7/27/09

You Can't Ride...You're Blind

I was so excited for Saturday to come, I was like a little kid waiting for Christmas morning! I am a girl who has a little craving for adventure in her and I planned to feed that craving with a ride on the Quicksilver Alpine Slide at Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah.

The Quicksilver is described on the park's website: "This European-style alpine slide is the first of its kind in North America. It is a state-of-the-art steel track and will allow riders to weave down a narrow course that concludes at the base of the K-64 ski jump. Experience what it's like to slide down a track like a luge, skeleton or bobsled athlete!"

I'd give you my description of the ride except I don't have one, because I was removed from the ride because I'm blind!

I waited in line and purchased my ticket, like everyone else. I took the ski lift to the top of the hill, on my own, just like everyone else. I handed my ticket to the man running the slide and climbed into a small sled, like everyone else. I was shown how to use the joy stick on the sled that would control my speed, like everyone else (there is no steering function on this sled, just a speed control). But unlike everyone else, I was only two sleds away from taking off down the hill; I had the butterflies and all, when I was asked to step out of the sled.

Before getting out I asked the question, "Why?" He said that it was not safe for me to ride as a "visually impaired person." I sat in the sled for a couple more minutes with a look of shock on my face, surely this stuff other blind people said happened to them, wasn't happening to me right now!?!

After a few moments I did get out of the sled, only because there were close to five sleds behind me waiting to go. Once out of the sled I was again told that I could not predict turns therefor I could not ride. My awesome friends and I attempts to question this logic, since the sled sits within a track. I told the man that I was perfectly aware of the risks (the risks all riders take) and that he was giving me no logical reason for not being able to ride.

Not only was I angry at this point but embarrassed, after all I was sold a ticket, boarded and got off a ski lift and made it all the way to this point before anyone said anything to me; mind you this whole time I was carrying my long white cane.

I went back down the mountain with my friends, who were all furious about what had just happened. I was angry, but I sat on that lift in silence, I couldn't believe that I was going back down the mountain on a lift instead of a sled.

We all got our money back that day and the guys who gave it back to us tried explaining the reasons for what happened. He said, "You can't ride the sled if you don't have full use of your faculties!" Whatever "facilities" are apparently I don't have them, but we left that day with our money back in our pockets and no adventure thirst quenched.

I left feeling awful.

I didn't really care that the money was back in my pocket, I still felt empty. I always dreamed that if one day I was confronted with a great civil rights battle, I'd be right up there on the front lines and while I did stand up for myself, I felt like I didn't do enough. I didn't do enough for my other blind friends who would want to ride one day, like everyone else.

As awful as it sounds, on the car ride home, I thought for a brief few minutes that my life would be so much better if I just put my cane in the closet and lived my life like a sighted person, like I used to. This thought crossed my mind, but only for a brief moment.

I know that I am the adventurous type and I'm stubborn, if you tell me I shouldn't do something, you bet your patooty I'm gonna do it. And being this way I know I will have to tread new paths.

The whole scene plays out in my mind, "I should have stayed on the sled and made them physically remove me," "I should have not gone back down the mountain unless it was on a sled," "I should have said something different."

Whatever the "should have's," I now know what this feels like, and I'll fight even harder to make sure this doesn't happen again.
*What would you have done? Share your thought, feelings, ideas, beliefs, aggreement or disagreement.

13 comments:

Joseph D. Walch said...

Very disappointing.

Beth said...

I'd be pissed but you always leave situations like that thinking of what you should have done or said rather than what you actually did. You might be able to call them and complain though.

Palmer Family said...

Deja, out of the blue today Megan said, "Mom did you read Deja's facebook about the alpine slide?" I said, "yep". She said, "I don't understand..why did that happen?" "Do you think that could happen to me?" I said, "yep". Adam who is listening to our conversation said, "Well, that's not fair...what are we going to do about that?" From there we had a great conversation about, "What ifs.." Unfortunately we can't change ignorance all at once.. so in the meantime we need to know how to react to it. If anything comes out of this, know that you provided an opportunity for my kids to think ahead to the "What ifs.."

Karl Smith said...

Deja it is always easy to second guess your dicisions after the fact. It is also easy for others to say what they would do if they were in that situation. I once got arrested because the club owner didn't want blind people in his establishment. A lot of people had ideas on what I and the others involved should have done that night but they wern't there. Maybe we should get a bunch of blind people to go up there and try to ride. What would happen if a bus load of us went up there with a news camera?

Anonymous said...

You could always write to www.consumerist.com, they like these kinds of stories.

Julie said...

Deja, ticked off is not even how I would describe how I felt after I read this blog. Thank for being a great example to everyone. We will change the world one step at a time.

Tammy Michael said...

Deja,
As always I am extremely proud of you. I really liked the idea of them having to physically pull you screaming & kicking out of the sled and down the mountain! Gratefully, you are not as quick tempered as I am. I will be there on August 22 to stand with you as we all fight for our human rights!

Brian said...

Deja,
Anger, disappointment, heartbreak. These are just a few feelings which arose when I read your post. I have no idea what I would have done in your place. I too would have asked why after you had gotten that far. I can only say that it is quite unfair for others judge that which they have no concept of. I have though of living as sighted by hiding my cane in a closet. But Try as I might, I could not live falsely. The White Cane is not a badge of helplessness, but rather a symbol of independence. Be true to yourself and know you are in the right. Best Regards, Brian Wooten at The Blind Compass.

Becky said...

First, I am so happy to find your blog but so sorry to hear of this incident. These situations are so frustrating and sometimes take me off guard or happen at unexpected times. It is an awful feeling and agree ... education, assertiveness, letterwriting, etc, can happen now to educate.

clinton said...

I would have told them to watch me go down, waited for the other 2 sleds to go down, and then took off like a bat out of heck! Then if those idiots tried to arest me I'd be all like... Arest them for human rights violations.

Daria said...

I know this is a kate response, but keep doing what you're doing. I do not think you're being a militant about this. All that matters is this means something to you, and, when you do get the opportunity to ride that slide, know that you will be setting a precedent for all blind people to do the same.

I seriously think busonesses need to refer back to the saying "The costumer is always right." lol

Daria said...

Just correcting some typos here. "late" and "businesses"

Anonymous said...

hi, new to the site, thanks.