First thing I learned today: Hydraulic powered Nail guns are REALLY, REALLY LOUD.
Second thing I learned today: Able bodied people are not very smart.
I went out today at 11:50 in my wheelchair to see how accessible the elevator was for my 2:30 taxi ride, but the hall was EMPTY, break time it seems. I did make it to the elevator but it was between floors and filled with garbage, with the door half open.
I waited and waited and eventually the assistant manager showed up. I told her that I AM getting a taxi ride at 2:30 to the dentist (since I was told that I would only have work outside my apartment for one day, and specifically asked the manager to notify me of all times of inaccessibility in order to make appointments.) She informed that the elevator was well and truly broken. Well, when would it be fixed because I am going to that 2:30 appointment?
“Can’t you just…….slide down the stairs on your bum?” (I live on the top floor, so including landings, 8 flights of stairs in all)
I said, “That is really quite difficult when one is trying to CARRY your wheelchair too.”
“Oh,” She looked at the wheelchair, “Well it can’t be THAT heavy.”
I stared pointedly at her. And she said she would GO back down and tell the Manager I had an appointment at 2:30. She came up to say that the elevator guys were working and the manager would call when there was news. I said I would be surprised. Why, because the manager has run away from me, turned her back on me, but not SPOKEN to me in the 11 months since I got into the wheelchair.
So I am here, amidst ripped up flooring (and nails everywhere) realizing, that forget the dental appointment, if there is a fire, I am, literally, toast! I go back out and get my camera and call Linda because now she will need to come home to carry the wheelchair down as I crawl down the stairs. I just find the thought that, “Hey, you can crawl down to the ground floor can’t you.” As the OBVIOUS solution to be one which mystifies me. Is this what the manager would find acceptable at a restaurant, “This way, please drag yourself with your arms to the table.” Or the doctors or bosses at work? Oh, need to get to your clinic, just spend your energy and 20 minutes pulling yourself up one stair at a time. Or is it because I AM the only wheelchair in the building and so everyone else just ‘takes the stairs’ leaving me to…
I head back out and they have ripped up more flooring but I do not have a picture of the broken elevator because they have managed to get the door all the way closed. However, the workers tell me that the elevator repair people have left! And if they “have time” they will “try and get back.” I say to him that I notice his crew of four people isn’t here today either (just the two still).
“Yup, shitty crew.” Is his philosphical answer.
“Will you be working on this floor tomorrow?” I asked (as I have a 10:30 a.m. medical appointment – and this was supposed to be just for MONDAY after all).
He shrugged, we finish when we finish, then we move to the next floor.
15 minutes later Linda calls from work (several miles away), the manager has just phoned HER (not me, who is….in the same building), to convince HER that it would be best for everyone to convince me to crawl down the stairs on my bum (how I am getting back up no one has thought of yet). Linda said, no, she is in a wheelchair for a reason and I will come home and bring her down the stairs IN THE WHEELCHAIR. The manager flipped and said, “You can’t do that!”
Linda said, “I can, and I will.”
“But you’re hurt your back. (and maybe we will be liable….)”
She then tells Linda that the elevator is not electric but on a pulley system so this sort of thing will happen again, and more often and that it would be “best for everyone” if, the next ground floor apartment opens up, I was moved into it. (Why not: “The elevator is down and we will have it fixed as soon as possible.” Instead of the whole ‘you are a nuisance and this will keep happening so you better move!’)
Well, no we are not moving, we searched high and low to find this EXACT floor plan because I am EXTREMELY noise sensitive. So the study is shielded by all the other rooms to make a sound proof cocoon I can write in, and on the TOP floor with carpet so there is no noise from above OR below. To move to the ground floor where I hear the cars come in and out all day, where I hear the laundry and the people above me all day and where I still only have one accessible door might do THE MANAGER a large favor. But no, I pay full rent, and I am entitled to the rights of the building which includes the accessibility which comes with it.
What irks me is how the Manager, is so openly anti disability. It is bad enough that she refuses to accept we are a couple (even though we are LEGALLY married), but it is like a couple where one is black and one is white, and the person ONLY speaks to the white member, even if it is the black person in the couple who complains. I am in the building, I am the one needing to get out, I am the person who requested to be notified immediately of access problems and when I find out that I cannot leave and complain she does not call me or come up and see me but calls miles away to my partner’s place of WORK? She is a bigot and her name is Fran.
Her implication and threat that these sorts of elevator problems will “continue” unless we move out or to the ground floor makes me like her not so much. Since I have found out it is ILLEGAL in Canada to discriminate on a basis of disability.
I called an advocate at the action committee of people with disabilities and they suggest that I a) call the local TV station right now as “woman stranded in apartment while manager threatens not to repair elevator” makes good news and b) I call the human right commission and go after the manager/building owner for sexual orientation and discrimination on the basis of disability (which was kind of odd because the person on the phone couldn’t say the word ‘lesbian’ or ‘sexual orientation’, they would just say, ‘well she discriminated against you on that……..that other thing.”)
I talked to Linda and we aren’t going to call the news, what we ARE going to do is write a letter to the owner telling him everything which occurred, our concerns, and that we called an advocate and this is what they recommended but that we want to hear what he has to say regarding our concerns first.
My care worker arrives late because, the workers won’t let her through, she is not impressed. She has been told the elevator will work at 2:00 and a sign is in place on the ground floor saying that. Well, 2:00 arrives and I prepare to leave. Linda is late because she is trapped in the stairwell where the workers have put the hydraulic pump. She tells them, “The girl in the wheelchair is coming DOWN this stairwell.” We come out, they have piled their trash and garbage bins in the corner. Linda is ‘excitable’ and says firmly, “I said, we were coming down.” The guy takes the garbage bin and instead of bringing it into the hall, takes it down to the landing, where it is just as impassable. Then his partner is bring up sheets of plywood in the elevator.
I tell Linda, let’s try the other elevator because the Taxi has already arrived. Linda goes ahead with the chair as I pull my legs, then go down a step and another, then pull my legs and straighten them out, again and again, and again, a landing and again, over and over until the bottom. I struggle into the wheelchair and Linda is there to push me, which is good because I am knackered (or ‘cream crackered’ for those who like Cockney).
Linda pushes me down the long hallway (as we had to use the far stairwell) and as she sees us coming Fran stands mid hallway, blocking our path. She points a finger at me and says, “You’ll have to move to the ground floor; this will happen again!” in a very declaratory, threatening way.
I go to the taxi where I can hear her sounding off about me to the workers; “Everything has to be HER way.” She says to the people repairing the elevator, “Everything at the last minute.” She continues telling them about me, and how bad a person I am because, apparently when I asked her to notify me if there wasn’t access to the elevator, and when she didn’t I wanted to know when the elevator would work was simply “too much.”
I am not moving because some woman feels that she is inconvenienced by having to call elevator repair people when her hired crew ripping up the carpets are already screwing things up. I am not moving because a woman who is supposed to be the landlord, violates safety rulings by not notifying me of when I am in hazard of evacuation. And I am not moving simply because this woman is a bigot who didn’t want to rent to us “Sisters” in the first place and for some reason HATES people in wheelchairs.
It wasn’t always like this, when I won the book of the year award, she was so proud to know me; when the national paper ran big reviews of my book, she lingered to talk to me. Only since I started using the wheelchair has she not spoken a single word to my face…until today, to threaten me, that unless I do what she wants, my ability to come and go from the building will be in jeopardy.
Well, the floor is NOT done, but I am for the day. I went to the dentist for my first crown and they kept saying “this is routine” and I kept saying, “Routine! I have Nightmares like this!” as they used these pliers to pull out the temporary crown that was put on while I was under sedation (Wasn’t there a torture scene like this in a few movies?). Can you tell I don’t like dentists?
We have a medical appointment at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow morning and are leaving at 10:00. Linda went to ask the manager, “Will we be able to leave? Will there be access?” The manager could not make any promises.
I was forced to CRAWL, Linda had to take time off work to carry my “it doesn’t look that heavy” chair down…I guess I want to know why.
18 hours ago