Ali Baba And The Blind Woman

The day started out like so many other days. Coffee and breakfast, walk the dog, shower and dress. But, being a Saturday I don’t have to work or go to school... I get to go out and see the world, so to speak.
You see I am blind or visually impaired according to some people since I can still see some things. I am attending a vocational school for the blind and had to move to a strange city away from home to do so.
As someone who enjoys a challenge and isn't afraid of failure, I am often found walking the streets of my new town, exploring shops and eating wonderful foods. I can do this safely since I have a guide dog. Without him I would be extremely limited in what I could do outside familiar places.

This morning I did my normal routine of coffee, breakfast, and shower, but today I thought it would be great to do my shopping and have some yummy lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurants I had pasted before. So after walking to the store of a few items I headed to Ali Baba's for gyros and a drink.
As I opened the door to the store/restaurant a Middle Eastern man walked up and told me I couldn't have my guide dog with me, "Leave, leave no dogs." I tried to tell him it was a guide dog and law required access but he wanted none of it. I even told him to call the police. "No, just leave." "Okay, I will call them." and I stepped outside to the parking lot and called the police and my attorney. My attorney was playing golf so I called the most powerful person I know...my girlfriend. I told her the problem and she told me to stand my ground but not to get into a physical confrontation for loosy pita bread. I stood in the parking lot waiting to the Little Rock PD to show up and as I did I noticed more and more cars piling into the parking lot. People were going into the store but no one was leaving. I was getting a little nervous when my phone rang.
"Hi, is this Rebecca?" a strange woman asked. I told it it was and asked what any normal person would ask, "Who is this?" "This is Jocelyn from channel 4 news and I would like to talk to you about what is happening at the restaurant."
Damn those new people are so good. I had no idea they listened to the police scanners. "I told her I would love to talk to her. She pulled into the parking lot within 10 seconds and within 5 minutes; I was being interviewed for the 6 o'clock news.
Before the interview I asked how she had heard about the problem. She said my friend had called the news station and told them what was happening. Since she had covered a similar situation a few months ago she was told to also cover this to help raise awareness. I thought, wow, my attorney was really no the stick this time. The reported said it wasn’t a man it was a woman that called. That big ole light bulb almost blinded me when it came on. My girlfriend is so smart, and has brass too. She called the NBC news here.
I told her my side of the story and how it felt to be rejected by a place of business for having a fully trained and licensed guide dog. I also explained the ADA laws and the reason for my stand on the matter. She said that the people in the store had been laughing and pointing before they realized she was a news reporter. Now they were not laughing so much.
We were about to finish the interview when the owner of the store can out. He was not the same man who told me to leave. Nope, that guy and all his family were standing inside the store watching.
The owner told me he was sorry and that I should come inside to lunch, and shop in his store. I told him no. there were plenty of other places to eat that were aware of the laws and that I would not spend my money in his store. I gave him my attorneys name and number and told him to expect a call.
Now, this is the good part. The entire apology and subsequent conversation was on video. He admitted to refusing me access and telling me to leave the store because of my guide dog. I could hear my attorney drooling as I told him on the phone. Little dollar signs were magically flying outta his *** and eyes making a cha-ching sound. And then I told him I wasn’t going to sue the owner. Then all the magical things died away with an attorneys wimper and gasp. I would have gotten less of a reaction if I would have run over his foot with a car. I told him I wasn't suing I just wanted more awareness of the law and the discrimination of the disabled in this country.
The next call was to my girlfriend who confirmed her quick thinking. She asked if I was suing, but she knew I wouldn’t sue some poor guy trying to make a buck. His only crime was hiring his uncle, who doesn’t understand the discrimination laws to run the store alone. I thank her for her support and her quick thinking. The police had not shown up and were not going to come so we left it at that.
I ate at a Chinese restaurant and went home to take a well-deserved nap. I need to be rested before the 6 o’clock news comes on.
inkednative inkednative
46-50, F
2 Responses Dec 1, 2012

i was going to say how offten this happens to ones how have a guide dog. That end up doing the right thing.

A fantastic story, it's made my day, and so nice to hear from you ,

Thanks Lukeit. Glad to be heard from. Have a good weekend.

Blind Wolf, I have contacted several local and state services since this has happened. I will take your info and contact these folks as well. Awareness needs to happen.