well, i’m on vacation, the first vacation in years. it’s piggybacked onto a conference my partner, andy griggs has in oakland. so we planned to drive up the coast, stay near san luis obispo, drive to emeryville, near oakland, stay for a few days, head back, stay in santa cruz, and come home.
tonight we get to our hotel on avila beach, which we were able to get at a great rate, through a special program. it’s a very nice place. i checked the web page and called in advance, before booking the room, where a high degree of wheelchair access was indicated; even a lift to allow for pool and spa access (which neither of us needs, but it’s an indication that we would be welcome and accommodated, unlike those places where they go out of their way to keep us out. — more on this later.) when i spoke to hotel staff, i very carefully explained that we didn’t need a wheelchair adapted room (lower cabinets, walk in shower, etc.) but that we needed to be able to get to the room without obstacles (stairs, for example) and be able to get our scooters in the room. i even asked how many elevators there were and was told that there were two. (because i’ve had the experience of no access because the only elevator is broken and i just couldn’t get to my room.)
we get to the hotel and ALL the accessible parking spaces are taken. the other spaces are down a steep hill, and past rows of cars, which is really dangerous for wheelchair users because cars can’t see us and we can be backed into. it’s 9:30 PM. after considerable negotiations a very kind clerk and a very rude security guard “let” us park in the blue striped space which risks a hefty ticket and towing fee. no other option was given to us and our offer to have the security guard park our car for us is rejected. initially we were told we would have to park down the hill. i explained that we couldn’t do that, that i wasn’t even sure the scooter could get up the hill. i was exhausted and explained that i was now in a an impossible situation, that they were basically telling me to do something i cannot do. AND I CALLED BEFORE BOOKING THE RESERVATION. we we’re told that they have met their legally required number of spaces. like that makes the fact that i can’t leave and can’t stay, any better. i check and see that neither of the cars on either side of the blue striped space, is a van, which would mean our car would be blocking side door van lift access to their car.
the clerk was embarrassed by the behavior of the security guard who showed absolutely no empathy, and had made sure to repeatedly tell me what he could not do and how the legal responsibility of the hotel had been met. (except that I HAD CALLED BEFORE MAKING THE RESERVATION, AND THEY SHOULD HAVE LET ME KNOW THAT PARKING MIGHT MIGHT MIGHT BE A PROBLEM.) “he’s usually a very nice guy, she said.
“well, dis-ability brings out sociopathy in normally empathic people.” i explain. we’ve seen this before, a lot. many of my fb buddies have seen this on online discussions, and my real world friends have seen this in situations like the one described here, when we go out in public, where absolute cruelty without consequence is demonstrated unabashedly.
we park the car, and head off to the pool and i relax in the hot tub, to the extent that one can relax while paying to be discriminated against. we get up to our room. it’s now 11:00 and we’ve had a long day and we have NO SPOONS* left, and i notice a message light on the phone and call the front desk to find out that while the hotel won’t be towing us for parking illegally in the blue striped space, if another guest calls the cops, we could end up away from home without a car and have to spend some serious time and money to get our car back.
so far no one has offered us anything other than NO-pologies, like “i’m sorry you’re upset”, we’ve not been offered any comps or real options.
what they do offer us, is to allow us to re-park our car at the base of the hill and access the hotel via the employee entrance. had they offered this when we were in the lobby, we would have been fine with this. but it’s 11 PM and we can barely move. this means scooting down to the lobby, loading the scooter into the van, driving the van down the hill, parking, unloading the scooter and scooting back up to the room, which is about 2 blocks of corridors from where they are now suggesting we park the car.
andy decides to take them up on this offer, because risking getting a huge ticket or having our car towed is just NOT an option.
earlier in the day we saw a restaurant in santa barbara, and i wish i had pictures, but my digital camera was in the car, and my iphone was out of electricity. it was a restaurant that could have been accessible, it was even ramped, but the management had carefully placed signs and plants and tables in such a way that access was impossible.
this is why so few pwds go on vacation.
now, before some bar hopping, “slunting” pedantic activists from yale, or USC, privilege bait me (you know who you are!) for having the nerve to complain that i can’t access a luxury vacation (it’s not like low end travel is even remotely an access option!), please tell me, are there any other demographics to whom hotels and restaurants would acceptably bar access; would refuse to provide equal service for the same payment?
the day was otherwise pleasant, beautiful coast, photography, talking in ways we haven’t before, or at least so long ago, i can’t remember, and much needed time together, but right now, i don’t really want to be here, and yet i also am just not able to leave, either. i do hope tomorrow is better.
and returned to the room, and tells me the charger to my scooter isn’t working. we have one charger between us, for two scooters. hoping we don’t lose that one too.
relax relax relax. ohhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmm.