This is going to sound a little strange, but I believe that trains should give pedestrians the right of way. At least when they are running in a shopping mall. Let me explain.
There is a shopping mall close to my home. It's very small, only one level, and easy to navigate. No stairs, escalators, or elevators needed. The main entrances have automatic doors. For someone who has trouble walking, it is generally a friendly environment.
For years, they've run a kiddie train ride in the large space in front of a major store. That’s also where Santa and the Easter Bunny make their appearances. Who could object to that?
I don’t frequent the mall often, but I discovered on a recent outing that the train now runs throughout the entire mall. From one end to the other, the kiddies... and mom and dad... ride and wave to passersby. Cute, cute, cute. Unless, of course, you have any kind of disability that makes walking difficult.
When walking is a problem for me, I do a lot of advance planning. How many stops do I need to make? What is the most efficient place to park? It’s a strategy which serves me well most of the time. Alas, I failed to take the kiddie train into account.
Aiming carefully toward my destination, I spotted the approaching train heading down my path. Other shoppers crossed over or moved off to the side. I had little choice but to do the same, but at a much slower pace. Then I had to cross over once again to get where I was going.
More steps were added to my trek, but I didn’t give it much thought until I had to go back in the other direction. My legs were tiring now and I was concentrating on my gait. I was vaguely aware of sounds from behind and realized that the train was following at a short distance.
Toot, toot! Cute train. Cute toddler in the back. Toot, toot! Alright, I’m moving over as fast as I can. My shoulder was touching the side of the storefront and I was as far to the right as I could be. Toot, toot! Not so cute anymore. I suddenly understood that I was expected to move WAY over, as in out of the aisle completely. With my cane clacking along, I ducked into the next store entrance, turned to the young driver, and waved him on with a flourish and a smile.
There was one little toddler on the train and he must have been very important. Obviously, he had a pressing engagement.
It didn’t really hit me until later. Surely I am not the only person with difficulty walking. I imagine that a deaf person might have had problems with that as well.
I didn’t want to complain. I didn’t want to be that person, the killjoy responsible for spoiling everybody’s fun. Two days later, I used the contact form on the mall’s website to state my case. I was as polite and friendly as possible. I explained my predicament and simply suggested that the young drivers be instructed to give way to people with obvious disabilities. I also explained that many disabilities are not so obvious. No need to do away with the train when a little education will do.
Two weeks have passed without courtesy of a reply. Maybe I was too polite. Maybe I should have made demands and thrown in a threat or two. I can't help myself. I always try sugar before vinegar.
It's an odd thing, really, and I'd like your opinion. Should I expect a response? Part of me just wants to let it drop. I don't want to be that killjoy.
Published On: September 12, 2008