Monday, April 06, 2009

accessibility / bullying and bullsh#t

Les Expéndables (Prologue 2009, vallée de cumberland) Patti, Patrick, and Megan arrive to attend "Les Misérables".

Mme. Bull Merdler: “Do you know what seats you have”

Patrick: (Thinking this an odd question since holding printed tickets.) “Yes, wheelchair seats 1, 2, and 3”

Mme. Bully-ardo: “See, THIS is the problem! There should only be only TWO tickets!!! ONE wheelchair and ONE companion seat!”

Patrick: “Since when does a person in a wheelchair have ONLY one friend or one family member? The box office sold us three tickets in the wheelchair seating section.”

Mme. Bull Merdler: “Your third ticket can sit back here in the aisle and you two can switch at intermission.”

Seeing that Patti's MS related mental confusion was overwhelmed and our daughter (the third ticket) was giving me the glare of 'do not go ballistic on them with me standing next to you', I let it all settle for a moment.

Sitting next to me and occupying all the rest of the wheelchair section were several sheepish looking grand dames (none in a wheelchair nor visibly disabled). The woman adjacent to me leans over and apologizes explaining that where they are sitting are not their seats but Mme. Bully-ardo told them to sit there, “it was OK”.

Noticing Mmes. Bully-ardo and Bull Merdler huddling nearby I stood up and ‘engaged’ them. Surrounding us displaced in the aisle were a young man in a wheelchair with what I guessed was CP and companion, a woman who could not carry her portable oxygen up to her seat, a woman trying to maintain the security of the proximity of her high tech walker and too many more real life “les miserables?”.

With 35 years experience in the entertainment business, 20 years experience in caregiving, and having attended yearly performances at this theatre since it was built I was the wrong person to tag team with bull sh#t, and bullying.

I suggested that perhaps this unacceptable situation may not have occurred had the additional wheelchair seating in the orchestra seats NOT been sold to able bodied people.

Mme. Bully-ardo: “There is NO wheelchair seating closer to the stage.

Patrick: (gesturing toward aisle seats nearer the stage with white wheelchairs painted on them) “Since the theatre was built, those seats were designed and sold for wheelchair patrons.

Mme. Bully-ardo: “Well, we CANNOT” remove a seat just for a wheelchair.”

Patrick: “You do not have to. The armrests lift to accommodate transfer.”

Mme. Bull Merdler: “I am the theatre manager. YOU are not aware of the fire laws.”

Mme. Bully-ardo: “That’s right!

Patrick: “This theatre was built both fire law and ADA compliant.”

Mme. Bully-ardo: “A ‘wheelchair person' would trap everyone else in the aisle”!

Patrick: “Those seats were specifically built on the inside aisle seat. People exit OUT to fire exits not to the center of a theatre in case of fire.”

Mme. Bull Merdler: “Uh, they are NEW fire laws!”

Mme. Bully-ardo: “That’s right!”

One thing and only one thing changed, this dynamic duo either for their own gain or incompetence sold designated accessible seating to general sale.

Obviously nothing could be corrected at a sold out performance. Yet some times you just have to jawbone and even kick a little proverbial dirt on authority’s shoes to get in their thick self-centered heads.

Bullying and bull sh#t are too often the dual faces of theatre confronting disability attendance.

Disabled, elderly, or infirmed patrons are not “les expendables”!

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site:
musings: Patrick Ponders ...


  1. I would have blow a casket and my son would have shot me one of those glances also. Hope your not dropping it.

  2. Patrick,

    I agree with Julie. Hope you are not dropping it.

  3. I'm thinking you won't drop this and will give higher ups other than these 2 obviously unaware individuals a piece of your mind (kindly of course). seems like they were trying to exert too much power for their positions and didn't do it with tact and dignity that should have been extended to all theater goers regardless of abilities.

    but in the end, was the play enjoyed by all, even though all couldn't sit together?


  4. Please do not drop it! Please use the media and/or Federal Laws to help. Find a advocate for the handicap or a lawyer who is handicapped or has a handicapped family member......Contact the local fire department for the "new fire laws" (lol) Perhaps the owner of the building, some local organizations that love a "project" to get this corrected!


  5. Yes! I was recently at a sold out movie and disabled companion seats were full of able bodies. We decided what seats in the packed house I could climb to. Two people out of 8 felt guilt and moved to neck breaking seat. I felt bad but I hope the others felt worse.


  6. Unbelievable! I don't know how you maintained your composure.

    P.S. Love the names you gave them!

  7. "Since when does a person in a wheelchair have ONLY one friend or one family member?"



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