Hello, I’m disabled, not invisible.

11/5/14

Richmond – Vauxhall – Est 20mins

Return

I’d expected this trip to be.. unpleasant, after all there was Rugby at Twickenham and that always attracts a special kind of passenger, and lots of them. I was in for a surprise, a good one. It was relatively quiet and sober, though I’m told that Saturday was just hell.

So, the guys looked after me at Richmond and got me on the train. The guard let me know at Vauxhall that a ramp was on the way. So easy, so nice.

Coming back was tarnished somewhat by one person’s attitude. I rolled up to Vauxhall station just as one of the rugby trains was unloading. This wouldn’t have been a problem except the single accessible gate was locked into ‘exit only’ mode and wouldn’t accept my card. Cue the timely arrival of a helpful member of staff who couldn’t reset the gate. At this point one of the multitude of rugby fans used his card to open the get to get out. I owe this guy an apology. I saw my chance and like a rat up a drainpipe I took it, zipping through the now open gate. It’s interesting to note how many people don’t appreciate the speed or momentum of an electric chair. Often they place themselves in the way and it doesn’t end well, usually for them. This guy was smarter than that and stayed out of the way.

But now I needed a ramp. Enter stage left, in a SW Trains uniform, the star of tonight’s tale. He strode purposefully up to me and the chair, looked at me, then spoke over me to my companion “Where’s he going?” It’s annoying, but not uncommon, & in these situations she looks at me to answer. “Richmond, please” After a brief, and failed, attempt to pass us onto a colleague he led the way to the lifts and platform. I managed to engage him in some gentle conversation on the way to the train so I don’t think he was discriminating or trying to be offensive, just a little ignorant. Hopefully he learned something about talking to and working with disabled people.

Time will tell, because like Arnie, I’ll be back.

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About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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