Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vote with your Wheels

Maggie decided we should go to the mall today. She would not entertain any other options. The museum? NO! Target? NO! walk in the park NO NO NO! She is a mall rat. It's an age appropriate activity, even if you have to go with your old mom.

We bought some fantastic baby girl clothes for our friend's new baby, which is always fun. It's so easy to pick things out, it's just hard to stop because all of it is so cute! Once that was done I said, let's go get a card so we can wrap this up when we get home and have it all ready to give to the new mama. We went into Papyrus, which is a fancy card store. It's a tad overpriced, but it was right there.

We entered the store and one of the workers was making her way out with three large boxes on a dolly. I pushed Maggie into a side aisle so she could pass. We were cornered because I could not negotiate the tight turn. When she was done I carefully backed Maggie out to the main aisle again. The clerk told me the new baby cards were toward the back on the right. Ok. We started back. A woman was perusing cards and her stroller was blocking my path. I said, "excuse me, please."She looked up and quickly moved the stroller so we could pass.

There was a sharp right turn to navigate with displays on either side. I evaluated how to manage that. Once back to the section I needed I would not be able to reach the cards because Maggie would be blocking the way. I considered my options for a moment and then just stopped.

Why am I shopping in a store that cannot accomodate Maggie's wheelchair?  Why would I spend money on an overpriced card when this establishment makes it so difficult to bring my daughter into her store?

I said to the woman, this just isn't going to work and I started backing out. She said, very nicely, "I will be happy to hand you anything you are interested in."  I pictured myself gesturing and saying "That one, no up, the right. Yes! That one."  Of course I would probably have to do that several times to get something I wanted. I just said nicely, "nope, it's just not going to work."  The woman was very nice. She offered accomodations, but the bottom line is that I could not shop the way I wanted because I had a wheelchair user with me. That just doesn't work for me.

I hope she took note. I hope other people in wheelchairs and their families don't shop at stores that don't have room for wheelchairs. Getting inside the store is not access, you have to be able to shop. Strollers and dollies have to get around too, so it's not just wheelchair users - or their mothers -  who would benefit.

There are a few individuals in wheelchairs who make a living setting up businesses for claims. I hate that. The professional litigant in the wheelchair is giving other wheelchair users a bad rap.  Those people are taking advantage of the laws to further their own interests and they are causing unnecessary grief for the small business owners. Neighborhood Businesses are closing because of this activity. I do not condone this in the least and have no intention of filing any type of complaint.

But I don't have to shop there either. We rolled out, voting with our wheels.


  1. My husband was recently sued by a woman in a wheelchair who makes the rounds and an income doing so, it has been an awful experience all around and highly ironic.

  2. Elizabeth - those claims are rampant here. I wanted to point those out just to distance myself from those. In this case I suspect everything was legal. She was kind and accommodating, but it just wasn't right. They just made a business decision and basically so did I.

  3. When I was in college, we had to use a borrowed wheelchair and go to places we frequented to see what challenges there were. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I first went to the college library and found out the wheelchair access was all the way around the back of the library! Then we went to one restaurant we liked and there was a step going into the door. We went to another restaurant and when I went to the bathroom the chair wouldn't fit in the stall. It was definitely eye opening. Good for you for simply standing up for yourself and Maggie. Most people simply don't take those things into account when they start a business. Wouldn't it be great if those people who made their living suing people made their living offering their services to new businesses wanting to have an accessible setup!


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