Today, I simply didn’t have the patience it takes to be disabled.
I learned early on to be forgiving of people in regards to a general kind of ignorance about disability and space and access. But let’s be clear that takes a kind of energy that doesn’t have an endless source. And today, I ran out.
Let me give you one of several examples. After seeing a movie we decided to go for lunch. We found a restaurant that proudly had the disabled symbol outside, right by where they would have had a auto door button if they’d actually wanted to be fully accessible. But, keeping spirits up, we went in. At first, I kind of panicked by the fact that all I could see were booths and narrow aisles. I said to Joe that I thought we might better go elsewhere.
But before he could respond, we were invited to follow the host to a table. I wheeled down a narrow aisle and near the end we were shown a table that, should I pull in to, I’d block the passageway. I turned to the host and pointed out the obvious. I then pointed to a table on the other side where I might be able to sit. It was very difficult to turn the chair around, it being so narrow an all. Joe went back and found that the way to the table I’d picked was completely blocked. He did find, however another spot and we went there.
After bumbling around to get to a table, I felt that everyone in the restaurant was watching us. I felt that way, oddly, because everyone was watching us. When we pulled into the table I said to the host, “I don’t think you should have the disabled symbol out there if you have absolutely no idea how to sit a disabled patron.”
And you know what.
I meant it.
I said it calmly, simply as fact.
Normally I’d have just been quiet about the whole thing. I would have told myself that I shouldn’t expect anything better, it’s just what it is to be disabled.
But, my patience well was completely dry.
And it was only noon.