911 Fail (Ableism Warning)

Yesterday because of a mistake in the office where my caregiver gets paid, I was told I had no carer.I have a bill I must pay on the first or my phone is turned off. There is no flexibility with in the system for me there, and so I grabbed money from my change jar and went to pay my bill. The harrowing five mile trip (plus whatever I do in stores) drains my chair battery, my battery, and can be scary enough when it comes to crossing the streets but the side walk is not up to ADA standards. I’ve said over and over once a certain someone returns my video camera I am going to video it, then push for changes. I don’t trust my city to take my word for it.

Over the bumps that bruise me and put me in enough pain that I get pale and shaky I go. I paid my bill, I bought some food that was easy to eat (deli meat, a rare treat) and I picked up a few things I wanted at Walmart, and priced a few others I need but must budget for first. I got asked out, flirted with a person and then headed home. About half way on my trip there is a curb cut so dangerous that I have mentioned it to my carer before. It is unavoidable, for the other side of the street has worse curb cuts. If I hit this curb wrong I could be thrown into the street. I hadn’t until yesterday.

I managed to keep out of the street but my chair ended up stuck. I tried reversing just a touch but that sent me going back at dangerous speeds towards the street. My chair was unable to go forward or backward. I waited ten minutes, full of trying to maneuver myself back to the safe spot (you have three inches to land in or you risk dying here, not a joke). I called 911,

I am already fighting off tears, I am at a bad angle that has me wanting to vomit and I have a big bag on my knees. The 911 operator answers, I fill her in and tell her where I am (I memorized the crossings just in case) and then she asks “So can’;t  you just get up and push your chair to a safe spot?” Now, I know some people like me can walk a bit without our chairs, but no, I cannot do this. I am hanging by my antitip tires, I can feel myself falling a bit more and she wants me to merrily pop up and fix it.

“No, it’s a wheelchair.” Valid response.

“Uh… well okay I’;ll send someone.” She was annoyed. She didn’t want to bother with a wheelchair user that surely must’ve done this on purpose.

She has me on hold, and while she is trying to find someone to send (this took about thirty seconds, she did work fast but none the less ableism much?) a truck drives up, I saw this truck pass me ten minutes before, because I remembered liking the color and lines. I like cars, I remember them. Out steps a really hot guy. I mean, wow. That this was my first thought should indicate how hot he is. Mr.Tattoos says, “I’m here to help!” Swoon? Only because I am really dizzy from bad angles.

He looks at the problem and then says, “Hold on.” He LIFTS MY CHAIR (that’s not a small feat) and plants me where I need to be. He then says, and this is the part that makes me go huh what? “Hmm, this curb cut is dangerous, I hope you are almost home.” Then, “I would like to ask you out.” I got his number, and appreciated that he understood this was not the right time to set up anything. He said a part of my charm was that I wasn’t crying and was trying to save myself first.

The 911 operator fails more here, because she did wait to see if he could rescue the damsel in distress, “Well see you didn’t really need to call us. You should’ve just waited for someone to come along.” Right, with the sun setting, I want to wait to see if a stranger may stop. I am stuck outside of a business that has been closed for over a year. I am in an area where I have NEVER seen anyone stop. The reality is, this man saw a person in trouble and could identify it and stopped. It took him ten minutes to find a place to turn around. I did the right thing by calling. I even told her all of this. “It’s a shame I am going to have to make a complaint against you and will probably be suing the city.” Then I hung up. Let her wonder. Let her fret. (I did file a complaint this morning, her boss is NOT pleased at all.)

Mr.Tattoos did not fail. In fact I had an oddly ableism free day excluding 911 lady. I was treated like a person all day, instead of like I had wheels for a face. Even the cashier at Walmart this time was so awesome. She asked me how I wanted my bags arranged, and she presumed I knew exactly how to maneuver myself. No one once made me feel like I should apologize for existing.

Now there is something more. My journey wasn’t complete after all. I made it home, and decided to check the mail. This is a ritualistic thing for me, and is part of my set of complusions. I am compelled with mail, it brings me solace. Mail means everything is okay. I had mail! and then dropped my keys… a man was walking past so I asked for help. He helped me get the package out of the box, my keys and then asked me out. “Wow you have such pretty eyes.” I entered my home with three numbers, while blushing.

So not only did the 911 person fail but man three hotties to date! I am taking this as a sign on dating, it is time. Which I knew already but wow. Silver platter me much?



  1. It’s a good thing your phone is still working, with all those guys you’re meeting. 🙂

    That was pretty scary with the way the 911 person dealt with you. The police can’t be so busy they can’t come help you out. I mean, how long would it take?

    My own fail today was when I phoned to make an appointment to switch my driver’s licence to my new province. After waiting maybe 30-45 minutes on a pay phone (because there was no other way of making an appointment), I finally got to speak to a human being, and he told me I couldn’t register because I needed to have a phone number. When I panicked and got a little “warm” he passed me to someone else, who kindly just entered a bunch of zeros for my phone number. Phew!

  2. Good for you, Kat.

  3. Oooh, so which hottie will you choose? Incredibly prying and nosy minds want to know 🙂 Which you can choose to answer or not, as you desire 🙂

    Good luck with the dating scene. And, good luck pursuing your complaint with the 911 system. I agree, that woman should have been more tactful and less judgmental. She wasn’t where you were so it wasn’t her place to judge whether it was realistic to expect someone to actually come by, much less come by and then help.

    I take it the guy not only was strong enough to lift the chair but actually understood HOW to lift it safely? I’ve heard scary stories about dangerous approaches people have taken to lifting chairs because they don’t understand how to do it correctly, especially when a person is seated. So it was great that guy was around on more than one level — not just that he was prepared to help (and strong enough!) but also understood how to do it. And I like how he recognized the real source of the problem (lousy curb cut, NOT a ditzy, lazy wheelchair user like that 911 lady seemed to think).

  4. Andrea, yes he actually knew how to lift it with me IN the chair. My mind was utterly blown by that because expecting that much was beyond what seemed reasonable. I also appreciated that he understood why I was stuck, that made it where I could honestly function later.

    I already have word on my complaint, and she has issued a formal apology and my request that they train their employees with the trainer I suggested so that this doesn’t happen again. I also found out that one of the supervisors in the office uses a chair so there is some extra being done I think. The faster response indicates someone sees the real issue.

    I am aiming to call the mayor on Friday, then I will try and make transportation happen for a city council meeting.

  5. Isn’t it though! I like my phone, it holds up under a great deal of abuse.

    The part that made me even consider calling was the number of police that drove past while I was still in the “Okay, I can do this myself” stage. Since they were right there I figured hey, they can be radioed in and viola, the day is saved better than if Superman could hear me scream like Lois Lane.

    Sheesh at least he transferred you to someone competent. It isn’t as if a phone is very affordable. There are times I almost cannot pay it, and that is WITH help.

  6. Totally off point for this post, but wasn’t sure how else best to reach you. time is short, but if you are able to get on line tomorrow (Tuesday) from 1 to 2 pm EST (that would be 10 to 11 am west coast time), then perhaps this would interest you. It’s a telephone conference, but it also has a CART option if you cannot call for some reason.

    From: jfaangeneral@googlegroups.com [mailto:jfaangeneral@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Jessica Lehman
    Sent: Thursday, June 10, 2010 5:31 PM
    To: Sarah Peterson
    Cc: Amber Smock; Andrew Imparato; Ari Ne’eman; Bill Henning; chester finn; Christina Mills-Hovius; ctownes@bostoncil.org; daniel fisher; Elmer Bartels; harveyr@nyaprs.org; Jean Lawlor; Jeff Dickinson; Jim Dickson; Kathy Mcgeathy (kathym@disnetwork.org); Kirsten Dunham; Lauren Spiro; Mark_Johnson@shepherd.org; marylamielle@ncehs.org; Melanie Brunson; michaelmurray@ncdan.org; Mike Oxford; Paul Marchand; Ralph Rogers; Rosaline Crawford; rpatrick@accessliving.org; stacey.milbern@gmail.com; William Parke-Sutherland; bdarling@rochestercdr.org; Brenda Battat; Diane Coleman (dcoleman@cdrnys.org); Gary Arnold; kelly@ncil.org; nancy bloch; Pare, John; Paul Tobin (ptobin@unitedspinal.org); ebridges@acb.org; Jason Beloungy; Jim Weisman (jweisman@unitedspinal.org); lhamlin@hearingloss.org; sndrake@aol.com; jfaangeneral@googlegroups.com
    Subject: JFAAN Organizer Forum Tuesday June 15th on Disability & LGBT Community

    ************** Please forward widely **************

    Join us for the JFAAN Organizer’s Forum Call

    Tuesday, June 15, 1-2 pm Eastern Time (10-11 Pacific)

    TOPIC: Disability Organizing and LGBTQ Community

    In developing our networks, we often find ourselves partnering with different communities that have intersecting issues and engaging individuals who belong to multiple communities. We are beginning a series of calls on this cross-over organizing with a call about how lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identity intersects with disability. Some of the questions that may be addressed include:

    * how can the disability community be more inclusive of LGBT people
    * how can LGBT/queer community be more inclusive of people with disabilities
    * what are some of the issues that affect LGBT people with disabilities
    * how can these communities support each other

    Call in number: 712-432-0080 code: 193134#

    CART: The call will have real-time captioning (CART)! The website for where you will be able to view the captioning is http://www.2020captioning.com/livefeed.php?event=AAPD Thank you to the Center for Disability Rights, Inc. of Rochester, NY for sponsoring the captioning of this call.

    Speakers to be announced.

    The Justice For All Action Network (JFAAN) Organizing Workgroup hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for 10-20 minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls conclude with a 20-30 minute question and answer period.

    To ask questions via CART: Sign-in to the Chat function on the right side of the transcript and type your question. One of the call facilitators will read out any questions posted there.

    Because we want to maximize the generously donated CART services, we will be beginning the call promptly at 1pm and ending the call promptly at 2pm (eastern time). A few other reminders about call etiquette:

    • Say your name before each time you speak
    • Speak one at a time
    • Speak slowly and as clearly as possible

    So you can mark your calendars now, Organizer’s Forums are held on the 3rd Tuesday of every month. If you have suggestions for call topics or presenters for upcoming topics, please email them to jlehman7@gmail.com.

    Looking forward to talking with you all next Tuesday!

    Jessica Lehman, Sarah Peterson, and Dan Fisher
    Co-Chairs, JFAAN Organizing Workgroup

    You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Justice for All Action Network General Distribution List” group.
    To post to this group, send email to JFAANGeneral@googlegroups.com.
    To unsubscribe from this group, send email to JFAANGeneral+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
    For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/JFAANGeneral?hl=en.

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