that the waiter was serving me in any way differently than anyone else. He even looked to me, not Joe, to place my order. The food was good, the atmosphere was better, the service was exceptional – exceptional being simply equivalent to any other customer. I didn’t feel ‘included’ because that implies that the staff there did something intentional, exceptional, to make inclusion happen. We’ve come to see inclusion as something that someone does to someone else. It isn’t, inclusion happens when no one does anything and welcome still happens.

We liked the experience so much that we went back the next day with Joe’s cousins and are going back to day to meet friends for lunch. I will not be the only wheelchair user at the table today. I’m curious to see if my friends notice that welcome without stretching a generosity muscle is part of the charm of this place.

We will see.

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