I’m a hermit. I freely admit I’d rather stay home than go out. When I do go out, it has become more and more difficult for me to go places.
I’ve been feeling a bit annoyed with myself over the anxiety I feel when I have to go to new places. It’s hard for me to know whether I’ll be able to get into a new place of business or not. Yes, we supposedly live in a world where everywhere is supposed to be handicap accessible. We don’t.
My favorite craft store in my home town does not have automatic doors. I know this may seem small but without them it makes it more difficult to get into the store. When an employee sees me struggling to get in, they do come help. Also I had complained to the manager about how difficult it was to get through their aisles and it has been somewhat better.
Ken, Alicia and I went out to supper last night. Alicia and I were going to do a Paint Nite event at this restaurant. I was excited and looking forward to it. Alicia went in to see where in the restaurant the event was going to be held. If it was close to the door, I would have walked but it was at the back of the store. We were told we could go in the back. I drove around but there was a fence surrounding the back and you had to climb over the fence to get in. Does this sound handicap friendly?
I drove back to the front of the building and went in. Now had I been on my own, I would have had a hard time getting in because the doors weren’t automatic. Fortunately, Ken was there to open doors. I got all sorts of funny looks when I drove my scooter through the building. We got to the area where the event was being held. They had all these plastic lawn chairs or tall bar stools. I can’t sit on a bar stool, my legs go to sleep and I can’t walk. I asked the bar tender if they had sturdier chairs. I’m a big person and the plastic chair wasn’t going to cut it. She ignored me. When I asked a second time, she rolled her eyes at me. Fortunately, Ken isn’t shy and he went into the restaurant and got me a better chair. Again, had I been alone, I wouldn’t have stayed.
So here is my little rant. If I could I would send this to all business owners.
Dear Businesses: We may be a minority but we still have money to spend. If you want a handicapped person to come to your store make it easier for them to get there. Have your doors easily accessible for people to get in and out of. Train your employees to assist without judgment. If I feel like I’m inconveniencing you, I won’t come back because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. I don’t want my visit to be a production. If it is, I’m less likely to come back. I don’t like to be stared at or considered a difficult customer. Think about whether your customer – all customers are going to be comfortable when you pick your chairs. I shouldn’t leave your establishment in more pain than when I came in just from sitting on an uncomfortable chair. Flimsy plastic chairs are not going to work well for larger customers. If you don’t want my business, no problem. I’ll take my money elsewhere. But you can bet your bottom dollar, I’m going to make sure everyone I know is aware of how poorly I was treated.
These factors contribute to my being a hermit and the anxiety I feel going to a new place.