Let me start out by saying that I generally try to see the positive in situations, but I also have a low tolerance for injustice. The story below is true and just happened this week.
InvoTek has been working with a new software consultant over the past six months. Scott is exceptionally qualified to work with us -- not only is he an expert software professional, but he is also a paraplegic. On Wednesday I called him and left a message on his phone. I was worried because I hadn’t heard from him in a while. He called me back and told me that he was at the Atlanta airport. He had gone to his college reunion over the past weekend. On the way home he had a connection through Atlanta and was waiting for assistance to get off of the plane when someone, who walked off of the airplane, stole his wheelchair from the valet baggage at the gate. The thieves rented a car at the airport and drove off. When I called, Scott had been in the airport for three days trying to get someone to help him get his wheelchair back. The airline wasn't helpful. The police weren’t in a hurry to recover his chair. He told me “Everyone acts like I will eventually just go away. The flaw in their logic is I can’t go away without my wheelchair.” I told Scott that this was unbelievable. He told me I have a much lower tolerance for incompetence and bad behavior than he does. I guess he has had to learn tolerance given the way people with disabilities get treated in America.
I called Scott this morning (Thursday) to see how he was doing. Here is part of the conversation:
Needless to say, I was amazed. “How did THAT happen?” And as Paul Harvey used to say -- now for the rest of the story…
From the beginning Scott had to make a plan. Since the thieves rented a car, Scott figured that they were in Atlanta to visit. They got off a plane from Milwaukee so their travel plans would likely include a trip back to Milwaukee on the same airline. He did not leave the gate area and staked out each gate that had a flight to Milwaukee. Early this morning the thieves came back to the airport with Scott’s wheelchair!
When Scott saw them he got assistance and confronted the thieves. They were unrepentant and insisted that the wheelchair was their's. Unfortunately for them, they hadn’t taken off the little valet baggage tag from Sunday. Scott still had the other half.
There were no consequences to the thieves for stealing a wheelchair. They went back to Milwaukee and Scott went home.
A happy ending? Not really. I think all of us assume that if we were in trouble someone would help us. And if someone committed a crime against us there would be some consequence. We also assume that if we became disabled, there would be help for us and our family. Insurance would be there for us, Medicare, government programs, and the community. People would still treat us as a person.
Don’t bet on it.