In Albuquerque, for a 10 day stay, I got a fairly decent accessible hotel room (212) that was unfortunately on the second floor. Unfortunate because the second floor had numerous meeting and banquet rooms as well as guest rooms. I was (theoretically) working the swing shift (2:00 pm to 10:00 pm), and after being woken the first morning by Save the Children happily clinking their orange juice and coffee at 7:00 am, I asked for another room.
I was given 302. I packed my suitcase (whining here, but packing is a significant expenditure of energy) and took it up to 302. The new room was in no way, shape or form accessible. The wheelchair wouldn’t even fit through the bathroom door. I took my suitcase back down to the lobby and requested a new accessible room. The desk clerk clicked away on her computer, then said, “Let me just make sure this one’s ok for you.” She picked up the phone and called someone. “Is 214 wheelchair accessible?”
“Wait – 214? Next to 212? The room I just left? On the second floor across from Save the Children?”
She looked confused, but allowed that this was so, and that there were no other accessible rooms available. “Just put me back in 212,” I said.
That night on duty I was chatting with one of my colleagues who said he was in the same hotel, in room. “But it’s a handicapped room,” he said, “and there’s no counter space, so I’m trying to get switched to another room.”
We decide to gang up on the hotel together. We found a speakerphone and called the front desk. “Hi, this is [colleague’s name]. I’m in Room 522, and I’d like to be moved to a regular, non-handicapped room. My colleague Ms. Stokley is in 212, and she’d like to be moved into 522 to avoid the noise on the second floor.”
Clicking of keys. “Sir, I can move you to 412.” (“Check if it’s a wheelchair room,” I hissed.) More clicking. “Then what did you want?”
“Ms. Stokley would like to move to 522.”
Click, click. “But that’s a handicapped room!”
“Yes, it is, Ms. Stokley uses a wheelchair.”
Click, click, click. “Ok, you want to move from 522 to 412.”
Click, click. “Then the lady wants to move out of 212.”
Click, click. “I don’t see any other rooms we could move her to, sir.”
We look at each other, then my colleague leans towards the phone and says gently, “How about … 522?”