Being in a wheelchair complicates things. When most people get concert tickets, all they need to do is to get the tickets. I must make sure I’ve been given wheelchair accessible seating. And sometimes there are problems with that.
In the fall of 2013, I got tickets to see Lewis Black, one of my favorite comedians. He winds himself up on stage, gets mad about society’s issues, and turns his anger into art. He’s a potty mouth with the vision to see what is really going on, and the guts to say so out loud. He tells the sad truth on us, and somehow makes it funny.
Off stage, he’s a sweet guy. What a great example for people like me.
Anyway, Lewis Black was playing at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, formerly the Kiel Opera House. I ordered by phone and emphasized that I needed wheelchair-accessible seating. The tickets arrived by mail.
On October 4, the night of the concert, I gave the usher our tickets, but Steve and I were led over to two fixed seats. The usher asked me “You will be getting out of your chair, correct?”
Politely, I told the usher, “No.”
She said, “One moment, please” and walked off with our tickets. A few minutes later, she hadn’t returned, and I hadn’t caught her name.
I was agitated, but Steve told me not to worry. I sat there, trying to send out positive thoughts.
Then, suddenly, the usher was back. “You’ve been upgraded! Please follow me.” She took us up to the front row, where there was space for my wheelchair, and even apologized for our misunderstanding.
Two ladies were in the space behind Steve and me. One of them, a lady with graying hair and a kind smile, asked, “Are you two excited about seeing Lewis perform?”
“Hell yes!” I said. All four of us laughed.
“I’m Alice,” said the lady with slightly graying hair “and this is Karen.”
I introduced Steve and myself and then asked, “Ladies, what do you do?”
“Oh, we’re union representatives,” said Alice.
I said, “Hey, my Dad was a union representative.”
“Oh, really? For who?” said Alice.
“The Amalgamated Clothing and Textiles Workers Union.”
Alice asked, “What’s your Dad’s name?”
Alice looked like she’d just pooped a brick. She leaned back in her seat, threw her arms in the air and kept exclaiming, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”
I asked, “You knew him?”
“Oh, my God, I knew him. He was a …” She paused.
“An intense ball of energy?” I asked, laughing, and Alice nodded a big “Yes!’
“Yeah, my Dad was at times, a major pain.”
“Oh, my God,” said Alice. “Joe was always mad about something. He was angry all the time. How many kids are in your family?”
“There are seven of us,” I said.
“Every time one of you was born,” said Alice, “Joe was in my boss’s office demanding another raise. He was a pushy, pushy man.”
“I know,” I said. “It took me years of therapy to overcome his bullying… He did get a bit softer as he aged — but he was as assertive as ever.”
The four of us had a lot of fun at that concert. Lewis Black made us laugh, and life made us laugh. Who knew anger could be so much fun?