Over the Labor Day weekend, Jess and I stayed at a hotel where we were given a handicapped-accessible room. We hadn’t requested one and didn’t need it, and the hotel did not appear full, so why we got it when someone else may have needed it is a question for another day.
Today’s question has to do with calling a room accessible when it is not.
I noted immediately on entering the room that the closet rod was mounted at chair level, and that the door had a peephole also mounted at chair level. The doorways themselves (to the hall and the bathroom) may have been somewhat wider than normal. (I didn’t bring my tape measure.)
That was about it. I will preface my remarks by saying that I don’t use a wheelchair, and am not all that familiar with the challenges facing people who do, but even I, as unenlightened as I am, could tell that a low-hanging closet rod does not make up for the fact that the spaces around the two beds were not wide enough to get a wheelchair through. The table was not at an accessible height, and the chairs there were not conducive to an easy transfer.
In the bathroom, the shower/tub had extremely high sides. Someone using a walker would never have been able to get into the tub to take a shower. There was a folding seat, but you could not transfer to it because the vanity was in the way–you couldn’t get a chair (or a walker) close enough. When I went to take my shower, I could barely budge the faucet handle to get it to turn on. My daughter, who is fourteen, was not able to do it. An older person with a less-strong grip than I have would not be able to do it. Even the shower curtain required me to reach above my head to pull it across. I had to grasp the top edge and coax it along. Someone in the fold-down seat wouldn’t even be able to get the shower curtain to go across.
This pissed me off. What, I guess it doesn’t matter if people with physical challenges can’t even take a frickin’ shower in the hotel room they paid for? Who cares? Is that it?
That’s not to mention that the room was located on the third floor. The first floor yielded directly to the back parking lot; the second floor to the lobby and the front parking lot; but in their infinite wisdom, they placed the so-called accessible room on the third floor, where you would have to use the elevator to get out of the building.
In case this is unclear: most people in wheelchairs can’t climb down a long flight of stairs. There was only one elevator in the entire hotel; what if it malfunctioned one day? “Sorry, you can’t come out of your room/go into your room, have a nice day?”
Or, suppose there were a fire. If you were in a wheelchair and could not use the stairs, then what? Well, you had a good life, don’t be greedy? Is that it? Would you want to rely on the desk clerk to remember to tell the fire fighters about the person in the wheelchair on the third floor? Yeah, me either.
This, my friends, is what we call in the trade a half-assed effort. It’s pretending you’re doing something that people find valuable or good, when in reality you don’t give a rat’s ass. If you gave a rat’s ass, you’d spend ten minutes thinking about the design of the room. You might also—I know, I know, this is far-fetched—consult with someone who knows about designing accessible hotel rooms. (When will I ever get over my unrealistic, fairy-tale expectations.)
If the hotel said they no handicapped-accessible rooms, then I could at least respect the fact that they weren’t lying to me. But to pretend to have a handicapped-accessible room when one does not, in fact, exist, is the worst kind of sliminess, and I heap scorn and ridicule upon organizations that do this.
So, other than giving me an opportunity to vent about corporate American, what has this to do with a writer trying to do the work?
Don’t do it half-assed. Please. My head already exploded once this week. Don’t promise one thing and deliver another. Don’t slough off halfway through. Don’t do some shit and throw it out there and see if you can pull the wool over someone’s eyes long enough to get them to buy it. And don’t ever believe, “Well, the reason I failed was because that wasn’t my best effort” is any kind of excuse anyone will ever respect.
Do the work, and do it to the best of your ability. If none of your goals or dreams come true, at least you will be able to say, “I didn’t do it half-assed. I was all in.” Much better words to live by, and to die by, don’t you think?