Pushchair verses Wheelchair

Apologies for my few days absence, I’ve been trying to move my blog over here to my new site and it hasn’t all been as smooth and easy as I’d been told!  But nevermind, I’m here now and so are you :)

On yet another of my forum wanders, I came across this little gem and thought some of you might be interested in this debate.

A question was asked by a woman currently living in Continental Europe.  She regularly went to a little coffee shop with her baby to meet a couple of other mummy friends.  A few days ago she arrived to find a notice hung on the door asking for no pushchairs to be brought inside.  Her question on the forum was, what should she do about it?

Before I tell you about the ensuing debate, I should point out that she posted a photograph of the coffee shop with the sign.  This is a tiny little place, not much bigger than some peoples sitting rooms.  It’s your typical little European side street coffee shop.  Half a dozen tables and no room to swing the proverbial cat.

A few people suggested it was probably due to lack of space and a health & safety issue and told her she should find a different pram friendly coffee shop.  Some expressed outrage at the coffee shop owner and told her they would give him a piece of their mind and then go elsewhere! (notice how they automatically jumped to the conclusion that the owner had to male, as though a woman  would never ban a pram!) A few said they would ask why and then probably be resigned to finding a new coffee shop.

Then came the utterly ridiculous and in most cases completely ignorant answers.  One poster had a huge rant about how could it possibly be health & safety, if there was a fire then she of course wouldn’t be silly enough to attempt to get her pram out, she’d just leave it and grab the baby out – um, what about the health & safety of the other customers trapped in the coffee shop behind your abandoned pram!  She then carried on by saying the owner must be retarded anyway because their stupid sign wasn’t even in English and didn’t make any sense!!  She honestly had the audacity to say this.  Firstly the sign was in French, because that is the native language of the country the person was in.  Secondly they had made an attempt at an English translation on the sign and had written “No baby Troley please”.   This poster actually replied with wtf is no baby troley meant to mean, it’s not even a word.  I couldn’t believe that she would actually call someone retarded for writing in their own language and then follow it up by making herself look even more ignorant – sigh.

But then came the ultimate answers, the floodgates opened with people telling the girl she should go to the owner and demand to know what they would do if someone was in a wheelchair.  Would they ask them to leave their wheelchair outside!  They carried on with comments like “well I wouldn’t lift my 5 week old baby out of his pram and disturb him, especially if people in wheelchairs are allowed in, what’s the difference?  Argh, what’s the difference? they actually asked this and debated over it.  Holy smoke, I would hazard a guess that most people in wheelchairs are in them not by choice, but by necessity.  A baby can be bloody well lifted out of a pram and carried inside, or like a lot of women do now, they can be worn in a sling, eliminating the need for a pram.

These women however, could not accept a wheelchair user being granted access to a building, but their pram not being.  One woman told of her experience at her local coffee shop, she explained that it was small and because of the health & safety risk and insurance the owner couldn’t allow more than 2 prams in at a time.  So they have a covered bay outside and locks that can be fitted to the pram to prevent theft.  Again the onslaught started, these women were demanding to know if wheelchair users were asked to chain their chairs up outside.  I honestly couldn’t believe the attitude and complete ignorance towards a person in a wheelchair.  They didn’t seem to understand that people in wheelchairs can’t just get out their chair.  You are paralysed from the waist down, but when you reach a coffee shop, your legs temporarily work again to allow you access!

Here is one of the comments word for word as it was written, typos and all!  ”People who put signs up like this are either incredibly stupid (they don’t understand the consept of running a business) or they don’t care and can afford to be chosy.  I would never go there again, and I’d spread the word to all so that their business suffered.  Harsh I know, but people like this don’t deserve to be in business.  They certainly don’t deserve to be allowed to provide food and drink to the public – if they have this sign up you’ve got to ask yourself what else are they capable of (dropping food on the floor, serving it?  Not wash thier hands after going to the toilet?  What about wheelchairs?)  Stay clear, find somewhere else where they take their customers needs seriously and respectfully”.

Another one “that’s awful..are wheelchairs allowed? because i bet they wouldn’t put a sign up saying that!!!”

This person thinks it’s discrimination “Of course its discrimination .  I would never go again and spread the word for others to avoid! Its ridiculous !  And unfair and not a fire hazard if in a corner ! In a fire of course u d leave the pram n just take baby !”

Another “It’s a cafe so you have to expect families to go in with young children it is discrimination and as always the only people who have a problem is those who don’t have children”

You get the picture, this went on and on for some 130 comments, finally it all came to a grinding halt when this final comment was posted  “After reading some comments I did have to smile!  I am a wheelchair user, and often I AM left outside shops, while my husband goes in for our shopping!  Many aisles are not big enough to accommodate a wheelchair because display stands are moved, creating narrow gaps, or debris from shelf-filling makes it impossible to move”

Once a wheelchair user posted her experience, the rest all crawled away and the post died.  I just thought the whole thing was remarkable and not in a good way.  I understand their frustration, even their anger.  I have a double pushchair and although it fits in most doorways, I would never attempt to take it into a small confined space.  We often have to wander around a bit longer than we’d like to find a suitable coffee or lunch stop.  Or if we aren’t walking to far for too long our toddler walks and I put the baby into a small umbrella type buggy, that can be folded us easily.

I just thought – seriously, this heated debate, these ignorant comments all over a silly coffee shop.  It also disappointed me that these women who are all mothers and therefore, we can presume carers, appear to have such a damning opinion of disabled people, in particular, wheelchair users.

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3 thoughts on “Pushchair verses Wheelchair

  1. Sadly , this type of ignorance is rife within society ! As a wheelchair user myself on occasions of late , and a disability campaigner for many years, it never ceases to amaze me at the lack of thought , empathy or even down right common sense where some people are concerned regarding mobility issues of those less fortunate than themselves . Let them try using a wheelchair for just one day , and they’d soon change their minds and perception of what it’s like., it’s no walk in the park ( excuse the pun ! )
    Hopefully the legacy of the Paralympic games will be that more people,businesses, and indeed the government will treat disabled ( and older people ) with more respect and thought for their everyday needs and put in place measures to make a more tolerant and inclusive society.
    Nobody chooses to be disabled , and illness can strike ANYONE at any time , young or old . Disabled people don’t want to be classed as a special case, we just want a bit more help to achieve a more fairer , equal society.

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