Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hidden Barriers to Independence and Mom's "Business Face".

His best attempt at The Face.
"I don't know what to call your face." he says out of the blue.


"When somebody messes up and you scare them with your face..."

Ohhhhh... that one!

We decided to name it Mom's Business Face, because the eyebrow goes up when I mean business. According to the boy, flames hoot out of my eyes, smoke comes out of my ears, and I have an evil smile that burns flesh. I'll have to ask his sister for a second opinion. I picture myself as a firm Mary Poppins, but it sounds like I come of as Maleficent.


We had taken a trip on the city bus that day, on a quest for barbeque at Ribfest. We were really excited, since it was our first time riding since the city finally put in sidewalks on the bus stop corner. Until now, you would have to wait in the grass or mud depending on the weather, and keep a sharp eye out for holes.

We won our game of 17th Ave Frogger and got across to the stop in one piece.  We caught the bus just in time, and Steven navigated the ramp and tight turn with skill. I helped get him into position, since the driver wasn't getting out of his seat. That was unusual.

He watched from up front as we waited expectantly for him to come back to secure the chair in the restraints.


EXCUSE ME? caught his attention, but he looked lost


Double whammy... language barrier AND he must have slept through that part of his training.


I felt the eyebrow go up, it has a mind of its own.

 Despite a couple of stuck straps, I managed to do it myself, since the driver wasn't even able to find the tie-down spots on the wheelchair.

We filed a complaint, and while I'm fairly sure this driver won't be forgetting his training again, it's not the first time... nor will it be the last.

One driver looked me in the eye and said Steven's lap belt on his chair was good enough. A few more just couldn't get the shoulder belt to work... and they have each met the Business Face. While I'm using our city bus trip as an example, we've had similar instances with private ride services with drivers who know how to secure chairs, but try to get away with leaving off a corner tie-down because it's "too hard" to get to or they forget until Steven calls them on it or they catch the eyebrow in the rear-view mirror.

It shouldn't be so hard. What about all the people without a Mom figure to help them stand firm while their needs are met? While Steven is learning to speak up for himself for the times I'm not with him, what happens to the people who can't muster the courage?

Don't get me wrong, Fargo is a great small city, full of opportunities. When you look at the big picture, people with disabilities have so many advantages here over cities many times the size. When you look at it all on paper, it looks like a smooth system.

The devil is in the details.  You can't see them until you're in the position to have to depend on others for your safety in a far more vulnerable way than would be comfortable for most of us.

I'd love to see some of our city officials dress down and navigate the metro in a chair.

I wonder what kind of face they have?

1 comment:

  1. I'm very glad that you're calling them on it. Since you're in a smaller city you have a better chance of hitting that tipping point where people will do their job because the consequences are immediate. Best of luck.