I recently went to Brussels as I was invited to attend a healthcare workshop. My sister came along as my carer so we combined business and pleasure!
Anyway, an incident happened to me while I was there which I can’t talk about for legal reasons (I’ve always wanted to say that!) and as a result the hotel staff were falling over themselves to make us happy.
The strange thing was how they reacted to me on my scooter. We were at the reception desk and the receptionist directed questions about how I was to my sister and completely ignored me! My sister, who normally has no problems with asserting herself, looked at me and then the receptionist with her mouth open in disbelief. I was also speechless and sat there, wondering if he could even see me! This happened a few times after that with different staff members and I felt like saying, “excuse me, I’m down here!”
I felt a combination of emotions but the main one was amusement at their ignorance and apparent backward thinking.
I’m not used to this at all. I use a Travelscoot (www.travelscoot.com) and usually get nothing but an overwhelmingly positive response from people. I get approached nearly every time I go out by disabled people or their carers asking where I got it and how much it cost. Other people comment on how nifty and cool it is or take down details. I feel like I’m doing a public service to disabled people and should be paid commission! In all these encounters people direct comments and questions to me and I feel validated and positive as a result so why didn’t I feel like this in Brussels?
Is it because we’re more tolerant and disability confident in the UK? Surely there must be disabled people in Belgium! Is it due to lack of staff training and general awareness that the disabled are real people not invisible burdens? Or was it the incident that horrified and embarrassed the staff combined with the terror of my sister’s wrath (she scares me sometimes)
Anyway, I’d love to hear your stories. How did it make you feel; amused, upset or angry? Is it different abroad?