SO how has the brand new baby year been treating you all so far? Couldn’t be better? Can do, lah?
My 2013 couldn’t have started on a more positive note than what transpired last week.
I needed to go to the bank and decided that Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur was the obvious choice.
This was naturally because of its wheelchair-friendly facilities.
This, despite of the fact that I had a horrendous episode at the Malayan Banking Berhad or Maybank the last time I went there some weeks ago.
Expecting it to be fully wheelchair friendly – boy, was I disappointed!
There was a large step at the entrance. (I thought most banks did away with this nowadays or placed ramps as an alternative.)
To make matters worse, the manually-operated doors were designed not to stay open but shut the moment customers come in and out.
Imagine struggling to get your wheelchair in halfway through the step. Then not quite getting through having a door rush and slam on you like a piece of sandwich.
Even Andrew Martin, my best friend, who (thank God had accompanied me!) found it impossible to get me into the building.
Surprisingly none of the bank staff or the security thought the sight of watching two grown men struggling – one in a wheelchair and another doing his best to help – was reason plenty enough to rush in and offer some assistance.
Finally it was the odd customer or two who came to our rescue against the unforgiving door.
Inside, there was no special lane for wheelchairs or the elderly in the crowded area. And no one approached me to offer special assistance.
As far as they were concerned, it seemed as if I was expected to manoeuvre myself through the crowd by knocking into them and squeezing my wheelchair in the queue line.
I seriously wondered if the pretty lady at the rather high reception desk would even have noticed me anyway “all the way down below” even if I was right in front of her.
And I would certainly need the ability to elongate my hands like Marvel’s Mr Fantastic Reed Richards to give them my thumb print because of their ridiculously tall counters.
All this started making me nervous and thinking about a disabled-friendly toilet. But the only one available to me was the public one outside the bank in the Mall that was several hundred metres away.
And then, there was also that dreaded and diabolical door to deal with.
All these made me so frustrated that I decided to put it all into good use. I complained to the management. I’m glad I did because they seemed to have taken it positively.
Last week was a litmus test of that exercise when I decided to visit them again. I was also curious to see what changes had been made – if any – following my “suggestions”.
First, to my dismay, the step was still there. (To be fair, I suppose, the bank would need some time in making a step disappear and be replaced by a ramp.)
The nightmarish door was also still there. But to my pleasant surprise, when Andrew (and another friend that I brought along to confront the fiendish door) started to help me, the security guard literally flew to the door and opened it, beaming from ear to ear with the words, “Welcome, sir!”
There was no need to even think about queuing. No sooner had I got in, there was already another smiling bank officer in front of me enquiring about my banking needs.
She led me into her office at once. Within ten minutes flat, my transaction was over.
I was thrilled that the bank had already started on several changes even if they had to still to get down with the nitty gritty of dealing with their hostile front entrance for disabled and elderly persons.
The New Year’s goodness continued to generously flow when I visited my dentist also in Mid Valley.
There were no beastly doors or intractable steps to confront at Pristine Dental Centre that is also wheelchair-friendly in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya.
I had to visit both venues when my tooth chipped off and needed crowning.
I was surrounded by “smiling angels-in-white” made up of the doctor right down to the nurses and staff each time who did their very best to make me comfortable as a client in a wheelchair.
They not only showed great care when helping me out of my wheelchair and into the dental chair and back but exercised great patience to ask me which is the best way to help me – instead of doing it the way they thought best.
Indeed with friends and support like this, I am confident about facing many more challenges to come in 2013.
Once again, happy 2013 everybody!
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