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How It Feels to Be Separated From My Wheelchair at Concerts

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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?

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Photo credit: Thinkstock
Originally published: November 14, 2016
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