“It’s a great mistake, I think, to put children off with falsehoods and nonsense, when their growing powers of observation and discrimination excite in them a desire to know about things.”~ Anne Sullivan
Tonight will be a night that I will not be able to laugh about for a very, very long time.
Maybe I will one day. But certainly its too fresh on my mind right now for it to be funny.
Being placed as a victim of discrimination in the purest form is beyond ridiculousness in 2014. But it still happens. And it happened to me this evening.
I was thrilled. I was excited. And I was making a last minute, on-the-spot decision to go out. I borrowed some cash from my apartment manager and then I took off ten minutes later on the city bus.
I should mention that the wheelchair I now have, is BRAND NEW. And of no cost to me. And I was flying really fast!!
Fifty minutes went by and I got off the bus. I zoomed down Fifth Street realizing that I went up a block unnecessarily.
I actually went by the Shiner Saloon but I didn’t bother to see if the elevator was going up to their establishment. Instead I was going after the Elephant Room which is located on Congress Avenue.
Now I realized that there was going to be some accessibility issues as it IS downtown Austin and these buildings are as old as corn droplets. But still when there’s a will there’s a way.
And I had the will. Heck, I’ve had the will since I first laid eyes on the JITTERBUG VIPERS back in June of this year. Most specifically trying to become friends with their drummer, Masumi Jones.
I vowed that I would once again see her play her drums and get photographs with her and maybe if I could convince her… an autograph on a CD or t-shirt or something within their merchandise if they had any.
But as if you cannot tell by the name of the band, this is not heavy metal. This is not rock and roll. This is jazz. More specifically leaning towards the viper jazz of the great days of 1930’s.
I was so excited to see this beautiful Japanese musical genius once more. Yes, I said beautiful.
Rolling down Fifth Avenue and then turning down Congress Avenue, I realized that I was on the wrong side of the street and had to go back to the corner and cross the street.
By this time, the show had started. They were playing during happy hour… 6:00-8:00 PM, with NO cover!
It was the fact that there was no cover that actually sold me into jumping into a quick cram session of Japanese language and phrases and words before I left home.
I got to the Elephant Room and saw this mighty huge step up to the door. I grabbed the door and swung it open. Only to find there was really no landing. Either you immediately went straight up or straight down a flight of stairs once you passed through the front door.
There was a note on the door that said to go to the corner of 4th & Congress Avenue at the bank and use their intercom to gain access for those with accessibility issues.
Thankfully, they had that much awareness. At the intercom, I was given instructions to go back up to 4th Street and go around towards the back of the buildings and there I would find my way to the Elephant Room.
Some random guy who was having a cigarette break saw me approaching. He then attempted to operate an electric lift that was hanging in mid-air. It wasn’t to the top and it wasn’t all the way to the bottom. But he had no idea how to get it to worked.
So there I sat, 6:15 PM and late while this guy went back indoors to find someone who could operate the lift that APPARENTLY had been installed just today!!! Nobody knows how to work it. Nobody has been apparently told how.
Then it starts to rain a little bit. Now I am late and getting soaked. And all I needed was six steps to get to the landing to go indoors to find an elevator inside that would take me to the basement where the band was playing.
Out pops some other guy talking and giving me instructions that didn’t make sense to me. Something about being led inside by security guards.
What the hell???
I realized that the intercom that I had just used was belonging to a bank. And its after hours and everything is locked up and two security guards are sitting in chairs at a long table, viewing a series of monitors.
One guy leads me inside. He then passes me off to a security guard who then leads me down a weird passage of twists and turns. And finally he just starts unlocking doors one by one. Until we got to one door with a small window slot. The guy who was just outside was on the other side of it. But NEITHER ONE OF THEM could open that one fucking door!
Meanwhile, I am hearing drums being played and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Masumi Jones. And I could just tell how close I was to getting where I wanted to go. But one lousy door that NOBODY had a key to was locked. Apparently it led to this stupid bank and the bank employees wanted nobody to have entry to it. So nobody had a key.
Everyone just gave up. 6:30 PM and I’ve missed plenty and now nobody wants to try and come up with a PLAN B.
The guy that took me inside to the security guard was quite beefy and muscular. He could have pulled me up those five or six stairs on his own and then found me a path to an elevator. But he vanished without a trace and without a word.
Liability? I could’ve knocked him out for such stupidity.
The security guard wouldn’t have been able to do it. I didn’t see ANY kind of measurable upper body strength within him. And he just gave up too since he didn’t have a key to that final door that was in our way. He stood there, looking down upon me and apologizing half-heartedly over and over again.
I grumbled so much. SOMEONE could lift me up those few steps and get me inside. And that’s when I lost all of my cool. As I write this, I still haven’t gained all of my composure back. I heard this jackass whisper under his breath, “Nobody wants to try to because its a liability.”
Liability? Do you know what a liability is? Its an excuse. Seriously think about this. Its an excuse for people who are lame and weak and lazy so that they don’t have to do anything.
The old guy, okay I get that. But the original guy sent out to figure out the problem…. easily could have lifted the back of the brand new wheelchair and hoisted me up without a problem. And of course going down is always much easier than going up. I was only going to be there for a couple of hours any ways. I would have in and out and gone before the sun went down.
But no…. everyone who works on Congress Avenue are a bunch of fucking cowards with no intelligence to figure out mystery puzzles before them. They could have made it into a unique and fun project and felt ten thousand times better about themselves for figuring it out. But they didn’t get that either!!!!!
I don’t wanna hear this crap about liability. I’m not going to listen to that. If you are on the verge of a quick injury then you already KNOW what to do and what not to do, just hand over the job to someone who can do it… don’t fucking balls out and hide behind the excuse of lifting someone upwards in a wheelchair is a liability.
So no music. No beauty. No Masumi Jones. No Sarah Sharp. No jazz. No “Stuff It.” No drinks. No Happy Hour. NOTHING. Just $2 spent riding the bus back and forth, losing 140 minutes in the entire ordeal from the time I left my home to the time I got back.
My excitement was destroyed and I have no idea when I am going to be able to see either Masumi Jones or the JITTERBUG VIPERS play live again. I know one thing for sure, it won’t be at the Elephant Room or any other venue with the same situation. I need them to find a venue that is on the ground floor. Not in a basement. And not in a second story.
As I strolled down Fourth Street with fury on my mind, I found myself being asked to give a homosexual a high five.
He was serious. He wanted a high five. So I raised my hand up to him and he slapped it. He then giggled like a little girl and started to jog in place at full speed. It was a little different scene. I realized I was in a the gay district and really needed to keep moving if I didn’t want to be bothered.
By the time I got to the bus stop for the return trip. Someone was up on a balcony that I rolled under.. and he spat on me for some reason. I never spoke to him or anything, just all of a sudden he spit on me. I kept moving until I got on board the bus coming back home.
Tears welled up in the corners of my eyes as I returned home, listening to “Promise Me” by NANCY SILVA PROJECT. So burned by this entire discriminating experience. Going in with joy and excitement. Only to come out of it bitter and angry.
I get that these damn buildings… every last one of them were probably built in 1644 B.C. but there’s no excuse. None whatsoever. I realize that they have been standing since BEFORE ADA became into law, but you still have to be able to cater to the possibility that your business may be visited by patrons with physical disabilities.
These guys started out strong, but when their plan didn’t work… they fled like a bunch of scared squirrels.
I hate you, Congress Avenue.