I love going out. I love people, I love being social, and we know I enjoy the occasional drink. I'm sure many others do as well. But what would you do if every time you went out in public you had to plan?
Last night I went out with friends. We had been drinking at my place before we left, so by the time we got to the bar, I had to pee. I spoke to a waitress and she walked my friend and I to the washroom.
I was pretty intoxicated but I remember swearing like a sailor. This was not going to be easy for us. I angled my chair towards the toilet. The door wouldn't close, my chair was in the way. Then I placed myself underneath the sink. Success! The door closed that way. But only because my friend did it for me. There's no way anyone could reach around alone in such a tiny space. Eventually I was on the can, but my friend couldn't get out. I don't know about you, but I can't pee in front of others. Poor friend even bent under the sink to give me the illusion of privacy. Nope. At this point, I was losing my shit. I put my dress back on and we walked to the McDonald's on the same street. It smelled of grease and pee. This was also an "accessible" stall. Everything was shit, but I fit and my friend could get out.
But was it good enough? Of course not. Just because a room is big and you made it work, doesn't make it suitable. I needed a friend's help. I couldn't wash my hands or reach the toilet paper. My powerchair is smaller than average because I 'm small myself. There is no way a chair bigger could have even fit inside.
There is this believe that those with disabilities do not go out much or have a social life. And though it's garbage, I do understand it. I've cancelled many plans because of uncleared sidewalks, re-arranged many outings because I knew that particular area didn't have what I needed to comfortably enjoy myself. Many of us can't go out on a whim, especially in the winter. I can say for certain that in the summer I am much more occupied with my social life, but it never gets easy if I'm honest. I'll tell you it does, but that's inaccurate. In reality I'm just good. I know what I'm doing, and in the summer I have fewer considerations I need to make. For example, I can stay out for long periods of time because the weather is comfortable, and I don't have to worry about the cold killing my battery. However, problems with buildings still exist. The weather doesn't your washroom any bigger, does it?
Complaints never seem to work, though I still make them. Everyone seems hell-bent on appeasing us. "Oh, we had nowhere else to put these boxes! or "We'll let the manager know, I'm very sorry" and my personal favourite, "We're working on it!" I'm sorry but I rarely leave feeling convinced because sure enough, I come back at some point and it's the same deal again.
I'm not about to live my life at home. I want to be out. I want it to be easy. At the very least, I want the bullshit to stop. If you are not accessible, the VERY least you can do is be honest. Maybe you are working on it, maybe you don't give a flying fuck. But while you're figuring that out, I should at least be aware so I can stay away and go elsewhere.