AQA

Sex, drugs, and a few accessibility issues

23.06.22 10:12 AM By Dan
Earlier this year, American rock band Foo Fighters played the first stadium concert since the pandemic began. For one attendee, it was his first major event since sustaining a spinal cord injury two years ago, and it was quite the rollercoaster.
By Simon Bibby

What a night! This was my first experience being in a wheelchair and going to a major event since suffering a catastrophic spinal cord injury two years ago.

I booked an accessible seat online through Ticketmaster, with a companion seat for my son, and it seemed like a simple and easy transaction. We were both excited, as my son had never been to a live band, let alone a stadium gig! 

Upon arriving at GMHBA stadium in Geelong, we made our way to the seating area and showed an usher our tickets (on my phone). The kind bloke took one look at our allocated seat numbers, then looked at me in a wheelchair, and said ‘how the F are ya gonna get down there?’ Pointing halfway down the normal seating. 

I said we had ‘accessible seating’ clearly indicated on my phone. 

His response was that I will have to contact Ticketmaster as the venue was not responsible for ticketing and allocation. "Perhaps contact them on Monday morning" was also mentioned. 

My response, “that’s not going to happen”, as it was past 6pm on the night of the concert. 

I’m in and I’m staying in! I had driven from Bendigo and organised accommodation. 
Simon on his property near Bendigo.
I asked him to please get a supervisor or someone who can help. He did offer to take me down onto the oval/general admission, but I immediately said that would not do as I would not see anything but the posteriors of all the able bodied punters! I asked if he would be happy with that situation, and the response was in line with mine. 

He said to wait where we were and someone would be with me shortly. The next level of command arrived and we had a discussion much the same as previously. I said there must be someone from Ticketmaster here (probably in a box to our left, up high n’ mighty). 

The polite lady said look, there usually were a few no shows, so just hang where we were (in accessible seating which was pole position for the show) and we will see how it pans out. Fortunately for me, the time passed and we had no need to move! 

A short time into the show I needed to use the toilet, as I had a small unwanted presence (just my luck) make an appearance. 

Off I go to find a disability toilet and do my best at cleaning my shorts with half a packet of wet wipes. No sooner had I transferred myself onto the toilet, the “locked” door was unlocked by some woman with her credit card. There I was, almost completely naked and in full view of the audience near the bar! 

She was apologetic, which was good, however this did little to impress me.

Finally I exited the toilet and onto the rest of the show. 
Thankfully, the seats Simon and his son ended up with were in prime position.
The next trip to the rest rooms was again pretty crazy, as I had to explore the level one promenade trying to find an unoccupied one. I waited a couple of minutes and finally the door unlocked and a perfectly able bodied guy sheepishly scurries away stinking of the good ol happy havelock (weed). 

I got inside and performed my number one task with the aid of an intermittent catheter, which I have to administer myself every time I need to do a number one. 

Back to our ‘seating’ and on with the show. 

After a few more frothies due to being socially excited and enjoying the show, I had one more trip to make to relieve myself. This time I rolled all the way around as far as I could go trying to find a free restroom. I noted all the disabled toilets had the ‘emergency assistance required’ lights lit up and no one rendering help (no doubt as it seems to be a joke for able bodied people to just press the alarm buttons inside). 

I waited outside one toilet after the other. 

Getting to the last one, a nice bloke saw me in distress and discomfort, and said he saw a guy walk in. Hmm, really? Walk in? Yep, he said, do you want me to bang on the door? 

Hell yes please. Quite quickly the door opened and sure enough out walks a young bloke and immediately after a lady with a grin and that certain glow about herself (I am being presumptuous but I’m no spring chicken and recognised exactly why they had been in there). 

At this moment, myself and the guy who helped me began getting a little heated, aiming our barrage at the young couple, and quite a ruckus of verbal abuse went in both directions. 

The bloke is kind of apologetic but the "lady" couldn’t see anything wrong with what they had done, and came up to me saying “listen, do you really want to ruin a great night?” "SERIOUSLY!!!! Are you for real?" I yelled… This made me so mad.

People like her need to be made aware of the problems I have just doing normal tasks and activities. When I need to go, there is a very fine window of opportunity to do one’s business. Cross that line and it’s not a nice experience that will probably end the “great night”! It certainly opened my eyes to the inconsiderate people out there. It’s a shame I’ve had to document this occasion in such a blunt way, but something has to be said and done about this! 

I’m sure you’ve all seen the viral videos where guys in wheelchairs seem to be wilder than a mallee bull at something (one recently at a shopping centre where the guy starts throwing shopping baskets at staff in a well known supermarket comes to mind). 

I became a mallee bull for a few moments after this last encounter. I even locked myself in the room and wedged myself against the inside of the door while I catheterised to stop any more interruptions. 

Ticketmaster, GMHBA Stadium and a small percentage of the general public all need a good clip round the ear I reckon. 

This was an epic night for me and my son, don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely sour. I had a blast. All the steps were actually quite amusing really, I think this one will go down in history for me. The Foo Fighters were insanely good! I'm so happy having finally been able to see them live! I will definitely be back next time they choose to come down under, and I’m fairly sure my son will also. 

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AQA's Living Well Project offers a range of courses that build on practice that is informed and delivered by people with lived experience of spinal cord injury or a similar disability. Learn more.                                                                

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