OK, so. Today was not a good day.
Let’s start at the beginning. Let’s start with my first tattoo, in 2013. I went to No Regrets in Cheltenham and got a tattoo fine and dandy. I was in a wheelchair, as I am 100% of the time when I go out of the house. They had a crappy ramp–but it was vaguely functional. I used the ramp and I went inside. Easy. Got tattooed. Left. Everyone was happy.
Now we come to December 2015. I decided to get another tattoo. I emailed to talk about the details, since it’s difficult for me to just up and go into town to do this stuff in store. So we did this via email. In this same initial email, I was told (I have the emails) that after the renovation “the front double doored access” would be available.
There is a rather hefty, sharp step from the pavement into the store. I was assured that there would be access at the front; I had stated I was in a wheelchair. See the problem? So, I went.
Lo and behold–there was no ramp! (A ramp they now deny ever having, I might add: but I will get back to this.) I was required to get out of the chair and climb up the step into the store. As it happened, I was more or less able to do this, that day, with help (provided by my brother). I wasn’t happy (why should I be?!), but I did it. Furthermore, the wheelchair barely fit down the corridor and I was required to get out of the wheelchair, yet again, to get into the “temporary” room.
This “temporary room” is the piercing room. The piercer doesn’t work on Mondays, so, this is the only day that anyone unable to use the stairs can actually go and get any work done. Because now, after the refit, all the tattoo rooms are upstairs and therefore inaccessible. So now we have: no ramp, and only one day a week where anyone who cannot manage steps can go and access this service. There were no apologies for this. Not even a token “sorry for the inconvenience” or a “sorry that we’re not accessible and you’re basically being made to feel like you don’t belong”. Nothing.
I’ve been needing to go and have the tattoo touched up (it’s very patchy) since December. I’ve had to reschedule once already, because they can only accommodate me one day a week and being chronically ill doesn’t work on a calendar, I’m sorry. (I’m not sorry.)
I had an appointment today at 5pm. By this point, No Regrets knows that I have a wheelchair, that I need accessibility, and that we’ve asked about a ramp before. We were promised that there would be a ramp “soon” and that it was being made.
Well, that turned out to be a lie, didn’t it? They “can’t afford a ramp”. We turned up today, in the cold and wind, and opened the doors, asked for the ramp and were told that they didn’t have one. At this point my brother went in to talk about this, at which point he was point-blank told that they had never had a ramp. Hint: They have had a ramp.
I was expected to get out of the chair, or, I presume, since the assistants flapped around vaguely saying they would “go get help”*, to have someone hoist my wheelchair up the step and inside the shop. Excuse you. I am not an inanimate object to be lifted by inexperienced and unqualified persons whom I do not know. Today I could not safely get out of the wheelchair. I would not get out. So, guess who had to reschedule his tattoo touch-up, again? Yup. This guy.
Never mind the fact that next time, I will be expected to get out of the wheelchair again. Whether I am able to or not, I will be expected to do so. So what about those who literally cannot get out of their wheelchairs?
It’s not good enough. No Regrets were prepared and informed: they know about my wheelchair and my accessibility needs. All I can gather is they literally do not give a shit. And going as far as to call my brother a liar about the mysterious ramp? Excuse you.
So the tattoo still needs touching up. It’s still a mess and I’m still stuck having just one option of when I can go (why, exactly, can’t I be booked into a slot that uses the piercing studio on any other day?). And still stuck being expected to get out of my wheelchair and do things to make able peoples’ lives easier.
*Which seemed to equate to wandering around aimlessly, not really trying to solve any problem or communicate with us what was happening at all. And there I was, out in the cold and wind, getting cold and risking more pain through tension and anxiety. Mhmm.