Choices That Aren’t Choices


bio_dave_hingsburgerOn our way to our hotel this weekend we received an email from our hotel telling us that the room we booked wasn’t available but that they had another accessible room, a smaller one, that we would be able to use. The email gave a phone number we could call, so, I did.

I was annoyed. I’m careful with booking rooms, we’d booked a one bedroom and were going to be given a studio. We need the space we booked, which is, of course, the reason we booked it. I get up earlier than Joe to do work and to do my work out. The new room would allow us the different rhythms of our mornings.

In speaking to the woman from the hotel she assured us we could move to the room style we wanted the next day so we just to ‘decide’ what to do for that one night. Her choice was that we could stay in the accessible studio or we could stay in a one bedroom that wasn’t accessible. She waited for me to make my decision.

I was silent, not because I was deciding but because I was struggling to remain calm. Finally I told her, “This is not a choice. I told you I was a wheelchair user.

You are offering me, as a choice, a one bedroom inaccessible room.
You do realize that if I could stay in one of those rooms, I would have booked one of those rooms.
I’m guessing you went to a training somewhere where you learned to give options and choices and you don’t want to acknowledge that because I have a disability I actually have no choice.

I’ve got to take the room you are offering, the one I didn’t book, because it’s the only one I can stay in.”

She started to speak, but I wasn’t done …

“I want you to know that offering me a choice that I can’t take is insulting and maybe even a little bit cruel.

You know that I am a wheelchair user, it’s on my profile with the hotel, I’ve already told you that and you are saying that if I want the room style that I ordered, then get out of your chair and walk. It’s like a kind of taunt.

I’m upset that I’m not getting what I booked, but I’m even more upset that you would give me a choice that isn’t a choice and a choice that I obviously can’t take because I’m in a wheelchair. What kind of person does that?”

She started to speak, but I wasn’t done …

“I’m going to take the room I didn’t book for tonight and then move to the room I did book tomorrow.

But it’s a lot of work to do that. It’s a lot of packing and unpacking and effort that I’d rather not expend.

But I’m going to take it, you know that I’m going to take it, but let’s be clear it’s because it’s my only option not the result of a choice that I was never able to make.”

She than said she was sorry.

We chatted for a moment, and I rang off.

She offered me an inaccessible room as a choice! It makes me wonder how non-disabled people understand disability, or if they do at all.

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