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Archives for : November2015

Hatred

Like everything, we can get a feel for something, a glimpse of understanding but nowhere near the full experience, like seeing something in a photograph as opposed to experiencing it first hand. Last night I had a nightmare, I believe this to be the seed. Watching it in bed probably didn’t help.

Some dreams leave you completely unable to recall anything. Some you are still half experiencing as you wake, remembering the full event. Others unravel in great detail, each recollection unlocking another in a domino fashion, requiring a single spark to trigger your memory. I’ve just had such a spark.

In reality I’m white, male, and the coins in my wallet can be counted on one hand. Some dreams I can walk again, others not. Last night was the latter. What is unusual is that I was also a member of an ethnic minority, living somewhere in the USA.
The hatred felt was overwhelming. Vulgar shouts of abuse were directed at me. Anything not nailed down was thrown at me and there was absolutely nothing I could do. The crowd circled around me, preventing my wheelchair from leaving. Everything escalated quickly. Guns were drawn and pointed at me, and from nowhere plastic petrol cans appeared and I was threatened with being doused. I was completely helpless. I was terrified.

Writing this now, I know it was just a dream. As vivid as it was, I know I’m safe. I’m not going to be shouted at, have things thrown at me, be shot or set alight. As scared as I was last night, I know it’s nothing more than an inkling, a glimpse at what is reality for so many. Too many.

If only we could all stop the hatred.

Make a change

Back when I was able to hobble about with a walking stick, my son’s (primary) school banned me from using an electric bike on grounds of health and safety. I’d explained its only purpose is as a mobility aid and saying I’d planned to put a public tweet out to some lawyer friends for advice on Disability Discrimination. I’d even offered to sit on it, leaning towards my ‘good leg’, and have the electrics switched off. Only after all this was it escalated it passed the Headmistress. The council allowed it, but only if the electrics were off.

A few years on, and I can’t get away with just the walking stick, I’m now in a wheelchair if I want to go anywhere, but I need someone with me because my shoulder has very regularly dislocated since I was 16 and I suffer from asthma. Both before and after getting the chair I approached the Head saying I’d be happy to talk to, and answer questions from the kids about my disabilities (right ear hears noises but not clear sound – think about being 12 foot under water and you’ll get a good idea, and my knee which I cannot bear any weight following an RTC). Every year I offer the Head the chance to raise Disability Awareness in the school. I’m still waiting.

The local bus company have refuse me access when passengers refuse to fold pushchairs. Mothers and Grandmothers have said I “should budge up” in an already confined dedicated wheelchair space so they don’t have to fold a pushchair. When you face all the other passengers you’re immediately made uncomfortable, but people seem to have the right to question you about everything. I don’t mind most of the questions, it’s good that people are curious. Some questions, though are triggers for my wife and on one occasion she told the man he doesn’t have an automatic right to those answers.

Cars are parked blocking the path, then others blast their horns at you if you go on the road to get passed. (sub-urban housing estate)

I read about disabled people being mugged as they’re “an easy target”, about people being trapped on planes while needing the toilet, being trapped on a train station overnight because they weren’t informed the lifts were out of order before alighting from the last train.
To me, the problem is an almost complete lack of empathy and an obscene level of apathy.

Councils, companies and government ministers should be made to use the services they provide in wheelchairs, while blindfolded or with ear plugs. Mystery shoppers should be employed on a regular basis to test anything and everything that’s been rolled out or updated [Something I’m more than happy to do]. We should have Disability Awareness everywhere, starting with schools. Steps are being made, progress is happening, but it’s far too slow and largely happens when someone has first hand experience of a friend or family member with a disability or an organisation has their hand forced. It shouldn’t be like this. Countries should compete for the best, and by this I mean lowest, levels of disability discrimination. Make it a contest. We need a DARPA type prize, a Nobel type prize for the best progress and/or achievements.

Let’s make a change.

Amazon

Most of us have an Amazon account. If not for ebooks, then for general online shopping. The wish lists accommodate other web sites, for £80 a year you get free next day delivery on a large number of items, and media streaming thrown in. On the surface, shopping with Amazon appears to be a no brainer.

We’re all aware that they use loopholes to avoid paying tax, that’s not what this is about. It’s other little things that on closer inspection, make you question things. Whether or not keeping an Amazon account is worth it?

Recently Amazon faced criticism for stopping competitive streaming devices like the Chromecast and AppleTV. On paper Amazon’s Fire TV stick beats the Chromecast hands down, but once again, reality doesn’t quite gel with what’s on paper.
The Chromecast offers much more variety. It’s also much easier to set up. What I can’t get past is that Amazon Prime doesn’t work on the Chromecast. Initially I thought it was unlike Google to be so uncharacteristically childish, not approving Amazon so they could push the Play Store. After all, Google gave us Earth, Street View and so much more. For a high profile company they’re altruistic not childish.  Then logic kicked in and you realise almost everything works on it, Google make the developers kit available to everybody for free! The only reason why Amazon Prime wouldn’t work on the Chromecast is if Amazon never bothered to… ah. Could it be that they wanted Prime to only work natively with their newly released Fire TV? Surely not.

Amazon recently switched their courier, from the very favourable DPD to Amazon Logistics.
DPD have delivered here for a few years. Amazon Logistics, a few months.
DPD email me to say they’re in possession of a package. This is in addition to Amazon’s email saying something’s been dispatched which now includes a tracking number that only works after logging in to Amazon.
DPD email me saying they’re delivering that day, delivery should be expected between very precise times like 12:37 and 13:37, the driver’s name and a link to track the van the package is on using GPS. Amazon Logistics are happy with the email Amazon sent earlier to track your parcel, but after logging in you find the details are limited to ‘on the van’.
If DPD cannot deliver, they photograph your front door to show they’ve actually been there, and email you while the driver walks back to the van. Amazon sends you an email saying ‘We tried but failed to deliver your package today’ without even a card through the letterbox!
What annoys me is that there has been no knock on the front door. I have CCTV footage of Parcelforce passing the door and knocking on the front window because there’s been a light on [their delivery driver said he wastes far less time returning to properties after knocking on a window instead of a door – clever guy].
Amazon also has my mobile number for SMS updates about deliveries. No text message has been received. Nothing saying anything is to be delivered today, nothing from their driver saying he’s approaching or at the door, no calls, nothing.
This isn’t the first time Amazon Logistics have claimed to have knocked. With such little communication, and no evidence at all to say they’ve bothered at all, it’s difficult to say whether they don’t know what they’re doing, don’t care, or the driver finished his shift before finishing his deliveries.

I really hope Amazon Logistics is nothing more than a trial. If not, they need to get their act together or leave it to a company that knows what they’re doing.

But to anyone who delivers anything at all, and I cannot stress this enough, don’t try to blag. Following an RTC, I’m unable to go anywhere without assistance. I need help to get out of the street. Our son gets excited following a favourable school report / parents evening because he’s always rewarded with a little something; to us it’s just a Hexbug Nano but to him it means so much more. We even take in things for neighbours because they know there’ll be someone in.

If you’re going to claim you’ve been to the a house and had no reply, make sure the package isn’t valuable to its recipient, make sure you have no phone numbers, make sure the customer isn’t disabled, and above all, make sure you’re not delivering something to a hyperactive child who’s on tenterhooks about a knock at the door!