I've been in New York City doing training for an organization I know well there. This is my first time in visiting their building in a wheelchair and I didn't quite know how to get around. There are about six stairs up and into the front lobby and no sign of a wheelchair ramp. I got out of the chair, Joe carried it up the stairs and then walked me up one shaky stair at a time. All the while we were watched by the team (the TEAM) at security several feet away. When we approached them we asked if there were an accessible entrance to the building and they told us there was and explained how to get in on a level surface. Why one of the group, the team, couldn't have walked twenty feet an explained it to us before we climbed Mount Kill-a-man-inchairo I don't know.
On our way out I noticed that it was raining, hard. The disabled entrance came by the delivery bays for the building. I asked the guys out having a smoke if I could wait here under cover and have Joe pull the car in to get me. They were very accomodating. I had two ways out, one was to go to the disabled ramp which was a slow and gentle slope to the street where the entrance to the delivery bays were, or I could go down an industrial strength ramp that would go an extra 15 to 20 feet down to the docking bays. I decided, of course, to wait for Joe and then go out the disabled way. No way was I going down that steep, steep ramp.
A big guy, too old to still be working at hard labour like this, approached me and said, "I'll take you down the big ramp."
I looked at him like he was out of his flipping mind. But my voice said, calmly as I've learned these can be dangerous situations. It's about his need to help, it can be edgy denying someone their need. "No, thanks," I said cheerily, "I'll wait for the car and then go out the other way.
He kept coming.
"Really, no, really, it's very nice of you, and I really appreciate it, but I'd like to go out the more level entrance."
He kept coming.
Movie music started playing in my head. I glanced over at the ramp, It was really steep. Not made for wheelcairs, it wasn't even very wide. I glanced back at him and he had a pleasant smile on his face. And ...
He was still coming.
Where was Joe? Where was Joe? Where was Joe?
As he was almost on me, I got a little more assertive. "The ramp is to steep, the drop could kill me, I thank you but I'm going to go out the other way."
"I'm strong, I can get you down." He said not hearing a word I said.
"Yo Bill," Another voice enters the fray, "Leave him alone, we're not supposed to use that ramp."
He looked over at a co-worker, shrugged his shoulders, and gave up pursuit of his dream of helping me.
It shouldn't have taken another voice.
Mine should have been enough.
But it wasn't.
If I'm going to be pursued my whole live by the pity police, I think I've got to practice more assertion.
Anyone got tips?
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