Image Description: Joe sitting at a food court table that has been designated as accessible by the blue wheelchair symbol. Joe, who gets handsomer by the day, is pointing at the symbol.
My power wheelchair was picked up for repair this afternoon. I stayed at home to ensure that whoever picked it up heard directly from me what the problem is with the chair. After the chair was gone, Joe and I decided to go over to the mall across the way for a quick food court lunch. We went to a place, new to us, called ‘Wraps on the Go’ because we’d heard they made barbecue tofu ribs. I know that ‘tofu ribs’ is an oxymoron but, we’re vegetarian and live with that kind of complexity all the time. I had the wrap, Joe had the meal.
Then we went headed out looking for a place to sit. The seating area has only a couple of designated tables for wheelchair users. They have the wheelchair symbol on it and, even more notable, two of the chairs are removed so that wheelchairs, or scooters, can pull into place. We don’t go there often enough to know exactly where they are. I was scooting one area of the court for a place – and there were lot, but they were ‘interior’ tables and not accessible by scooter and they all had seating attached so the scooter would block a pathway. We needed an accessible space.
Joe approached me and said, “I’ve found an accessible table but there is a woman sitting at it, should we go over and see if she’ll let us use it?” Given no other real options, I agreed. We came to her and I said, “This is a wheelchair table,” I say this because people in accessible spots don’t get the word ‘accessible’ but they understand the word ‘wheelchair’ it just makes it easier for me – no help to those of you who need the spaces but don’t have a wheelchair, I know.
She apologized and started to get up. I said, “Don’t worry, they should mark the table with a symbol.” Now, I wasn’t being sarcastic here, I really didn’t remember that they were all marked. She freezes into place. She had been about to lift her coat off the table. I look at her, she blushed bright red. Then, she stood, revealing that her coat had been over the symbol.
“I’m so sorry, I just didn’t pay attention,” she is so embarrassed that I thought it was going to eat her alive.
“You will next time,” I said, jauntily as I moved into place. This didn’t help because now she really sees the table and the missing chairs and the symbol on it.
She starts to babble, “I should have notice the seats, or the no seats, or that there should be four but there’s only two, not that they should all have four …|
“It’s OK, you’ll notice next time.”
“I will, I promise,” she fled, noodles falling from her plastic plate as she rushed to the other end of the court.
It was hard not to laugh, but we didn’t, her distress was real but it was just so over the top. I’m guessing she really didn’t notice and that she really will next time.
OK, we did chuckle.