It’s crap being disabled: Part 245

I’ve got some time off at the moment so I finished work last Friday and spent the weekend & Monday recharging as I’ve rather overdone things of late, and my doctor advised me to take some time to just basically relax. This means I’ve been catching up with things like Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Better Call Saul, and playing loads of God of War, and finally getting on with GTA V. If it sounds like I don’t sleep much that would be right. It’s been this way since my stroke in 2016 so if I get 4/5 unbroken sleep of a night then I’m doing good but this time off has allowed me to slowly start to recharge.

Today I popped into town to do some odds and sods at the bank and a few other places while trying as much as possible to have a wander. The problem about doing this in a city is bad, but in a city like Glasgow it’s far worse than it should be through a mix of stupidity, ignorance and idiocy.

.Glasgow has a good, effective underground system. The subway is often the quickest way to get round a city which is often gridlocked on the roads but there is no disabled access in most stations, and most stations don’t have escalators which go to the platform so stairs are the way in and out.

Today I thought I’d jump on the subway to the West End after coming out the bank. Getting off at Hillhead saw me confronted by hordes of people coming down the stairs slamming into me with their backpack because if you walk the streets with a stick or move with a wheelchair for 90% of the population you become invisible. After nearly being knocked over a few times I managed to get onto Byres Road by this point I was tired and fed up of being a pinball.

So today’s lesson is that if you see someone disabled don’t knock into them. Don’t pretend they’re not there. Don’t be a dick because you want to rush somewhere or you have no spacial awareness.

Now back to GTA V where I can imagine I’m laying waste to arseholes in the street…

Airbnb’s disability problem

The other day I decided to sort out accommodation for going to Edinburgh for next year’s Comic Con, and Dublin in August for the Worldcon. The latter is a priority as Dublin will fill up and I’ve already bought a membership, so with the former all I need is a bed as I’ll be working the con, while at the latter I’ll need something a bit more as although I’ll be spending most of my time at the con but also going round Dublin. Looking to save some money I popped onto Airbnb where I found two homes who were free and made provisional bookings as I had a few things to sort out before confirming.

A day or two later I logged back on to book, and pay for, both rooms but I dropped both a quite line to mention I’m disabled and would the rooms be secure as I’d be leaving my meds (well, most of them) in the room when I’m out. Over the course of yesterday I got two replies which both went along the same lines that they were ‘really sorry’ but the rooms ‘were actually booked’ for the times I wanted them. Sensing something wrong this morning I checked to see if the hosts had marked the dates as booked. Nope, in fact both are still advertising as available. I then got a mate to enquire about the same dates; no issues.

A shufty through the internet sees folk with similar problems, and in June 2017 a study found AirBnb hosts were more likely to cancel disabled guests than able bodied ones. As a company AirBnb have to comply with equality laws but hosts are pretty much allowed to run a free hand because already written equality legislation didn’t anticipate the sharing economy. Sure AirBnb have bought a ‘disabled AirBnb’ company in reaction it seems to the study last year, So to put it bluntly, hosts can do what the fuck they want; AirBnb have the thinnest veneer of giving a fuck because trying to complain about this to them is pointless.

There is a problem with new tech companies like Uber (where they have a mass of issues) and AirBnb but there’s a particular issue with these companies treating everyone the same because they don’t. Now what this effectively means is the disabled are excluded from the sharing economy, and worse, the sharing economy feels like it doesn’t need to abide with the laws and practises of society.

So don’t want my money? Fine, I’ll spend it elsewhere though the likes of AirBnb won’t care as they’re making so much money but perhaps its down to us to now have a conversation about how these companies run themselves and how we drag them to play by the same rules other companies have to?

The ongoing ignorance of the public when encountering the disabled

I take the train most days. This week the students returned as did most people after the Christmas and New Year holidays which has seen trains go from half empty to crammed full of people staring intently at their phones. Now the thing about being disabled is that life isn’t a series of inspirational stock images but near ceaseless daily struggles where one just wants an easy life and to do things like use the train without being made to stand because every other fucker is glued intently to whatever pish they’re blandly staring at on their phones.

Well today was the solid gold jackpot. Not only was I forced to stand because people are selfish, but a young woman in her early 20’s and her guide dog also had to stand. Now there’s nothing the rail companies can do to enforce basic human decency, nor am I asking to get people to move because I’m tired just trying to pass as normal without having to go through the possibility that you’ll get the eye-roll, the heavy ‘tut’  as they make an effort to move akin to Moses splitting the Red Sea asunder.

So if you’re on a train, or a bus, and you see someone with walking sticks or a fucking guide dog, standing while you’re sitting there swiping through Tinder wondering what Lynx-soaked mass of flesh attracts you then you’re probably an arsehole. All I’m asking is pay attention to your environment. As a human being we’ve been capable of doing it since before we were able to walk upright so I’m sure you can manage it.

Some people don’t care about the disabled and they’re bastards for it

A few months ago I wrote about my realisation about how the disabled were treated after my stroke in February. It wasn’t a nice realisation that although the overwhelming majority of people were great or fine, a small core of people just couldn’t care less veering to the contemptuous of people’s disability.

disabled

In the last week I’ve been nearly knocked to my feet three times by prams, once by a pensioner who decided that pushing past me at the grocers was something fun to do and I’ve nearly been knocked over by a car reversing without looking where it was going, though that last one did see me telling the driver they were a prick with the agreement of a couple of passers-by. Then there was yet again the bus journeys where people were more obsessed with staring at their phones than offering me a seat. One journey someone did point out there was a seat at the back, but with only one fully functioning limb at the moment I don’t want to struggle down a crowded bus to then struggle to sit on a raised seat. I’ve even had someone at work barge past me not to mention I’ve had an argument with a manager because having a hoodie on my desk breeched a ridiculously overblown clean desk policy. That one went to me telling them if they have an issue we’ll take it off the floor and I’d explain to them why they were being a bastard in detail.

Look, I’m not crying out from a sense of entitlement. I didn’t ask to have a stroke or have cancer. It happened and I’m dealing with it with as much humour as I can when you’ve nearly died a couple of times in a few months. What I am saying (again) is to when you see someone like myself with a walking stick and you don’t see any obvious infirmities it’s not a case I’m ‘feckless’, it’s because my right leg doesn’t work like it did four months ago.

As I’ve said previously, much of this attitude is because successive UK governments have hammered on the disabled as it’s easy as after all, they’re almost invisible to these sort of people. The last Labour government (let’s not forget it was Yvette Cooper that introduced ATOS to screen diabled people) and this current Tory government have demonised and attacked the disabled helping to create an atmosphere where people can look at the disabled not with compassion, but apathy or contempt.

Now I don’t consider myself disabled, but effectively I am until I recover, assuming I ever do get a full recovery as I’m only just over three months out of have a stroke and a month out of having major surgery. I have to face up to the fact I may never get back to where I was, but in the overall scheme of things I’m alive and 80% of people are fine. There’s 20% who are, frankly, cunts. I can only imagine what people in worse states than me face, but I now have an idea and it’s not nice.

So, if you’re reading this and you’ve avoided getting up to offer someone hobbling around with a stick a seat because you’ve muttered under your breath ‘they look alright’ (hey kids, I can lip read) or just looked away because Candy Crush Saga is more important to you, then perhaps for the sake of your own humanity you get up and offer the person struggling to just live their life as normally as possible a little bit of comfort for even a short journey. Imagine what you’d like people to do if you were in that situation and what you’d like to make things better, and stop being a self-obsessed inhuman prick.

And breathe out……