We get there and there are two steps up to the dining area. I said to the host, “I was told this was fully accessible.” He smiled, as if I’d made a joke, “Well, we’re kinda accessible.” There isn’t any such thing as “kinda accessible.” He showed me a flimsy fold up ramp that can be put out to go up the stairs. Now at my weight and the weight of whoever is helping me, we aren’t getting up that ramp. Secondly, even if we get up the ramp, there is no where to go. The space between tables is so tight that those who walk have to turn sideways to get through.
I know that it’s not the host’s fault. I know that. I know that the people who run the restaurant know that too … the one’s who really are at fault. The one’s who encourage their staff to say, ‘fully accessible’ and the one’s who rely on the good manners of customers facing barriers to not yell at staff who have no control. I want to yell at the host. I really do. But I don’t. He’s working for a paycheck. He doesn’t own or run the business. He has to deal with people all day. I want to give him a message to management but I wonder if he ever even sees them.
I found a place where I could get up from my chair, use the handrails to make it up the two stairs, and then get the chair under me and in at a table. It was difficult and it was dangerous, but I had planned this, it was a special occasion, and I wasn’t going to have it be my disability, again, that caused problems.
Because it’s not my disability that’s the problem, but people find it easier to blame what’s present, the disability, rather than what’s not present, actual accessibility.
So, I acted calm but ate angry.
In the end, I had fun. Well, that’s not quite true. Part of me had fun, part of my was using tired old anger management strategies just to get me through lunch.