Accessible NYC welcomes new author Mia Vayner, who caught our attention with her firebrand blog Disabled Access Denied. Since the goals of our sites are so similar, we invited her here to post her disability access reviews, good or bad, of her travels around New York City. Patronize or boycott these venues as you see fit!
G’day everyone, from this ex-pat Aussie with wheels under her ass. I’m Mia G. Vayner and my blog is www.disabledaccessdenied.wordpress.com I have been living in the Big Apple for the last 14 years, the last 5 in a wheelchair. My blog started out of my anger at the inconsiderate, upright section of the community who seemed to think we the wheelchair bound were pinballs to be bounced all the way to a higher score every time they would smash into my chair. Prior to my disability kicking in, I was world class in karate and judo and had another way of handling this problem. The main squeeze of my life, yes another woman, suggested that round house kicks thrown in my mind didn’t work as well and screaming bothered the neighbors and above all in New York City a confrontation could end up in health or legal problems. As usual she was right, but don’t tell her that I’ll deny it!
Disabled Access Denied had been screamed at by the universe so many times, whether actual or by the simple arrogance of their apathy to our rights and the laws all ready in place, so the name of my blog became their insult turned around to be my war cry. I write and scream with a thesaurus and throw kicks with my intellect.
I have over 60 blog entries up one of which highlighted an experience I want to share with you all today. After 5 months in my native land of Australia, my partner and I were meeting our dear friend Rachel. She had been great about babysitting our beloved cats while we were abroad. While waiting for her arrival this espresso addict decided to spend some time and money at Starbucks. After enjoying the espresso, my wheelchair was knocked violently not once but twice by a fellow customer. I ignored the first and commented the second time letting the person know to be more careful. The incident itself was over in mere seconds and attracted the attention of no one else in the store, except…. the manager apparently, and not in a good way. Instead of coming over and being accommodating and nice, he choose to immediately take the stance that I was in the way. A confrontation of his creating ensued, during which he uttered the insulting phrase “wheelchairs congest our store and you are in the way.” I pointed out that he was treading on very dangerous ground with that comment as the rights of the disabled are protected against this type of behavior. Shortly thereafter we were thrown out. Just to be clear this was the Starbucks located at the corner of Greenwich and Bank Streets in NYC.
Management of Starbucks were contacted, horror was dutifully expressed, all promises of grandiose mea culpa were offered to the degree that we were told the offending manager was being fired as we spoke. In those initial calls I was also told that “a dutifully appropriate corporate apology would be offered.” At this point it seemed that Starbucks was handling it with all seriousness and that a resolution would be reached swiftly.
Next came the involvement of the Regional Manager Jennifer Gurtov. She contacted us and told us the manager wouldn’t be fired if he apologized and asked if we could meet. She assured us he would apologize and afterward she wanted to chat? This sounded all above board and like the “dutifully appropriate corporate apology” part. We arrived and yes an apology was offered and then the meeting seemed to halt to an end. When I looked perplexed, Jennifer plead ignorance and said she had no idea of any further offer. If we left it would be 100% solved in 24 hours. That was 3 weeks ago, and we got a call 48 hours ago offering “a couple of free coffees”. After I laughed, she washed her hands of it and said another would have to be brought in another 24 hours was promised. Today i was offered a $50 voucher.
Let’s get one thing clear, folks; I don’t want their money. I never brought up compensation; they did. They are grossly in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, they are in breach of a dozen New York state laws and several city laws, and they take it so lightly they think $50 dollars worth of product is the fine they pay for their bigotry?
My sign off line is respect our existence or expect our resistance!
So Starbucks, choose door A or door B. Door A, we flood every Manhattan and major city store with bothersome wheelchairs till you get the message, or door B: I have this reposted on every disabled site in every country where you have franchises, and you become the corporate pariah of the wheelchair world. Remember, for every person in a wheelchair there are family and friends who buy coffee and care about them.
STARBUCKS DOESN’T WANT DISABLED BUCKS, SO LETS NOT GIVE THEM OUR MONEY. BOYCOTT STARBUCKS UNTIL THEY START RESPECTING OUR EXISTENCE.