Wednesday, June 04, 2008

today : I hold my own fuel protest

In a world so full of things to complain about I have chosen to focus on one thing. Not for me the woman who abused me for being a cripple, when I didn't move out of her way fast enough in the entrance to the supermarket, and then went into full-on Jerry Springer guest verbal abuse mode when I chided her for being so impolite. Not for me the guy, whom so keen to push to the front of the queue in a shop, failed to leave me time to actually put my sticks back to the floor and barged me out of the way, knocking me to the ground. Not for me either the person whom, when parked in a disabled space without accreditation, also verbally abused me (in front of his small children, who were sitting in the back)when he saw me simply looking at his windscreen as if I might be looking for his blue badge. I was, because I saw him pull into the space as his wife jumped out and ran into the shop, but until he began his shouting and threats I'd actually made the decision not to verbally challenge him.

Instead I am beginning my own fuel protest. Like lots of people I am not happy with the silly increases in fuel for my car. However, unlike lots of truckers I am not thinking of blockading the motorway (like they don't do that every day anyway). My protest is more specific.

At certain petrol stations, I sometimes cannot even get fuel into my tank.

What happens is that I follow the protocol : disabled drivers honk their car horns and flash their lights to get the attention of the station staff. The idea is that someone comes out and helps you put the fuel in, a little like a full-service fill up in the USA or how it used to be in England 40 years ago. It saves the immobile from having to get out of the car and walk to pay.

Except someone doesn't come out because they are either stuck running the station on their own due the oil companies cutting costs, or they have no idea what to do because they are blockheads or haven't been trained due to the oil companies cutting costs, or they cannot be bothered because they don't get paid enough to care due to the oil companies cutting costs. If someone does come to help, then it means an annoying and humiliating relegation. The disabled driver is often less important than restocking the drinks cabinet, sweeping the forecourt or straightening the newspaper display.

That's 2.3 million drivers on the road who simply have to sit and wait until someone decides they might be in as much of a hurry as everyone else.

My suggestion is that all disabled drivers should just pull up to the pump and wait until someone helps them. The oil companies might start training their staff if they realise that their pumps are blocked all day by angry crips, refusing to move or unable to move due to their empty tanks.

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