Tuesday, February 07, 2012


“Ask yourself what a hopeful person would do, and do that thing.” It’s one of those things a hope specialist is apt to say, one of the things I say. It sounds just right when I say it into microphones on stages to packed audiences. It sounds good when I say it in a counselling session. And when I say it to myself, well, that’s another story.
Another story started when David and I approached the elevators in a large Vancouver hotel. These were no ordinary elevators. There was no button that said UP. There was no button that said DOWN. There was only a touch screen with a wheelchair sign on it. Now here was an opportunity for hope studies.
A hopeful person, expecting a good outcome, would have marched right over to the desk to ask how a blind person would use such an elevator, given that it had only a touch screen on which to press the floor numbers. But I wasn’t convinced there would be a solution, and we had a suitcase, and so, when the little sign popped up, instructing us to choose Elevator C, David chose Elevator C, and we boarded it as soon as it arrived.
Elevator C, like its new elevator neighbours, was no ordinary elevator. It had no rows of buttons that could let you select the floor you wanted, all the way up to 33. In fact it had only a button marked OPEN, and another for EMERGENCY. There was no need for buttons given that the elevator, having been instructed by David’s tap on the touch screen, already knew it was destined for 33.
When we got off the elevator, we looked at the situation that would greet us going down. It was no ordinary situation. There we found no UP button, no DOWN button, only a touch screen of numbers with a wheelchair symbol. When David touched the screen to indicate a planned trip to the lobby, a sign told him to wait for Elevator B. A hopeful person would have called the desk to ask what plan had been put in place for a blind person to get down. But we needed to get settled, and then we needed to go out, because the sun was shining out there.
I didn’t speak to the front desk that day. I didn’t speak to the front desk the next day. I did speak to the front desk on the third day, as I was checking out.
“The elevator has a voice feature,” said the desk clerk. “You activate it by pushing the wheelchair symbol.”
So now I know, and I am glad. But I would have known sooner—if I had done what a hopeful person would do.

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