How It Feels to Be Separated From My Wheelchair at Concerts

Let me paint a picture for you. Your favorite band is coming to town in a few weeks. You splurge and spend twice as much on tickets as you should… but it’s a once in a lifetime show and you haven’t seen them in 17 years. You get to the show in plenty of time to grab drinks and find your door. But wait… you can’t go in that door because your shoes are too big to fit on the stairs. You are directed to another entrance with an escort who screams at everyone on your path that you need to get through with your big shoes.

All eyes are on you and your massive feet. You walk halfway around the arena, ashamed of your big feet, and frustrated as your arms are full of drinks and snacks. But at last, you make it to your seat and sit down a few minutes before the show is to begin. You’re excited, right? You’re seven rows from the front, and it’s your favorite band!

But then, you are told that you have to take your big shoes off and give them to an usher. You see, your big shoes get in the way of everyone else. You refuse to give up your shoes and explain that you might need to use the bathroom during the concert. Or get another drink. Or be able to run out of the building if there were an emergency! But you are told that if you are in possession of your shoes, others might not be able to get out quickly. You would just have to wait until the building was evacuated… thousands of people… and then you would be permitted to leave. Essentially, you’re told your life is less valuable since you have big feet. But hey, everybody else made it out, right?

This is a reality for me. It happens at any public event or show. I am forced to give up my mobility, my wheelchair, my rights, to a complete stranger. It’s blatant discrimination. And I’m f***ing tired of it. I try really hard to just let things be. To have some zen in my life. But you know what, Rosa Parks didn’t just sit in the back of the bus and let others tell her what she is worth.

So to the staff at Phillips Arena last night, and the staff at Fox Theatre three weeks ago, and to every event worker that’s crossed my path or will cross my path, please think about going to your favorite movie and handing your shoes over to a complete stranger for several hours, leaving you at their mercy. Their mercy to go to the bathroom. To get popcorn. To escape if there’s an emergency. Would you do it?

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Photo credit: Thinkstock

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Disability

Mother and daughter hugging.

Why I Feel Sad for Families With Special Needs After the Election

I’ve seen article after article and social media posts galore telling people who voted for Hillary Clinton to get over ourselves and stop crying. I get it, it’s an election result. There’s nothing I can do but accept it and move on. Believe me, I’m working on it. I’ve remained connected with all my friends [...]
Donald Trump "Crippled America" book.

What Unity Means to Me in Trump's 'Crippled America'

With strong divisions in America – red and blue, rich and poor, white and of color – many would describe America as broken, incapable, and ineffective. These deep divides led to an excruciatingly painful election, and surely more pain to come. Donald Trump successfully capitalized on these fractures; exemplified by the title of his book, [...]

Telling Our Stories as Special Olympics Global Messengers

My friend Georgia Hunter, 28, of Oak Park, sits smiling in the front seat of her mom’s car. She is brown-haired and is wearing a crisp button-down shirt with the embroidered Special Olympics Illinois logo. I am sitting directly behind her, wearing the same button-down shirt, glasses, and a huge grin. Georgia, her mom, Karen, [...]
Disabled sign, wheelchair, traffic lights, black and white

My 50 Shades of Disability

I cannot work. It is not that I do not want to work. I cannot. It has nothing to do with accommodations, laziness, lack of work ethics… It has everything to do with my health. I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). My sons have it also, and they are on the autism spectrum. In [...]