Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oh the fireworks!

Apparently in my hometown, the local fireworks celebration was cut short when a nearby house was set on fire. They decided to forego the finale as firemen rushed to the scene.

Around here, things aren't quite so exciting. The fireworks went off without a hitch. I heard them from my living room. My cat hid in my lap. My nephew tried to find his girl friend in the crowd at the fireworks celebration, texting the entire time. He never did. My other nephew said he wouldn't do that for anyone.

The fireworks will continue all weekend. A major heat wave is on its way for next week. It's going to reach 100. That's not the heat index, but the real temperature, if you're inland.

We escape the heat by playing in fountains. If you're in Savannah, you can't take a wheelchair into the fountains. Wheelchairs, they say, don't belong in fountains. They don't want a wheelchair on a trolley either, even if you take it apart and get out of it. If you can.

In Edmond, Alberta, they say you can't take a wheelchair into an elevator. Then they apologize (after they find out you're a military hero) after you struggled to get down 65 steps.

It's hot out there. Tempers run short. Sometimes the people who think they run the place wind up having to answer to the people who really run the place, but aren't there to run the place. Those of us with disabilities know what that means. It means we get denied access. Or we're told to sit in a corner and wait because we may be in the way. Even if we make noise and get an apology, there isn't justice. There isn't justice until it stops happening.

They may as well say Yankee go home. That, like fireworks, drowns out the rest of the celebration sometimes. We stare up into the sky, the sparkling lights so far above that we're in awe, until things go wrong and a house starts on fire. Then we remember that even fireworks are set off by some guy who may not do it too often, who can make a mistake, who may say he gauged things wrong.

Gauging things wrong can hurt people. It's not a good thing to guess at who's allowed to go where, who has permission to use what. It's illegal to boot. That's called civil rights. Until the average guy and gal who really do run things understand that people with disabilities aren't being troublemakers when they want to live independently just like everyone else, our civil rights are going to be compromised.

Put out the house fire first. That's probably best. When the fireworks stop we can all look down from the sky and remember that it's Independence Day.

For all of us.


Matthew Smith said...

The Savannah situation sounds like a typical case of a petty official making up the law as he goes along. Here in the UK a lot of "town centres" which look like public streets are actually privately-owned malls, and I've not heard of people being prevented from doing whatever they like in a wheelchair but I have heard of private security guards stopping people taking pictures in the high street (along with numerous other groups who want to stop people taking photos nowadays for entirely different, but equally specious, reasons).

I hope he got the official to identify himself and then found out if any such law existed.

Terri said...