My Passport Got Another Stamp!

Last Updated on: 28th July 2022, 01:31 pm

Holy crap, I took a trip! I took the plunge and took a trip. I came back on Saturday, and so far I’m not dead, so I think it was a success. Through the pandemic, I would have nightmares that I’d forgotten how to travel and didn’t pack the right supplies and failed all over the place. Thankfully, that wasn’t what happened.

I admit I’m a bit of a chicken and the first trip I took was work-related. At least then I was travelling with coworkers, so if I screwed something up, someone might give me a hand. Plus, the first time I would be using ArriveCan for real, at least I could get help if needed.

My experience was mostly smooth. It was weird travelling without a dog because I could actually check in in advance, and when I got to the TSA, there was no dog drama. I went through and didn’t make a sound. Admittedly, I was with colleagues, so I didn’t have to do the assistance shuffle. Also, we went to Billy Bishop airport, the one on the island, so we didn’t deal with Pearson hell.

There were two small bumps on my trip. One was while flying to Boston. I folded my white cane and put it in the seat pocket in front of me, like I had often done. The flight attendant immediately told me I had to stow it in the overhead bin…and took it and put it up! This really bothered me because this is my cane. It’s my navigation aid. It won’t do everything in terms of getting around, but it would sure help if I needed to go somewhere. And in the event of an evacuation, you’re not supposed to open the overhead bins so I couldn’t get my cane back. Thankfully, on the way home, I just put my cane under the seat in front of me and nobody said anything, so I don’t think the canes getting taken is a Porter policy, but I’ve asked anyway.

The other one was at the hotel. We stayed at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. The staff supporting us were wonderful, and the hotel was nice, but the elevators were terrible!

Let me explain. So depending on what floor you’re on, there were two or three banks of elevators near each other, Each bank had 3 elevators in it. They were numbered a, b, c, etc. Each bank also had a panel where you told the elevators what floor you wanted. Inside the elevator car itself, there were no buttons except open, close, and maybe an alarm.

If you could see, on the panel where you requested an elevator, there was a touchscreen, you entered the number of the floor you wanted, and were informed what elevator was coming to get you. At this point you had to figure out where that was, and hustle over there before the elevator left without you.

But if you couldn’t see, you were subjected to a different experience. Below the touchscreen, there was a button with a wheelchair symbol, and three raised dots. If you pushed that button, a voice would come out of the panel saying something like “Press the button again when I reach the floor you want. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.” and so on. There were at least 38 floors in this hotel. Then, when you pressed the button again asking for a floor, it would say “proceed to elevator f.” and then it would give directions like “behind you to your right.” Sometimes, those directions were accurate, sometimes not. Also, you didn’t get any extra time to find the elevator, and it didn’t always verify that it was the elevator taking you to your desired floor. Needless to say, I didn’t use those elevators alone much.

I have seen the buttonless elevators work better in a different Marriott. In the one in Anaheim, there was a physical keypad. You would hit a long button first which would make it realize you needed accessibility help. Then you would enter your floor on the keypad, at which point it would give you directions, and give you extra time. When the elevator arrived, it would confirm that it was in fact the one you were looking for. That is an accessible experience, even though it’s weird to have an elevator with no buttons.

Designers of this stuff need to realize that they are plunking this in a building where people don’t have a chance to get familiar with idiosyncracies, so they have to make it is simple as possible.

Hotel rooms are getting weirder and weirder. They have more and more elements of surprise. Fridges are stuck in closets. Who looks in a closet for a fridge? In some fridges, they load them with items, but put sensors in there that will charge you if you even so much as jostle the items. I always worry that the interface for heat and air conditioning will be a touchscreen, or worse, there will be touchscreens that will cause me to buy things I didn’t want. The lights turn on automatically when you enter the bathroom. While I guess that’s nice, it scared the hell out of me the first time it happened. The phone in your room isn’t normal at all. If you want to call the front desk, sometimes you have to locate the “guest services” button. For reasons I don’t understand, one day, somebody activated my alarm clock, a thing that just looked like a USB hub. Then, at 6 a.m., something started beeping. So now, I have more things to check before I settle down for the night: check that the curtains are closed and make sure someone didn’t turn on my alarm. Ack. It’s supposed to be fun staying in a hotel. Eventually, it gets better, but that first day is no fun at all.

The trip itself was pretty good. I fed off the energy of everybody else, got to see people I hadn’t seen in a while, and acted totally goofy, but we had fun. I noticed that when I get nervous, I get goofy. Then a little voice in my head would say “I think you should stop now. I don’t think you’re funny anymore.” Sometimes I would listen, sometimes I wouldn’t. Oops.

And I’m so happy, because I was able to do ArriveCan all by myself! I did it on the laptop because I wasn’t sure if I would run into trouble if I tried to do it on the phone. But it worked perfectly. So this is a message to past me. I held up my phone, my qr code went boop, and all went well.

So that was my first trip. Success!

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