Monday, 25 May 2015

Two Road Trip Things That Really Piss Me Off

I've done a fair bit of road tripping over the years. It's only in the last couple of years, while in a wheelchair, that I have developed a real sense of distress over some of the things handicapped travelers face. I think what upsets me the most is that it would take so little to fix some of them, yet they remain a challenge.

The number one piss off for solo road tripping with a wheelchair is self service gas. If ever a facility or service was designed to be difficult for someone in a wheelchair, or someone with any sort of mobility challenge, this is it. These suckers are made for misery. First of all, there is the simple challenge of getting in and out of the truck at a self-serve pump. It's not that I can't; it's how difficult it is. I have to get close enough to the pump so you can fill up, but far enough away to ensure I can unload my chair out of the driver's side, a truly non-trivial task.

One of the best ways to deal with this is to go to a full service gas station. Sure, you pay more. That's another cost of ALS. However, finding a full service gas station is the real challenge. There are many cities in Canada where there are absolutely zero options for service. It's self-service or nothing. Even in the USA, with its vaunted ADA requirements, it can be a challenge. My favourite are the gas stations where they say "Press Button for Handicapped Service", but to press the button you have to get out of your vehicle.

I personally believe that every gas station, everywhere, should be a split service, where I can get full service for a slightly higher charge, and where able bodied people can get self services at the regular price. Sure, it's discrimination, but at least I could get gas.

The number two piss off is hotels and hotel staff who don't understand what "handicapped" really means or who have no idea what their handicapped rooms look like. A great many front desk staff in hotels never actually go into the rooms, especially the handicapped rooms, to see what the look like. You would not believe the number of times I have had a front desk person say to me "Wait a minute while I go look" when asked if their handicapped room has a roll in shower.

Then there are those properties with modified rooms which claim they are wheelchair accessible. It's just plain stupid what some hotels call a wheelchair room. The interesting thing is that it has almost nothing to do with the cost of the hotel; I have seen this kind of idiocy at both high priced and low priced properties. One of the best places, and the most consistent place, has been the Super8 Motel chain. They seem to do better than anyone else so far. The real delineator is the age of the property; new properties tend to have better wheelchair access, sometimes even ADA right.

The final challenge along the hotel issue is location. Here in Canada there is no standard for wheelchair access, nor any sort of requirement. Many hotels have little or nothing to offer. At least the USA has the ADA, a way to enforce non-discriminatory access for wheelchair travelers.

There are a lot of other small piss offs, but these are the big two. It would take a book to list all the minor ones. I know, I shouldn't complain. At least I am out here. But you try traveling in a wheelchair. Trust me, you'll complain pretty quickly.

1 comment:

  1. You actually complain very little, Riichard. Mostly just observe and report. Sometimes your frustration shows as well it should.