Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Irony Day: Forced to crawl over nails PLUS I win third place award

Welcome to Irony Day. I actually got some sleep (no, not this morning, it was hammers at dawn, doing what? Putting down a strip of Nails in front of our door, no joke). But this afternoon/evening I woke up in a GREAT mood. I was thinking; “Golly, I am in moderate pain, I DON’T have a morning appointment tomorrow, I have the whole evening to do stuff and I feel good enough to watch stuff with Linda.” When, WHAMMO, I find a notice under our door telling me that a) the elevator will continue to break down (threat?), b) Fran, the manager who told me last time to “crawl down the stairs” now says they don’t WANT me using the stairs (because my crippled body might damage the new carpet?) and c) That I “should” move to the ground floor (like how she blocked my passage and threatened me to do). The letter is below (click to enlarge). Okay, well that was a wake up, but then Linda goes and finds that not only have the workers NOT finished the carpeting, but that they have REMOVED all the padding we put over the nails this morning to stop them from trashing my chair. This now INCLUDES the strip they put in front of our door. You can see me here looking darn glum because, yes, for the second evening in a row, Elizabeth is not allowed to leave the building.
Call the Fire Department, you say? I did. And I was told that it was something I should take up with the Tenancy Board during daytime hours as fire, health and safety is not dealt with during evening hours. I was however assured that they WOULD evacuate me as needed. But, because it is 6:00 pm, no, no inspection (Tenancy Board has an 10 month resolution backlist and a 50 minute phone waiting time).

I then called the local news station who does NOT have an evening crew and let them know it all. The woman taking it down did a lot of "Are you kidding" laughs. She said they would call me back in the morning to let me know if they could make a story of it. I find it REALLY odd that while I have a life in which I want to leave my apartment, and go to the Y or out to dinner between 4:30 p.m. and 9:00 a.m., it appears that no one else thinks wheelchair people do…or should. And of course, tomorrow the workers will be here.

This morning when Linda tried to TELL Fran that there were nails in front of our door, Fran overrode her as she was told to inform me that I was to roll my wheelchair back and forth in the hallway downstairs before coming upstairs (to avoid leaving wet tracks!). Okay, who is the only person in the building told NOT to use the access of either stairwell at ANY time (hand raised) and who is also the only person who has “special instruction” on how they must act before they are allowed to use the public hallway on their own floor (hand raised again!). After the second reminder the workers DID put padding over my door and the elevator, but by 10:00 am, they had removed it AGAIN, so Linda found the padding and we got to my medical appointment.

But wait, just as the evening can’t get any better, I am informed that in the Category of LGBT blogs of CANADA, I have won THIRD place for all Canadian blogs. Okay, my major concerns blogged this weeks are a) Home care, b) that Canada has no disability act, c) That BC has no ombudsperson to take on human rights cases and d) that I am trapped in my apartment by a bigot who hates people (or maybe just Elizabeth’s) in Wheelchairs. And I win, the best LESBIAN voice of Canada and the Third place overall. Now, I am just curious, does the title of the blog, SCREW BRONZE, perhaps tell anyone how I feel about third place? Dave Hindsburger over at Chewing the Fat won Third place for Best Blogsphere Citizen. Wait a minute, Dave is gay, why isn’t he in the LGBT section? And why is he winning awards for being a good citizen? Is it perhaps because he is nice and cheery and gives lessons we all can learn from while I curse, am sarcastic, talk about shooting myself in the head, take pictures in my panties, threaten to close the blog and talk about porn a lot? I dunno. I guess that wasn’t part of what they wanted as a BEST citizen (but they are leopard print panties!)


Okay, I just called Fran, the managers number, to let her know about the nails and was put on voice mail, so I let her know I was calling exactly as the Fire Commissioners office told me to do (Note to self: expect early wake up call). Then I was SO pissed that I wrote a note and put it on the door so that everyone passing by could read it and see why another tenant was stuck while they were able to walk around. I plan to leave it up as long as possible (hey, people put up Xmas decorations, this is my “Prisoner Holiday” decoration). I expect it will last until Fran sees it.
Of course, Fran has closed one of the two stairwells and put up a notice telling everyone to use the OTHER stairwell. She got to put up a notice and it looks like mine (but tells people what to do - If I say, "Please" do you think Fran might stop trapping me inside my apartment?).

Of course, the other stairwell ALSO happens to be completely full of nails, that stick up on EVERY single stair and on EVERY side of the stair. Which is kind of why I CALLED the fire department because between crawling down several flights of nail beds and getting a little crispy, that is a tough choice. As Linda points out, what if someone, someone able bodied, is barefoot or visiting with children who are wearing slippers. Well I guess a visit to our floor isn’t complete without your tetanus shot!
Anyway, so much for my evening, because I think I am going to have to go to bed early. After all I have a) workmen pounding things for day three in a row, b) maybe the local TV news station calling and c) Fran on the warpath calling or knocking (or maybe like she did illegally before, just entering using her keys). And during the lull time, I will call the local paper and the local alternative paper and offer them my photos and story! Because I am getting a WEE pissed. I mean, the whole “crawl down the stairs while carrying your wheelchair” thing a week or so ago actually didn’t tip me over the edge, but this......yeah.

So tomorrow, I will be happy and snarky and have more pics of me and my breasts (maybe in a corset), but right now I am going to try and enjoy the glow of being Canadian, which essentially means I am supposed to be happy with getting third place. Because, after all, third isn’t that bad...........except SCREW BRONZE!!!!

To anyone who might want to write the owner of my building (or Fran directly) both might be achieved with the address provided below. Just to let him know what a bang up country you think Canada is, and Victoria as a city, and this residential manager, Fran, as a representative of both. (Peter Kerr of Surfside Properties is listed on the 2008 board of directors for The Rental Owners and Managers Society of B.C. - and in 2005 as President of Surfside Holdings - our Lease says Surfside Holdings, it is likely he is the President)

To Owner: regarding Fran (Manager of the Royal Commodore)
C/O Surfside Holdings
P.O. Box 2213
Sidney, BC
V8L 3S8
Canada

Woo Hoo! If Number 1 and 2 die tonight, I win by default.

God, I hope there isn’t drug testing, I will lose my 3rd place for sure!

24 comments:

Saskboy said...

Just stopping by to collect the drug test. ;-) Sorry that we didn't see your objection to being nominated in the GLBT category. If it's any consolation we had a few people suggest a category for people who blog about disabilities, and I'd like to include it next year.

By the way it's terrible that your building manager is so thoughtless. I hope the local media makes something out of it.

cheryl g. said...

Heh, heh, heh...

I'm going to enjoy writing this letter...

One of the advantages of working in the bureacracy - I speak/write govermentese/legalese well and back it up with appropriate citations. I'll email you a copy of what I write.

I'm thinking the don't use the stairs thing is because it dawned on Gulag Fran that you being forced to crawl down stairs could result in injury which would make them liable.

One thing about being trapped inside because of the nails... if the #1 and #2 winners die tonight you have a strong alibi - just sayin'...

Elizabeth McClung said...

Saskboy: It isn't your fault, and as you see, I blog while doped to the gills (sadly all by prescription), yeah, it is sad that what in the US would automatically get me like.....a new car in settlement here is just "thoughtless". But hey, if we passed a disability act, then I could call the police or someone. I am frustrated that though I TOLD everyone to vote for others, SOMEONE must have voted for me?

Cheryl: Remember though that this is Canada, so ADA doesn't apply. But government speak all you please, if you please.

Well, if you are kind you can see it that Fran in now worried that I will crawl down the stairs and be liable (even though she called Linda and work last time and told her to convince me to crawl down the stairs), but as you see, there is no time limit, no, "For this week" and the whole bit about the carpet leaves it rather ambigious if she is more concerned about ME or the CARPET (like I might leave a goo trail) - and with the instruction to wheel up and down before ascending to third floor in order to preserve carpet, I think the carpet wins over Elizabeth.

Yeah, good point about #1 and #2 - let the disability assassins deploy!

kathz said...

First place overall next year, I hope. Meanwhile, it's probably a good thing that people who don't usually read blogs about disability get to read your blog and learn something.

I suppose there isn't an e-address as post from the U.K. is quite slow.

Catchfire said...

Brilliant blog!

I really hope you can learn to respect Fran's new carpet in the future.

Gina said...

Wow.

I so totally frustrated right now. The BC building code (2006) is based on the NBC 2005.. Which says very clearly "An objective of this Code is to limit the probability that, as a result of the design or construction of the building, a person with a physical or sensory limitation will be unacceptably impeded from accessing or using the building or its facilities."

But then, stuck in USA, I hit a roadblock - and for some reason can't get the CA website to hand over a pdf (or any other version) of the code. Since I have to be a doctor's office in 30 minutes, the whole thing is thoroughly irritating (surprise, surprise).

Anyhow - I was looking forward to posting you today to tell you that I used (sorry about not asking permission) the photo of the elevator door with the tack strip yesterday when training/lecturing a group of 50 or so building code and fire officials. I had a great time proving that it is/was a real violation and presented a true hazard to life safety etc. (You already know all this far better than anybody else). But here I am pissed off instead - this is the stuff I'm good at. Buildings, code officials & advocacy all rolled together and I can't get the regs to download.

Oh well - I'll try again later with a bit time available. In the meantime, if you guys happen to know a website or source where the codes are available (academic access is okay), I'd love to see what applies. I simply can't believe that I couldn't nail this one down (bad pun intended.)

Sorry about the rant. This HAS to stop. It's flat out dangerous and thoroughly discriminatory.

Lene Andersen said...

1: in the two buildings in which my attendant care agency provides service, they are at least 20 tenants using wheelchairs. None of us live on the ground floor.
2: what are you supposed to give some thought to? Since they don't have a two bedroom apartment available on the ground floor, I suppose they are suggesting you move?
3: it's excellent that she put it in writing. It helps with the paper trail for the harassment suit you're going to slap on them.
4: I find it surprising that they are not worried about liability at all. Not counting you - which they clearly do not - leaving exposed nails everywhere for what? a week now? is a huge liability concern. (last year, my building got new carpet. They did my floor, which is very long, in half a day. The entire building took less than a week.
5: does France tell the other tenants they're supposed to wipe their feet before going upstairs, too? Can you say pattern of harassment much?

Veralidaine said...

Hehehehehe. I'm going to rub my hands together and laugh maniacally for about six hours, then I'll write a letter, when my evil tendencies have been sufficiently tweaked to the surface. I'm good at this. Frau Fran will rue the day she messed with your horde of commenters!

And Beth, Linda told us to vote for you. Remember, your extended family is obligated to sometimes listen to your partner over you, especially when it's an award thing, cause even third place is an award, and you can always use more awards.

In conclusion, if Frau Fran doesn't stop harrassing you I'm coming up there to whup her hiney myself, because until you can leave your apartment safely, NO MORE SQUIRREL VIDEOS???! I'm going into black Casanova squirrel withdrawal!

dave said...

Hey, it's Dave Hingsburger (the cheery guy you love to mock)it was me who nominated you for best GLBT blog and I did so because it said 'lesbian life and culture' in your header and because there wasn't a disability blog category. So, sorry about that, I'll know better for next year.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Kathz: Um, true, it is just kind of wierd to win an LGBT award when I did that stuff like, last year, and now I should win "most self obsessed" award. I don't have the email, but by chance I found the phone number for Surfside Holdings, would that help?

Catchfire: Yeah, I know in case of emergency, the Carpet wins out over me any day. Thanks.

Gina: Please, use any and all the pictures - I called the prevention officer at the fire department but got voice mail, I called the tenancy board and was told IF I could leave the apartment I could apply and the tenancy board would hear my case to be released from my apartment in three weeks, but since I can't, I can't.

Well since she closed one stairwell and put nails AND a notice that I was not to use the other AND left nails in front of my door AND the elevator - yes, there seems to be a safety issue - if only I could interest the fire department. But use all the pics, no problem.

Lene: Well, I can't explain their thinking, I was sure the sign would shame them into a) covering the nails and b) taking it down - but here at 11:00 the nails and the sign are still up. If only I could get the two news agencies I called to come and take photos. Nope, I am the only person who has been given special instruction - if I see her I will ask if that applies to ALL wheelchair that use the building. haha.

Veralidaine: Oh well, Linda wins again, only I am freaking scared because Fran is one of those "barrel towards you while shouting" who reminds me of my second grade teacher (I didn't like second grade very much).

Dave: Oh, you are like the "nice" brother I get to mock because you ARE so darn nice. Actually I think I nominated you for citizen and you for me on LGBT, I should have got you for LGBT too - next year I will, haha! I will blog about lesbian life and culture.....If I ever get to leave the apartment.

Neil said...

Hi there, Housebound:

Please tell me they've laid carpet today!?!

Have you called Victoria's Building Inspection Department? They're at http://www.victoria.ca/cityhall/departments_crpins.shtml and I'd suggest starting with Murray Sluggett, Chief Building Inspector. It CAN'T be legal to trap one's tenants in their apartments. Not even in scenic B.C. I would think they'd react fairly quickly to the situation, especially since you're toast in case of fire. Hell, I'd be tempted to call the police and see if they can do anything.

Gulag Fran: I like that name!

Hey, Saskboy! Nice to see someone else here from darkest Saskatchewan. I like your photo of the cannon in front of the leg. building. We'll have to meet some time.

Incredible. How can anyone be so callous?

Cheers to all the team and hugs to Beth and the invisible Linda. Don't we get to meet her too? :)

cheryl g. said...

"I am freaking scared because Fran is one of those "barrel towards you while shouting"

What would be perfect is if Fran would do that to you in a public setting around people other than Linda. Then you just cower with your arms over your head shouting "Don't hit me anymore, please, please!" in a pathetic, heart breaking voice. The looks she gets from everyone else and the specter of abuse could very well put the brakes on her crappy treatment of you. If nothing else it would be fun and lay groundwork for the harassment law suit...

Raccoon said...

Canadians with Disabilities Act. That's what you need. One with some teeth. How can we poor United States slobs get one passed up there?

Sounds like your frustration level is racking up there.

Do the construction people leave any scrap lying around? Put a piece of wood over their nice nails and take one of your hammers and pound on it. Or have Linda do that. If they ask what happened -- "I had to leave my apartment..."

I can try asking some SCI in wheelchairs to come visit, if that might help. They're already in Canada, I'm not exactly sure where though. I can find out if you want?

Saskboy said...

Hi Neil,
I organize blogger get togethers at saskblogs.ca
Keep an eye on it, and we can meet this Summer at the Regina or Saskatoon party :-)

Elizabeth McClung said...

Niel: I kept calling papers and tenancy departments and the fire commissionor's office and someone came in 15 minutes! And yes, he said that the stairwill could not say people couldn't use it and that FRAN couldn't tell me that I couldn't use the stairwell and he said that Fran said the workers would be done by 1:30 and he would check back then.

Then after another talk with Fran he called me to say the workers would be done at 2:00 (and would lift me out if I wanted to go anywhere) and he would come back at 5:00. Well 2:00 comes I take pictures of my clock and the empty stairwell and the NAILS.

I call the Fire commish's office again, they put me through to him (Brad) and I tell him, no one has been here, no one can help me out, is that what Fran said. He said no and would call to get her version. I asked WHY aren't you more, like, upset? He said, due to a "transition period" the Fire Commish has passed new fines and regulations but the city of Victoria has not approved them so currently Fire Inspectors have NO AUTHORITY to levy fines or compell action (could you have told me that sooner buddy?). Sigh. So no big fine for Fran. But whatever he said to her, within 15 minutes those guys were up here laying carpet and by 4:00 I was a) a nervous wreck and b) Able to wheel outside AGAIN. But I am waiting for the knife in the back (from Fran). If it happens again, I will do as you suggest and call Murray, I was under the impression that with the stairwells full and them not complying that the Fire Dept. would give them a big ole fine - sigh. Well at least I am free.

Cheryl: Fran like many bullies, is very keen on when to bully someone (like when they are alone) as my care worker said, when she came by, Fran talking to the Fire Inspector, lowered her voice so the care worker couldn't hear what she was saying (as Fran knows she works for me). Alas, but I do carry the camera with me everywhere so I will film her next time she talks to me and see if her words and actions are different when on film.

Raccoon: Tell me about it - even a province or city disability act would be nice. And yeah, after hours and hours of trying to get people to help (one person at the tenancy board suggested I carry some "lumber" with me on my wheelchair to put over the nails" - a) where do I get lumber in my apartment? and b) Have you tried wheeling anywhere with "lumber" on your lap?) - but they just didn't get it. Anyway, thanks for the offer but I am FREE at last - though if some SCI guys want to come over and threaten Fran, it might change her view of bullying people in wheelchairs?

Saskboy: Well, you mean you don't have a party in The Battlefords (where I used to live) - it WAS considered for the capital of Sask. once you know (and then given the provincial insane asylum as compensation - says a lot about the Battlefords). I once stayed a week at the Hotel Sask. and then made up places to go so they would take me in thier free limo service.

Dawn Allenbach said...

I've been living in campus housing at the University of New Orleans for two and a half years, and I am constantly trapped in or out of my apartment. Because of my muscle weakness, I cannot open my door let alone even lift my arm as high as the doorknob. I have pestered management to automate my door, describing for them the mechanism attached to my apartment door at Wichita State University. They investigated and said that the mechanism costs $1000, to which my response was, "Wow! Is that all?" They said they did not have the budget to spend that amount of money (did I mention they own several campus apartment complexes throughout the US?), but they could afford $300 for a mechanism that I could click to unlock the door and then push the door open with my chair. OK, that will get me in the apartment, but what do I do when I want to get out?

And don't even get me started on their handicap-accessible bathrooms.

Remind me sometime to tell you how I wound up in my current abode within the complex. I'm too tired to relate it now.

Dawn Allenbach said...

Oh, and re: carrying lumber on your lap -- Three weeks after moving to New Orleans the first time, Hurricane Ivan looked like it was going to sucker punch the city. I knew no one and had no idea where I was supposed to go (shelter), and I had no vehicle. I called several city officials and was told a "special needs" shelter would be announced by the mayor if the need arose, but by that point all city buses would more than likely no longer be running. I asked everyone what the hell I was supposed to do. One Red Cross guy asked if I could put my chair in someone's car. No, I calmly said. It weighs over 300 pounds and does not come apart. "Well," he says. "Can you just put it in the attic and sit in the car to evacuate?"

A) What part of "weighs over 300 pounds and does not come apart" was unclear to you?

B) If my wheelchair is in an attic, what am I supposed to use when I get where I'm going?

Dumb ass.

Neil said...

Huzzah! You're able to get out as needed; but the nail strips being left like that are illegal, I'm certain. I just cannot think of the proper term at the moment.

Carrying a camera is fabulous. You'd need evidence and a witness, but you could possibly charge Gulag Fran with harassment. Yup, THAT would make life n the home front comfortable... Not!

Of course, we're sll coming up with these wonderful solutions and possibilities for you, and you're the one who would need the chutzpah and energy to carry out all our dastardly deeds. So with that in mind, dear Beth, I apologize for all the crazy suggestions I've come up with (manymany that I haven't mentioned...) and I'll try to keep the spoon theory in mind when suggesting possible actions for you.

With all the emphasis these days on looking out for the access for, and rights of, people with disabilities, is there really no legislation to ensure your rights? Where's Ralph Goodale's phone number?!?

You've stayed at the Sask Hotel, eh? Beautiful building, isn't it? And the elevators work.

May tomorrow be a good day for you, Beth. We're thinking positive thoughts for you!

Saskboy said...

I've been to the Battlefords, but don't think I've read any blogs from there before, come to think of it.

yanub said...

The voting was obviously rigged. It's those damned Diebold machines. Now they're taking over Canadian blog polls too.

Finally got you added on my blogroll. Not that you need the publicity from my puny blog, what with you being all Miss Congeniality and everything.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Dawn: oh, so ADA doesn't automatically clue people in then? That door thing is pretty damn frustrating and I would be tempted to ram the sucker except, it is your DOOR and having no door is probably worse than bad door.

As for the "helpful suggestions" - I fail to understand how people LIKE the red cross can be so clueless. When I watched "When the Levees Broke" I played the "Okay, how many people in Wheelchairs are going to die" game - answer: all of them. How many times did people say, "Then the water carried her off in her wheelchair and we never saw her again" - TOO many times. How about next time, people come up with a plan for, like vulnerable people? Course, what is the ONE group that made it into the city almost immediately - a bunch of MOUNTIES - I was like, WTF? No one can get into N.O. because of road blocks and people with guns and a bunch of mounties from Canada drive down there, get a zodiac or some boat and show up going, "Can we help?" - Damn, they really do get through.

Neil: thanks for the support and the ideas, I will call that murray guy next time. The making films by carrying the camera is self preservation as a Fran technique is to get you pinned so you can't wheel past and then try to lay down the law (again, much like my second grade teacher!)

I know - where IS the legislation?

Saskboy: Well, there was a pretty horrid internet connection when I was there and if we wanted to rent a different movie (like a foriegn one) we had to drive to Saskatoon - crazy! But there, I have lived in Sask. (and even higher up in some lake community that only had winter roads)

Yanub: Thanks, I think - I am Miss Congeniality? I was going to add you but my bollrolling list has disappeared and the site is down - let's hope it shows up in the morning.

Marla said...

I used to work for a man in a wheelchair who lived in a down town apartment here on the fifth floor. He had a friend who lived on the seventh floor. We never had any problems leaving or entering the apartment. Your apartment manager is insane. Totally.

Raccoon said...

if you can use a cell phone camera, that might be more sneaky. Regular cameras tend to be a bit more obvious.

Dawn, the maximum pressure allowed by the ADA on a door is apparently 7 pounds. That's something that you can measure with a portable fish scale, apparently. Something to think about.

Gaina said...

I have no clue what to say in the face of such utter stupidity. All I can suggest is reading my new blog for a chuckle :)