This year, we tried it again for the booksigning for Bite Me, bringing with us a friend of KidThree's who had never been to a booksigning and was curious as to what one entailed.
Strike two for The Book Passage.
I got in line to buy two copies of Bite Me, one for KidTwo and one for KidThree, and a copy of A Dirty Job for KidThree because she had been unaware of its existence and threatened to call CPS or APS on me for neglecting to make sure she knew of it. One woman was in front of me, buying a copy of Bite Me. She took her bag with her book and her label for her reserved seat and left the counter, then it was my turn.
The clerk was the same woman who was so flustered last year, unable then to count real money and unwilling to sell me a book that was on display because two people were in line behind me and she didn't want to inconvenience them by stopping to sell me a book. This year, though, I was ready for her--I didn't have cash. Too confusing. I had my Wal-Mart money card, which, when loaded with cash at my local Wal-Mart, thinks it's a credit card and acts accordingly. Much easier for the clerk.
But first, she picked up my pile of three books and called after the woman who had just left the counter, telling her she had forgotten her books. Oh lordie. I said, "no, those are mine," and handed over the money/credit card. Okay, got the books rung up. The clerk asked me how many reserved seats I wanted and I said, "two, next to a wheelchair space." She said, "one and a wheelchair."
***See? This woman has trouble with numbers.
I repeated, "TWO, next to a wheelchair space," and added, "there are three of us, one in a wheelchair." I got back a blank look and then an, "oh, Tina will help you with that," along with a gesture towards a woman who must have been Tina.
Sure enough, that was Tina, who told me that KidThree could get to a spot up front by going behind the counter. I looked over the counter and said there was no way KidThree would fit back there. Tina responded that another person in a wheelchair had already done so.
I went up front to investigate, while KidThree and her friend enjoyed salads over at the cafe section. I found a woman in a wheelchair, along with her companion (I'm guessing husband) and chatted with them for a couple of minutes. She said she had gone behind the counter but only the last section of it, that she wouldn't have fit behind the rest of it, and agreed that the store personnel didn't seem to understand the width or turning radius of wheelchairs; she also told me that she had called ahead to let the store personnel know that they were coming. We joked about the wheelchair ghetto (although that wasn't really fair, as she was in the front row), and about KidThree's nerve in having two companions instead of the one allotted to each wheelchair user by the store. That was fun, but there was no getting around the fact that there was no way KidThree was going to be able to get anywhere near that spot, not without inconveniencing a lot of people already seated in chairs that would have to be moved for her to get up there (there was no open spot for another wheelchair, either).
By this time, KidThree and her friend had come around the corner and KidThree could see I was unhappy and making a fuss about where she was expected to be and what she was expected to negotiate to get there. Poor KidThree. I figured she should be further back and started to move a chair (intending to move several to make a space that she could reasonably get to) but she got upset. I turned back to the chairs, annoyed as H*** with her and with Tina and with the clerk and with The Book Passage, but then heard something and turned around again to see KidThree and her friend talking to Chris Moore, the man himself. Thank you, Christopher Moore!
A little later, KidThree had relaxed a bit and I had de-steamed a bit, so she moved up to a reasonable spot (the one I had been aiming for) and Chris Moore signed her book and KidTwo's, right there before giving his talk and then signing the rest of the book. We all enjoyed the talk mightily, KidThree was happy with her book, her friend was happy with knowing what a booksigning was, and I was still unhappy with The Book Passage.
Elaine Petrocelli, I plan to bring KidThree to Christopher Moore's next booksigning, so here's a heads-up on what I expect, because I don't think someone who uses a wheelchair should have to call to ask permission to attend a public event. KidThree wants to come to a place and be able to find a spot just as quietly and unobtrusively as someone who is on foot. She doesn't want anyone to flap their hands in distress or to try to shove her behind a counter where she clearly won't fit or to start pulling chairs out of the way--that sort of thing makes her feel unwelcome and like her presence creates problems for people. KidThree doesn't want to be a problem for anyone. She just wants to hear Christopher Moore talk about how things and to get his latest book signed.
Don't expect wheelchair users to cram behind the counter, where there are stools or piles of books or other obstructions, and where there isn't space for a good-sized wheelchair, anyway. (My KidThree is a beautifully voluptuous girl; Twiggy, she isn't.) Figure on an aisle at least three feet across, preferably four, from the back of the seating section, to where the wheelchair user will sit. That way, KidThree (for example) can just roll up to a spot in line with a row of chairs. No one has to get out of her way, no chairs have to be pulled aside and folded up, and she doesn't have the embarrassment of having her bad-tempered mama get annoyed with store personnel. And if more than one wheelchair user shows up, no problem, the next one just wheels up to a spot behind KidThree (because we will be getting there early).
That's all. Front row seating isn't necessary and in fact would just make it that much more difficult for her to get out when the talk was over, especially as she already had her book signed. Just an aisle already cleared, three or four rows in, and not behind a post. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, as the Geico Gecko says.
Please. We're going to be there. We don't want to bother you, we don't want to get in anyone's way, but KidTwo and KidThree love Christopher Moore's books and I love KidTwo and KidThree, so we're going to keep showing up.