Friday, June 16, 2006

My First Shopmobility Encounter

Originally uploaded by girl_of_bats.
So, Pip and I went up to Norwich (the nearest city to here) to do some shopping. I'd phoned ahead to ShopMobility and was all set to get sorted with them. A couple of utility bills and my proof of DLA, and £6.50 to cover a year's membership and a day's scooter rental.

It only took a couple of minutes to do the paperwork and the scooter was very easy to operate. I could have done with it being a bit more adjustable around the seat, but for a rental it was fine. If you want to see it, then click on the picture there to go to my flickr photostream, and click through until you see it. Sorry, it's just that given a choice between posting up a pic of me sat on a scooter, or the littlun asleep on Pip's back, what was I going to do? Seriously?

The backpack for the littlun was a new purchase in Norwich. Several BAD outdoorsy equipment shops, with steps into them and then saying that stuff we wanted to look at was upstairs, is there a lift, no... I wasn't about to start having a strop and demanding to see the manager and so on, but I didn't want to sit like a lemon, so I made my point by going up the stairs on hands and knees and then back down the stairs on my bum while calling to the shop assistants (and customers) who were watching me from either end about how the DDA had only been over a decade coming, and made law in October 2004, so really how could I expect them to be complying with it yet and giving me any goddamn dignity?

It made me feel better, and Pip thought it was good.

We made an interesting little group meandering around Norwich. Littlun gets looks because he's a cute little kiddie. Pip drew looks because he had the big backpack on. Pip and littlun always draw female attention because dads and their sons are cute. I drew attention because I was a happy laughing young woman on the sort of scooter that is more often associated with the elderly. And there we were obviously together and possibly a family, for all anyone knew.

Certainly in Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre the staff assumed that I was littlun's mum. Sadly though, this was not in a sense of "we can do this and this and this for disabled mums", more in a "coo, not seen one of them with a baby before" way. I was told how lucky littlun was to have Pip to carry him about. I was told "ooh, I don't know how you cope." I think if he had in fact been my child and I had been a mother I'd have gone bananas from all the patronising crap. As it was I ended up almost in tears, because I really don't know when or if I will ever have a child myself. Accepting my disability is allowing me to have a more fulfilled life from day to day, but as far as the long term goes, I still feel that things are kind of stuffed.

Slept in the car all the way back to Pip's house, and then helped give littlun his bath. Being able to do things like that helps me believe that it's not such a foregone conclusion after all.


The Goldfish said...

Glad you got on with Shopmobility - the scheme is excellent. I recommend you try out the power-chairs as well, as some people find them better; I certainly do.

Mothercare is notorious for comments; I have heard all sorts of stories from disabled mothers, including folks asking personal questions, whether the baby is normal etc. A friend of mine was just getting used to the idea of being a disabled parent, and one trip to Mothercare really set her back.

If you have the energy, do compose a letter of complaint to those shops which are not accessible. You don't need to threaten to sue them (few of us have the energy for that) - but merely being informed that they are breaking the law and somebody has noticed can be enough to kickstart change.

Mary said...

Maybe if I point out that I go through many pairs of trousers by being obliged to use the crawling/bumsliding method of getting about, I'd get a £1 voucher off my next purchase of trousers at their store!

Leiro said...

You should copy in your local MP on such letters because it is disgusting that the laws are not being enforced!

Mary said...

deana, I have a horrible feeling that if I did that then I would be required to pose for the cameras in my wheelchair looking as pathetic and crippled as possible next to Mr Photo-Opp, our MP.

Don't get me wrong, he is a good MP, but he does like the photo-opportunities and I don't want to be the poor little crip.