Earlier I wrote about what happened to me at a customer dinner party. The story below happened a few years later, but also involved work. At the time, I had only told my boss that I had Kennedy's Disease. I was still going through the internal battle of not wanting to admit to anyone that I had a disability, but also finding it more difficult to function in a normal work environment. I had to compensate regularly for my inabilities to perform basic physical actions.
Annual Sales Meeting: Our top managers and sales force were at the PGA golf course in Miami for meetings. We were staying in villas situated around the golf course. To get to our meetings, we had to hop aboard shuttle buses that ran every half-hour. Unfortunately, the buses had a fifteen-inch initial step. For three days, I had left early in the morning to avoid having others see me struggle to step up and step down from the bus. By the end of the meetings, I was pretty worn down from all the standing, steps, and walking. That afternoon, when I was dropped off at my villa, my left knee buckled, but fortunately I was able to hold myself up. Since we had a dinner and closing ceremony that evening outdoors by the pool, I knew I needed to do something before I fell. As soon as I arrived in my room, I called the resort's customer service desk and asked about a handicap accessible bus. The manager said that one could be made available as long as I gave the desk a half-hour notice.
A handicapped accessible van picked me up early that evening and dropped me off by the pool before anyone else was there (so far the plan was working well). When the program was almost over, I excused myself and walked to the clubhouse. I called and requested the handicap van pick me up "at the clubhouse." They said it would be there in fifteen to twenty minutes. At the appointed time, I stood outside the front doors of the clubhouse waiting for my ride. Within five minutes the van drove by (that's right, it didn't even slow down) and headed down to the pool where the dinner was finishing up. I walked as fast as I could down the road after the van waving my arms in the air hoping that the driver would look in his rearview mirror.
The van stopped about fifty yards ahead of me and the driver immediately stepped out. I yelled, but could not get his attention. The driver walked up to several dinner tables and talked with the people there. Everyone at the tables started looking around. I continued to move as fast as I could towards the driver, but I was not fast enough. One of our managers walked up to the microphone and announced, "Bruce, the handicap van you requested is in the south parking lot." Now everyone was looking around wondering where I was and why I needed a handicap van.
Once again, no harm was done except for the damage to my already bruised ego.